90% of startups fail.
There can be many factors, but there is only one underlying cause.
They ran out of money.
One way to make sure your startup doesn’t fail is by employing correct marketing tactics that land you loyal customers without burning through your budget.
In this article, you’ll learn ten marketing tactics well-suited for early-stage SaaS startups.
1. Focus only on channels that work best for you
Early-stage startups have a small team and a limited budget. You might not have enough to bet on all the horses. Even if you do, your efforts will be spread too thin to make a difference as your message drowns in the noise.
To maximize your marketing efforts, pick the channels that are best for your business.
How to find the ideal marketing channel for your business?
- Follow your competitors: You can learn a lot from your competitors and this is one of them. They have already done the research on your target audience, so following their suit is a no-brainer. However, avoid copying their strategies mindlessly.
- Know your target audience: Which age group are you targeting? What is their location? What kind of lifestyle do they lead? All these will help you zero in on your ideal marketing channel.
- Test, measure, adapt: What works for others may not work for you. Every business is different. What gets measured gets managed. Keep an eye on the ROI of your marketing efforts on each channel and scale up and down accordingly.
- Make sure you have the budget: In the early phase, you might not have a lot of money to burn. It can be better for your overall marketing strategy to keep PPC campaigns for later.
2. Free isn’t (usually) a marketing strategy
“We made our product free, now we can’t even count our customers”, said no successful SaaS startup ever.
Although the idea of free sounds alluring and might even get you a few customers, becoming ‘product-first’ isn’t exactly a marketing strategy in itself. Here are a few reasons why free isn’t usually a marketing strategy.
- It won’t generate real demand: Demand is attached to things that are scarce or things that have some monetary value.
- You will get low-quality users: Your users will see your product as something to try to see if it works because it is free. There is no urgency to get value.
- Customer support will be difficult: How can you afford customer success managers if you don’t charge for your product?
- Your startup might tank: If you struggle to keep your users happy or get them to upgrade to paid plans, you will end up with no customers.
Yes, a free version of your product or a free trial will do wonders as it will help your target audience understand the value you offer. However, removing the price tag entirely will not give you much marketing advantage.
3. Have a 10x better product than your competition
A good product sells itself.
Having a product that is remarkably better than your competitors will put you at the top. Your customers will become your raving fans and will do the marketing for you.
How to build a better product than your competitors?
- Know your customer better: Talk with them, understand their pain points, see how they use your product, and ask them how you can serve them better.
- Learn from your competitors: Use their products and read their reviews. Good reviews will tell you what you can add and bad ones will tell you what to avoid.
- Ship updates in small chunks: Major updates can confuse your existing customers. Smaller frequent updates will give them time to adapt and get you the data to validate your steps.
- Remove features if necessary: Upgradation doesn’t only mean the addition of features.
4. Be a thought leader in your niche using content marketing
Thought leadership gives a lot of exposure to your brand and establishes credibility within your niche.
How to build thought leadership in your niche?
- Have a platform: A website and pages on social media channels so that you can reach your target audience everywhere.
- Add value: Every interaction and post should give value to your audience. It should be educational and motivating.
- Be consistent: Post periodically, it keeps your audience engaged.
5. Make every email truly sell the product — for real
Every interaction that you have with your customers should push them to complete the purchase. Therefore, you should treat and interpret every message your customer reads as an opportunity.
Email marketing, when done correctly, brings a lot to the table. Take a look.
How to sell your product with every email?
- Segment your leads: Every lead is in a unique position within your marketing and sales funnel. So the message you send to each of them should be customized.
- Keep your messages short: Your message should be read and understood within a few minutes.
- Add a clear CTA: Make the action you intend to take clear.
6. Focus on your existing customers
Here is why you should do everything to keep your existing customers: Upselling to your existing customers is easier than finding new ones.
Retaining your customers increases their lifetime value (LTV). And your loyal customers are the best marketers you will ever have, spreading the good word about your products.
How to keep your existing customers happy?
- Build a customer loyalty program and reward them.
- Send them reports, case studies, and whitepapers that they might find useful.
- Surprise them with offers that are unique to them.
- Keep removing the roadblocks that you might encounter.
7. Get long-term gains with SEO and content
SEO is a long-term strategy with lots of gains. The best thing about SEO is that you can target newer audiences easily. Focussing on SEO will have lots of benefits in the long term for early-stage SaaS startups.
SEO will give you consistent organic traffic through the search for the keywords you target.
The more you invest in SEO the better the results get. You will gain more authority with time and rank higher.
Take a look at the following infographic to understand the marketing advantages of SEO.
Content is king. It gives a lot of value to your audience to educate them and help them solve their problems for free. Quality content will earn you a lot of leads and you can become a friendly helper in your prospects’ minds.
Keep an eye on the trends related to your vertical. See what your competitors are writing and focussing on. Spend some time on public forums where your customers discuss your product. You can get ideas for the next batch of your content.
8. Don’t do everything your competitor does
Your competitor is an expert at marketing their product. Their methodology, from content marketing to emails is suited to give them the highest returns. Replicating your competitor’s marketing tactics won’t be best for your SaaS startup.
In many cases, it might backfire on you. Here are the common drawbacks you will encounter by copying your competitor’s marketing tactics.
- They might be making mistakes: You don’t know how well versed their marketers are. If you copy a strategy that is wrong, you will get worse results.
- You don’t have their data: Even if their marketing is getting the results, you have no method of accurately knowing. You don’t have any numbers that they are looking at.
- Every business is different: As we mentioned above. Although you are in the same vertical and are targeting the same audience, you need a different approach.
With that being said, you can definitely learn content marketing lessons from your competitors’ campaigns.
9. Host top-quality webinars and interview industry leaders
Creating engaging content will always market your products better. Webinars and interviews with industry leaders are quality content that will give your early-stage startup a boost.
Webinars are a great way to generate leads. You will also get a chance to interact with your attendees and learn more about the industry. Not to mention, the process of promoting the webinar will teach you a lot about your target audience.
Interviews with industry leaders guarantee content that is actionable and correct. These pieces are not written or created by reading other blogs but by interacting with professionals with years of experience.
Both kinds of content will add to your brand value by providing value to your prospects, leads, and existing customers for literally free.
10. Partner with specialized agencies if you don’t know exactly what you are doing
During the early stages of your SaaS startup, every resource is important. Every second and penny that you spend must contribute to taking your company forward.
However, it is easy to make mistakes if you are just starting out, operating with a small team, and don’t have much marketing experience.
The best solution for you would be to hire a marketing agency for your SaaS startup that will help you make the best possible moves.
Make sure to hire a specialized agency like Growfusely, which only works with SaaS companies, thus making them capable with enough experience to understand your pain points and tailor solutions accordingly.
We hope these marketing tactics help you reach your target audience and boost your startup’s growth.
Just one more thing.
We have helped many early-stage SaaS startups with their marketing.
Interested? Let’s talk!
Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of Growfusely, a SaaS content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO.