Marketing Strategies to Grow Your SaaS Business Part 3 of a Series
Software as a Service marketing needs to build trust and credibility. Here are some marketing strategies that work.
This is part three of our five-part series on SaaS marketing. Part one describes the SaaS formula and how marketing SaaS may differ from marketing for traditional products. In part two, we discussed marketing strategies that have proven highly successful for our clients. In this article, as well as in part four, we will continue examining marketing strategies for SaaS solutions. In part five, we review the special metrics that a SaaS marketer needs to track.
Software as a Service marketing presents unique challenges, due to the diverse target audience, competitive landscape, and the need to build trust and credibility. No single program can work in isolation. It takes a comprehensive program that brings in a variety of elements and campaigns. We highly encourage you to read part one and part two before proceeding.
These are some of the additional programs that should be considered as part of ANY SaaS marketing effort:
Partner Programs - Leveraging another company's time, energy, talent, and relationships can be an extremely effective method to quickly grow your SaaS business. Partner programs can be extremely cost-effective because another company is committing its resources and reputation to help grow your business. Typically, the reseller takes on the responsibility of onboarding the new client and handling any initial customer support issues. It is like hiring a commission-based sales team that already has a large client list of companies that represent your targeted personas. This streamlines and shortens the sales process as they do not need to find a prospect and build trust. Often, they simply are sharing your SaaS solution with their existing customers. You, then, are leveraging the trust and relationship they already have acquired.
To have an effective partner program, you MUST adhere to a few hard and fast rules.
Clearly Define the Program - Set forth, in a clear and transparent manner, all the terms and conditions, including pricing, profit margins, and sales targets. This will ensure a transparent, and mutually beneficial, partnership with your resellers.
Train - Provide comprehensive training and support to your resellers to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively sell your products or services. Make sure training is conducted at regular intervals, and that the reseller becomes certified.
Campaigns in a Box - Provide co-branded omni-channel marketing campaigns that the reseller can implement with little effort. The reseller will NOT implement any marketing programs on their own. They need to be spoon-fed and given ALL the elements of the campaign in a manner that simply allows them to click a few buttons. When we create campaigns, we take the "feet-on-the-desk" mentality. When the reseller is at home on a Friday night, relaxing and drinking an adult beverage, she should be able to sit at her laptop and with a few keystrokes roll out the campaign you created.
Make sure, when you send the campaign over each month, you highlight the success (e.g. sales) that the other resellers had in prior months.
Incentivize - Of ALL the "hard and fast rules," this is the MOST critical to having a successful reseller program. Make sure the program is lucrative enough, that the resellers are willing to change their business model to include your offering. They will not make ANY effort if your reseller program is hard or not profitable.
What is considered a lucrative program for a reseller depends on the industry. I have seen client programs range from 20% to 30%, depending on the industry norm. What you want to do, to differentiate yourself and make the client want to actively promote your SaaS product, is pay them the commission for as long as that client utilizes your SaaS solution.
HubSpot is a classic example of how effective it is to have a well-compensated program. Up until this year, HubSpot would pay their top-tiered partners 20% commission for as long as the client used HubSpot. It didn't matter if the client later switched marketing agencies. The result was that 65% of ALL HubSpot sales were attributable to their partner program
Referral Programs - A referral program differs from a partner program in that it usually involves customers, or brand advocates, whose only obligation is to refer a potential client.
A referral program also leverages the trust that already exists between the referrer and their contact.
The referral is motivated by a financial reward. Many programs have a bifurcated reward structure paying a small amount if the referred prospect takes a meeting and a larger amount if they become a customer.
This program works for all the same reasons as the reseller program. It is also true, that you need to adhere to some hard a fast rules if you want to get ANY success using a referral program.
The Program Must Have True Incentives - If you expect to get referrals, make the program truly worthwhile for the referral partner. I have seen companies try to “reward” a highly paid professional $50 for a referral. Any individual who is already well-paid is not going to put their reputation on the line for such a meager amount. If you expect a referral program to work, make sure that the people you ask will find the reward enticing.
Provide Referral Content - Provide referral partners banners, emails, a one-pager, and other content they can share with their targeted group.
Communicate - Communicate and engage with participants to show appreciation for their efforts and keep them motivated. By following these tips, businesses can create a referral program that drives growth and customer loyalty.
Clearly Define the Program - It is essential to clearly define the referral program's terms and conditions, including the rewards for both the referrer and the referred customer. Make sure the program is easy to understand and communicate effectively to your customers.
Make it Easy to Refer - The referral process should be simple and convenient for both the referrer and the referred customer. Implement user-friendly referral mechanisms, such as personalized referral links, email invitations, or social media sharing buttons.
NOTE: Prevail Marketing strongly believes in the power of a partner and referral program and offers 20% top revenue commissions for the life of the client for all referrals.
Peer-to-Peer Review Sites - There are many review sites that will provide product reviews, and testimonials, and make a competitive comparison between similar SaaS solutions. That same review process is available in the B2B business sector and increases a legitimate source for obtaining high-quality leads. Some of these sites include Gartner Peer Insights, Capterra, G2 Crowd, Finances Online, GetApp, SourceForge, and Software Advice. Typically, these sites have both an organic and a pay-to-play option.
It is all built on the premise that it is not what you say about yourself that counts, but what others say about you. These are considered authentic and highly trustworthy because the comparisons they make are based on the reviews of actual users. While it does make sense to consider the pay-to-play option, there is still much to be gained by using the organic side of these sites.
The first step is to optimize the product page that these sites provide. Fill out the site with your most compelling content. Share screenshots that depict your solution. Include videos showing the product in use. One of the best videos you can include is an explainer video that showcases the product's unique value proposition and ease of use.
The next step is to have a formal program that encourages your current clients to submit reviews on each site. This may be a little work for them because these sites do not allow for any review that is the same as found on another site. To ease the pain, send them an Amazon or Starbucks gift card after they complete the reviews. Make sure that any gift card given is seen as compensating them for the time and not buying the review. Also, make sure you comply with any gift-giving restrictions either your company or theirs might have.
Besides a narrative testimonial, most of these sites will rank a product on a number of categories and give a numerical rating for each (typically one to five). Do not be concerned if your customers are not giving you all fives for each category. As long as the review is positive, the person reading the review will find it more credible if there are some less-than-perfect ratings.
Account-Based Marketing - If you have a number of potentially high-valued prospects, where landing those accounts will change your stars, consider using an account-based marketing (ABM) approach.
Account-based marketing is a highly focused strategic approach implemented by marketing and sales teams to target high-value accounts using very personalized content. It flips the traditional marketing funnel upside down by focusing on specific target accounts and then engaging individuals within those accounts.
ABM works, because it provides targeted outreach to companies you know would benefit from your services by leveraging a highly personalized buying experience directed toward decision-makers and internal influencers
For a better understanding of how account-based marketing works, and how it can benefit your organization, please take a look at the 21-page ebook that we recreated on the subject called, "Account-Based Marketing - Don't Wait for the Client to Come to You."
In our effort to keep these blogs to a reasonable length, we will conclude our discussion on marketing strategies for SaaS companies in part four. The topics we will cover are:
Speed to Lead