SaaS industry legends like to say that the best marketing strategy is all about building a great product.
Make no mistake: the people saying that actually know how important marketing is. They’ve done a ton of it themselves. We don’t know if they intentionally underrate it or not – but it needs to stop.
So let’s set the record straight, shall we?
In today’s article, we’ll discuss why you need a strong marketing strategy to succeed in the Software-as-a-Service market.
And we’ll start right with the most important reason…
Reason #1. Having a good product isn’t enough
As we mentioned right before, the most important rule in the SaaS industry goes like this:
Your product needs to be so good that it sells itself.
Now, it simply means that you need a great product. That’s a given. It doesn’t mean that you should sit around with said product, wondering when those millions of eager customers are going to show up…
Sadly, that’s what many SaaS brands end up doing. They hope to grow through word of mouth, and that makes them adopt the “build it, and they will come” approach.
But – and we say it at the risk of sounding completely obnoxious – hope is not a strategy!
Don’t get us wrong: having an amazing product is a necessary starting point. Otherwise, why even bother starting a SaaS business? But guess what: you still need an effective process for attracting people, getting them to try your product, and sticking with it.
In other words, you need marketing.
Right now, you might be tempted to look for counter-examples of SaaS brands that succeeded without a strong marketing strategy. Don’t bother. There aren’t any – we checked! Slack, SaaS industry’s biggest success story, has a killer marketing strategy. And Hubspot literally invented “inbound marketing” as we know it!
The same is true for other household names like Salesforce, Intercom, Zendesk, Shopify, you name them. Everybody who’s anybody in the SaaS industry powered their growth with effective marketing. Sure, they also had amazing solutions to offer. But they knew that it takes more to succeed.
Reason #2. You need to (really) know your users
Most SaaS founders think long and hard about what their solution does, and what problem it solves – but not nearly enough about who will be using it. Which is weird, when you think about it.
After all, if you’re going to dedicate your genius, your time, and your labor to solving a problem, then you want to be sure that:
- There are people who need it solved
- They have the money to pay you for it, and
- They actually want to pay (most importantly)
Your best users – the ones who will make you the most money – must check all three boxes. For example, if your SaaS brand sells marketing automation, who would be a better candidate for your services?
- A mid-sized blogger who sends email blasts with no segmentation and sells one product…
- A mid-sized company that needs to integrate its internal analytics software with a third-party CRM – and bookkeeping software from another brand entirely?
Of course the answer is B!
And yes, this is a made-up example – but you’d be surprised how often SaaS companies strive to be everything to everyone instead of focusing on their ideal users. Having a solid marketing strategy will help you know who those users are, and why they may want your solution.
Better yet, it will tell you where to find them and how to talk to them!
Reason #3. SaaS industry is crowded and you need to stand out
There are hundreds… no, scratch that – there are thousands of SaaS brands out there. No matter which target market you’re trying to serve, you will have dozens of competitors.
They might be bigger and better funded than you. Their products might have more functionality than yours. They might even emulate your most successful features. So when you go up against all this, you will need a guaranteed way to differentiate your brand from the pack – or you might as well quit now!
That’s why you need a clear USP and a marketing message that conveys it in terms that resonate with your market, and through channels they actually use. It’s the best, if not the only, way to survive and thrive.
So ask yourself: what makes your brand a better fit for your target market than any of your competitors? You don’t have to be objectively superior – just better for this specific group of people in one specific way.
For example, there are tons and tons of email marketing companies. But they all have different USPs that appeal to their target users:
- ConvertKit appeals to bloggers and online creators…
- AWeber plays up its extensive and personal support…
- Klaviyo positions itself as the email service for ecommerce brands…
- Drip touts its sophisticated and accessible marketing automation…
And so on. Remember: you’re not selling a physical product or even a digital product. You’re selling an ongoing service. Which means you have to articulate its benefits really clearly – and keep articulating them even post-conversion.
Speaking of which…
Reason #4. Retention is just as important as acquisition
Growth is the Holy Grail of the SaaS industry. When we talk about how successful a company is, we point to how many new users it’s acquiring.
But… why? As a metric of success, it doesn’t mean much. Are those users paying customers? Will they actually use the product or just maintain an account? We don’t know.
And the most important question is: will those new users stick around?
The most successful – as in, the most profitable – SaaS companies have figured out that acquisition isn’t the most important piece of the puzzle…
Long-term paying users are the lifeblood of any SaaS company. But they won’t stick around just because they chose to do business with you once.
No, you need to make sure they keep choosing you: over canceling their account, over switching to a competitor, over downgrading to a free plan… every day, over and over.
If this sounds like relationship advice, that’s because it is a relationship – and similar rules apply!
A solid marketing strategy emphasizes retention just as much as acquisition. It will help you communicate with your existing users, support them more effectively, and incentivize them to stay.
Plus, with an effective marketing strategy, you can even leverage these relationships to acquire more users: through referrals, testimonials, and case studies. So it’s not just about keeping what you have – being smart about retention can, and will, boost your growth!
Reason #5. Everything is marketing
We all know that sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin. They work together and complement one another.
But marketing ties into more than just sales. Any interaction you have with a potential, current, or former customer can strengthen your relationship… or damage it. From this point of view, everything is marketing:
- Customer support – because it has a direct impact on your retention rates, and it can persuade new prospects to buy.
- Front-end and back-end development – because it dictates the user experience and affects how people see your brand.
- Human Resources – because to hire people effectively, your HR department needs to be aware of your marketing objectives.
- Management and leadership – because you can’t really manage or lead people without knowing your message, your target market, and your strategy, can you?
And so on. Marketing affects your SaaS brand in hundreds of subtle ways, across all departments, top to bottom and vice versa. We just don’t think about it that way!
So don’t just develop a marketing strategy and call it a day. Make the time and effort to convey it to your entire team, and align your processes with your marketing principles and values.
Get everyone on the same page about what the USP is, who the target market is and how to communicate with them, and what the goals are – and you’ll be amazed how much you can achieve!
Get a free audit of your SaaS video marketing strategy
Do you use video marketing to grow your SaaS brand? Then let’s talk! Our experts at The Draw Shop will be happy to examine your strategy and find room for improvement.
And if there isn’t any, we’ll just give you an admiring high five and be on our way! Just kidding – we promise you’ll walk away from us with valuable insights to implement.