How to market your SaaS startup in 2018

SaaS marketing is challenging. It is a lot more complex than marketing a physical product. The relationship does not end by delivering a product to a customer; it evolves with the customer over time. You have to always be up to date with the most recent technologies in the market to be an efficient growth hacker.

So where do you start? What should you learn? And how do you run your very first SaaS marketing campaign? Here are eleven steps that will help you market any Software as a Service company.

1- #ForgetTheFunnel

Take advantage of Georgiana Laudi and Claire Suellentrop’s forget the funnel workshops. They have exceptional portfolios and are helping the community by sharing their experiences. Forget the funnel releases a new thirty-minute workshop every Wednesday and it will turn you into a professional data-aware SaaS marketer.

2- Define your customers

Learning about your customers is the most important step to market your product. Try answering some key questions:

  • Are you selling to other businesses (B2B) or individuals (B2C)?
  • What online communities are your customers connected to?
  • What is the job they are trying to get done and how will your product help them solve it?
  • What terms do your customers use to describe the problem? What terms would they use to describe your product?
  • Can you list at least five potential customers? Who is your ideal customer?

Answering these questions will help you define your product and validate your development path. Some answers may not be obvious and require you to ask questions, run surveys, and test. Don’t waste time assuming what people need; search for answers backed by data.

3- Understand your customer’s journey

In a typical SaaS, the journey starts with a visitor who visits your website. A visitor then becomes a lead by asking a question, sign up for a free trial or freemium account. She then becomes a user and finally a paying customer and continue to evolve with your product. The journey never ends, so the sooner you understand it, the faster you can optimize the customer movement between each step of the journey.

Customer flow can be completely different depending on your product. The key is to define your lead types that you know you can measure. You can always start with the four basic lead types: visitors, leads, users, and paying customers. Jot down the steps it will take a customer to go from visitor to a paying customer.

4- Pour all your leads into a single flow

Be organized. A messy marketing campaign will produce messy results. Your leads might be entering your campaign from many different channels, such as your mailing list subscription, chat conversation on your website, contact page form, and even direct email. Managing these leads from each channel independently will take a lot of manual work, causing negligence and potentially loss of valuable leads. Try moving all your leads into a single location for easier management.

Intercom and Zapier are two tools that can help you do this very well. You can use Intercom to manage, contact, and track all your leads, and Zapier to move all your leads from each channel into Intercom. Make sure to always know where your leads came from originally!

5- Keep a close eye on your Google Analytics data

Make sure you have Google Analytics setup on all website sections, landing pages, and published contents. It is always a good practice to have more than one property setup on your Analytics, one that holds your main live traffic data, and another that you can play around with, set goals, tag visitors, and track interesting visitor’s behavior. If you are a more advanced GA user, take advantage of Google Tag Manager and custom dimensions.

6- Learn and use Intercom as much as you can

Intercom is one of my favorite SaaS companies. You’ve seen that famous clean little chat button on the bottom right corner of every SaaS website. Yes, most likely it’s Intercom.

They’ve created the most intuitive tool that revolutionizes lead management, customer relationship, and email marketing. Some very cool things you can do with Intercom:

  • Use Intercom as a lead management tool. Sync all your leads from every channel into Intercom. Forward your website contact form enquiries to Intercom, use the Intercom website chat widget, and keep all conversations in Intercom instead of email.
  • Qualify your customers each step of the way to weed out low quality customers using Intercom. You can’t afford an unfit customer.
  • Track user events and usage reports in Intercom. Learn how your users are using your product by integrating your SaaS with Intercom events.
  • Lastly, run meaningful automated marketing campaigns. Don’t tell an active customer how to perform basic tasks, and don’t teach new customers about advanced features. Tailor each email by observing the customer behavior in Intercom.

If you are on a budget and just starting your SaaS, apply for Intercom early stage startup program.

7- Understand key financial SaaS metrics

Financial metrics are the fruit of all your marketing effort. They help you measure how well your company is and will be performing. There are some major key metrics that you need to have memorized:

  • MRR and ARR. What is your monthly and annual recurring revenue? This is the total you are making each month and then multiplied by twelve for yearly.
  • Average revenue per account, ARPA. How much a customer is paying you per month on average? This number correlates directly with your pricing model.
  • Churn rate. What percentage of your customers are cancelling their service with you each month? Understand what keeps people engaged.
  • Customer lifetime value, LTV. What is the average amount each customer will pay you through their lifetime of using your SaaS?

There is a great article written by Gasper Vidovic on SaaS metrics. It explains all the necessary metrics you need to know as SaaS marketer, founder, or a manager. I highly recommend reading it. It will cover most the above financial metrics in much more detail.

8- Familiarize yourself with Stripe and Servicebot

Gathering the financial metrics described above can be daunting without the correct tools. Stripe is the largest and most powerful online payment gateway. It takes care of the credit card payments and PCI compliance.

Stripe is a developer oriented system, so it requires some manual work to integrate with your SaaS. That is where Servicebot comes handy.

Serivcebot is a platform to sell SaaS and it works with Stripe. You’ve seen the typical pricing table on every SaaS website. You can define your pricing tiers or usage-based pricing and Servicebot will automatically generate your pricing table, customer billing management portal, and subscription management UI. You can then connect Serivcebot to Intercom and Databox for maximum efficiency.

Pricing table auto generated by Servicebot

9- Build your dream dashboard with Databox

It is very tough to find the best analytical system amongst so many out there. Well, let me introduce to you the winner of this year’s SaaS data Analytics award, Databox (rated by me btw ;)

Databox can connect to a long list of applications, including the ones mentioned above, to let you build the sickest looking chart that you can present to partners, bosses, and even investors.

You can send daily score cards to people, view all your charts on a mobile app, or share it through a link. There is a list of ready to use dashboards that you can pick from, or you can get fancy and build a custom chart that describes your SaaS the best. Look at an example custom SaaS dashboard that I made with Intercom, Servicebot, and Databox:

SaaS dream dashboard made by Databox, Intercom, and Servicebot

10- Read Traction

“Put half your efforts into getting traction.” Understanding how important it is to get market validation and not get sucked into development loopholes is very important. Learn about the 19 marketing channels, find which one moves the needle for you, and exhaust that channel. If you haven’t read the book Traction by Gabriel Weinberg, I would highly recommend it. You can also listen to the audiobook or just read the takeaways. It will become the bible of your marketing campaigns.

11- Set goals with a fixed timeline

Make sure you start with some real data. Don’t guess your traffic, number of leads in each step, or your qualified leads. If you don’t have any of this data, stop everything you’re doing and start recording all of this vital information. You’ll be fumbling blindly without it.

Once you are ready, define the following metrics and set a 3–6 month goal for them:

All other metrics should be automatically calculated once this data is known. Let your SaaS dashboard present this to you on a daily basis.

Run your campaign

You are now ready to run your marketing campaign. Track your data and constantly learn. Maximize your learning process by connecting with people. You aren’t the only one. Follow Ross Simmonds, he has a lot to say and you are going to enjoy his SaaS marketing content. Join SaaS Growth Hacks Facebook group. People are usually very helpful and have depth of knowledge.

Let me know your progress as you start your marketing journey. Hit me up on Twitter.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +367,690 people.

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