SaaS product marketing is the practice of promoting and selling a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution to a targeted audience through various channels and strategies. It encompasses activities such as market research, content creation, advertising, and customer engagement to attract, convert, and retain users for the subscription-based software offering.
How is SaaS Product Marketing Different From Traditional Marketing
SaaS product marketing is different from traditional product marketing primarily because it focuses on promoting a software service that is subscription-based rather than a one-time purchase. This shift impacts everything from the sales cycle to customer engagement strategies.
Reducing customer churn is also critical.
SaaS product marketing is also different because a typical SaaS product evolves all the time. Unlike other industries where the product tends to remain the same for months/years, product marketers must deal with constant product iterations. Core features get updated, and new features are added all the time. Product marketers need a flexible marketing plan to stay on top of these changes to ensure adoption.
Read this article for more information about why SaaS marketing is different.
How SaaS Product Marketers Collaborate with Different Departments
SaaS product marketers work with different teams in a company to help sell and improve the software. SaaS product marketers work closely with the product development team, marketing department, sales, and customer success teams. They sit at the center of all these departments.
Let’s quickly look at the role of SaaS product marketing in different departments.
How SaaS Product Marketers Work with the Product Development Team
SaaS product marketers work closely with the product development team to understand the software’s features, capabilities, and upcoming updates. This collaboration is essential for crafting accurate and compelling messages to attract and retain customers.
Product marketers often provide feedback from customers and the market to help the developers improve the product. They may also help set the timing for new feature releases based on marketing campaigns or customer needs.
The relationship is a two-way street: the product development team helps the marketers understand what to promote, and the marketers help the developers understand what customers really want.
How SaaS Product Marketers Work with the Marketing Team
SaaS product marketers work with the marketing team to create and execute campaigns that attract new customers and keep current ones happy. They help decide what to say in ads, emails, or social media posts, and might even work on bigger projects like webinars or events.
Their role doesn’t stop at just creating campaigns; they also look at data to see what’s working and what isn’t. By analyzing things like customer engagement or how many new sign-ups a campaign brings in, they can tweak their strategies to be more effective. This helps both the product and the larger marketing goals succeed.
How SaaS Product Marketers Work with the Sales Team
SaaS product marketers work with the sales team to give them the tools and information they need to sell the software. They create things like brochures, presentations, and case studies that help explain the product’s features and benefits. This makes it easier for the sales team to convince potential customers that the product is right for them.
In addition to providing sales materials, product marketers also gather feedback from the sales team about what customers are saying. This helps them understand what aspects of the product are most appealing or where improvements could be made.
How SaaS Product Marketers Work with the Customer Experience/Success Team
SaaS product marketers work with the customer experience or success team to understand how users feel about the product. They pay attention to customer feedback and concerns, often using this information to improve marketing messages or even suggest product updates. The goal is to make sure customers are satisfied and continue to use the software.
By working closely with the customer success team, product marketers can also identify happy customers who could become advocates for the product. These customer stories or testimonials can be powerful tools in marketing campaigns.
Essentially, the customer experience team helps the marketers know what customers love, while the marketers use this information to attract new users and keep current ones engaged.
How SaaS Product Marketers Work with the Executive Leadership Team
SaaS product marketers work with the executive leadership team to align their marketing strategies with the company’s overall goals and vision. They often present data and insights on market trends, customer behavior, and campaign performance to help leaders make informed decisions.
High-level collaboration ensures that the marketing efforts support the business objectives, such as revenue growth or customer retention.
The executive leadership team provides the product marketers with direction and resources. They may approve budgets for marketing campaigns, or give the go-ahead for strategic partnerships and new initiatives. By working closely with the leadership, product marketers help to steer the company in a direction that maximizes both customer satisfaction and business success.
How To Create A SaaS Product Marketing Team
Creating a SaaS product marketing team involves assembling a group of professionals with complementary skills to promote and support a subscription-based software product. Here are some roles commonly found in such a team:
- SaaS Product Marketing Manager: Leads the team and sets the overall marketing strategy.
- Content Marketer: Creates educational and engaging content to attract and retain customers.
- Digital Marketer: Manages online advertising and digital channels to attract new users.
- Data Analyst: Analyzes metrics to measure the success of marketing campaigns and suggest improvements.
- Sales Enablement Specialist: Provides the sales team with the tools and information they need to effectively sell the product.
These roles form the backbone of a SaaS product marketing team. This guide discusses how to structure a SaaS marketing team in greater depth.
Budget and goals are two critical factors for deciding the makeup of your SaaS product marketing team because they essentially set the boundaries and targets for your marketing efforts.
Your budget determines how many people you can hire and what types of marketing activities you can afford. Your marketing objectives, whether they’re about customer acquisition, retention, or upselling existing customers, guide the skills and roles you’ll need on your team.
Every SaaS company will need to expand their SaaS product teams as they grow.
Lindsay Bayuk, the CMO of Pluralsight, has a very nice article covering this subject. Essentially, she explains that you’ll have five options for organizing the product team, but only three are viable. These are:
- By objective – This is the model they use at Pluralsight. It requires you to first figure out your business objective. You’ll then organize your team around those objectives, assigning each major objective to a product marketing manager (PMM).
- By sales segment – With this model, product marketers will be assigned to specific customer segments as defined by your sales team. For example, if you have customers segmented according to business size (SMB vs. Enterprise), you’ll have a PMM for each segment.
- By line of business – This is a great option if you have a software platform with multiple products serving different kinds of customers. For example, if you have software with products for Finance, HR, and Marketing teams. With this model, you’ll align your product marketers with each line of business.
Bear in mind that each of these options has its pros and cons. I recommend checking out Lindsay’s article for more details.
How To Create a SaaS Product Marketing Strategy in 5 Steps
Creating a SaaS marketing strategy involves a carefully planned approach that aligns with your business goals and optimizes your budget for maximum impact. In this section, you’ll learn how to create a winning SaaS product marketing strategy. You’ll also gain insights into best practices.
1. Gather Customer Data and Create a Buyer Persona
The first thing you should do when crafting a product marketing strategy is to create a detailed buyer persona. This persona serves as a blueprint for understanding your target customers, helping you tailor your marketing messages, select the most effective channels, and design campaigns that resonate with your audience.
Focus on gathering the following information to build your buyer persona:
- Demographic and firmographic information.
- Goals, pain points, and challenges.
- Role and job responsibilities.
- Buyer journey.
- Customer support inquiries.
These details are necessary for your business to develop and promote products that match customers’ needs. For example, Amanda; is the fictional ideal client for Optinmonster, a lead generation tool.
See how all her information makes her a perfect candidate for Optimmonster’s lead generation software. This buyer persona details what Amanda views as success factors, her priorities, perceived barriers, and the criteria she uses when making decisions.
Gather a variety of data to create a comprehensive and accurate representation of your target customer. One of the best ways to gather this information is by getting to know your customers. You can:
- Conduct direct interviews with customers can yield rich, qualitative data. Ask about their challenges, how they found your product, what solutions they were looking for, and what they like or dislike about your offering.
- Listen to customer support calls can reveal common issues or concerns customers have. Pay attention to the words and phrases they use.
- Observe discussions about your product or industry on social media and forums can offer an unfiltered view into what potential customers are interested in or concerned about.
- Watch recordings of sales team interactions with customers and potential customers. This can provide insights into common questions, objections, and characteristics of people who close deals.
Collecting and synthesizing data from these multiple sources will allow you to create a well-rounded buyer persona. That will help you create an effective SaaS product marketing strategy.
2. Research Your Competitors
A comprehensive competitor analysis helps you learn from your competitors’ mistakes and duplicate their successes. You can identify opportunities to help you outperform them and learn SaaS marketing trends. With this information, you can develop a unique value proposition for your product and market it accordingly.
Analyze your competitor’s most effective marketing techniques and communication methods. For example, check their paid ad campaigns, target keywords, and search ranking.
Use tools such as Ahrefs to search for websites directly competing with yours.
As you can see from a search for Leadgenius.com, Ahrefs generates a comprehensive list of competing domains. You can then use metrics from these sites to collect actionable insights. Look for information such as top-performing pages, unique keywords, and search volume.
3. Define Your Marketing Channels
You should define your marketing channels when creating a product marketing plan to ensure that your efforts are focused and effective. Choosing the right channels is crucial for reaching your target audience where they are most active and receptive.
Start by evaluating different channels based on your buyer persona and business goals. For instance, if your target customers frequently listen to podcasts, a robust podcasting strategy may be essential. Conversely, if you’re targeting enterprise clients, more traditional channels like email marketing, Account Based Marketing, or industry events might be more effective.
Once you’ve selected your channels, allocate the budget and resources accordingly.
Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) for each channel to measure effectiveness over time, and be prepared to adjust your channel strategy based on performance data and changing market conditions.
4. Set Goals and KPIs
Set goals for your product marketing strategy to provide direction and focus for your marketing activities. Clearly defined objectives serve as benchmarks for success, helping you measure the effectiveness of your efforts over time.
Here’s an example of a good department goal for a SaaS business: Increase industry-wide market share of our top-selling SaaS product by at least 15% by the end of the year.
The goal is SMART:
- Specific: The goal gives the area of growth, product line, and level of growth.
- Measurable: The goal can be tracked by looking at the number of new customers and growth in new markets.
- Achievable: Assuming this company grew by something like 12% the previous year, then this goal is achievable.
- Relevant: The goal must be relevant to the company’s overall strategy.
- Time-bound: It is clearly stated that the firm will try to reach its goal by the end of the year.
You should also set goals for each marketing channel.
Setting goals enables you to align your marketing activities with broader business objectives, ensuring a cohesive and purpose-driven approach to promoting your SaaS product.
5. Monitor Your Performance
You need to monitor the performance of your product marketing plan to gauge its effectiveness and make data-driven decisions for optimization. Continuous monitoring enables you to quickly identify what is working well and what isn’t, allowing you to pivot or double down as needed.
Seek customer feedback, perform quality checks, and take corrective action. Aim to address the root cause of low-performance levels. Look at this email from MonsterInsights.
MonsterInsights uses Social proof in its emails during the subscription period to ask for feedback. This is how they source feedback from clients. This is essential to increase overall customer satisfaction and retention rates.
You should review your product marketing goals quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.
Organize a meeting with key stakeholders, including team members from marketing, sales, product, and executive leadership, to discuss the findings. This is the time to celebrate wins, but also to honestly assess shortcomings and identify the root causes. Lastly, use these insights to adjust your strategies moving forward.
6 Effective Marketing Channels & Practices for SaaS Product Marketing
So now you have the strategies down pat, how do you put them into practice? Here are three simple ways to get the most out of product marketing efforts.
1. Create an SEO Strategy
SaaS Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential to driving leads and customers to your site. Conducting an SEO strategy for your SaaS product should follow this process.
- Technical SEO: The first step is to ensure that your website is technically sound, so search engines can easily crawl and index your pages. This involves things like optimizing site speed, improving mobile responsiveness, and fixing any crawl errors or broken links.
- On-Site Content Audit: Once your website’s technical aspects are in order, conduct an audit of your existing content. Evaluate each piece in terms of quality, relevance, and performance metrics like page views and time spent on the page
- Keyword Planning: Next, perform keyword research to identify the search terms that your target audience is using. An effective keyword strategy will set you up for increased search visibility.
- Content Production: Armed with your keyword research, create a content calendar and start producing high-quality, relevant content.
- Link Building: Finally, once you have a repository of strong content, focus on building high-quality backlinks to your site.
SEO is a long-term, continuous approach to generating results and ROI.
Many SaaS brands opt to hire a top-level SaaS SEO Agency to develop and implement an SEO strategy on their behalf. This results in impressive and more cost-effective results.
For example, our crack SaaS link building agency used best SEO practices to help Writer.com. We helped them get in the top three SERPs for high-ranking keywords, even above proofreading giant Grammarly.
SEO can be tricky, so instead of going through the hassle of trial and error, let the pros get you started, and you can be on your merry way to pleasing Google.
2. Focus on Content Marketing
Content marketing can be an effective SaaS product marketing channel because it allows you to build trust and authority while directly addressing the pain points, questions, and needs of your target audience. This helps in attracting and engaging a qualified audience who are already interested in the kind of solutions your SaaS product offers.
The diagram below outlines the marketing funnel stages: ToFu, MoFu & BoFu. These simply stand for the top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel.
Marketers need to use buyer-targeted content at each stage of the sales funnel. This will help SaaS providers develop the best solution to a client’s software needs.
For example, in the MoFu stage. Your target audience is interested in your offerings but not yet ready to choose you over the competition. At this stage, you should provide more in-depth content like downloadable e-books like HubSpot does below.
Still, the best piece of content won’t do much good if no one sees it. That’s why promoting your blog posts and other types of content after you publish it is essential.
There are many ways to promote your content, but some of the most effective include social media, email marketing, and guest blogging.
By promoting your content across multiple channels, you’ll reach a wider audience and boost your chances of ranking higher on search engine results pages.
3. Tap Into Email Marketing
SaaS email marketing aims to promote your services to new and existing clients. SaaS marketing emails can help you acquire new clients, maintain existing clients, and update prospects and customers.
You should start your email marketing strategy by personalizing your emails. This is especially important for SaaS brands because you want to set the tone that a real team behind the software cares about helping the customer find a solution to their unique needs.
Include visuals in your emails and use clear and concise language to make them even more personal. You can also include links to helpful resources or your company’s social media accounts so they can get to know you better.
You should also add a strong calls-to-action (CTAs) button in every email so recipients know exactly what you want them to do next, whether downloading a guide or signing up for a free trial.
In addition, your emails must have a clear goal. For example, promoting a new feature, sharing expert tips, or offering a discount on your product.
Below is an example from Streak that shows how you can use email to acquire new clients using irresistible offers.
This email from Streak’s founder came as the Covid-19 pandemic was wreaking havoc. Most businesses then were trying to figure out their software needs.
By offering an added month of free cloud services, the company placed itself first in mind for subscribers. Those who were still undecided were the obvious target.
4. Offer Free Trials to Users
Offering free product trials is not a new SaaS product marketing strategy. In fact, buyers have come to expect it.
Free trials provide most product functions for a limited time. Here’s an example from Start question company. It provides a free 14-day trial with no credit card required.
Free trials allow users to explore product features and get a glimpse of the value of a paid service. However, avoid offering trials for a long free trial as this can hurt your bottomline. You also want users to know that your tool is super valuable and needs to be paid for.
5. Smooth In-app Onboarding
Because users want to experience the full capabilities of your SaaS product, make the onboarding process as easy as possible.
Onboarding should focus on the customer outcome instead of the product features. Every part of the process should have a purpose so keep the steps few and simple.
Welcome screens like the one used by Canva segment potential customers in terms of their needs.
During the trial stage, invite users to informative webinars and product demos. This works as a way to encourage them to interact with your product thoroughly. It also helps show the full value or potential of your SaaS product.
6. Use Paid Ads to Market Your SaaS Product
Pay-per-click or PPC ads play a significant role in SaaS product marketing campaigns.
Because you only pay when your advert is clicked on, you might be tempted to place ads all over the internet willy-nilly. Remember ‘spray and pray’ from earlier? Yeah, still not a good strategy, even for ads.
You’ll need a proper paid ads strategy for your campaigns to be successful. For example, in the Google search ad below, Shopify targets a very competitive keyword with an optimized ad.
From the ad, aspiring online store owners can see that the tool is easy and quick to set up. There’s also a free trial. Plus, the brand has used Google ad extensions to add two more links, one for pricing and the other for getting started, i.e., “create your website.”
Use your buyer personas to decide which marketing channels will attract the most potential users. So you can also invest in social media ads on specific social platforms where your potential customers are likely to be.
4 SaaS Product Marketing KPI
There are many KPI metrics you could track to measure performance. However, it’s best to identify the most vital metrics that can help you determine the success of your specific goal.
Here are four SaaS product marketing KPIs you can focus on.
1. Monthly Recurring Revenue
Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR): MRR is the amount of recurring revenue you receive each month.
It provides valuable information about how fast your SaaS business is growing.
2. Customer Acquisition Cost
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): The cost of acquiring a new customer. For CAC to have any meaning, you should measure acquisition costs across different periods, such as monthly or quarterly.
Expect high CAC as your business starts. However, aim to lower this cost by launching more effective campaigns that translate to more acquisitions.
3. Churn Rate
Churn Rate: The percentage of customers who leave your business over a given time. This crucial metric shows the long-term viability of your business. If you lose more customers than you gain, you’re toast.
The level of churn is also a direct reflection of customer satisfaction and should be kept as low as possible.
4. Customer Retention Rate
Customer Retention Rate (CRR): CRR goes hand in hand with churn rates. It provides insight into the number of new subscribers who continue to do business with you. High retention rates positively impact profits, reduce marketing costs, and create loyal customers.
There is no set benchmark for retention rates. However, businesses in the IT sector have an average retention rate of 81%.
Keep an eye on your lead generation stats to see how many marketing and sales-qualified leads your marketing efforts generate. SaaS product teams should also track the number of potential customers signing up for free trials. How many of these are upgrading to paid plans?
SaaS Product Marketing FAQ
SaaS product marketing is the process of raising awareness about your product offering so people try your software and keep using it. Part of the reason product marketing is so effective is the focus on customer success.
One of the best ways to understand the benefits of your product is by listening to customer support inquiries. This will help you understand why people use your platform, the pain points they face, and the benefits they are gaining. You can find more examples in this guide.
As you can see, a lot goes into marketing your SaaS product. However, if you can understand the above guide and adjust your approach accordingly, you’ll be well on your way to success in the competitive SaaS marketing world.
Start by creating buyer personas to ensure that your marketing efforts are laser-focused and that your sales team is targeting the right leads.
Also, don’t forget that your competitors are only a mouse click away, so keep track of their activities and strive to better them. At the same time, develop SEO strategies to boost your ranking and beef up your content at each level of the marketing funnel.
Leverage email to convert prospective customers into buyers. Email marketing will also help you nurture leads. Regularly measure your progress to ensure consistent product delivery and growth.
To put these strategies into practice, use free trials and paid ad campaigns. Also, make sure your onboarding process is smooth and hassle-free.
Too much to handle? No worries. Seek the assistance of a SaaS marketing agency. We can help you jumpstart your SaaS product marketing, and eventually, you’ll be able to take off the training wheels.
Nico is the founder of Crunch Marketing, a SaaS marketing agency. He works with enterprise SaaS clients like Writer, Right Inbox, and Surfer SEO, helping them scale lead generation globally across EMEA, APAC, and other regions.