Growing pains suck.
It sucked in high school and it sucks for SaaS companies.
In a saturated marketplace, everyone’s anxious about growth.
The problem? Focusing too hard on growth is putting the cart before the horse. Instead of just selling or marketing harder, you want to develop enough strategy to grow smarter.
You want to hack SaaS growth. Dissect the process of expansion so you understand it before putting theory into practice.
You’ve probably heard the phrase before, but it’s worth a refresher. Growth hacking is all about relying on creative, resourceful ways to market your company.
It’s like cultivating a garden. I know, it sounds a bit Bob Ross, but stay with me.
Sure, you can just throw all kinds of seeds (marketing activities) everywhere and expect things to start growing.
But it won’t work as well as setting up a site with good soil (quality content), giving each plant enough space to absorb nutrients (leads), and generally laying the groundwork (customer personas) for a lush forest of happy little trees.
Create the infrastructure for growth and growth will follow.
What Does SaaS Growth Mean?
“SaaS growth” can get a little confusing. To understand what you’re talking about as a marketer, you want to understand exactly what kind of growth is happening here.
Usually, when people refer to SaaS growth, they are referring to one of two different things:
- Growth of the SaaS industry
- Measuring the growth of your own SaaS
Growth in the SaaS industry
This focuses on overall industry trends. For example, SaaS market growth rate.
Other factors or statistics to track include:
- Total industry spending
- SaaS market growth compared to other industries
- Technical breakthroughs
- Thought leadership from other companies
Do you have to spend every morning cramming on the latest developments in the SaaS space? No, of course not. But it still pays off to monitor industry level SaaS growth statistics, even if it doesn’t directly correlate to your company.
Knowing that there’s a 10.5% growth in the market forecasted for 2020, for example, will help you adjust your marketing to target people who are new to or newly interested in SaaS. Creating content for them like how-to guides, basic introductory blog posts, or other entry-level content can draw them in immediately.
Measuring the growth of your SaaS
This is where you evaluate your own company’s growth to develop SaaS growth strategies. Within your company, you want to be mindful of metrics like:
- Customer acquisition cost
- Activation rate
- Monthly recurring revenue/annual recurring revenue (MRR/ARR)
- Customer retention rate
Unlike other product-based businesses, SaaS companies have to pay attention to retaining users over a long period of time to stay in business.
You want to keep a steady eye on your customers. How do they become interested? What do they love/hate about your product? Why are they staying/leaving?
Customer retention rate in particular is super important. If you’re interested in calculating for your company, use this formula:
[(Your customers at the end of given time period - New customers added per given time period) / Your customers at the beginning of given time period] x 100
What’s a good retention rate? It differs by industry, but for a SaaS company anything above 35% is considered outstanding.
So don’t throw your back out aggressively marketing to new audiences: retaining customers is the best SaaS growth hacking tip. Returning customers are the key to sustainable growth.
Those are the two main ways you can measure your SaaS growth metrics. There’s some overlap, but overall they constitute pretty distinct areas for your team to focus on.
|SaaS Industry Growth||Measuring Your SaaS Growth|
Larger trends within the industry
Metrics in your company
Attracting new customers
Attracting new customers and retaining returning customers
Enriches your growth hacking strategy with fresh ideas from the outside
Informs your growth hacking strategy with feedback and data from the inside
Any responsible SaaS marketer worth their salt should be keeping a wary watch on both areas to inform their approach.
8 SaaS Growth Hacking Strategies
Building the garden of your SaaS growth marketing infrastructure can seem intimidating.
Starting out feels like overlooking a barren field as an inexperienced gardener: you’re kind of sweaty already, you’re not quite sure how to use your tools, and other gardeners are already marketing their gardens around you with incredible gusto.
Don’t worry. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your growth hacking approach isn’t going to be about blowing your whole budget on a single all-or-nothing campaign. It’s about testing different strategies, seeing what works for you, and building on that.
Looking for inspiration? Here’s seven tried-and-true ways to wow potential and existing clients.
1. Repurpose Content
Everyone knows recycling is great for the planet. But did you know that recycling content is great for marketing?
Maybe you’ve already got troves of great content. Or maybe you’re in a pinch and don’t have the resources/time/energy to create new content. (Don’t worry, your secret is safe here.)
Published a blog post last year that did okay? No one’s stopping you from pulling it from the vaults, polishing it up with updated examples and infographics and republishing it. You might reach a whole new set of customers who didn’t see your blog post the first time and end up loving it.
People favour comprehensive, up-to-date content. Updated content is far more likely to hit those marks.
Another way to do it is by repurposing the same content for different formats.
Published a blog post? Turn it into a webinar. YouTube videos doing well? Reintroduce the topic on your podcast. Different customers like different types of content.
Contrary to popular belief, hacking growth comes from simple SaaS content marketing. You can start right now by pushing past the cobwebs and taking a good hard look at your old stuff. What needs updating? What might fare better in a different format entirely?
Don’t expect your customers to dig through your archives for old content. Meet them where they’re at right now with the right content for them.
2. Offer Free Trials
Do you like paywalls?
Unless you’re a psychopath, probably not. Free stuff is great. When it’s useful, most people won’t turn it down.
Acquiring and retaining customers is the most essential component of a SaaS growth model. Your average savvy customer, however, won’t be willing to fork out a large subscription fee without understanding your offerings from top to bottom.
The compromise? A free trial.
image source - https://voicefront.ai/
Offer customers a short trial of your service for free, building a solid rapport with them through thoughtful customer service as you provide support, follow up, and just generally help them get the hang of things. Even a reluctant customer can’t say no to all that for free.
Another option is offering your product as a freemium model. Give users a portion of the functionality for free. They have to pay to upgrade to a premium model.
Before you start worrying about losing your product to people for pennies, offering free trials and freemium is about more than giving stuff away for free. It’s about selling to people by serving them first.
Nothing gets people on your side faster than providing value to them. Plus, after they’ve taken the time to familiarize themselves with your platform, they’ll be more willing to stick with you. Products offering a credit card linked free trial show a 30% or higher conversion rate.
And in the case that they don’t transition to a paid model? You’ll still receive free word of mouth promotion and brand awareness.
Software like Evernote would never have received the widespread attention it has now without the free version. In a freemium model like that, the portion of users who end up upgrading to premium pay for the users who don’t.
Speaking of word of mouth…
3. Referral bonus
92% of consumers will believe friends and family over advertisers.
Can you blame them? Trust is a relationship, not a transaction. In the age of in-your-face screaming banner ads and social media companies trying to buy and sell personal data, it’s no wonder people don’t instinctively trust unfamiliar companies.
Only the most dedicated customers will spread the word about your brand. Luckily, you can incentivize this process.
Rewarding referrals encourages anyone who’s getting value out of your service to share that value. Most importantly, you’re greeting people with a gift. Who doesn’t love gifts?
Referral marketing pays for itself. Bloggers even organically recommend companies who pay for referrals.
Spreading the word is hard enough. Simplify the process by incentivizing your users to do your job for you.
4. Cultivate an email list
Yes, email marketing still matters.
Subscription-based newsletters are obviously a great place for retention. It’s part of the value companies offer loyal customers.
On the other end of the spectrum, email also remains a strong option for content marketing to new customers. For each $1 you spend on email marketing, marketers expect an average return of $42. With an effective enough newsletter, you can offer people content value that sells them on the quality of your product.
In concept, it’s easy. Drive email sign-ups, collect leads. Wash, rinse, repeat.
But how do you get those sign-ups in the first place? Is there a secret sauce?
Nope. Just good content and hard work. (And a lot of garlic and crushed tomatoes.)
You want to integrate email-collecting forms into your site without making them disruptive. For example, writing a blog post guide on a specific topic, then teasing a white paper or ebook that people can access for free--provided they sign up via email.
Time is money and so are emails. With more email sign-ups, you’re driving more clicks to your website, higher engagement rates, more interest in your SaaS. More interest, more SaaS growth.
The secret sauce is content so good that people want to check out your product.
5. Excel in customer service
Remember earlier when you learned about how awesome customer support during a free trial can convert leads into customers? Here’s a little tidbit: awesome customer support is about more than resolving issues. It should be a staple of your customer’s journey.
Easier said than done, of course. There are several concrete ways you can improve customer service.
- Remind your customers they’re talking to real people. Attach names to emails, remember details about your customers.
- Follow up. Don’t leave anyone hanging, even when issues are resolved. Ask about customer experience.
- Give people options. Be available via social media, text, your website, phone.
- Establish resources. Set up a knowledge base or forum for people to consult.
Customer service is the low hanging fruit of SaaS growth, do not under-invest in this area.
6. Blast from the past
No, you won’t have to time travel to keep your customers happy. (But it probably isn’t the farthest you’ve already gone in the name of customer service.)
Just make sure to check up on “old friends”. This means past visitors to your site, people who have used your free trial, or others who’ve interacted with you by email, social media, and any other platforms.
The fact that someone visited your site means they’ve found (or are looking for) something of value there.
If they’ve interacted with your brand before, show them that you care. Follow up on past inquiries and offer solutions to their problems. If they’ve found what they’re looking for in your content but never completed a purchase, try suggesting new similar content to them.
For example, maybe people are finding your site through different search intentions than what you initially anticipated. You might realize that your SEO needs tweaking to start attracting the right customers.
Either way, following up is a component of good customer service. Even in this busy age, people don’t like to be ghosted. Popping every once in a while can go a long way to remind them that you’re still here and helpful as ever.
7. Influencer marketing
Does your audience use social media?
“Duh!” said the reader.
Chances are, they follow influencers in lifestyle or professional spaces. Using influencers to market your brand is a great way to meet customers where they are.
While you’ve probably seen more promoted social media posts for consumer products than B2B software, SaaS brands can utilize this strategy as well.
Customers might already be linking to or sharing your content online. Start by interacting with their posts. Thank them for sharing and engage with them in a way that’s appropriate for your given social platform.
Interacting with influencers is pretty much based on the same principles. For example, when someone noteworthy tweets a link to your content, be sure to retweet them on your account to show them you appreciate them.
Reaching out to influencers after you’ve already had a few organic interactions with them online can make a big difference. Be sure that you’ve done your research into what they post and comment on it in your message.
Influencer marketing can be expensive, especially if you’re targeting high-profile influencers with a lot of followers. If budget is an issue, try to focus on more micro-level influencers in your space instead.
Show them that you’re willing to build a relationship. Understand what’s useful for them: maybe it’s freebies on your platform, a retweet of their content, etc.. Listen, don’t assume.
8. Landing pages
Landing pages are web pages specifically designed for a single marketing campaign. You direct users here when you want them to take a specific action, whether it’s signing up for your newsletter, downloading an ebook, or making a purchase.
Why set up a landing page in the first place? Three reasons:
- Hyper-targeted CTA. Compel your customers to action with tight messaging on a single page. Don’t dilute it over multiple pages.
- Answer questions directly. Your customer has a problem. You have an answer. Landing pages help you communicate this.
- Conversion rates. When you unlock the landing page secrets proven to increase leads, you’ll be converting like crazy.
SaaS growth marketing may seem complex, but it’s really not. At the end of the day, you want to offer people the kind of value they can’t refuse.
4 Bonus Tips for SaaS Growth Marketing
Time for a crash course of our SaaS marketing playbook. The above SaaS growth strategies should give you enough solid content to go around for a while. Now for general tips that should be informing your SaaS growth hacking approach.
At least, try all forms of content marketing.
If you’re interested in SaaS lead generation, you’d better be willing to be creative. Don’t stick to any single guide on what you should be doing to grow your platform.
On paper, it seems simple enough. Define your goal, figure out what kind of leads there are, what type of content they want, and deliver.
That’s all well and good. But your customers are diverse and want to see, well, everything.
So don’t be afraid to:
- run webinars
- create infographics
- set up downloads in exchange for emails
- make drip campaigns
SaaS growth hacking is all about staying flexible throughout the content creation cycle.
Something not working out? Take a deep breath. Relax.
You’ll be fine. Shift gears and try something different.
Hire an expert
Not everyone’s savvy enough to run their own social media campaigns or design CTAs or set up email marketing drip campaigns. If you’re struggling, consider hiring an expert.
SaaS marketing agencies in particular have the experience and the process to break everything down so it’s easy peasy for you.
|In-House Marketing||SaaS Marketing Agency|
Leaves time-consuming tasks to the experts
Reinventing the wheel for each campaign
Uses proven systems for repeat success
Confused by KPIs and numbers
Knows exactly what metrics to track
DIY web design/development not always conversion-friendly
Optimizes web design and development from the bottom up
Guides to hiring the right SaaS marketing agency can help you figure out whether or not you want to hire an expert to cut your work out for you.
Simplify your pricing
Yes, you heard right.
Bad pricing charts might be holding you back from attaining the SaaS growth metrics you’ve always wanted.
Every six months you should be taking a good, hard look at your pricing. Think about:
- Are you priced correctly for what you’re offering?
- Is your pricing model confusing?
- Do you offer a free trial? If yes, what are you doing to advertise it on your pricing page?
- What kind of pricing will work for your audience?
There’s no reason to stress out too much about pricing models or strategies. Thankfully for the average growth hacker, there are online resources on SaaS pricing made simple out there.
Be responsive to the market
Going back to where it all started, responding to what’s happening in the market is one of the key elements of SaaS growth hacking.
Your company needs to respond not only to what’s happening in the larger SaaS community, but also to internal SaaS growth metrics.
Delivering great content and customer service is a means to an end. As a marketer, you should never lose sight of that.
Keep your eye on the SaaS growth statistics, how they’re responding to your marketing strategies.
If you can track where your customers are coming from, even better. Don’t let yourself get sidetracked by the nitty gritty of managing a campaign to the point where you get distracted from the actual KPIs you need to pay attention to.
No one said SaaS growth marketing was ever going to be easy. Most growth hacking strategies require elbow grease, a great eye for content, attention to customer needs, and a bit of insanity.
Of course, if you’re intimidated, we’re more than ready to help. Contact us to find out how we can help you hack SaaS growth like a boss..