The SaaS market is booming more than ever in 2021. To be exact, it is estimated to be worth 145.5 billion dollars.
What’s more, it is expected to achieve the largest annual growth between the years 2021 and 2022. After all, nearly 80% of businesses worldwide use at least one type of SaaS application.
With that in mind, SaaS marketers today need to tap into this immense growth opportunity while keeping the increasing competition at bay. As it stands currently, 89% of SaaS businesses state that customer acquisition is one of their top priorities in terms of growth.
Enter product marketing — the one way for SaaS companies to boost their growth and outperform their competitors. But before I delve deeper into the strategies and trends of SaaS product marketing, let us first understand what it is all about.
What is Product Marketing?
For brands, launching a product is only the beginning of a long and arduous marketing journey.
The process of product marketing ensures that your salespeople and customers are on the same page about your product. The process also establishes the product positioning and all communications related to it. In fact, 92.6% of product managers and marketers regard positioning and messaging of products as top priorities.
Right from conducting thorough product research and creating a product story. In a product marketing strategy, brands should create helpful content, engage the core community and enable sales. Other definitions on the Internet may detail other aspects of product marketing, but one thing is clear. There is a lot of confusion about what product marketers actually do.
According to a study by Product Marketing Alliance, only 56.3% of senior management executives fully understand the value of product marketing in their organization.
When done right, product marketing will touch upon three crucial aspects of any growing business: Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success.
With these aspects in mind, let us look at how successful SaaS businesses go about their product marketing.
What is SaaS Product Marketing? Why is it Important?
For SaaS businesses, product marketing is a largely data-driven approach.
Product marketing takes place before and after the product launch and you can have different product managers to deal with both these stages. But in most cases, an adept product marketing manager can deal with both stages albeit through complex strategies.
I will be honest — SaaS product marketing is a bit more complicated than traditional product marketing processes. But keep in mind that if you do it right, you stand to achieve many gains.
SaaS Product Marketing Strategies
Now that you know what SaaS product marketing entails, let us delve deeper into the proven strategies that you can use to achieve success.
1. Research your Target Audience and Market
First and foremost, conducting thorough research on the target audience and market is of utmost priority. Moreover, as you may already be aware, conducting detailed market research is the cornerstone of successful SaaS businesses.
The goal of researching your target market in the initial stages is simple — you need to understand if your product will be accepted by them. It is also the ideal starting point for you to tailor your marketing and sales strategies accordingly. Researching your target audience will also help you create the right buyer personas for your product, making your marketing strategies more effective.
- With your research, try finding answers to questions like:
- Who is my target audience?
- What makes my product unique in their eyes?
- Who are my top competitors according to my target audience?
- What is the ideal way to communicate with my audience?
Thorough market research will also help you identify the gaps that your product can fill, and the pain points that it can address. These insights are undoubtedly valuable to a well-rounded product campaign and give you a more analytical understanding of the market you are operating in. It can slowly but surely help you create an unbeatable competitive advantage, which is always a good idea.
What’s more, researching the market and analyzing your competitors will ensure that your product hits the mark. More specifically, gaining an understanding of what works and what doesn’t will ensure that your product is fully optimized for market success.
So, when you are building a product marketing strategy for your SaaS business, going about your research in a diligent manner is the first and foremost step to succeeding.
2. Product Targeting and Positioning
Once you have a solid understanding of your target audience and the market in which you are operating, you can shift your focus on paving the way for your product launch.
Even before you launch, think about how you can effectively ensure that your product is targeting the right audience, and is positioned properly. Now, you may be wondering how you can do that. Focusing on your users is the answer.
Adopt a user-centric approach to ensure that your product solves the pain points that it set out to relieve. And before going any further, keep in mind that the user-centricity that we are talking about is not just for marketing or sales, but in all of your processes.
Right from ensuring easy navigation in your product to offering a stellar customer onboarding experience, keep your users at the heart of it all. With such proactive processes, you would be able to show your customers that your product can truly solve their problems.
Once you have targeted your customers the right way through your product, positioning your product is the next crucial step. It is all about finding the right niche and using the right strategies to target customers in that niche.
While positioning, ask yourself these pertinent questions from the perspective of each of your buyer personas:
- Does this product solve my problem?
- What features are the most important for me?
- Does the pricing work for me?
- What are the other alternatives to this product?
- Does the customer service meet my needs?
When you have answers to these questions, you would be able to know how you can position your product in the market. Still confused?
Let us look at the example of HubSpot — one of the most successful SaaS companies in the inbound marketing space. The brand positions itself as a comprehensive, easy-to-use solution for creative teams around the world.
3. Club Sales and Marketing
One of the most naive mistakes that SaaS brands make is separating the marketing and sales aspect of their business. Indeed, both departments have individual and highly specific functions to fulfill, but their union is even more powerful.
Marketing strategies can offer you highly expert insights about your users, and salespeople can utilize them to tailor hyper-targeted messages to potential customers. Moreover, sales teams can offer insights about the customers that marketers can use to curate better deals and strategies.
More importantly, marketing teams can offer valuable insights about the buyer use cases and personas which the sales team can leverage. Sales teams can personalize pitches and messages according to these insights, making their strategies that much more effective.
Ask yourself these questions when you are attempting to create a synergy between your marketing and sales teams:
- What are the goals that I wish to achieve through this union?
- In what ways can my marketing team support my sales team?
- In what ways can my sales team support my marketing team?
- What are the challenges in bringing these two teams together?
Conduct brainstorming sessions that combine the strengths of your marketing and sales teams to achieve better results. SaaS companies extensively depend on digital marketing for generating revenue, combining the strengths of marketing and sales in a unified manner. Experts now believe that a disconnect between marketing and sales teams can potentially derail revenue generation for companies.
4. Inverted Funnel Thinking
Marketing funnels are considered to be highly effective in mapping customer journeys from the point of contact to conversion. While they do structure and organize the process, the one classic variation does not apply to every organization.
If you are unaware of how the traditional marketing funnel works, here’s a quick rundown. Your prospective customers enter the funnel when they get in touch with your company, and gradually move down the funnel as they inch closer to a purchase. Eventually, the ones left at the very bottom of the funnel are your transacting customers. Simple enough, right?
Except, this funnel often overlooks the crucial role that existing loyal customers play for growing SaaS companies. This is where an inverted marketing funnel can be a game-changer. To put its application into perspective, getting new customers is 7x more expensive than retaining the existing ones.
With inverted funnel thinking, you start from the bottom and put the product right at the center. You can then build on the funnel around the product and its features, and create a content strategy that can support this approach. From this point on, product marketing will influence all of your marketing activities.
These questions will guide you through the process of creating an effective inverted funnel:
- Which pain points does your product solve?
- Which are the most valuable features?
- Which standalone features are able to solve other customer pain points?
- Which are these pain points?
Equipped with answers to these questions, you can develop a product marketing strategy revolving around an inverted funnel that works for your SaaS business.
5. Content Marketing
In today’s day and age, it would be impossible to talk about any kind of marketing strategy without considering content marketing. 92% of SaaS marketers consider content as one of their most important business assets.
This makes sense because 67% of B2B buyers rely heavily on content for research and purchasing decisions.
The refined importance of content marketing stems from the fact that SaaS businesses that invest in effective content marketing strategies experience higher growth rates. A solid content strategy ensures that SaaS businesses can educate their customers rather than just giving out technical information about their products.
When you are creating a content marketing strategy to support your product marketing campaign, start by asking these questions:
- Are my content marketing goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound)?
- Do I have the right resources to execute an effective content marketing strategy?
- What are the basic aspects that I should ensure before creating a content marketing strategy?
Remember, stepping up your SaaS content marketing game is only as complicated as you make it. With the right content marketing strategies at your disposal, your SaaS business can climb up the digital ladder faster than you think.
Moz is a great example of getting content marketing for a SaaS business right. Moz’s blog articles span across various categories such as branding, SEO, and content marketing without overwhelming their readers. The result? The company enjoys a steady stream of organic search traffic and ranks higher than most industrial players on the SERPs.
6. Email Marketing
In an age where people are reassessing the role of emails for brand promotions, email marketing is a great channel for SaaS businesses. The software industry enjoys an email open rate of 21.29%.
To create a winning email marketing strategy for your SaaS business, ask yourself pertinent questions like:
- Why did your subscribers register for your emails?
- Which are the customer pain points that you can solve through your emails?
- What are the basic demographics of your subscribers?
- Which are the emails that they engage with the most?
By the time you are creating an email marketing strategy, ensure that you have your buyer persona, and marketing funnel in place. Why? Well, depending on the stage of the funnel your prospect is in, you can tailor your email marketing strategy to push them further towards the goal that you want to achieve.
Additionally, you may want to pay special attention to details such as the placement of CTA, creativity of your email content, and personalization to ensure maximum conversion. Lastly, ensure the alignment of your email campaigns with your KPIs, so that you can determine whether your email marketing efforts are generating the desired results.
7. Adopting SaaS Marketing Automation Tools
Soldiering on for the growth of your SaaS business is no doubt a valiant undertaking. But the good news is that you have tools that can help you achieve your goals much faster.
SaaS marketing can get complicated, and even expensive if you want to deploy experts for every function. But now, you have marketing automation tools that can help you design a truly functional marketing strategy.
Right from conversation marketing to managing a comprehensive suite of SaaS marketing functions, there are tools for every function. And to be honest, a quick research will tell you that SaaS companies are quite notorious for their automation capabilities. As a smart SaaS marketer, you probably already know the many rewards that well-executed automation can offer for your campaigns.
Automating your SaaS marketing functions can potentially save time and money for you in the long run. But more importantly, it can allow you to implement functions with much higher accuracy and efficiency.
Of course, it helps that marketing automation is known to result in a 451% increase of qualified leads.
Needless to say, the tools that you choose to include in your arsenal, can make or break your product marketing campaigns — so choose wisely. Here are a few questions that you should ask when choosing automation tools for your SaaS businesses:
- What do I aim to achieve through this automation tool?
- Does it have all the features that I would need for my business?
- Is the tool customizable and scalable according to my business needs?
- What kind of ROI can I expect through this tool?
Some of the top automation tools such as HubSpot, Drift and Autopilot help SaaS businesses take care of different aspects of their marketing strategies.
8. Measure your Performance and take corrective action
The only way to stay on top of your SaaS business game is to constantly monitor and measure your performance. When it comes to product marketing, organizations can often lose sight of their goals if they do not use the right metrics to measure results.
Of course, SaaS businesses need to take innovative approaches towards their product marketing strategies. The only way to do this is to experiment with different strategies, test out their effectiveness, and seek constant feedback from your customers. This will help organizations improve and work on their performance effectively.
Businesses should constantly improve by implementing a continuous loop for quality checks and improvements. When you test out strategies and measure the results, you will generate a lot of data which can then enable you to make effective decisions for your SaaS business.
While testing and updating your product marketing campaigns, seek answers to the following questions:
- Which aspects of the campaign are working best for the business?
- Which aspects of the campaign are not at all producing desired results?
- Which aspects need to be tweaked or improved to generate desired results?
- What kind of measures can be added or removed to generate desired results?
Just like debugging software is a widely accepted and even recommended practice, debugging your marketing campaigns can be quite necessary. Taking corrective actions essentially means that you took complete ownership of your errors, and work to eliminate the root cause of such issues. Doing so might indeed be helpful for your SaaS business in the long run.
Product marketing is one of the most important functions for SaaS companies. Since their quality and performance depends on how well their product works, product marketing is an important investment for SaaS marketers. Right from using effective product marketing strategies to tapping into the most recent trends, SaaS companies have the opportunity to upgrade their performance through proactive measures.
Amrutha Iyengar is the senior content writer and strategist at Growfusely, a SaaS content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO.