SaaS Marketing 101: How to Get Your App to Sell Itself

Geri Mileva on SaaS Marketing

Software as a Service (SaaS) companies have billions of potential customers on the Internet, which is why the industry is growing exponentially each year.

The freemium-to-premium model works for many SaaS companies, but of course, experiencing growth (even by 60% a year!) will not necessarily lead to multi-million-dollar success for startups.

Marketing a SaaS Product

Perhaps one of the main reasons why SaaS is quite a volatile market is because landing and maintaining clients can be a bit more complex when you have a product that is intangible.

In fact, surveys show that less than 20% of new revenue comes from existing customers who get upsell or expansion deals. Only bigger companies with seven-figure revenues are able to rely on upsells and expansions.

One thing remains clear: Internet-driven companies devote resources largely to marketing campaigns. Tracking key performance indicators like conversion rate, number of visitors, trials, and closed deals can significantly impact the business.

How to Get an App to Sell Itself

With SaaS apps, the job doesn’t end when you land clients. It’s about continuously creating opportunities to upsell or cross-sell. And building such a process requires strengthening inbound and outbound marketing that specifically fits the SaaS mold.

Here are some key points to consider when it comes to successfully selling SaaS products:

1.   Keep your trials short

In any industry, offering giveaways proves to be effective in encouraging potential customers to make a purchase. With SaaS products, it’s no different—trial periods are usually what attract users to enter the sales funnel.

However, it’s important to keep free trial periods short.

How short?

Well, some experts say that most companies should limit the trial to about 14 days.

There are a couple of reasons why a short trial period is ideal. First, most users don’t use the app for the full duration anyway. Users who are not really that interested would stop using the app after about three days.

With a short trial, you shorten the sales cycle, you reduce customer acquisition costs, and you are able to identify right away which customers are highly qualified.

Aside from that, offering a short trial time suggests immediacy. Users won’t have time to procrastinate or think twice about your offer.

A continuous email drip strategy for those who made a purchase and those who did not (for the time being) will help you keep in close contact with all potential customers.

2.   Maximize your email campaign

For SaaS startups, drip campaigns provide that much-needed opportunity to stay in touch with all trial users and past or current customers.

Send a lot of emails. Keep track of leads who have visited your site, signed up for your newsletter, or engaged in a trial, especially if the trial is about to end. Remember, drip campaigns should be a part of your onboarding and customer service processes. Therefore, it pays to communicate meaningfully through emails.

With drip campaigns, try to use a human-sounding email address—instead of sending via “sales@company.com,” use “yourname@company.com” to make it feel more personal.

There are many ways in which you can automate and optimize your email campaigns, as there are powerful automation tools that can make emails easier to execute and manage.

Tools like Intercom are making online marketing and sales more human, in that you can send pre-scheduled custom messages to your users. You can track events and ultimately maximize the benefits of an email campaign.

3.   Reduce friction

To attract conversions via in-app purchases or downloads, you have to make the process as simple as possible. It should take no more than a few minutes for the user to be able to get your product.

While a sign-up form will get you your leads’ information, complicating the process of gaining access to your app will only result in lost prospects. And that’s not a good thing at all.

What you can do is hold off getting every piece of information at the start of the process. Trim the requirements to get started and eliminate friction. You can always gather more once users have signed up anyway.

4.   Demonstrate value, not features

Companies often consider demos as similar to training sessions. While training videos and resources are great, your leads don’t necessarily need (or want) to see every single feature that your product has.

Instead, focus on showing qualified leads how your product will help them overcome an issue or a challenge.

Keep the video short, and always focus on benefits, not features. Basically, convince your leads not only about what your product can do, but what it can do for them.

5.   Build a blog that helps consumers

Content marketing is a major aspect of inbound marketing that can boost customers’ trust in your brand and widen the market base for your products.

Company blogs that provide informative and interesting content will attract a customer following. Such a service will generate valuable inbound traffic.

But more than that, blog articles can provide how-to strategies—a platform to train users (and soon-to-be users) about certain features of your product.

It’s another proven way to strengthen your connection with customers and leads.

6.   It’s okay to be expensive

When it comes to pricing, SaaS companies tend to view it as a competitive tactic to edge out other service providers.

For apps, an aggressive stance is needed to optimize a deep funnel in the long run. This means that your price shouldn’t be the factor to make your product stand out; instead, it should be the value that your product or service brings.

Stick to your guns when setting prices—your team has put in grueling hours to create the app, and you deserve that money. Don’t worry about negative reviews. Instead, use feedback to fix your app and make the features more satisfying to customers.

CloudSponge, a SaaS company that integrates and connects address books, learned from experience that it takes a good deal of trial and error to come up with the right pricing.

For them, it’s okay to be too expensive for some users. As long as the majority of them believe that your product is worth the price, then you are doing it right.

In fact, it could save your company a lot of trouble if your product is too expensive for non-qualified leads. Think about it. If your app is affordable for everyone, there’s a bigger chance that you will gain customers who would constantly complain, need more support than others, etc.

These types of customers could demoralize your team, spread negative reviews, and burden you with additional costs. Hence, it’s better to just attract users who are qualified and fit your buyer persona.

Conclusion

Marketing a SaaS app is wholly different from marketing products like food or clothing—customers cannot physically experience the product itself. It’s only accessible online. It can be quite challenging to market apps, since marketers need to reconsider traditional marketing processes and try other tactics.

These actionable strategies are just a few examples of what changes you can make to enable growth in your product development and sales cycle.

It’s always helpful to test and retest until your team finds the right blend of strategies to stretch your app’s reach and increase its sales potential.