From cloud computing to productivity applications, software-as-a-service (SaaS) is increasingly becoming part of our daily lives. Instead of buying and installing software on a private server, individuals and businesses can subscribe to services and features that a SaaS provider develops, hosts, supports, and updates.
Data from Statista shows that the SaaS market is estimated to grow to $157 billion in 2020, which is double the size in 2014. If you’re a startup launching a SaaS product, you need to understand the competitive landscape of this market. A highly competitive marketplace may look discouraging, but it also means there is a high demand for SaaS.
Don’t let a large number of competitors discourage you from launching your SaaS product. Here’s how you can launch it successfully and stand out from the competition:
Learn About Your Competition
Unless you are doing something disruptive and game-changing, understand the competitive landscape of the market. Find out if there are companies that offer the same products. It’s easy to visit their websites, physical stores, and social media pages to check their initiatives. Learn from their successes and failures while you’re working on your marketing and product development strategies.
Ask prospective customers what products they would likely buy if they weren’t buying from you, and what makes those products valuable to them. Fill in the gap your competitors leave so you can capture that market share.
Identify What Makes Your SaaS Unique
Many startups consider product differentiation as the best way to stand out from the competition. But although creating a unique product is essential, it’s not the only—or the best—way. For one, you can simply be responsive, helpful, and personal, and your customers will notice.
Other strategies you can include:
- Pursue a different audience segment. Find a niche target market, a group of people your competitors haven’t targeted.
- Provide better customer support. Respond promptly to customer inquiries and concerns. Be transparent to customers about downtime, price changes, and other issues. Apologize in public for the inconvenience and mistakes your company caused.
- Give an excellent experience. Make sure your website is seamless throughout your customer’s experience and buying journey. Create a step-by-step guide on how customers can get the most out of your product.
- Offer a hassle-free sign-up. Minimize the fields that a user has to fill out and the activities they must do before acquiring the freebie (e.g., CAPTCHA, email confirmation).
Pick the Right Price Strategy
Lowering your price isn’t always a smart business plan. Instead of going into a price war, increase the value of your product.
Consider offering a free trial or a freemium version of your SaaS. Doing so will allow your target customers to experience the primary benefits of the product. If the user likes the product, they can upgrade to a premium version.
Free offers also help you gather feedback so you can continuously improve your software. You’ll discover which features customers are willing to pay for and which features you can give away.
Continuously Monitor Changes in the Marketplace
Even as you’re developing the product, changes will take place, and trends will evolve in the marketplace. Stay updated on market trends and changes, then capitalize on them.
Create a Launch Strategy
A lot of work goes behind a successful launch, from building relationships with market influencers to conducting market research.
Failing to plan for your launch can be a costly mistake. Here are some things you should prepare before you officially introduce your product to the market:
- A team roadmap that details everything that will happen and when
- A communication to target customers
- An introductory post on your website
- Announcements on social media
- A customer video testimonial
- A video explaining your company and how your product works
Get traction and create a successful launch of your product using these promotional methods:
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) involves optimizing your official website and Shopify page so that customers will easily find them online. Implementing local SEO is recommended so you can generate business from relevant local searches.
When hiring an SEO expert, choose a white hat SEO label. White hat SEO techniques comply with SEO rules, minimizing your chances of being penalized by Google. They also generally optimize for the audience instead of the search engines, helping you build strong relationships in your market.
An SEO expert will optimize your site according to:
- Content: Creating content that your customers need throughout each stage of the buyer’s journey
- Keywords: Using words and phrases that make it easy for your target audience to find you online
- Metadata: Optimizing your meta title and descriptions to improve the click-through rate of your organic search results
- Website Speed: Quickening your site’s loading time and making it more user-friendly
- Mobile-Friendliness: Optimizing your website so that it runs seamlessly on various devices, especially phones and tablets
Although SEO is an excellent, sustainable way to build your business and generate demand, it also takes a lot of time. The results of an SEO campaign don’t show up until after a few months.
For immediate, short-term results, use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. The minute your campaign is approved, your audience can view the ads anytime. You will receive real-time feedback on the progress of your campaign.
You can get the most of your PPC campaign by:
- Choosing the right platform: Apart from Google Ads, you can integrate your PPC campaign into your social media campaigns (e.g., Facebook and Twitter Ads).
- Choosing a medium. For display ads, you may select among image, video, and slideshow ads. Also, consider paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages and app marketplaces.
- Determine your budget. Determining how much to spend on paid ads lets you figure out how much you’ll allot to your campaign per day or for a specific period. You can also consider Google Ad’s bidding system to make a cost-effective purchase for your campaign.
- Customizing your ads. Establish your target audience based on their interests, location, and search terms. Remember to use at least one or two keywords so that your ads reach the right audience.
- Track your campaign’s performance. Take full advantage of your ad platform’s analytics and analyze your ad traffic, spending, and conversions. Use this information to help you determine how your business is performing not just in paid marketing but also in the rest of your marketing initiatives.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing serves as your press release outlet and allows you to engage your customers. They also improve your search rankings and drive higher conversion rates.
Some strategies you can try for promoting your SaaS product on social media include:
- Create relevant content. Create content that answers the questions your target audience may have. Consider posting infographics, image guides, videos, and polls. Be precise on your language, and make sure to grammar-check your content before posting them.
- Schedule your posts. Scheduling your social media posts helps you develop better intent on what and when you post. By creating or posting evergreen content, you also have more time to focus on other up-to-date posts.
- Pay attention to the quality of your images. High-quality images can maintain and improve your brand’s value. Make it easier to create images and remain on-brand using design templates.
- Create more videos. Videos help users understand your products and services, increase traffic to your app and website, and improve your sales. Complement written content by adding a video version so you can cater to a variety of users.
- Offer incentives. Catch the attention of your target audience by offering coupons, discounts, and rewards for first sign-ups. You can also offer downloadable content like e-books and worksheets. By providing free, valuable content, you can capture leads that you can then turn into loyal, paying customers.
Get in touch with the influencers on your market to promote your product. Having your product featured on their sites will help you reach your target market quickly. These influencers promote their posts on social media, providing an extra push to your campaign.
Finding the right influencers requires research. They don’t have to be celebrities, but they must have a sizeable following. They must engage their followers regularly on the same social media platforms you’re using.
Start with people you already know before identifying influencer prospects on social media. Make sure that their values align with yours so that the stories you tell are genuine, and your collaboration comes off naturally.
Once you’ve created a shortlist of influencers, build a relationship with them. Invite them as a partner in your campaign so you can help each other out in achieving your goals. For example, they can promote your product on their YouTube channel or write a guest blog in exchange for a monetary incentive.
Don’t interact with influencers just to promote your SaaS. Make sure to integrate their influence into your sales funnel. If you want to build brand awareness, ask if they can write a review of your product. For customers already familiar with your product, work with the influencer in creating a post or video comparing, say, the free and premium versions of your product.
Track Your Progress
You may have started an SEO campaign, run a PPC campaign, and hired influencers who can promote your SaaS product, but how do you know if you’re getting positive results?
Website and ad tracking tools can help you monitor site traffic, conversions, leads, and sales over time. Using these tools allows you to track what works and doesn’t work in real-time and adjust your strategies accordingly.
Don’t let a highly competitive market discourage you from moving forward with your SaaS product. With these tips, you can successfully launch your product, stand out from competitors, and map out your success.
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