Building a Subscriber Base For Your Software as a Service

As a SaaS company, once you’ve developed a service that is solid, intuitive and meets a proven need, your next step is building a base of users. With the SaaS market expected to grow from $20 billion in 2013 to $33 billion in 2016, it’s clear that the opportunity for companies offering this kind of ongoing service model for software is growing fast.
But with this growing opportunity has also come fierce competition from competitors moving into the space, which can significantly increase customer acquisition costs as you fight for the same users. Consequently, contrary to popular belief, even the best-designed SaaS products won’t sell themselves and this is especially true in a saturated market. With so much innovation and competition, you need to make sure your solution stands out in order to generate demand and grow your subscriber base. Luckily, there are several strategies you can use that don’t require you to spend a lot of money.

Use Content to Get Attention

Compelling content like white papers, videos, case studies and blog posts are great ways to start the conversation with potential customers and generate leads you can nurture. This kind of content marketing is all about sharing useful knowledge with your audience, rather than selling directly. This can foster trust by positioning yourself as an expert in you niche and help create a connection.

Engage with Social Media

Once you have your content, social media is a fantastic way to share it in addition to providing an opportunity for potential users to discover you and drive inbound traffic to your site. Different channels are better for different audiences so research which may be best for your business and focus only on those to start. The key is to engage your audience and not just broadcast how great your solution is. Research influencers or groups, engage in conversations and share others’ content as an additional way to get your potential customers’ attention and to position yourself as a knowledgeable source in your niche market. This takes time but will pay off in the long-run.

Make Customer Referrals Easy

SaaS is often a referral-driven business. So, if you have an awesome product and great customer service, customer advocates can help you create demand. In fact, friends referring friends to your service is so powerful that it is the only form of marketing that can actually stop people from doing research and instead just purchase the product.1 When the time is right, prompt existing users to refer others through social media or email. You can even go as far as to provide a template message to make it as easy for them as possible.

Incentivize Users to Help You Grow

Offering incentives can encourage customers to stay engaged with your product or help fuel demand. The best part is that incentives don’t necessarily have to be financial with Dropbox offering users additional storage if they refer others they know. Other companies have different incentives to keep users engaged ranging from digital badges or points to exclusive content.

Provide Thoughtful Messaging

Ensure your product marketing focuses on benefits to the user, not just features of the product. You need to promote the entire SaaS experience, such as speed of deployment, access to support, easy updates and flexibility.

Attracting and keeping customers in the lucrative but competitive SaaS market can be difficult. But you can set yourself apart from the crowd with great content, an effective use of social media and incentivizing your current users to refer the people they know. Once you create that demand and if your product is as good as your marketing efforts, the rest will follow.

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- Jason
Jason Kiwaluk
Director of Ideation