In 2011 Xander Marketing lent its expertise to a range of Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses, working on large projects with 4 different SaaS businesses, as well as on smaller projects with several others. In addition, we also produced helpful resources like our SaaS marketing guides (here and here) that any SaaS business should find useful in developing their marketing strategy.
As we move into 2012 we look ahead to marketing predictions for SaaS businesses this year:
1. Conversion rate testing
A SaaS business’s website is usually central to its marketing activities, and with sophisticated A/B testing and analytical tools now accessible to any business, it’s possible to see exactly how people are interacting with your site. From there, a business can see which aspects of its site are effective, and which aspects require improvement. It’s generally cheaper and easier to double your conversion rate than it is to double your traffic. Split testing should also be an ongoing optimisation process, as even small percentage increases, when accumulated every month, can add up to a significant improvement over a whole year.
2. Creative use of AdWords
It should be important for any business to try to get as much value as possible out of its marketing budget. Particularly online, where the clever use of analytics tools to discover how people find your site and what turns them into conversions can be used to focus your marketing efforts. These tools can also be used to analyse which keywords and/or negative keywords you should be concentrating on. Google Remarketing (also known as retargeting), in which tracking cookies follow customers’ online behaviour and display advertisements relevant to them has been shown to increase engagement, and is an area in which we expect to see rapid growth in 2012.
3. Providing value in content
As we’ve discussed in previous blog articles, it’s no longer enough to simply generate content arbitrarily and hope that people like it. With so many other businesses and organisations out there generating content of their own, it’s important to focus on creating content that your customers will want to engage with and share with one another.
4. Strategy over tactics
A strategy involves taking a holistic approach to marketing up front, taking account of all aspects of your business and the potential interactions between them. Tactics are how the strategy is delivered, and the successful use of them in business relies on having an overarching strategy guiding their implementation, providing overall direction and aiding decision-making at all levels.
5. Decline in traditional advertising
With the growth of online advertising, fewer people are engaging with traditional print media advertising channels, particularly in the SaaS sector. SaaS businesses are also increasingly using their website as the hub of their marketing strategy, and to that end it’s far easier to drive clicks towards it from other online channels such as advertising on websites or social media than it is to get potential customers to type in a website address from a print advert. These clicks can also be measured and analysed, providing you with quantifiable indicators of the effectiveness of your online marketing strategies.
6. Transparency is ever more important
As a SaaS business, customers and prospects will only take your products seriously if they believe that you know what you’re talking about. This means demonstrating your knowledge and sharing expertise, as well as providing as much detail about the product as you can so that customers can make an informed choice. Offering free trials are a proven method for SaaS businesses to turn leads into conversions. It is also important to convey to your customers why your business does certain things the way it does, such as your pricing strategy. Credibility with your customers can only be earned through being honest with them.
7. More competition
SaaS is a rapidly growing business model . Not every business can be the next Google, but the technology giants are acquiring smaller SaaS businesses all the time. As such, everybody is after a piece of the pie, which is why it’s important to distinguish your business from others offering similar products, and make sure that your customers choose you over your competitors. Many businesses decide after using outsourced SaaS to develop their own in-house solutions. How are you going to ensure that they continue to use your services in the future?
8. Adapting to new technology
Information technology is evolving at an ever increasing rate. Near Field Communication (NFC), mobile apps and cloud computing are just some of the relatively recent developments that could potentially have huge ramifications for entire industries. Businesses that struggle to adapt invariably struggle to survive, which is why your business should be looking at how it will adapt to future developments, for example by offering a mobile app or support for collaborative remote working.
9. Privacy and security are still big issues
Despite allegedly being at the top of the agenda for many businesses for years now, it still seems to take a catastrophic breach of security or hacking attack to get companies really thinking about what they’re doing. However these seem to be occurring with more and more frequency, and customers are realising that they shouldn’t hand over their data unless they can trust you with it. As well as having robust security protocols, it’s important to emphasise in your marketing strategy the fact that customers can trust both your business and your products.
10. Social media use will increase
As mentioned above, social media can be a powerful marketing tool for any business. However companies that use SaaS solutions engage with the internet on a daily basis. In addition to platforms like Facebook and Twitter, professional networking sites like LinkedIn allow businesses to build their brand, increase their customer base and interact with professional contacts on a personal level.