Marketing for SaaS? Follow These 10 Steps

Ready to market your software as a service (SaaS) project? Follow these ten steps to create a marketing campaign that's as solid and reliable as your product.

1. Understand your project.

Often, the people doing the marketing aren't the people who built the software. Be sure the marketing team understands exactly what the software does, as well as its limitations. They need to know the product's selling points and why it's better than its competition.

2. Prepare for an influx of users.

SaaS programs are generally hosted in the cloud. Assume you're going to be successful with your marketing and that you'll have a ton of new users. Be sure your servers can handle the load and have tech support on the ready, or else you'll create a bad reputation for yourself.

3. Offer a subscription discount for new users ...

Nearly all SaaS is sold on a subscription basis, with clients usually paying for a month or a year. Offer a few months' discount for new users so they're more likely to try your product.

4. ... or a free trial.

Offering a free trial is maybe the best way to show clients the power of your service. Ask for payment information up-front, before the trial begins: ideally, they'll never want to cancel once they've gotten a taste of what you have to offer.

5. Bundle months.

You want your clients to sign up for multiple months of your service, and pay you money up-front for it. Make sure that you have a scheme set up for them to buy multiple months, or even one or more years, at one time, and make sure it's a more attractive offer than the smaller-scale pricing schemes. If you're feeling truly generous, you might also bundle in other freebies.

6. Offer discounts for larger companies and organizations.

Many companies providing SaaS to their clients scale up their costs for companies with more users. This is fair: after all, that's more wear on your servers and more tech support for you. (Plus, these larger companies can usually afford to pay more for your services.)

But this shouldn't scale linearly. You want to secure large clients as long-term users of your system, so make sure you're not making the price too expensive.

7. Offer a referral program.

Customers know other people who need your services, and businesses work with other businesses. If they refer a client who mentions you, give the referring client a few months free or upgrade them to the next subscription tier. If you have a solid product, word will get out fast.

8. Provide free tech support.

The adoption period for any new software is always rocky. Be sure to provide free tech support, especially if you're providing your SaaS primarily to businesses. This is a good way to make sure your clients stay with you for the long term: they'll have smoothed out the kinks during that adoption period, after all, and won't want to switch back. Plus, friendly, courteous tech support is a part of good customer service and creates a solid impression on your clients.

9. Market via social media.

Especially in the B2B world, social media marketing is sometimes discounted. But businesses pay as much attention to social media as anyone else does. Don't neglect your social media marketing strategy.

10. Cultivate clients in the long term.

When you're selling SaaS, you're selling subscriptions. You want your clients to stick with you. Closing a sale -- starting their subscription -- is important, but client retention is key. Make sure your customer support is impeccable, and keep your product well-updated for long-term marketing success.

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