Bonus material: The 10 Commandments of an Entrepreneur PDF will show you what holds most entrepreneurs back and how YOU can stand out above the rest.
So you’ve built an awesome product, and you can’t wait to see how fast it grows. But what’s the best way to get people to come check it out?
Marketing your new SaaS business can seem like a daunting task, but we’re here to help! The most common question I hear from SaaS founders that come to launch on AppSumo is, “Where do I start?”
There are a million articles on different ways to grow your SaaS business, so how do you know what’s right for you? The answer is that it’s different for every company, but you don’t need to start dumping money into paid marketing to get the best results. In fact, there are several things you should be doing before buying your first advertisement.
So we’ve put together five steps that any SaaS founder can use to make the most of their product launch, and four of them won’t even put a dent in your marketing budget!
- Hone in on Content Marketing
- Build an Email List
- Organic Outreach
- Know Your Unit Economics
- Paid Marketing
Product Launch Strategy #1: Hone in on Content Marketing
If you’ve recently launched your SaaS business, it may take some time to get to product-market fit, but you still need to attract new customers. Content marketing can help you do this. Paid ads can be expensive and rarely work without a solid organic presence built-up.
Also, according to the Content Marketing Institute, B2B companies with blogs produced 67% more leads than those without.
So get a blog and become a thought leader in your space. This will help with two things. The first is longterm SEO benefit – the more popular your blog is, the more likely you’ll show up in future searches. The second is boosting the engagement and distribution of your paid ads when you do reach that stage.
Don’t know what content to start with? Do some keyword research! Google has a free keyword planner tool that you can use to narrow down a list of categories in your space that people are already searching for. This will give a big-picture view – not only of what people are interested in, but the kinds of traffic you can expect if your content starts to rank in search engines.
Our friends at lemlist have a great SaaS blog to check out for ideas.
- Source: Google
Starting with great content is also an advantage because you can repurpose content for paid ads in the future. The best way to create awesome ads is to create the content first. Here are a few content ideas you can get started with:
- Facebook boosted posts. These are a great way to test which posts will perform better than others with a very small budget. You can easily track engagement on these boosted posts, then come up with a strategy of which ones are best to promote.
- Monthly live demos/webinars. Live demos and webinars let you offer general training and advice on how your product can help grow your customer’s businesses. Educate first, sell second. Make sure people have a reason to tune-in besides listening to an extended advertisement.
- Show them the money. 89% of B2B Buyers said that the company they chose “provided content that made it easier to show ROI and/or build a business case for the purchase.”
Product Launch Strategy #2: Build an Email List
Grow your email list in the background when you have the blog running. Start with automated sequences that provide value first, but also push for sign-ups to paid accounts. Below are a few ways to grow your list:
- Freemium subscribers
- Content leads
- Content upgrades
- You can pick up SendFox in our store right now for just $49 and start growing your email list today!
Product Launch Strategy #3: Organic Outreach
When you create content, there’s a lot you can do to promote it without spending any money. Think of it as the pricing opposite of everything organic at the grocery store. Here’s a long list of some of the most effective ways to promote your content for free:
- Partnership: Get on webinars, training sessions, and podcasts, then ask the hosts to post a link to your best piece of use-case content in the description.
- Ideal Customers: Put together a list of 100 people that you would love to have using your platform, and reach out to them directly. You’ll have to define your ICP (ideal customer profile) before any paid ads will work, and direct outreach is a great way to do this.
- Word of mouth marketing
- Grow your email list
- Social media/Reddit
- Facebook groups
- LinkedIn Pages
- Submit on Product Hunt and get upvotes
- Create free profiles on Software Advice/GetApp/Capterra: Try to get as many reviews as possible to rank high and get free traffic
Product Launch Strategy #4: Know Your Unit Economics
This is an important step before you start any paid advertising. The easiest way to do this is in Google Analytics. Set up goals to track every step of your funnel, which we’ve outlined below. Important questions to answer are:
- What’s your cold traffic to free trial/lead sign up conversion rate?
- Free trial to paid account conversion rate. How can you make it easier for new people to sign up? Levers include removing credit card information from free trials, as well as more focused calls to action and sign-ups
- What’s your paid account average order value and customer lifetime value (in months and $$)? You need to understand the value of customers before you know how much you can afford to pay for them. Propeller.com has a good post in calculating your customer lifetime value.
- What’s your customer acquisition cost to customer lifetime value ratio? This is all the money it takes to get a paying customer, compared to how much money they end up spending with you before canceling.
From there, calculate your budget through what you need to break even. For example, if you spend $1000 to get 10 customers, is $100 Customer Acquisition Cost enough to make it break-even?
Product Launch Strategy #5: Paid Marketing
Now that you’ve done your content marketing and you know your numbers, the next question to ask before starting paid efforts is, “What does success look like?”
If you’re devoting $1,000 a month to ad spending, then how many new emails or account sign-ups would you need each month? And how long would it take for you to make that $1,000 back?
At AppSumo, we spend over 6 figures per month promoting SaaS tools to new audiences. These are a few things that have worked for us:
- Start with remarketing (FB first)! Cold traffic is expensive and converts at a lower rate
- Facebook is the cheapest and has the best targeting. Check out the FB ads library for inspiration from other SaaS businesses
- Google Search. Effective, but it can be more expensive depending on how competitive your main keywords are. Use the Google Keyword Planner to get a sense of the cost.
- Go into prospecting after you’ve perfected remarketing and are comfortable with ROI
- Software Advice/GetApp/Capterra. Buy leads if you have a sales team to close, or buy traffic and that could convert on your site. It’s usually very expensive, so you have to be confident you can convert the leads
- Launch on AppSumo! Have to mention it! We’ve featured over 1,000 software companies on our platform, and you’ll have the opportunity to get huge results. Feel free to submit your product here!
Dos and Don’ts of Growing Your SaaS Business
Okay, now we’ve run through all the steps! Let’s recap with some Dos and Don’ts of growing your new SaaS business.
- Do the free stuff first! You don’t need to spend money to grow, and actually starting with organic marketing and content initiatives will help with your paid marketing down the line! Build a solid foundation at the beginning, and it will pay dividends in the future.
- You’d be surprised how much free traction you can get at the start by rolling up your sleeves and organically getting your name out there.
- Know your numbers! Data is power. Get an intimate knowledge of each step in your funnel, and you’ll set yourself up for success.
- Don’t jump right into ads first! This is the most common pitfall we see. Many founders may find themselves with a little bit of cash, and immediately burn a hole in their pockets for ads. You can easily blow through your entire marketing budget within a month or two of misdirected ad spend.
- Don’t rely too much on one channel. If one channel, paid or organic, starts to work for you, it’s super important to reinvest in your business and keep exploring different channels of growth. This is especially true for paid channels. They will get more expensive and less effective over time (check out this link to Andrew Chen’s law of shitty click-through rates for a run-down).
- Don’t forget about Churn and Retention! This post is really about the beginning steps to market your SaaS business. However, once the customers start coming in, you have to be able to keep them around for a long time! This can flip your profitability economics on its head (for better or worse) and is oftentimes the key to long-term success for your SaaS business. Elizabeth Yin (The Hustle Con, Hustle Fund) has a really great recorded webinar about this. Also, some useful tools like Baremetrics and ProfitWell can hook directly into your payment processor to give you real-time churn/retention numbers. Would highly recommend checking these out if you’re serious about maintaining steady, long-term growth for your business!
And there you have it: a crash course for marketing your fresh SaaS business. Stay flexible and don’t get complacent. That way, you’ll make sure your marketing keeps paying dividends, especially when you really start gaining traction.
Marketing is much more than having a big budget and spending money, so put in the hard work to take your software business to the next level.