The SaaS business model is currently one of the most successful models in the cloud computing market. Owing to its explosive success, SaaS has been labeled a “disruptive technology”. Ever since SalesForce paved the way, back in 2004, to make enterprise software available to the public without the hassles associated with traditional software distribution, the SaaS model has seen hundreds of success stories.
However, the many startups and businesses looking for success within this niche don’t often make the cut, mostly due to a misunderstanding of the differences with all other ventures. Since the SaaS model is largely driven by a consistent revenue stream, businesses need to meticulously manage every step in the customer journey from generating awareness to gaining customer loyalty.
“Learn from your mistakes, and do them again perfectly”.
12 SaaS Mistakes that Get in Your Way
1. Going the Traditional Enterprise Software Route
The SaaS model is about generating recurring revenues, so marketing and financial strategies that apply to traditional software distribution and rely on generating revenues on a per sale basis, will not work. The strategies involved with SaaS and traditional software distribution differ on multiple levels, right from the costs incurred in maintenance and hosting to the infrastructure involved. Failing to restructure your financial processes can spell disaster for your business.
Additionally, since the SaaS model offers more transparency and visibility into user behavior, business owners have to tailor their strategies to track key financial metrics that indicate future revenue potential. In the long run, it can mean improved customer retention rates and high customer lifetime values.
2. Having an Unstructured Content Strategy
One of the major missteps in B2B SaaS Marketing is becoming too complacent once moved past the initial stages of establishing the business. One of the aspects - or symptoms - of this complacency is the lack of a structured content strategy, or in some cases, the complete lack of a strategy.
One important lesson to understand is that, in addition to being informative, your content needs to fall in line with the stage at which your buyer (or potential buyer) is at in the sales funnel. This means your content delivery schedule should be segmented in a way that it caters to the buyers at the TOFU, MOFU and BOFU stages in the sales funnel. Whether it’s content that serves to pull in a broad pool of potential leads like blog posts or tip-sheets or content that caters to those who are on the verge of making a purchase like special discount offers or free assessments/trial offers for your product, every piece of content should have success metrics associated with it to determine the extent of their effectiveness in pushing the buyer down the funnel.
3. Being Too Brand-Centric or Self-Promotional
If the content focuses too much on what a product can do or will do, it isn’t enough to build a customer’s trust or entice them into making a purchase. If the product is well-developed and provides an excellent user experience, it will garner excellent customer reviews and testimonials which will speak for your product’s excellence more effectively than self-promotion can. Remember, customers want to know how your product can benefit them, not what it can do. So, rather than focusing on what your product does, focus your content on addressing the pain points and concerns that customers in your niche often have. This will help build an engaging, trust-based relationship.
4. Not Honing Your SEO Strategy
That an effective content strategy that drives organic search traffic to your website is hugely beneficial for your bottom-line is not news. Today, the Google algorithm takes far more than content-driven metrics into consideration. Where SaaS companies often fall short is in failing to capitalize on other avenues, besides content delivery, like social promotion and earned distribution channels that can also effectively drive traffic to your site. A good SEO strategy focuses not only on best SEO practices like keyword distribution or SEO-friendly URLs; it also takes into account tactics to encourage active social promotions, reviews and shares.
5. Not Monitoring Your Analytics
So, you have established your goals, strategies and metrics for your solution, but it doesn’t mean it ends there. Marketing is an ever-changing process, and it’s important to understand and assess whether your tactics are effectively doing their jobs. Tracking your analytics can give you a clear picture on how each piece of content is performing in terms of your final goals, and in turn, can help you streamline your content strategy. You can then focus your future efforts on what has shown successful engagement and distribution rates.
6. Ignoring Your Competition
One of the major challenges that come with stepping into the SaaS foray is being able to posit yourself as a solution that outsmarts other such products in the market. Comparison shopping - where a buyer contemplates his choices between similar services - is a defining feature in the early stages of a buyer’s cycle. It’s easy to understand why ignoring your competition essentially takes you out of the reckoning. So, tell your customers clearly why your product is specifically better than Brand A and Brand B. Acknowledge them by name like Happy Fox did here to great success; not only did their site get a boost in traffic, it also increased their conversions.
7. Sacrificing Quality for Quantity of Leads
While increasing your lead flow is a worthy accomplishment, business owners sometimes fail to consider the quality of those incoming leads. A good lead flow doesn’t automatically mean increased conversions, not if those leads aren’t the right fit for your business. In fact, without a proper lead vetting process, you could be wasting time and money by making your sales team handle unqualified leads. Instead of focusing on the quantity of incoming leads, focus on metrics that define the quality of those leads such as the user’s engagement, activity and behavior on your website. The higher the engagement rate of a user with a particular page or section of your website, the higher is the possibility that they’ll convert successfully. By using an automated process, you can easily filter your leads to only push those with higher engagement rates to your sales team.
8. The Pricing Structure
We get it. Pricing is definitely a tricky path to navigate. Deciding the right prices for your product requires careful consideration of your competition, your customers and your product’s value proposition. Business owners, therefore, often stumble over this objective by making the following missteps in pricing their products:
No Price Page
Some pages either entirely avoid including a pricing page or have a page with no direct references to their prices. Being vague or evasive about pricing with your customers can be risky, especially if you’re looking to grow your business.
While having a single price for your product may seem simple enough, it could actually limit your customers on both ends of the spectrum: those who can’t afford your price and those who might be willing to pay more for a high-end service. Instead, opt for the tiered price system, where you offer your product at different pricing levels to cater to different segments of your customer base.
Too Many Prices
The tiered approach brings us to the final misstep: having way too many pricing options or information on your page. That can only serve to confuse and overwhelm your potential customers.
9. Not Onboarding Properly
One of the major causes of high churn rates for SaaS products is a lack of on-boarding once they have made the purchase and have begun to use your product. A product’s success isn’t contingent on how many have purchased it, but rather on whether the customer continues to use it or gives up on it because of lack of support. To keep users inside your product, they’ll need a digital guide map to your product. Including tutorials, guides, prompts, wizards and newsletters with your product experience can keep them onboard your product.
10. Failure to Nurture or Support Your Customers
Following the initial sales flow, your revenue influx will tend to spread out over time, and your business’ success will be reliant on customers renewing their subscriptions. To ensure the long-term success of your product, you need to nurture your current customer base, providing them with adequate support on using your product, troubleshooting, and addressing any concerns they have directly. Lack of support is one of the major causes of high churn rates. Designate a separate support team, separate from your sales team, to specifically act as customer support and go-betweens between the customer and your product team.
11. Underestimating Customer Referral Power
Never underestimate the power of your customer: they do, after all, define the success of your product. In fact, when it comes to using a new product, potential customers tend to rely more on the word of existing customers than advertising or promotional campaigns. So failing to capitalize on this tendency is a mistake. You can do this by including customer testimonials and quotes in all your marketing collateral and encouraging your customers to share their experience or feedback. Likewise, offering incentives and special offers to customers who successfully refer new users to your product is another way of increasing your product’s reach.
12. Building from Scratch or Relying on Third-Parties
Building every aspect of your product from scratch can be risky, especially if some of them are beyond your expertise. Outsource the development to vendors who can handle those aspects, while you focus on what you can do within your own scope of expertise. On the other hand, relying on many third-party vendors can result in a case of “too many cooks”, so finding a vendor that provides an all-inclusive platform that lets you handle multiple aspects of your business - like HubSpot or SalesForce which come with their own development and marketing platforms - can ensure you put out a quality service across the board.
Running a B2B SaaS company - especially within a competitive arena - is a challenge, but it’s one that can be scaled successfully by avoiding these pitfalls.