7 proven ways to growth hack your SaaS marketing
By: Tristan Tarpley, CEO of Market(r)
Growth hacking is a term that’s being thrown around a lot these days by SaaS marketing experts, but do we really know what it means? Hacking has had a negative connotation for such a long time, but now it’s something that’s imperative in the success of your business.
Simply put, growth hacking is a strategy used by companies to grow exponentially within a short amount of time and by spending the least amount of resources possible. But why is growth hacking suddenly important? Isn’t it possible to just simply let your business grow naturally over the course of time?
Unfortunately, the answer to that is “no”. Nowadays, most industries are crowded with companies fighting for their market share, and most of these companies are employing some form of growth hacking. Without growth hacking, startups and small businesses have no way of competing against companies that have been operating for several years.
Growth hacking is especially important to SaaS businesses. Why? The answer lies in the name itself: Software as a Service. Services need people to serve, meaning it needs users that patronize the service. Growth hacking is a great way to amass a large number of users in a small amount of time, thereby ensuring your SaaS business thrives.
As a business owner, how do you growth hack your SaaS marketing endeavors to increase your user base without investing a lot of money into advertising and what not? Below we’ve compiled a few tried and tested tricks that work especially well for SaaS companies.
Build a Killer Email List
Almost all companies have taken their business online, but not all of them know how to take full advantage of it. For a lot of businesses, having a website simply means having a storefront on the World Wide Web. However, websites are more than just a way to display your services online in a flashy and convenient way.
Websites also make for a great lead generator. It’s simple: just make sure your site visitor leaves traces of themselves on your website so you can contact them later. How do you do this? By getting their contact information in a way that’s hopefully not annoying to them.
The easiest way to do this is to require your users to log in or register before they can start using the service. Most websites allow users to sign up using their email address, which gives them a viable way of contacting customers. Also, if you’ve ever filled out a registration form, you’ve probably seen a check box at the bottom of the page asking for permission to send you promotional emails - it’s usually situated below the check box that asks you if you’ve read the Terms and Conditions. I know most of us uncheck that box (and check the box above it despite not having actually read the T&C) but it’s still a viable and less annoying way to get leads.
Another great way to get leads off your website is to hold contests and giveaways. These giveaways can either be open to members only, or require participants to fill out a form with their contact information in order to join.
So what does one do with a large collection of emails? Well, it’s a great way to keep in touch with people who expressed interest in your service. If someone is interested in your service but ends up not getting it, then there’s probably some sort of barrier preventing them. Maybe your subscription plans are too pricey, or maybe their business is not big enough to justify them getting the service. As long as you stay accessible to them through promotional emails, you can eventually convert them through future price discounts or new offers.
Use a Retargeting Pixel
But what do you do when potential customers browse through your website and leave it without providing contact information. In the old days, these would be leads that are lost forever, unless they make the effort to visit your site again in the future. Nowadays, we have something called the retargeting pixel, which are lines of code you can inject into your website.
Once a visitor leaves your website, the pixel follows them around as they browse through other sites. The pixel can also find out who they are on various social media platforms. In the future, if you run an ad campaign, you can choose to target people who have visited your website before. For example, if you run a retargeting campaign using Facebook ads, the ads will show up on a person’s news feed as a sponsored ad if they’ve visited your website.
It may sound a bit shady and stalker-ish, but retargeting pixels are completely legal and non-invasive. Since it targets people who have already expressed interest in what you’re offering, it’s not as annoying as you think it is. Also, the ads always give people a way out in case they don’t want to see ads of a similar nature in the future.
Let Them Try Before They Take The Dive
One of the most common growth tactics for SaaS companies is the free trial program. This works with SaaS models extremely well because it allows your users to dip their toes in the water and lets them decide for themselves if the water is just right.
In SaaS marketing, the biggest gap lies between user interest and actual need. Your service might make someone say “that’s a really cool concept” or “it would be nice to have something like that”, but they won’t actually purchase or subscribe to it if they don’t say “this is something that I need in my life”. Trial programs allows users to try out a service and hopefully realize that they need it.
Earlier we said that free trials are pretty common when it comes to SaaS companies and unfortunately, this is also the reason why it doesn’t work for all companies. Some businesses might benefit a lot from it, while others will see little to no results. If your business isn’t doing any better despite giving a free trial, maybe it’s because most of your competitors are doing the same thing.
If you find yourself in an industry that’s crawling with free trials, you can one-up the competition by giving your free trials an upgrade. Instead of just giving your users free rein on your service for a limited amount of time, give them an incentive. If your company’s finances can handle it, small tokens like gift certificates, free app add-ons and in-app credits can give your users enough motivation to try the service out and buy it in the future once the trial period runs out.
People Love Options (as long as one of the options is free)
As we mentioned earlier, trial periods don’t work for all businesses. If your service is a bit complicated or has a lot of bells and whistles, a 1-month free trial may not be enough for users to fully appreciate and learn it. However, having a free entry point to your service is still the best way to garner more users, which is why a lot of companies go with the freemium business model.
Just take a look at Spotify. If you sign up for Spotify’s free version, you get full access to its song database, as well as podcasts and audiobooks. However, if you want uninterrupted audio streaming with no ads at the highest sound quality, you have to upgrade to a Premium subscriptions. The platform allows casual listeners to use the service for free, but it gives people enough reasons why it’s better to pay for a premium subscription.
Implement A Referral Program
Back in the old days, before the dawn of digital marketing, print ads and TV commercials, establishments found success thanks to good old “word of mouth”. And even with today’s advanced technology, word of mouth is still a tried and tested SaaS marketing strategy.
Why is it so effective? Well, the problem with social media ads and email campaigns is that people get these emails or ads on their news feed from a complete stranger, telling them to try out a new service. And even if they are interested in the said service, there’s a chance that these emails and ads will go unnoticed. Now, say for example a relative or a friend told you about this service and asked you to try it, wouldn’t you be more willing to give it a shot?
Referral programs rely on the fact that people are more willing to believe people they know over complete strangers. Implementing it is easy: Just ask your users to refer your service to people they know and reward them for each successful referral. This means that users only get rewarded once the people they referred to the service actually signs up and starts using the service. Now offer the same deal to the users who were just referred to the service, and it becomes a never ending cycle that manages itself.
Polish Your Content Marketing Game
Know why the phrase “content is key” is used all the time when people talk about content marketing? Because it’s true. Sure, the phrase is probably overused in the digital marketing world, but there’s no truer fact that this. While some SaaS growth tactics might be great at short-term boosts in sales or user acquisition, content marketing is like a formidable mountain - steady, strong, consistent.
What’s so great about content marketing? Well, a lot of things. For one, it’s a great way of generating awareness for your company without being all up in everyone’s faces. Take Buffer for example. When the service first launched, they had articles published in various channels, from social media to blogs. They were everywhere, and even if you didn’t take the time to read through their articles, the name “Buffer” became embedded into people’s heads.
Having content published all over the internet also helps your company stand out as an industry leader. If your name is literally everywhere, people get the notion that you know what you’re talking about and that your company must be a big name in the industry.
Content marketing is also a great booster to any one of the other SaaS growth tactics mentioned in this article. Let’s go back to trial periods for a bit. As we mentioned before, a lot of trial periods fail for several reasons. One of those reasons is lack of awareness. It doesn’t matter if your website has a giant button that screams “Start your free trial” if nobody even sees it. Step up your content marketing game, create quality content and spread it over the Internet and have your articles link back to your trial page registration. You’ll see a lot more sign ups in no time.
Consistent Customer Service and Experience
Good customer service is usually not a popular Saas marketing strategy when you talk about growth hacking. This is because growth hacking focuses more on quick user acquisition as opposed to user retention. However, delivering excellent customer service is a great, yet subtle way to growth hack your SaaS company. Why? Because a stable and growing user base is the lifeline for any SaaS businesses. This is why you must treat your users extremely well.
Most SaaS businesses run on a subscription system, which means you must find ways so that your users will continuously support your service and keep paying for it. Let’s say your SaaS pricing model is on a monthly subscription. Month after month your users must be happy enough to keep on wanting to pay for your service. Things like a bad run-in with a curt customer support agent or frequent platform downtime can cause your users to click that cancel or unsubscribe button.
First, you have to give great customer experience. It doesn’t matter if you have a unique concept, if your platform keeps crashing or pages load slowly, it’s only a matter of time before your user’s patience ran out.
Now, no software is perfect and no matter how much you tweak and upgrade your service, you will still run into bugs, problems and glitches. This is where the next step comes in: When your customer experience falters, customer service should be able to save the day. How infuriating do you think it is for users when they experience technical difficulties with your platform, so they contact customer service, only to find themselves communicating with an unhelpful and inefficient agent?
Customer retention is hurt badly when you don’t deliver good customer experience and service, but it also affects acquisition. This is where “word of mouth” can harm companies instead of helping them. People are more likely to share and post about bad experiences. ThinkJar founder Esteban Kolsky once said that around 13% of your unhappy customers are more likely to share their negative experience with 15 people or more. Majority of consumers nowadays read online reviews about a service before trying it. If you have bad reviews about your company floating around the internet due to bad customer experience and service, you can lose a lot of potential users this way.
This might seem like a lot, especially to business owners with no background in digital marketing. And for startups and small SaaS companies, hiring an agency to take care of all of these is out of the question, financially speaking. With Market(r), you gain access to these SaaS growth tactics and still have full control over what goes on with your marketing endeavors - check us out today!
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