Whether it’s in HR, music, entertainment, or accountancy, SaaS startups are booming. This business model works and easy to scale up. Here are some ways to market subscription businesses or startups more effectively. Reach more of your target market, engage people effectively, and control churn rates.
Give away a lot for free….but not EVERYTHING either.
Giving away something for free (like a free trial period) is the number one subscription marketing tactic.
It’s easy to implement, and if your product is good, it’s guaranteed to work. Your goal is to get people so hooked on your tool or product that they can’t see their life without it. When it’s time for an upgrade — they’ll be reaching for that credit card.
- Don’t be too generous. Keep something back for paying customers. Whether it’s a usage cap or some restricted features — don’t give it all away for free.
- Follow up during and after the trial period. Email is easy, chatbots are probably better. Phone calls, however, may work best in the B2B market. Deep customer segmentation will help you create a proper onboarding sequence that addresses any at-risk users during the initial trial period.
- Run plenty of ads (social and PPC) towards your free trial landing pages. These pages should be super focused and conversion-driven in order to maximize sign-ups. You can bid on competitor brand names if you’re trying to market yourself as the new alternative. A/B testing can help you design pages people just can’t say no to.
A big brand like Adobe can afford to list all its software as easy downloadables:
Could you perhaps create something similar with a free trial and free resource center? “Free” will be a big search term and conversion driver for users, so try to make the most of it.
Gather User Data For Extra Features
SaaS marketing should be incredibly data-driven with an eye to driving users down the short funnel and sales cycle as quickly as possible. Data will help you pinpoint your next generation of super users so that you can allocate support, service, and marketing budget accordingly.
In SaaS marketing, the lines between customer service, support, and marketing are incredibly blurred. Early support chats and interactions need to be carefully mined for insights and data, and this should be fed back into the marketing and customer lifecycle.
Multichannel customer support is a no-brainer for subscription businesses, who often need comprehensive knowledge centers in order to help users help themselves.
At the same time, your data shouldn’t just be used for triggering emails or retargeting campaigns. Data is one of your most precious commodities as a SaaS product manager and marketer, and you should be looking to use it to create new features and improve your products.
Spotify is a great example of a SaaS business that makes the most of user data, as is Netflix. Netflix and Spotify both harvest platform data in order to create recommendations and playlists that have become legendary, and are a much-loved feature of the service.
Create A User Community
One of your most important tasks as a subscription marketer is to create a sense of community. If you can get your users all fired up and working together, you can transform an empty platform into a vibrant user community.
Here are some ways to help yours along in the early days:
- Build an email list. Like, properly. Be very deliberate about it and use tools like Thrive Leads to help you make the most of every potential web visitor and interaction.
- Create plenty of content and guides that give away useful information for free. You want to give things of value away in order to drive organic traffic. Here are some tips on how to find your value proposition.
- Run a podcast or offer courses that help people make the most of your subscription tool or service. Users and customers will get so much more out of your business if you give them the tools to succeed.
Helpdesk software Zendesk has an awesome library of customer support and resources like reports, blogs, and charts:
An engaging content library like this helps build brand credibility and engagements over a long period of time — this is about marketing for the long game, whereas ad campaigns will be more focused on the short term.
Your core messaging should 100% focus on solving user pain points — not bigging up your own brand. That sort of selfish marketing will not help your brand come across as customer-centric.
Top outreach tip: When going out there as a brand advocate and negotiating PR and press placements, don’t talk about your platform or product first. Focus on the industry community instead, and offer helpful advice on solving business problems. If you can demonstrate to editors and journalists that you’ve got knowledge that their readers will appreciate, you will be halfway there.
Learn From The Best Subscription Businesses
There are some excellent SaaS marketing resources and blogs out there. It’s worth following the big names in the marketing space and learning from their tactics and strategies. Read industry reports and mine statistics in order to set yourself realistic growth goals.
You should also look into big SaaS companies for tips and hints on best practices. Hubspot does a great job of giving back to the community with great content like this, but they also have a pretty aggressive sales pipeline. They aren’t afraid to use LinkedIn Inmail and phone calls to get in touch with people who might be interested in their CRM (especially on the agency side). On the other end of the scale, Shopify is an online store builder that has had a pretty impressive few years of growth. The secret to their success? Excellent content marketing, good PR relations, and high-grade customer support that’s unrivaled in their vertical. By standing out in those key areas, they’ve managed to make a mark in a competitive niche.
Though you may not be able to compete with big enterprise level strategies head-to-head, you should be able to analyze what they are currently doing well — and how you might be able to pinch a customer or two from them!
Churn rates are bad for subscription companies. At the same time, they’re entirely normal. Once your marketing strategies start to take off and people get wind of your tool or trial period, your churn rates will increase as your user base diversifies.
Nevertheless, sharp increases in your baseline churn rate need to be carefully examined, pulled apart, and addressed. High levels of churn won’t make for a solid user base or platform.
When it comes to marketing subscription businesses, a lot of the same ground rules of marketing apply. You need to act on user data, tweak and optimize your funnel, and create a customer community that lives and breathes without your help.
Have you had experience in the SaaS space? What was your marketing strategy based on to achieve better results? How did you stay ahead of your competition? Share your opinion with us in the comments section below.