Don’t expect people to buy your product unless it is truly revolutionary. Not at first, anyway. When you start your SaaS business, you’ll soon discover that you’re just another product in the universe of fast-paced tech and innovative ideas. Starting out, not many might recognize your company’s name or what you do, so your first job is to get your name out there. There are enough methods to market a SaaS product, from affiliate partnerships and paid advertising, through content marketing and active outreach to media outlets. Experiment with a combination of these methods. Pay close attention to what works for you and know that it might change with time.
Initially, don’t launch publicly
Start by signing up your friends and family. We all start the same way. You don't need to employ any fancy marketing or tech-savviness to reach them. Ask them to provide you feedback on their experience. While this feedback won't necessarily be unbiased, it will nonetheless be wide-ranging, real, and often insightful. These are people who will be willing to spend time carefully thinking about their feedback and delving deeper into the conversations. This is not meant to counter the Lean Startup ‘iterate quickly with customer feedback’ advice. Instead, this is an acknowledgment that there are different types of feedback to look into based on your development stage.
Take the help of quality content
If you’re new to the SaaS Product world, content creation is your best friend. Start a blog and write content that speaks to the people who need or might want your product. It's a great way to grab attention to your brand and product while building you as an authority in your desired space. With a well-run blog, you can pitch your solution and receive immediate feedback, discover and develop relationships within your market, establish yourself as a thought leader and increase your online search-ability. To provide great content, you don’t have to be a great writer. Start generating content and monitor the kind of response you get. Just make sure your articles are in-depth and bring value. At the same time, don’t expect instant results. Running a blog will take a lot of time and effort. Even so, today it’s particularly important for SaaS companies to do content marketing, and it’s even relatively affordable. It’s a marketing strategy which has seen huge growth over the past decade.
Start with beta testing
A great way to get started doing marketing is to launch a beta product. It’s also a good way to learn before the real thing is out there. Build a beta version of your app or software and get it released once it’s bug-free and fully-functioning. Too many SaaS companies delay their launch by continuously adding features they ‘want’ before they release the first version. Once it's in a usable and respectable form, get it to market and let your beta users provide you feedback and help shape the future of the software. There are a lot of advantages to opening up the service in beta. There will be issues, bugs, unnecessarily complicated user flows, and poorly worded text. With the beta, you're telling people that the product isn't done and asking them to be patient with you. It's also a request for feedback and an opportunity to create awareness.
Pitch your Beta version to press
Not all press will care about or even be willing to cover beta products. A lot of the mainstream press will want to write about services which are fully live, have scaled, and are important in the marketplace. However, there are a bunch of sites that like to cover the leading edge, meaning cover betas.
Do your own PR
Doing your PR is a good idea to start with, whether or not you’ve got the budget. After all, nobody knows your business better than you do. You can also spend some time participating in relevant online communities. Start commenting on relevant blog posts, participate in relevant discussion groups, and work on your own blog. Find out where your prospective customers hang out online and work to get coverage in those areas.
Do a bit of everything
There are too many different ways to do your marketing, and it’s not feasible to do them all, especially when you’re just getting started. However, you won't know what works for you, unless you try it. Try them, see how each works for you, and then pick the best performing of the lot. When it comes to marketing, you must try and stretch your budget to a few different advertising channels. Don’t drop all your eggs in one basket. This way, you can tell which marketing channel is giving you the most value. And track your ‘conversions’ to find out which marketing channel has the best conversion rate. A good online campaign should include social media advertising, paid search engine advertising, email marketing, and a PR campaign.
Don’t forget the value of real-life products
This holds true even for a SaaS company. A lot of SaaS companies are sending stickers, or small “thank you” presents to their best or most loyal customers. The last stage in a SaaS product pre-launch stage is the beta stage. By sharing their feedback, early adopters have shaped the future of your product and your business. Make sure you reward them for their time and effort.
You still need to onboard customers to your app, no matter how simple the first version of your SaaS will be. Chances are the newcomers will stay and convert into paying customers in the future if you do it well.
Always deliver value
While you're launching, your mind is probably gravitating towards itching to make the proverbial million dollars. Resist the temptation, don't chase money and instead re-focus on building value for a million customers. Don’t allow the huge numbers to distract you. Start small. Begin by creating real value for your initial ten customers, then for the next hundred, and keep moving up like that. When you do a great job, your fans will do the rest of the work by bringing in more people, and money will naturally follow. It starts by creating a smooth onboarding process, by taking the call when your customers have a problem, and emailing back soon when they ask you a question, making it a priority to be transparent and publicly apologizing for the mistakes you made and inconveniences you created. All this counts as value. Being responsive and retaining your personal touch is potentially how you can beat bigger, better-funded, more established competitors.
All companies that inhabit the same space are competing aggressively for attention. But great products, with a strong team behind them, sell themselves. The reason certain products are considered great is that they focus on making their customers successful. So, if you've built a great product, half your marketing job is done. Good luck.