Yours Free: A Step-By-Step Case Study on Growing a Bootstrapped SaaS to $10mm ARR.
I’m always on the look out for saas marketing strategies.
Afterall, I spend most of my day trying to grow a saas company. After doing a lot of research, I’ve found 101 strategies that you can use in your business.
What is Saas Marketing?
It is not for the faint of heart.
You see, with Saas marketing, you’re not likely to see a return on investment of your marketing efforts until several months AFTER you’ve acquired a user.
SEO focused Content marketing is responsible for a large part of the growth at Time Doctor. It’s where we focus most of our resources and is our number one customer acquisition strategy.
In this section, you’ll read about some of the strategies that have worked for us.
Write Low Hanging Fruit Content
The first strategy that I love implementing is what I call the “Low Hanging Fruit” strategy.
This is bottom of the funnel content designed for people who are looking to sign up for your Saas right now.
While this type of content might not get a huge amount of traffic, the traffic that does come to the site is usually quite good.
One of my favorite ways to find low hanging fruit traffic that could benefit you is to write posts like “10 Best Product Category”.
I’ll show you how this works “in the real world”.
I created an article on our site for the keyword “best call center software”. Call center operators are one of our best user avatars.
According to Ahrefs, the keyword Best Call Center Software gets 200 searches per month.
We only rank #10 for this keyword (A new article that we’re still growing). And this blog post consistently gets 200 visitors a month.
That’s 100 people per month looking for a cloud call center software.
Find Proven Content
Let’s say you’re looking for some really cool article ideas. But you want to write articles that are proven.
Here’s what you can do:
Use a tool like Ahref’s content explorer (you can use Buzzsumo or something like that as well) to enter in your product category.
Then I apply filters to find content that gets traffic AND doesn’t require tons of links to rank.
I found over 300 articles about podcasting that get at least 500 visitors per month (according to Ahrefs) AND require less than 20 links to rank.
Content Gap Analysis
One of the most powerful ways to find keywords is to find out what your competitor’s are ranking for that you’re not.
This is called a content gap analysis.
Once again, using Ahrefs, we can easily compare our site to some of our competitor’s sites.
For instance, this is a partial list of keywords that our competitor Toggl ranks for that we don’t rank for.
There are actually hundreds of keywords that Toggl ranks for that we don’t since they are a much larger competitor than us.
But more on that in the next section.
Leverage Larger Competitors
Let’s say you’re competing against an 800 pound gorilla.
Instead of worrying about them, use them to your advantage. One of my favorite seo content hacks is to write an article called “10 large competitor alternatives”.
Let me show you how this works:
At Time Doctor, our largest competitor, the 800 pound funded gorilla is a company called Toggl. So we leveraged their brand and wrote an article called 7 Best Time Doctor Alternatives.
And then we put our app, Time Doctor, first on the list.
And as you can see, this post, with “low” volume gets between 200-400 visitors a month. (We must have moved up in rankings sometime in late November or early December.)
So imagine having 200-400 visitors a month looking for an alternative to your largest competitor coming to your site every single month.
This is bottom of the funnel content attracting highly qualified buyers.
Identify Customer Pain
The best way to convert visitors into customers is to identify their pain, then solve for the problem.
People tend to Google symptoms of their problem.
So, one of the problems their customers have is list building.
Which is why their list building article is so perfect!
It ranks pretty high for the keyword “list building” and gets over 200 visitors a month (according to Ahrefs.)
One of the best ways to get traffic to a site is through what Matthew Barby calls parasite SEO. Basically, it’s leveraging the domain authority of another site in order to drive traffic to your site.
For instance, this codeinwp article called 7 Best Time Tracker Software
Ranks high for a lot of important keywords for us with a relative high keyword difficulty.
The cool part is we’re listed first
Which drives a significant amount of traffic to our site.
One of the best ways to get in front of other people’s audiences is to go on a podcasting tour. You can teach people what you’ve learned, tell the story of your company, and become an authority in your space.
Not to mention the happy benefit of getting a link back to your site.
Host a Podcast
One of my favorite entrepreneurs on the web is Justin Jackson. But I would have never heard of him if he didn’t host the podcast Build Your Saas.
I get to tune in from time to time and listen to him and his co-founder John talk about their podcasting startup Transistor.fm.
Now, when I launch my podcast, guess who I’m going to use for my hosting.
Build a Business Case
The most powerful way to write a blog post is create a business case for your saas. Let me show you what I mean.
Ahrefs, is a suite of SEO tools. One of the tools they have helps you find linking opportunities.
Then, they published this article on a particular way to find linking opportunities called Resource Page Link Building.
This is a long how to guide on the topic. But the cool part is: You NEED to use Ahrefs to implement their strategy!
That’s a strong business case for that blog post.
Publish Case Studies
One of the best ways to prove that your product does what it promises is to publish case studies.
Lots of them!
The more detailed, the better.
For instance, we published this cased study called “Why Most Screenshot Monitoring Software Doesn’t Work”
Where we go through step by step how Time Doctor helped a company discover that a high level employee was stealing time from the company.
This is a detailed and thorough post that our customers really like.
And this post converted 10 customers in the past year!
Not too shabby.
As a way to get traffic to a blog, guest posting doesn’t work like it used to.
In the old days, I would be able to write a single guest post, get thousands of visitors, and hundreds of email subscribers, almost every single time.
These days, that doesn’t happen anymore… at least not for me.
Instead, guest posting has become a way for me to build high quality links that I otherwise couldn’t have gotten.
We wrote this guest post on Glassdoor.com, which has a high domain authority.
While we didn’t get any traffic from the post, we did get this DA 90+ link.
Guest posting’s distant cousin is content syndication. This is where you take a post that is already on your site and publish it on another site.
I’ve written a very detailed post on content syndication that you can check out here.
Have Migration Pages
When it comes to saas customers, one of the biggest challenges they face when trying a new app or tool is switching costs.
They may Google “how to swtich from competitor’s tool to your tool”.
That’s why smart companies, like Convertkit, have migration pages like this one on how to switch from Mailchimp to Convertkit.
Create Integration Pages
One thing we’ve found super helpful from both a traffic and conversion standpoint is creating integration pages.
This page gets some traffic for people who are searching for “Asana Time Tracking” and also converts that traffic into customers.
Answer Questions on Quora
My buddy Carlo, who runs the online marketing team at Time Doctor, absolutely loves answering questions in Quora.
For instance, this question on “What tips do you have for remote workers?”
He gives an extremely thoughtful answer. And then at the bottom of the answer, he links to a relevant blog post where you can read more about the topic.
We’ve found that when we publish at least once a week, traffic goes up. And when we skip weeks, traffic goes down.
So make sure you have a consistent publishing schedule. (I do recommend publishing at least once a week if possible.)
When you get it right, paid advertising is like magic. You put money into the machine and 3x your money comes out.
But the hard part is obviously getting it right. Not only do you have to look at the cost per acqusition vs lifetime value, you also have to see how fast you’re getting to break even.
I’m not going to speak a whole lot about using Adwords. You know about them. They’re getting expensive in a lot of industries. But they can still work well.
Bidding on Branded Keywords
Bidding on branded keywords is the act of bidding on your own name.
For instance, we actually run ads against the keyword “Time Doctor.”
And while we have found this to be a profitable strategy, lately there’s been some controversy around this. Some people like Tim Suolo of Ahrefs wonders why a company would do that.
While others, like the folks at SEER Interactive lay out compelling reasons why you should bid on them.
Again, I’m not going to get too deep in Facebook Ads. Same as Google adwords. Test them out. See how long it takes to recoup your money.
Here’s my favorite resource on Facebook Ads.
Facebook Ads to Content
One thing that’s worked well for us is running Facebook ads to a piece of content instead of a blog post.
For instance, one of our target demographics is marketing agencies. So we created an article called “5 Digital Marketing Agencies Explain How they Maximize Profits with Outsourcing”.
And each of the agency owners gives their feedback, highlighting Time Doctor as a critical piece of the puzzle.
It’s informative content, but in reality, it’s designed to sell Time Doctor through social proof.
Site Review Ads
Site review ads are effective because they are highly targeted to your specific industry.
These are highly trafficked pages where the sponsored results are placed at the top.
The more money you pay, the higher your app will be listed. The higher your app is listed, the more traffic you’ll get to your site.
Most of these sites allow you to bid on a per click basis, like adwords.
I’m not going to go deep into LinkedIn ads. We’ve experimented with them, but couldn’t get the cost to work for us. They’re a bit more expensive on a per click basis than Facebook.
But definitely give them a shot if you haven’t already.
And if you’re looking for a great resource on getting started, check out this post by Adespresso.
I’ve actually never tested Twitter ads. At some point in the near future I will. But I can’t actually comment too much on them as I don’t have experience.
But you can check out this guide to getting started with Twitter Ads by Hubspot.
Instagram Story Ads
Instagram story ads have become hot lately. Everyone from internet marketers, to startups, to Microsoft are putting money into stories.
Retarget Existing Visitors
Backlinko has spent thousands of dollars on Facebook ads.
And the number one thing he’s learned is that Retargeting is extremely effective.
For instance, in one particular retargeting campaign, he was able to get his costs to $0.67 per click.
The reason this is so effective is because people who are clicking on the ad already know him and they know how great his content marketing is.
Sponsor a Podcast
In their article called “Podcast Advertising: $51,975 Spent. Here’s What We Learned”, the team at Ahrefs came to a couple of conclusions.
But the main conclusion they came to is that it is hard to attribute increased signups from sponsoring a podcast.
However, Tim Suolo has mentioned that people have come up to him and said “I heard about Ahrefs because you sponsored podcast X.”
Podcast sponsorship seems to be more brand impression than direct response marketing. You can also collaborate with podcast ad agencies or production companies to find the best sponsorship opportunities for your business niche.
Sponsor a Newsletter
One of my new favorite newsletters is Zest.is. It’s a curated newsletter of the best marketing articles on the web.
Marketing articles for marketers by marketers delivered right to your inbox.
Anyone can submit an article to Zest. However, if you want to get extra traffic and engagement, you can sponsor a newsletter and boost your content.
There are newsletters like this in all industries looking for people to sponsor them.
Feature Customers in Ads
This is something that I like a lot. Featuring actual customers in ads.
Companies like Drift create compelling ads with customer testimonials AND show real people, not stock photos.
Paid ads become even more effective if you promote an authentic video review that addresses the pain points of your target audience. Besides, you can employ reliable video testimonial software to put this on autopilot and collect a vast library of creatives for your advertising campaigns.
It adds a level of trust and authenticity that so many ads lack.
I’m going to refrain from saying “post on Facebook” or “post on Twitter”. If you’re reading this article then chances are you know all that stuff.
Instead, I’m going to share a few cool strategies that I’ve seen that seem interesting.
Publishing Articles on LinkedIn
Within the past few years, LinkedIn opened up a publishing platform where marketers (and everyone really), can publish articles.
One of the marketers who alerted me to this is Neil Patel. Here’s what he does:
He publishes the first part of his article on LinkedIn...
Then once you’re invested in the article, you have to click on the link that says “click to continue reading…” where you’re taken to his website to read the rest of the article.
Create a YouTube Channel
One of the most impactful things that we have done in the past year is launch a YouTube channel.
YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world, behind Google. This has opened up a new traffic channel for us to distribute our content to.
Facebook lives are one of the best ways to engage with prospective customers. It’s truly a platform where you can have conversations in real time.
You can educate your customers, establish yourself as an authority, and answer questions that they may have right then and there.
Humble Brag on Twitter
One way to market your business on Twitter is show how successful your customers are using your product.
Create a Twitter Thread
When companies share their posts on Twitter, usually it is a single Tweet with a link. Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of people creating Twitter threads like this one:
Like Facebook Lives, the interaction that video offers is really powerful in the IG Stories. You can simply pick up your phone and just start sharing your thoughts with your audience.
Last but not least is creating a Facebook group.
Some companies make this private and give access only to users while other companies open it up to everyone.
At the time of this post, Facebook groups, are some of the most interactive places on the platform. Your content and messages will be more likely to be seen by members of your group than of fans of your page.
Once you get some traffic to your site, either through content marketing or paid acquisition, it’s time to generate some leads.
Here’s the most common lead gen strategies that I’ve come across when it comes to Saas Marketing.
One of the most common lead magnets or lead generation strategies that Saas companies deploy is the free trial.
At Time Doctor we have a “no credit card needed” 14 day free trial.
We’ve tested 14 days, 30 days, and 21 days free trials.
This strategy involves giving away a piece of your app for free forever. While this is a great way to gain market share, it can be hard for bootstrapped startups to deploy in the beginning.
For instance, Sumo.com allows you to use their email capture tool free forever.
And you’ll only be charged if you want advanced features like advanced analytics, a/b testing, removing the Sumo brand.
Teachable, the company I use to host my online course, offers webinars on how to create an online course.
While more of a lead magnet for the enterprise level apps, white papers are the ebooks of yesterday.
They are usually technical documents designed to educate potential buyers on processes, products and services.
And they almost always have these ginormous form fields.
Next we come to the ebook. The ebook is probably the most popular of all the lead magnets. They are designed to educate prospective buyers on a solution to a particular problem.
Ebooks typically aren’t salesy. They are a way to get people into your funnel where you can nurture them down the line.
Content upgrades are designed as a way to optimize your blog posts. Usually they’re a supplement to the current post.
They come in the form of a checklist, additional tips, or as this content upgrade from Sumo is, a simple PDF of the post.
Templates are simple tools that people can download, use, and get value from.
One of our most successful posts is all about Timesheet Templates. We built the whole thing in Google Sheets, and it took us about 2 hours to do all of it.
That post gets almost 10,000 visitors a month.
Weekly Curated Newsletter
Over the years, content has become so abundant that sorting out the bad content from the content that is worth reading has become a chore.
An extremely valuable lead magnet these days is to produce a weekly newsletter featuring the best content that you and your team found during the week.
Here’s an example from Moz.com who does it semi-monthly.
Create Free or Micro Tools
Creating free tools is a great way to generate leads because so few companies are doing it. This is different from freemium because you’re not giving away your app. You’re giving away something that compliments your app.
It’s a great way to bring in search traffic and generate leads. For instance, Ruben Gamez and his team at Docsketch created an online signature tool.
Ruben has told me it accounts for 1500 leads per month to his paid saas product.
Create a Checklist
If there is a long process that your customers need to complete in order to accomplish a goal, a checklist can be a valuable resource.
For instance, the Hubspot Webinar Checklist lists every step that a marketer needs to complete in order to perform a successful webinar.
These are generally pretty easy to create, but can be a useful tool for your customers.
Create an E-Course
An E-course is a series of emails that are dripped to an email subscriber over the course of several days.
Each email provides one actionable step or tip or strategy that helps a person move toward their goal.
A great example is the Email 1K course powered by Sumo.
Every few days over the course of a month, they send another email with a step by step strategy to help you grow your email list.
(And it helps if you have Sumo installed on your site to make the most of the course.)
Create a Paid Challenge
Clickfunnels builds software that lets people build and manage an email funnel. This paid course (cost is $100) teaches people how to build a funnel.
You can use Clickfunnels or not, but the entire course is taught using Clickfunnels.
By this point, you know how to get some traffic, you have a few lead gen strategies at your disposal.
Now it’s time to talk about conversions. This is all about getting people to become paying customers of your saas product.
Split Test Homepage
The most obvious and impactful split test you can do is on your homepage. In fact, we probably run a split test on our homepage at least once a quarter.
We’re fortunate enough to get thousands of visitors to our homepage, so just the slightest uptick in conversion rates could have a huge impact in our business.
Here you can see our current split test.
Split Test Pricing
The second most impactful page you can split test is your pricing page. For us, we don’t change our pricing plan a whole lot. Our main pricing plan is $10 per user per month.
What we will do is experiment with adding a more expensive plan, or a cheaper plan, or even a free plan to see which converts best.
Clean Signup Form
I use Sumo as an example a lot because I’m super impressed with their marketing. And their signup form is no different.
It’s super simple, super clean, and gets the job done.
Apply to Work with Us
I was listening to the Startups for the Rest of Us Podcast and Rob Walling was interviewing Jordan Gal, the founder of Carthook.
He was describing a strategy where he had customer “Apply” to use Carthook. Where most saas are self service, and marketers are trying to maximize trials, Jordan went in the opposite direction.
He limited the number of trials and increased the onboarding of only qualified customers.
Request a Demo
I see this a lot in the enterprise space or when self service apps have an enterprise plan.
For their two smaller plans, Hootsuite allows people to take a 30 day free trial of the app. However, once they get to the $599/month plan, you need to request a demo.
Survey Potential Customers
When someone signs up to your app, it’d be kind of cool to know who they are, where they’re coming from, and what they’re level of experience is in your category.
That way you can personalize the onboarding sequence to best suit their needs. Smart companies like Convertkit are experimenting with putting website surveys at the start of their signup process.
Your potential customers probably have questions about your service. They want to know if your solution will fit their needs.
Before they try it out and invest time in your saas, you can answer their questions with a live chat feature.
Live Social Proof
Social proof can definitely increase your conversions. There’s plenty of stats to prove it.
But one of the cooler new social proof technologies to come out in the last few years is live social proof.
When someone signs up for your app, people on your site will see it - like in this image on Fomo - makers of this app.
Social Proof with Big Name Logos
At Time Doctor, we have some bigger brands who use our app, and we’re not afraid to share it with the world.
Our thought is this: “If these brands trust Time Doctor, then it’ll work for you.”
As Neil Patel wrote on Quicksprout.com:
“Whether it is companies I have worked for, mentions within press pieces or awards I’ve received, I try to showcase them all. It helps increase my conversion rates. When I removed the logos from NeilPatel.com, my conversion rate went down by 9.9%.”
Create a Paid Trial
Creating a paid trial isn’t going to boost conversions rates, but it will decrease the number of tire kickers who sign up for your site.
This is exactly what Ahrefs does. They have a 7 day trial that costs $7.
If you’re going to pull this off, you probably need to have a strong brand presence and the reputation of being a great product.
Offer a Refund
People want assurances that your product is going to be the right fit. One way to do this is to offer a refund.
Bidsketch offers a 60 day money back guarantee beyond the initial 14 day free trial.
This is a pretty cool way to boost conversion rates.
Email Drip Sequence
Last but not least is the email drip sequence. There’s a couple things you can do here:
- Educate prospects on your product or service. Take them from where they are now to where they need to be in order to become long term customers.
- Send reminder emails when people fall off on your onboarding process. At Time Doctor for instance, if business owners don’t invite their teammates to try the app, we send a gentle reminder to get them to complete the onboarding process.
Email marketing is probably the most scalable way to nurture and follow up with prospects. It’s definitely something you don’t want to skip.
So far, we’ve talked about getting traffic to your site, generating leads with lead magnets, and converting those leads into customers.
But all of that is for naught if you can’t retain your customers. If your monthly churn is 5%, that means you’ll lose almost half of your customers every single year. That’s a hard way to grow your business.
Have a Pause Feature
It’s inevitable that people are going to have to leave your app. Either they don’t have a monthly budget for it right now, or they are suspending that activity for a few months, or maybe they are going to come under new leadership.
Instead of forcing people to leave your site altogether and clear out their data, you can have a pause feature, that for a nominal fee, will store their data until they’re ready to come back and use the app again. By incorporating hardware-based data security measures into your app, you can provide users with the confidence that their stored data during the pause period remains protected against potential breaches.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
The fastest way to get someone to churn is to provide poor customer service. In fact, 33% of Americans say they’ll switch to a competitor after just one poor customer service experience. (source)
With so much competition in the saas space, and with switching costs dropping, it’s never been easier for a customer to leave your platform and join a competitor.
One of the best ways to differentiate yourself is to provide strong customer service. To do so, you can use a custom client portal to facilitate self-service options, enabling clients to access information, track progress, and manage their accounts with ease, enhancing their overall experience and satisfaction.
Know Your NPS Score
Your NPS (or net promoter score) tells you how satisfied your users are with your service. The higher your NPS score, the more satisfied they are.
A word of caution though with regards to NPS scores that we have discovered. Several of your most dissatisfied customers won’t actually tell you they’re unhappy, they’ll simply quit your service.
Surprise and Delight Your Customers
Loyalty programs are a long time staple many business models. Buy 9 hair cuts, get the 10th one free.
You can do the same thing for your customers when they reach a milestone. You can give them a month free when they’ve reached their one year anniversary with you.
You can give them more storage, or a free upgrade when they’ve crossed a certain threshold. Not only do loyalty programs establish a strong bond with customers, but leveraging customer loyalty software brings additional perks. It enables easy tracking, personalized custom rewards, and fosters customer engagement, ultimately boosting customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Create a Customer Success Team
Not to be confused with a customer support team, a customer success team is there to help onboard new customers, show them the features of the product, and help them maximize its full potential.
By using customer success software, your customer success team can efficiently manage customer onboarding, track user interactions, and provide ongoing support and guidance to ensure customers get the most value from your product or service. A reliable onboarding online tool can also be a great addition to streamlining the customer onboarding process, making it user-friendly and efficient.
This is one of the best things we’ve implemented at Time Doctor over the past few years. It’s helped us reduce churn and keep our largest, most profitable customers happy.
They also provide feature ideas so we know what to build moving forward.
Create a User Group
A user group is exactly as it sounds. It’s a group of people who are using your app who can converse, connect, and help each other out.
For instance, the Avada User Group is simply a Facebook group where people building WordPress websites using the Avada theme can share ideas and ask each other questions.
This doesn’t have to be overly complicated. A simple Facebook group or slack channel can do the trick.
In App Support
As a user of software products, one of the greatest things for me is the in app customer support like you see in ConvertKit.
Whenever I have an issue, someone responds to me in a reasonable amount of time. This saves me a ton of headache and it’s one of the biggest reasons why I have never looked for something cheaper.
Offer Annual Plans
Saas pricing strategy experts Profitwell recently did a study on Saas churn and found that
“a higher % of annual contracts strongly correlates with lower % churn. This means that rather than just defaulting to a monthly subscription, companies should consider offering an annual contract instead.” (Source)
One reason they found this to be true is because annual contracts attract higher value customers. These are customers willing to commit to your product.
Keep Adding Value
At some point, your customer’s needs are going to change and technology is going to change. You may need to add integrations to new platforms, or add new features that you previously haven’t thought of.
In order to keep your customers happy, you’re going to have to keep adding value to your app. Sometimes this will come in the way of incremental improvements. Other times it will come in the way of a paradigm shift.
The more value you add to your customers, the longer they’ll stay with you.
Referral Marketing Ideas
At first, I was going to put this in the lead gen category. But after looking around, I found quite a few ideas for referral marketing.
Check out some of these stats:
One of the best referral programs you can run is simply turning your customers into brand ambassadors for you.
For every friend I invite, I get 100 broadcast emails free.
This is huge in the internet marketing space. Companies such as Leadpages were built on the back of JV’s.
Here’s how it works:
- Find an influencer who has a large list.
- Promote your product with a webinar or marketing funnel
- Provide the influencer with a commission.
This is a win for the influencer because they get a steady income stream, and it opens your platform to a new audience.
This could also be called cross promotion. And it works like this: find products and services with a similar audience to yours, but don’t compete directly with you, and introduce your product to them.
For instance, one company that we’ve partnered with is Trainual. They have a similar audience to Time Doctor. So we’ve done webinars to their audience, they’ve done webinars to ours. We’ve created a course on remote work together.
And we’ll continue to look for ways to partner with them in the future.
Integrations play a key role for our marketing efforts. Not only do they provide a high domain authority link to us, but they also drive highly relevant traffic back to our site.
We have an integration with workflowmax.com who then listed us on their “add on” page. Over the past year, this one page has driven over 500 visitors and over 40 new customers.
While affiliate marketing doesn’t account for a huge percentage of our revenue, it’s still something that we offer to bloggers in the remote work space.
However, offering a commission to incentivize people to promote your course is a great way to grow your customer base.
Another strategy to get in front of customers is to pay someone to promote your app to their audience. Influencer marketing is a powerful strategy to leverage individuals with a strong online presence to promote your app to their engaged audience, expanding your reach and credibility.
Ecommerce entrepreneurs have built entire businesses around this model. It can definitely work in Saas marketing too.
Powered By Link
This obviously won’t work for every type of business, however, it can be extremely effective.
If your app is customer facing, meaning it can appear on your website, then having a “Powered By” link back to your site is a great way to get some traffic.
The “Sumo” link below this optin box takes you back to the sumo.com home page.
Once again, this is one of those strategies that isn’t going to work for every business. But it can work great for businesses like pdfFiller.
Here’s how it works:
Someone sends me a PDF that I have to edit or sign.
In order to do that, I have to create an account with pdfFiller, thus introducing me to the product and becoming a user.
This creates a natural viral effect for pdfFiller.
Miscellaneous Saas Marketing Strategies
Last but not least, here are a bunch of strategies that I’ve seen work but I didn’t really have a specific category to fit them in.
So, I put them in the miscellaneous saas marketing category.
Ironically, this ended up being my largest category.
Get Featured on Launch Sites
In the Saas industry, there are quite a bit of sites to help you get your first users. I’m calling them launch sites, but you are probably familiar with quite a few of them.
- Appsumo: A free newsletter offering deals to entrepreneurs.
- Betalist: Where startups can list their apps and get beta users.
- Product Hunt: A list of the best new products daily.
- Killer Startups: Where you can list your early stage startup and get beta customers
- Angel List: A directory of companies who are hiring, looking for funding, and looking to be discovered.
“Do you want fries with that?”
Perhaps the most famous upsell in the world. (Note: I haven’t been to McDonalds in 25 years. I have no idea if they still ask this.)
Anyway, Saas companies like Clickfunnels can offer upsells to increase the order value of each customer.
And the interesting thing with Clickfunnels upsell, they’re offering an info product, is that they can generate some revenue while the customer is in the trial.
It’s a $47 dollar guide billed the day you sign up.
If you offer multiple products or multiple solutions, you can always cross sell.
So, it’s not uncommon to see an offer for Meetfam in the Appsumo newsletter - selling products across different parts of the company.
Build a Community
This is really hard.
But when executed properly, can be an insanely effective Saas Marketing channel. Before they even had a product, Growthhackers built a community where marketers can share their content.
This community has thousands of contributors and even more members. There are AMA’s, marketers can ask questions, and even get traffic to their own site.
Like I said, it’s really hard to pull off, but if you can, it’s a great way to market your business.
This looks like a standard enough email accept for 1 thing. This email came from Leadpages.
Basically, Leadpages emailed their list to promote the Growthtools lead magnet. Kinda cool! Bryan Harris, founder of Growthtools calls this guest emailing. Not only has he perfected it, he also teaches it.
Speak at a Conference
Speaking at a conference isn’t going to directly drive traffic to your site, but you’ll be selling your brand to potential customers.
And that is always a good thing 🙂
This will help you build your brand, get more people searching for your site, and set you up as authority.
Host a Live Conference
One thing that has dramatically transformed our business at Time Doctor is we now host a conference for remote work called Running Remote.
By hosting the conference, we are able to position ourselves as one of the leaders in the field of remote work.
Sponsor a Conference
If you really want to get your name in front of a conference audience, you can sponsor one. Each conference’s sponsorship opportunities are different.
And while they may not be the cheapest form of advertisement, they are a great way to introduce yourself to a new audience.
Hosting meetups is a cool way to meet your customers and potential customers. At Time Doctor, we host dinnners in various cities we visit.
We make friends, form relationships, build partnerships with people and companies we’d not have access to otherwise.
Here’s Eric Siu’s words:
“Clickflow is a premium product with a free trial offer, and we also bundle it in with Single Grain’s other services”
So, when you hire the agency, you also get the app as well.
Cold Email Outreach
This strategy has worked very well for Time Doctor, especially targeting larger businesses. Our emails aren’t exactly “blasts”. They are highly customized emails that are directly relevant to the company we are sending them out to.
It’s a great way to find and bring in our ideal customers to our platform.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for some great Follow up email templates, then check these out from Lemlist.
Build a Business Brand
One of the most effective, yet hardest traffic strategies, is investing in your brand.
Let me show you what I mean.
According to Ahrefs, our name “timedoctor” get searched on 3400 times.
And another 5,000 times for the keyword “time doctor”
Build a Personal Brand
Every Saturday morning, I read Justin Jackson’s newsletter. Over the years of reading his newsletter, I feel like I know Justin… though we’ve never actually met.
Justin has thousands, if not tens of thousands of people he delivers his newsletter to. And all of us have a “connection” to him.
Recently, Justin launched a podcast hosting service called Transistor.fm. To be perfectly honest, I’m not in the market for podcasting cloud services hosting right now, but if I was, my first stop would be Transistor.fm.
Why? Because I want to buy from Justin… not an anonymous company.
List on Customer Review Sites
Customer review sites allow people to find software for their business. These sites list seemingly every single software category imaginable.
So, it makes sense to list your saas on these sites. (You can pay for advertising on these sites as we discussed earlier in the article.
Coin a Phrase
About 12 years ago, the term Inbound Marketing came into the lexicon of marketers everywhere.
So, where did that term come from? Hubspot! The martech behemoth that is now synonymous with the term Inbound Marketing.
I’d say this. It takes a ton of time and money to invent a new category. But if done right, owning a brand new category can be a great way to build a brand, and gain mindshare in your prospective customers.
Write THE Book
One of the best ways to declare yourself an authority in a certain topic is to write the book on it.
That’s what Drift did with their topic “Conversational Marketing”.
First, they coined the phrase, then they branded the company around that phrase as a new way to market to people, then they wrote the book - building a moat around themselves from all of their competitors.
This is a shirt from Convertkit for sale.
Having swag for sale or to give out at events or to loyal customers is a great way to spread the word about your brand…
Especially if you’ve been able to cultivate brand ambassadors who love what you and your company does.
Time to Value
One the key factors in the success of any software is the Time to Value. That is, how long does it take for your customer to see the value in using your app.
Typically, the longer a person needs to wait to see value, or the more work that they need to do, the faster they will churn.
This is a bit different than the partnership program in the referral marketing category.
The Hubspot marketing agency partner program, from which this idea was inspired, is a program that cultivates agencies, who act as middlemen to install Hubspot software on their client’s sites.
Hubspot provides the agencies with training, tools, and resources in order to help the agenices deploy Hubspot products across the entire marketing stack.
The Google certification program is probably one of the most popular certification programs in the marketing space.
Basically, you get to be a badge if you demonstrate the skills and expertise that you know what you’re doing.
This helps give credibility to agencies who offer ppc and adwords management services.
Have a Point of View
Few companies have a stronger point of view than Basecamp, the popular project management software.
The entire premise of their company is founded on the fact that software tools are too complicated. That there is too much bloat and feature creep in almost every tool that we used.
That was back in 2005.
Create a Course
Ahrefs has created a free course to help you get started with Ahrefs. It shows you how to use the app to grow your organic traffic.
This is a strategy that can easily be deployed to almost any type of saas business.
Many of the largest platforms have their own eco-systems. Shopify has their own marketplace, Salesforce has one too. And WordPress has the plugin repository.
These marketplaces are a great way to introduce your product to the customers of these already popular platforms.
Build a Sales Team
One of the things we’ve done the past few years, that has had a profound impact on our business is create an outbound sales team.
These folks are tasked with targeting and closing customers that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to acquire with our content marketing and ppc efforts.
The ability to reach, and speak to, decision makers at large companies directly has allowed us to move up market.
Double Down on What’s Working
In this article, there are 100 saas marketing strategies that you can use to get traffic, convert that traffic into leads, convert the leads into users, retain the users and increase their lifetime value.
Clearly, not all of them are going to work for your business. Even though we tried many of these at Time Doctor, we double down on what’s working well. For us that’s consistently producing SEO Content.
But for other companies, it may be ppc that works best, or email marketing. The point is, when you find something that works, go all in and keep doing it relentlessly.
Over to You
What is your favorite saas marketing strategy? Leave a comment below and let us know!