Software-as-a-service (SaaS) has been taking the business world by storm. Therefore, you’ve been putting yourself in a position to allow the winds to work in your favor.
So far, your product or service is a winning one. It’s all smooth sailing from here, right?
Well, only if you keep up with the trends in this constantly growing and changing area.
Research shows that the SaaS market was valued at $5.56 billion back in 2008. But its value is expected to reach $132.57 billion in 2020.
Of course, it’s hard to predict exactly what path the SaaS industry may take next. After all, this is all unchartered territory.
However, here’s a rundown on what you can expect from the future of SaaS marketing.
Let’s jump in!
Going Beyond Vertical or Horizontal SaaS
How exactly are you positioning your particular software solution in today’s market? This will ultimately affect how successful your SaaS solution is.
Let’s take a look at three types of SaaS you need to know about.
First, there’s vertical SaaS. This refers to software solutions that cater to specific industries. Examples of these industries include legal, finance and health care.
Then, there’s horizontal SaaS. This is software that is industry neutral and that caters to general business needs.
These needs include, for example, sales, marketing and accounting in a variety of fields.
During the past few years, the vertical form of SaaS has grown exponentially more than horizontal models have.
However, there’s now a new kid on the block: On-top SaaS.
On-top SaaS is industry-neutral or targeted software that integrates with existing solutions or several solutions.
If you create this type of software, you can essentially enhance a currently popular product.
That means you can gain immediate access to the receptive customer base and audience members who are using the product.
Take Zapier, for example. This solution works with the likes of Slack, Salesforce and Xero.
Zapier can connect hundreds of applications, thus allowing them to communicate with one another. It essentially fits “on top” of other solutions.
What makes on-top SaaS so unique is that it can be classified as both vertical and horizontal, too.
In the pioneering SaaS industry, there isn’t a lot of room for solutions that are 100% original anymore. So your best bet is to focus on solutions that complement what is already existing.
That’s a sure way to continue to thrive in this competitive, vibrant industry.
The Role of Artificial Intelligence
Machine learning and artificial intelligence are two trends that will no doubt cause SaaS marketing to turn a corner in the years ahead.
We’re in the middle of an unprecedented marketing revolution. Automated and intelligent technology are infiltrating nearly all aspects of modern life.
An obvious example of this on the SaaS front is Amazon Web Services, or AWS.
With AWS, Amazon’s goal is to reduce the costs and thus remove the barriers to artificial intelligence and machine learning. In this way, businesses both big and small can capitalize on these advanced solutions.
Here’s why SaaS, machine learning, and artificial intelligence work so well together.
The fundamental ingredient of SaaS is data. Both machine learning and artificial intelligence enable automated ways of operating via the processing of these data on a large scale.
Here are some potential applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence for advanced SaaS marketing:
- Predictive analytics
- Pricing packages that are dynamic
- Solutions that work without the need for manual input
- Hands-off A/B testing
- Drop-off alerts plus triggers, aimed at reducing churn (where subscribers or customers quit doing business with your company)
- Assistants and chatbots, which eliminate the need for a lengthy sign-up form
- Hyper-personalization (both offsite and onsite)
Without a doubt, these technologies, which are all-encompassing, will fuel SaaS marketing’s future.
The Marketing of Product Features
The whole point of SaaS marketing is to, of course, sell a product effectively. However, a new trend is to sell products indirectly rather than directly.
So, what exactly does this involve? It involves creating stand-alone or surrounding features.
Earlier, we talked about horizontal SaaS. In many situations, horizontal SaaS products become extremely large.
This happens because research and development teams coupled with product teams constantly add more features, widgets, layers, and tools.
Understandably, this may make you as a marketer feel more overwhelmed than ever before.
But it shouldn’t.
The truth is, the more features you’re given, it’s like having a lot more marketing content at your fingertips.
It actually makes your job easier, as additional features help you to more effectively engage and inform your target audience.
Feature marketing is akin to side product marketing. This form of marketing is where companies produce parallel products that offer added value to the audience but are actually separate from their main products.
At a company that executes feature marketing well, the launch of a feature can feel like the launch of a brand-new product.
In addition, you can blow the competition out of the water by creating nurturing, robust side funnels.
For instance, a customer could sign up for your feature offering from your feature landing page and therefore start to receive emails about the feature. However, the customer would eventually be introduced to your company’s main product, despite the fact that his or her entry point to the company was the feature release.
Another approach you could take is to have many landing pages that contain a number of videos, explanations, animations, GIFs and even micro-interactions.
These features have a couple of common goals: to nurture current users, and to engage new visitors and ultimately convert them to customers.
Detailed Customer Profiling
In SaaS marketing today, the ultimate aim is to achieve one-on-one communication with your audience.
In other words, you don’t have time for second guessing. There’s no time for plowing ahead with an unsystematic ad campaign that focuses on hard selling.
Instead, you need to carefully craft messages that are relevant to each individual potential customer.
An important step in this process is to develop what are called ideal customer profiles. Your sales and marketing strategies need to align with these profiles.
Of course, to create accurate profiles, you need to collect customer and visitor data.
The more data-driven your one-on-one SaaS marketing communication is, the more you’ll reduce churn and increase your average contract value, upsells and cross-sells.
You’ll also experience quicker time-to-conversion after freemium or free trial usage.
We mentioned Amazon earlier when discussing the company’s AWS, but Amazon is worth another mention here simply because the company has mastered the science of customer profiling.
Amazon’s unparalleled philosophy is to know its customers as it would close friends, and it does it like no other company can in the current age of hyper-personalization.
With the right data and technology, you can follow in Amazon’s footsteps by marketing your SaaS solution to your target customers in the most personal way possible.
An Emphasis on Targeted Conversation
Another hallmark of SaaS marketing in the future? Targeted customer conversation.
Targeted conversation will make your SaaS brand look trendy, but it’ll also help you to generate leads and onboard customers faster and more accurately around the clock.
Here, we’re not talking about your traditional lead forms or those pop-ups that annoy individual visitors. We’re talking about implementing interactive chatbots and live chats that predict and analyze visitors’ behavior.
These tools engage with customers at the right moments and provide relevant content in the same way that a human customer service representative would.
The “human” conversation that they facilitate is part of what makes them so popular.
The other reason for their popularity is that they meet customers’ growing desire for immediacy; they quickly satisfy needs, qualify leads and drive conversions.
And the best part? They are much more efficient than human beings are, with the proper training and setup.
This is critical considering that you ideally want to respond to leads in no more than five minutes. After this, you’ll drastically decrease your chances of qualifying them.
In addition, it’s not enough to simply have a chatbot ready to take customer inquiries when they come. You need one that will be proactive instead of reactive — something you can trigger them to do.
These conversational commerce tools will only become more advanced as artificial intelligence becomes even more sophisticated.
The Demand for Thought Leadership
If you’re an expert in your industry, you will quickly soar to the front in the race for leads.
For this reason, generating educational, innovative content will remain foundational to inbound SaaS marketing down the road.
The more you produce content that is thought leading, the more credible you’ll appear, and therefore, the more you’ll be recognized for your SaaS offerings.
If you want to take things a step further, don’t just paint yourself as an expert who has always had it all together.
Instead, be vulnerable and transparent to your audience by sharing with them your experiences in your SaaS journey — both the positive and the negative ones.
If you focus on being extraordinarily visible, your audience will immediately view you as a fellow human being rather than a faceless corporation.
And that’s paramount because humans purchase from other “humans,” not companies.
A Fresh Focus on Customer Success
In the SaaS space, stellar customer service will continue to drive the strategies and approaches of leading companies.
Being focused on the customer is an extremely attractive trait to customers. So the more customer friendly you are, the more likely you’ll see your revenue increase.
That’s because when you make customers feel important, they’ll want to buy from you and then tell others about you, thus bringing more business your way.
The need to ramp up your customer service will only grow as competition in the SaaS industry becomes fiercer.
When we talk about customer service, we’re talking about more than simply having a strong support team in place. We’re referring to baking a customer-centric approach into your organization’s overall culture and making sure that it touches all aspects of customers’ journeys with you.
Remember that customers are continuously bombarded with options. Therefore, if you don’t provide them with the SaaS value they expect, they’ll simply go to someone who can.
Here’s what you can do in practical terms: Gather immediate feedback about the value that your customers are getting from your product.
If you notice a major increase or drop in customer satisfaction, try to find out as soon as possible what happened.
This will allow you to discover issues — perhaps some that your customers might not even be aware of yet — and address them in a timely manner.
It’ll also allow you to respond to your good outcomes so that you maximize your potential.
So, focus on what your customer finds valuable (having his or her need met). Don’t just focus on what you find valuable (making a profit).
The more you do this, the more your customer will take care of the latter.
How We Can Help with SaaS Marketing
Want to thrive in the ultra-competitive and fast-moving SaaS industry? Your offering must solve actual problems and do it far better than the competition.
However, you also need to market it effectively, which is where we come in.
As a leading agency that focuses search marketing, we are dedicated to helping our clients to make their businesses more visible on search engines.
Our services include the following:
- Local marketing
- Online marketing
- Search engine optimization in Seattle
- Website design
With a proven track record of success, we are ready to use our expertise and effective strategies to your benefit.
We’ll provide you with personalized solutions aimed at growing your reach and your profitability.
Get in touch with us to find out more about the future of SaaS marketing and how it affects you. We can help you to take your marketing efforts and thus your business to the next level.