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Marketing Mini Guide: Software as a Service (Saas)

Promoting a software product is all about the audience. If it’s a niche software, your market share needs to be bigger, but ultimately your product and the way you create marketing is solely about them. You are best to tailor all that you do to their use cases and how it can have a bigger impact on them. For this context, I’ll be referring to softwares a business owner would use. Regardless of the size of their team, this software helps them run their business, meaning it’s an expense but it can also be a part of cost of goods and feel like an investment in the future of their business.

Software is a Saas product when it is delivered and licensed online with a subscription, instead of a one off purchase. This means that you don’t just want to sell people on it, you want them to also enjoy it, use it as much as possible and continue to use the software over time.

Word of mouth and affiliates can help to maximise your softwares uses in ways you may not have intended it to be built for, but the marketing you’re working on is focused on what the product does and can help people achieve.

Your Website

My recommendation for marketing a software is to:

  • Share your story and why the software was built the way it was
  • Share the possible use cases, and how it can be setup for different businesses
  • Show how customisable it can be, if it is
  • Provide a demo video that gives the basics in under 10 minutes, with the option to discuss it further with your team. People want to see the behind the scenes without waiting days for a salesperson to contact them. This saves your sales person time in being able to jump into the details during the demo call.
  • Create content that helps them to migrate to your software and to compare to their existing provider
  • Share your pricing and compare any tiered pricing packages
  • Share testimonials and case studies of current users
  • Share screenshots and videos of the software, rather than illustrations as they may be on brand but don’t show the true product

You should also make sure you take photos and video of the following:

  • People sitting at computers or their phone using your softwares
  • Computer setups looking straight on so you can add screenshots or videos to the screen, with on brand decor around the screen
  • Mockups of your various types of users, doing their usual work outside the software, e.g. hairdresser styling for a salon software
  • Mockups of your super users, e.g. project managers
  • Shots with your brand ambassadors
  • People doing the things your software allows them to do that you mention in campaigns, e.g. leave work early, take a vacation, manage their business from anywhere

For best search engine optimisation:

  • Create super specific blog posts for use cases, examples and questions they might have to match those queries, so people go straight to you instead of another creator who may have out of date information
  • Fill out all meta titles and descriptions on all pages
  • Set up Google Search Console to submit your sitemap and create a listing on Google My Business
  • Be sure to compress all images so they aren’t slowing down your site, add alt text to explain images for screen readers, and load videos after the play button is clicked

Social Media Content

The type of software you are marketing, and who you serve will change which platforms you create content for. In general, if you serve corporate businesses LinkedIn could be an option, and Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, as well as Pinterest.

  • Post consistently and engage with all comments within a couple days
  • Share why the product was created and the story behind the scenes
  • Share information about new features
  • You have the option to share about upcoming but unreleased features to gain feedback and allow people to vote on options
  • Share content that inspires people to use your software by collaborating with some of your biggest or most well known users
  • Send out a welcome letter with a few stickers or some other merchandise item to new users so that people have something physical to photograph and share on their social media
  • Share people’s stories and posts when they tag you, and repost their photos into your feeds
  • Share content that shows that you understand their struggles and pain points, before using your software

Social Media Advertising

This is a great place to increase the awareness of your brand, and to lead people to your website. It’s also a great place to show up for those who have been to your website and are likely considering your software but haven’t booked a demo or signed up yet.

Over time, you’ve hopefully learned the unique features that people gravitate to your software for, and those can be the main messages you highlight here. It’s also a great place to A/B test different phrasings and messages.

Google Ads

It’s best to avoid running search ads for your own brand name, since you hopefully rank organically for it. However, you might choose to run ads for the type of software you run, and more obscure searches with high volume, or searches based around comparing you to your competitors. Always run the ads so they link people straight to the page that best answers that question. Those pages may be somewhat hidden in the navigation from your regular website visitors but available via your blog’s search bar too.

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Affiliate Marketing

This option allows your existing users to gain credit for referring others, and to get some kind of kickback, either a credit to their account, or a cash or product incentive.

Most businesses let anyone sign up and that could be a good fit, but if your software is new, or your target audience is in a niche, you may like to offer this to select users, or require an application. This can help you to garner the right user base, so that they are suited to the plans you have. If you are the founder, you likely have a vision for expansion and any sort of tangent could serve as a distraction.

Email Marketing

Email marketing has been one of the more reliable options for marketing over the past decade, and is a super sustainable and long term investment option. You can also start for free on many softwares, and build an audience from there. Email is a great space to gain familiarity, trust and to share your expertise.

If you don't have a website, and plan to combine the email list, blog and website into one combined site, check out Beehiiv. For those who already have a website separately and are looking for a tool just for email, is Flodesk. However, if your software integrates with specific email marketing platforms, you might like to choose one of those instead.

It’s best to let people sign up for your email list on their own. When people are users, they might prefer to get notifications in the app or website, rather than by email. When people sign up for a demo, allow them to tick a box if they want the marketing emails, rather than it being a default. While people can unsubscribe, it’s still annoying to have to, and you might turn them off your software.

You may want people to sign up for your email list when they are in the phase of considering your software against your competitors. In those instances it can help to provide those subscribers with an instant download of something that helps them to better migrate, or manage their setup, or how to manage something that overlaps your software. This gives them a reason to sign up but also better prepares them to start using your product.

It’s common for software marketers to have two lists, one that is those who have not yet signed up for your software, and another for your paid subscribers. However, I would recommend also breaking down that user list into the various plans you have. That way, you can send information to the higher tiers about the new features added to their plan, but send different emails to those on the lower tiers to let them know those features are available at the higher tiers. You might choose to group a few features together for a quarterly sales style email to tempt people to upgrade, while not overdoing. That way, the content can be seen as more valuable.

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Online Community

Depending on who you serve, the size of your audience and how much they could benefit from being in a shared space with each other, you may choose to start a formal community. This could take place on a chat based option like Discord, or a conversation and commenting focused platform like Mighty Networks, complete with chats and an events calendar. You may also choose to run in person events or meetups for this community to bring it int the real world, at least in a few cities.

Especially when your audience is business owners, it can be quite simple to host the space, but let it be about more than your product. By needing your product, they have something in common with everyone else by default. This allows you to foster those connections, host the right spaces for them to grow, and to continue to learn from and educate your users, through live videos, conversations, interviews or answering specific questions.

You may choose to skip the formal community but host a hub where people can find answers to their common questions, where a chat section is available. This won’t be right for every software but is something to consider.

As you market your software, be sure to ask for and implement feedback, so you can better serve both your potential and current paid users. Wherever possible, include your audience in the process, showing them the behind the scenes, showcasing users and helping people feel like they are a part of the process so they find extra value in the product.

Disclaimer: This blog post is a small guide to some platforms this business type could use to expand their marketing. It is not a marketing plan or marketing strategy and is not tailored completely for your business. If you are looking for a marketing strategy, let’s chat.

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