Patrick Mackaronis Presents: The SaaS Customer Acquisition Strategy

As the SaaS industry grows and become more competitive, acquiring customers becomes increasingly competitive as well. While a decade ago SaaS companies were novel solutions with competitive advantages, today practically every software company has a built-in SaaS capability. The popularity of Salesforce.com led giants such as Microsoft, Oracle, HP and SAP to create SaaS their own solutions. Competing with these types of companies requires innovative strategies. Today, SaaS Customer Acquisition Strategies must be more layered and sophisticated than ever before to win.

There are several strategies that SaaS companies can take advantage of to boost customers. The first is to provide the easiest on-boarding process so that customers have no paint points in integrating your solution. In general, adding a new SaaS solutions takes time and money. Not only do customers pay for the solution itself, they pay in many hours of employee time to use, understand and integrate the system. Reducing this time helps reduce the customers net cost to use your product.

Another crucial method is to grow an affiliate network. These networks are wonderful because they are extremely efficient, you only pay for the sales that are booked and do not have to invest as much in costly advertisements that have an unpredictable conversion rate. Instead, you can allow your affiliate network to do the marketing, customer service and product description on their own time. The only downside is that you may not be able to control your message and brand as well.

Corporate marketers should not forget about the established channels of developing new customers as well. Enterprise clients tend to be most interested in valuable information that can help them do their jobs better. That could include a proprietary survey, a research report or a niche software widget or tool.

For example, a compliance software company may do a survey of General Counsels to determine the most crucial compliance issue for the year and report it back to potential clients. Another possibility is a custom Salesfore CRM widget that has useful key performance indicators for your industry. Provide these for free to potential clients in exchange for their contact information. Then hand the contact information over to your sales department for follow-up.

Develop these clients through Google Adwords, Twitter promotions, Banner Ads and niche advertising in vertical portals or trade magazines. For example, if you have an SaaS solution for auto dealers, you may want to advertise on Yahoo Autos portal or in the auto section of Consumer Reports. These tried and true methods of marketing tend to generate a large volume of leads to capitalize on.

The last and most important way to acquire SaaS customers is to migrate your current customer set from traditional systems on to SaaS systems. As the relationship is already established and on-going, these are the easiest, highest margin clients. In fact, these would be the first clients to target to grow sales. Companies that migrate traditional clients on to SaaS solutions often provide free upgrade and installation services as well.

Sophisticated marketing partners offer a turn-key solutions that transition clients from their old system to your new one. It automatically manages licenses, subscriptions, recurring billing and renewals simultaneously. As the client will inevitably want to switch to SaaS eventually, a system to manage the transition is crucial. Otherwise, you are assured to lose revenue from lost clients and lost up-sells.

Patrick Mackaronis is the CEO and Founder of social media up-and-comer Brabble. You can connect with Patrick on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or on his website patrickmackaronis.com.

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