One of the most frequent questions we get asked by startup SaaS businesses concerns what marketing activity should be planned to launch a new SaaS product.
OK, there’s quite lot to take into consideration. And a lot of the how, when and what depends on the merits of each individual SaaS venture. So here with some caveats, we’ll try to provide some answers.
If the product provides a solution to a problem that is widely recognised, then it is likely people search online for it already. This means you can get up and running with SEO and PPC straightaway, as an engine for an inbound marketing strategy.
No ready-made market
When the product is blue sky and doesn’t fit into any existing software category, you may have to go from a standing start. People won’t be searching for it online. Your marketing needs to incorporate problem recognition and raise awareness about the presence of your solution in the marketplace. Essentially, you’ll need an outbound and ‘awareness’ focus to your marketing activity. Email, PR, advertising and social campaigns are central to people understanding the need for your product.
Where a SaaS venture is fully funded, either by investors or owners, then there shouldn’t be any financial barriers to getting your marketing effort working at maximum level from Marketing Day #1. Of course, many companies start piecemeal, with core team members wearing multiple hats and some dabbling in marketing. This is a necessary evil! So, as soon as you can, regroup around a properly constructed, reasoned and costed marketing strategy.
Quite simply, marketing requires funding. The bigger the campaign activity the more it costs. Where marketing funds need to come from income or from a limited pot, then it is likely that you have to start marketing at a slower pace and scale up as income permits.
The key to understanding when to start marketing is dependent on where the product is in its development lifecycle. Is it at concept stage or MVP, or even further along the maturity curve?
If you just have an idea it’s worth thinking about marketing, maybe with a Marketing Strategy at this stage. If you enjoy writing, starting a blog to begin conceptualising and getting the word out there may be worthwhile.
Depending on how long it will be for the product to be launched will have an impact on when you start other marketing, branding and website activity.
Minimum Viable Product
By the time you’ve reached MVP, you have likely put some serious time in on the project. That may have included working on branding and strategy. These help form a really good platform for launching your marketing effort. Focusing on the quick wins of low hanging fruit is a good way of achieving fast growth early on, giving you the ability to invest more in marketing, or even attract funding, should it be necessary.
For a product with a good market fit, it’s time to start scaling marketing and finding repeatable, consistent marketing, and do more of it. Now is also a time to consider adding some other channels to your marketing mix.
The input from recognised industry experts provides a good source of credibility (and fuels marketing content too). It may be that you have insider expertise on your team already. This is quite common for Line-of-Business applications that provide a solution for a specific industry or niche.
You’d think it quite obvious that having insider insight is a good thing to have, but you would be surprised at how many hopeful SaaS development ventures do not have such experience onboard. If you don’t have an expert on board find one, or at least work closely with one before you start marketing.
Within your marketing strategy, it may be worth considering an initiative of leveraging other businesses that might use your app to help their customers. For example, Xero successfully utilises accountants to promote the platform. Accountants love Xero because it means bookkeeping by the end user customer is delivered in the correct format, making life a lot easier for the accountancy firm. Not every product lends itself to a partner marketing approach, but if yours does, give it some serious thought.
Get your product promoted on SaaS directory websites like AppSumo and Product Hunt. AppSumo focuses on driving uptake, through allowing buyers to get better deals for subscriptions. Product Hunt socialises app discovery, by letting users vote and comment on apps listed on its website. These aren’t the only ones!
Failing to hook up and properly plan your marketing activity can at best waste time and money. At worst, it can be the difference between success and failure. Marketing is an investment, and to get the best return for your cash you need to time it properly and spend in the right areas.
For SaaS businesses with a professional, experienced marketer onboard, it is essential to recruit a specialist inhouse, or engage with an agency that specialises in the SaaS marketplace.
We’ve helped over 150 B2B SaaS businesses like yours since 2009. Perhaps it’s your turn now? Simply arrange a free one-hour consultation today.
When it comes to marketing, SaaS has its own set of rules!
Get leading edge insights into marketing your SaaS business by downloading our free white paper.
Find out more and get started with a free one hour consultation.