In the world of cloud computing, achieving business success is more often a matter of being able to effectively market products and services than to develop them.
The inherent challenge in marketing certain cloud computing solutions is that many of them are complex and intangible. To this effect, Software as a Service can be very challenging to market well despite being one of the most commercially viable components of the cloud computing paradigm.
SaaS marketing is unique in the sense that its sales cycle needs to move faster than others. Software products have always been characterized by evolution. If a SaaS product had a long sales cycle, the product could be completely different at its end than it was at the beginning.
For this reason, SaaS companies often rely on content marketing and customer service strategies that provide the information and reassurance the buyers need. They contribute to the goal of making customers feel safe and secure while investing in a cloud-based product.
Effective SaaS marketing requires knowledge, expertise, great content, creativity, and determination. The nature of SaaS is not very exciting due to its seemingly boring and abstract nature. It is up to marketers to package the concept with killer marketing strategies that will speak to clients in terms of productivity and growth potential. With all this in mind, here are five SaaS companies that certainly know what they are doing in relation to marketing.
This is a very respected name in SEO and online marketing, and yet many of the professionals who visit Moz.com on a weekly or even daily basis may not realize that the company offers a powerful SaaS tool for just about all types of online marketing. Moz does not use a “front-and-center” approach to selling subscriptions, and this is part of a very effective master plan.
Moz practices what it preaches: this is a company that provides valuable, custom content for its audience. Studies show that 90 percent of users find custom content useful and 82 percent of them feel more positive about a company after reading such content.
As a website, Moz.com is the king of content marketing. Anyone who is interested in SEO and SEM will find more than just blog posts answers to questions. They will find enlightening whiteboard presentations crafted by co-founder Rand Fishkin as well guides and advice they can trust. In addition to custom content, Moz also features guest posting and harnesses the power of social media influencers, particularly on LinkedIn.
Furthermore, the company connects with prospective clients with the intention of building a community of SEO professionals who are thoroughly engaged. By the time Moz followers become interested in company’s SaaS product, they have been engaged and convinced that they should subscribe to a tool created and managed by the best brand in the industry. In other words, they are ready and willing to buy.
Similar to Moz, Buffer excels at content marketing that speaks to prospective clients of the company’s SaaS solution, which focuses on scheduling social media updates at strategic times when audiences are more apt to see them in their respective news feeds.
In the beginning, Buffer’s blog was business-like in the sense that it focused solely on social media marketing. Later, however, the range of topics expanded into productivity, behavioral psychology and even lifestyle.
Two things stand out about Buffer’s marketing strategy.
First, the content is always fresh. If Facebook rolls out a new feature, for example, Buffer’s followers will get a timely update as well as smart insight particular to their industry.
Second, Buffer takes a humanization approach to content production, which means that the company aims to establish an emotional connection with its customers that puts people before sales.
The company has a vibrant community of social media followers and is not afraid to show its human side by featuring stories about its employees and selected clients.
Of all the marketing strategies mentioned herein, Trello’s is the most interesting and spartan. The clever approach is found within the SaaS product itself, which is an online collaboration tool for business productivity and project management.
Trello delivers and exceeds business value for users, and this is a major part of what has helped the company succeed.The development team and marketing department at Trello followed the traditional steps of putting out press releases and giving notice to reviewers, tech journalists and analysts. The rest, as they say, is history. Trello is such a great product that reviewers were quick to approve and recommend.
In other words, Trello’s marketing success was achieved through word-of-mouth recommendations, which these days travel very quickly on social media platforms. Add to this the fact that Trello offers top-notch customer service and strives for retention, and you are left with a winning formula for SaaS profit and longevity.
SaaS marketers should not undermine the importance of customer retention, for this is a catalyst for positive word-of-mouth marketing. In the specific case of Trello as a platform for online collaboration, word-of-mouth marketing can generate right at the moment when users are working together on a project.
A few years ago, this SaaS platform for tech support and customer service experienced an online marketing crisis that executives discovered through SEO analytics. Zendesk found that the search term “Zendesk alternative” was trending uncomfortably higher than expected. This meant that people were interested in cloud-based customer support platforms other than Zendesk.
What the company did to bounce back from this SEO downfall was extremely clever. Zendesk resorted to humor by creating an online marketing campaign fake modern rock band called “Zendesk Alternative.” This cunning strategy, augmented by hilarious videos that achieved viral status, was an astounding success.
People searching for an alternative to Zendesk actually landed on the fake band’s website, which resulted in nice conversion rates. More importantly, the company taught a lesson in how to react to negative SEO situations.
Zendesk also excels at marketing by making its guides, comments, case studies, and strategies more accessible instead of taking a gated content approach.
Similar to Zendesk, Hootsuite leveraged pop culture and cleverness to promote its SaaS brand. Around the time HBO was marketing a new season of its hit television series “Game of Thrones”, Hootsuite created a video that drew parallels between the fantasy world of Westeros and the online marketing industry.
Brand followers were naturally delighted with this move. Moreover, fans of “Game of Thrones” were also intrigued and approved of the marketing campaign. Since this is a very popular television show, it can be reasonably assumed that many online marketing professionals are also fans of “Game of Thrones”.
Aside from projecting a fun and clever image, Hootsuite offers a very enticing free trial for individuals who need to manage activity and marketing across multiple social networks.
A freelance social media coordinator, for example, can manage up to three social media profiles, glance basic analytics, capture leads, and schedule the posting of updates for free. The free trial strategy is one of the most standard SaaS marketing strategies, which aims at customer acquisition and onboarding.
The companies listed herein have excelled at marketing because they know that their products face considerable competition. SaaS companies often make the mistake of focusing on the process of software development and forget the weightier matters of service, support and humanity. When you entertain, delight and value customers while adding value to their businesses and personal lives, you lay a solid foundation for a marketing strategy that can, like the five above, deliver amazing results.