Unlike traditional software where users pay a one-time fee to purchase the software, SaaS products are sold on a subscription basis and continually ship new feature updates to delight and retain users. Hence, SaaS companies require ongoing engagement and a strong relationship with their users.
If you’re planning to launch a new SaaS product or roll out a major feature update, an effective go-to-market strategy (GTM Strategy) will help you drive engagement and retention.
In this guide, let’s take a closer look at each of these broad steps to help you build a robust and adaptive SaaS GTM strategy for your brand.
A GTM strategy outlines how a brand will enter a market, reach its audience, gain customers, and retain them by continuously delivering them value. The broad steps of a GTM strategy are:
- Defining your target market
- Identifying your product’s unique value proposition (UVP)
- Building pipelines to acquire leads and convert them
- Creating a profitable pricing plan
- Helping your customers get the most out of your product
- Measuring the product success
- Getting feedback and improving your SaaS product
Understanding the target audience involves learning about the characteristics, needs, and preferences of the group of people who are most likely to get benefits from your SaaS product by gathering and analyzing data such as demographics and psychographics.
This step will help you create a more targeted and effective GTM strategy by building desirable products, creating impactful content (more on this below), and delighting your customers.
For example, Slack, a team messaging and collaboration platform, identified its target audience — small to medium businesses (SMBs) and their problems revolving around internal communications. This allowed them to create an SMB-friendly messaging tool and as of 2021, 156,000 organizations use the platform.
You can begin to understand your target audience by asking questions such as:
In the case of Slack, the answers to the above questions could be: small to medium businesses, communicating with internal team members and managing email clutter, simple and easy-to-use collaboration, and social media.
While understanding your target audience is crucial, it offers you a broad outline of who your customers are. To make your GTM strategy more specific and impactful, you need to create buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a fictitious representation of your ideal customer. It is a fictional character that contains all the details such as age, gender, behavioral patterns, personal preferences, etc., that allow you to differentiate your customer from the crowd.
Creating a buyer persona will help you dive a level deeper to learn about the motivations, habits, and preferences of your ideal customer.
Let’s see it from the point of Slack’s example provided above.
Slack’s target audience is SMBs but that is a huge group in itself as there are different types of SMBs who face different challenges when it comes to team communication and hence different motivations.
Some SMBs might use Slack because it helps their in-office team collaborate with their on-field team better while others might prefer it because of its simplicity.
Segmenting your target audience even further based on use cases will allow you to create distinct messaging for each of them which will help you communicate your SaaS product or service’s value effectively.
Here is an example of a user persona to get you started:
The unique value proposition (UVP) makes the case for your SaaS product to your target audience. It helps them understand why adopting your tool will be beneficial to them and how your solution is different from other options in the market.
Let’s take the example of OpenAI’s SaaS product ChatGPT which is a natural language processing (NLP) tool that can respond to text-based queries and give answers in a conversational manner.
The UVP of this tool for English teachers could be — our software makes it easy for you to evaluate essays and provide one-on-one feedback in seconds.
Similarly, the UVP for coders could be — our software makes it easy for you to debug code quickly saving you time and effort.
Note how the UVP in either case focuses on different functionalities of the software based on the needs of the target audience.
The UVP helps you form a connection with your audience by focusing on their pain points and how your product can relieve them by mentioning the associated value. More importantly, it carves a unique identity of your product in the minds of your audience by differentiating you from your competitors.
Start by looking at the UVPs of your competitors and gathering insights on them. For instance, if one of your competitors claims that their product is affordable and easily scalable, conduct research to find out what they mean by that. Is it affordable for all segments of your target audience? Is it scalable in all aspects?
This will help you write your own UVPs differently than that of your competitors even when you are offering similar values.
For example, Trello and Asana help SMBs manage their projects and tasks effectively. However, Trello emphasizes its simplicity and visual organization of data whereas Asana puts the spotlight on its flexibility and ease of use.
It is essential to keep in mind that identifying UVPs is a collaborative and continuous process. You should encourage the participation of your team members while creating UVPs and keep changing them as your product and your audience’s needs change.
The sales and marketing funnel is a way to visualize the journey that a potential customer takes from first learning about your product or service to actually buying it. By analyzing various steps of the funnel (more on this below), you can learn where customers are dropping off to take evasive actions for improving your conversion rates.
Content is the most essential ingredient required to build a robust sales and marketing funnel because, at each stage of the funnel, you communicate with your customers. This allows your customers to get their questions answered about their problems, challenges, and your brand’s offerings which improves their trust in your brand.
Let’s look at the various stages of this funnel and the role that content plays in them.
In this stage, you try to get the attention of your target audience and introduce them to your products and services through various marketing channels. You can do so by creating engaging and informative content about your audience’s pain points and how your products and services can relieve them.
Blog posts, guides, videos, social media posts, etc., are some kinds of content in which you can talk about the challenges faced by your target audience while introducing your brand’s offerings.
Most people, when they have a problem or a question, go to search engines. Hence, it is essential for your brand to invest in search engine optimization (SEO) — a process of fine-tuning your website’s architecture and content structure to rank higher in the search results for relevant keywords and phrases.
Other places where people (usually) go when they have questions or face challenges are niche communities, social media, and online forums.
By showing up first with a comprehensive answer when your audience has a question, you can maximize your brand awareness and authority.
For measuring the effectiveness of content in this stage, you can monitor metrics such as traffic, impressions, page views, and social media likes, shares, and comments.
When a potential customer becomes a lead, they enter the interest stage. A lead is someone who came across your product or service and wants to know more about how it can help them solve their problem.
To maximize lead generation, you can create “lead magnets” which are resources containing in-depth information on specific topics that are highly valuable to your target audience which they can access in exchange for their contact information.
Content pieces such as eBooks, reports, downloadable PDFs, webinars, etc., fall into this category.
While the content produced in the awareness stage is used for piquing interest and grabbing attention, the content produced in the interest stage (lead magnets) is usually more utility driven.
For instance, if you are selling fitness equipment, an example of a content piece in the awareness stage could be a blog post on the benefits of exercising in the morning. In the case of a lead magnet, it can be a downloadable guide titled “How to set up your home gym”.
The contact information gathered in this stage will be used to nurture your leads further and encourage them to make a purchase.
You can track metrics like click-through rates, email signups, and downloads to measure the efficacy of your lead magnets.
The consideration stage is where your product or service has to make a case for itself against other options available in the market. In other words, your interested leads check whether your product or service will address their specific needs.
You can create and curate content pieces such as case studies, virtual demos, testimonials, expert reviews, and customer interviews to make a strong case for your brand’s offerings.
The aim of these content pieces is to help your potential customers visualize using your solution. You can also achieve this effect by giving them a free trial for your product or a free consultation for your services.
One of the most crucial metrics to track here is the engagement rate. For instance, if your leads are reading a case study similar to their use case, they need to go through that fully to gain a complete understanding of the values offered.
In the decision stage, your lead, who presently understands how your product or service will help them, will determine whether they will make a purchase. For the major part, your work as a brand marketer (or content marketer) is done, but there are still a few things you can do to tip the scales in your favor.
For instance, you can ask in-depth questions to your leads about their current workflow and share with them a personalized report or a checklist on how you think they can use your product or services to get the most value out of your brand.
You can also share the potential benefits of adopting your products or services through tangible estimates. For example, if you are providing accounting services, you can send them an estimation of how much they can save in terms of time and money.
Many brands also send personalized quotes and offer customized discounts to “sweeten” the deal in this phase.
The key metrics you need to focus on here are conversion rates, customer acquisition cost, and revenue generated.
As we mentioned in Chapter 1, a GTM strategy helps SaaS companies maintain strong relations with their customers on an ongoing basis leading to repeat purchases and referrals. This phase of the sales and marketing funnel is all about ensuring your customers continue to get value from your brand and eventually turn into brand promoters.
You can create personalized onboarding tours, help docs, and how-to videos to equip your customers to get the most out of your brand’s offerings.
This stage also gives you the opportunity to collaborate with your customer to create case studies, showcase your product or service’s impact through testimonials, and publish customer interviews.
Apart from relevant content metrics, you can track business performance metrics such as customer lifetime value, customer satisfaction scores, and referrals.
Tiered pricing plans enable SaaS businesses to bill their customers for their products and services based on features accessed, degree of usage, and level of service.
A tiered pricing model helps you target different market segments and provide your customers with more value for their money which is pivotal in increasing revenue or making your SaaS GTM Strategy a success.
Based on your brand’s offerings, you can choose from various tiered pricing models such as:
1. Flat-rate pricing: Your customers pay a fixed amount regardless of how much they use. For instance, Dropbox charges a monthly fee irrespective of how much data you have stored in it.
2. Usage-based pricing: An example of this is Amazon Web Services which charges its users based on how much bandwidth they need.
3. Per-user pricing: Collaborative tools like Slack bill their customers based on the number of users who are accessing the service.
To find and go with the best pricing model, you need to focus on your product’s UVP. For instance, in the case of Slack, their UVP is that they help team members communicate better which allows them to go with the per-user pricing model.
After selecting the basis for your subscription-based SaaS pricing model, the next step is to determine the monetary value for each tier. There are several factors you should consider while putting the price tag on your product or service:
It is essential to keep in mind that the parameters associated with the above factors continuously change. For instance, new technological innovations might reduce your overhead costs and allow you to increase your offerings with the same team.
Therefore, it is crucial to continually keep an eye on the market, your target audience’s problems and preferences, and the competitors to keep evolving your pricing strategy with time.
Customer onboarding is the process of introducing new users to your products and services to help them get the maximum value as per their use cases. Retention is the process of keeping existing customers engaged and satisfied by ensuring they continue to get value from your brand.
Both of these processes, even though they take place after a purchase has been made, are essential to the success of your SaaS GTM strategy. Here are a few reasons why:
For making your customer onboarding and retention processes successful, you need a customer success plan.
A customer success plan outlines the actionable steps that a SaaS company needs to take to ensure that their customers get the desired value from their brand and continue to make repeat purchases.
In simpler terms, it helps SaaS brands tangibly define a “happy customer” and list actionable steps to make it happen.
Let’s consider an example of a SaaS project management tool for small businesses to understand the following components of a customer success plan:
The fourth point in the above list is crucial because that is what will help the user achieve their goal. SaaS brands, therefore, need to create educational content to help their users learn about the functionalities in detail and at a comfortable pace. Zoom’s “Zoom Learning Center” is a great example of how you can structure your content to achieve customer success.
Based on the nature of the values offered by your brand and the resources available to your team, you can choose from the following customer retention strategies:
Tracking relevant performance metrics of your SaaS GTM strategy is essential for measuring your return on investment, identifying various areas of improvement, optimizing marketing efforts, monitoring progress toward business goals, and making data-driven decisions.
You need to have a comprehensive understanding of your business objectives, target market, and unique value propositions to determine which key performance indicators (KPIs) you need to focus on.
A general rule of thumb is to start with business performance metrics (listed below) and reverse-engineer them to isolate the processes or tasks of your GTM strategy that affect it.
The following business performance metrics are the general KPIs that most SaaS brands can track for measuring their GTM strategy’s performance:
On top of the above metrics, you can also track product performance metrics such as feature adoption rate and monthly active users (MAU), and service performance metrics such as customer effort score (CES) and time to resolution (TTR).
Just like the necessary KPIs, the tools required to monitor the performance of your GTM strategy depend on the nature of your business and the offerings of your brand. That being said, here are a few tools that will get you started:
Customer feedback will help you learn about what your customers like and dislike about your product or service, how they are using it, and what additional improvements they want to see.
Simply put, customer feedback is critical in helping you improve the quality of your brand’s offerings to deliver a world-class customer experience which is essential for the success of your SaaS GTM strategy.
Depending on the nature of your brand’s offerings and resources available to you, you can choose from a variety of ways to collect customer feedback to gather actionable insights from it for delivering a better customer experience. Here are a few of them to get you started:
The above strategies will help you collect and act upon two kinds of feedback: direct and indirect. Direct feedback is when a customer explicitly shares their experience with your brand and suggests improvements. Indirect feedback is what your team implicitly infers based on how your customers interact with your product or service.
For obvious reasons, it is easier for brands to collect indirect or implicit feedback as it is often automated with the help of analytics tools.
Let’s look at the roadblocks you might encounter while collecting direct feedback and some simple tips you can follow to overcome them.
There are a few challenges that make it challenging for SaaS brands to collect customer feedback:
Here are four simple but effective ways which will help you get more responses:
Creating and executing a successful SaaS GTM strategy involves:
Content plays a vital role in the success of your SaaS GTM strategy as it educates, engages, and builds trust with your audience, leading to long-term growth and success.
If you need help with that, consider partnering with an experienced SEO agency that specializes in SaaS content marketing, particularly if you are working with a small team and lack the resources to produce and distribute quality content in-house.