How to Grow Your SaaS Business

  • Written by Cheryl Regan

3 Growth Hacking Tips to Jumpstart your Start-Up

In 2021, there were an estimated 15,000 software as a service companies in the United States alone. The SaaS market is huge, which means there are a lot of opportunities… and a lot of competition. So how do you stand out from the crowd? How do you get your foot in the door? How do you grow?

When it comes to growing your SaaS company, there are three areas that you’ll need to focus on:

  • Getting new customers (Acquisition)
  • Holding on to your existing customers (Retention)
  • Optimising your average revenue per user (ARPU)

In this article, I’ll share 3 tried and tested tips that focus on customer acquisition.

1. Consider a Free Trial

There’s a reason why the “try before you buy” model has existed since the dawn of trading. It’s the same reason you get to test-drive a car, sit on a sofa, and try on clothes before you present your card. Because letting prospects try out your product and fall in love with it is a powerful way to convert them into paying customers.

And the principle is no different if you’re running an SMB SaaS. Free trials are a crucial step in your acquisition funnel.

Should you ask for credit card details on sign up?

It’s proven that doing so will put off many leads, while others argue that the leads who do sign up with their credit cards will be of better quality.

The truth is, whether or not you should ask for credit card details depends on what it is you want to achieve, and understanding how each decision impacts your business will help you make an informed decision.

With that in mind, here’s a simple formula to remember…

If you’re looking to grow your SaaS, reduce the rate of your sign-ups, but increase your revenue per user (RPU), it’s best to ask for credit card details.

Asking for payment details will deter those who are unlikely to purchase your product in the first place, thereby improving the quality of your leads.

On the other hand…

If you’re looking to grow your SaaS business, and increase your sign-up rates, but incur less RPU, then you should not ask for payment details upfront.

For most SaaS start-ups at the start of their journey, it makes sense to ramp up acquisition by eliminating any doubts your leads may have, including giving up their personal details. Your goal here is to make signing up as frictionless as possible.

Guide leads through your core product values

Once you’ve gained a non-paying user, you’ll want to guide them into discovering the core product values (CPV) of your SaaS. By doing so, you will increase the chances of converting your leads into paying customers. This can be done through a tutorial, email marketing, or both!

Shopify’s set-up guide is a great example of a guided user experience for discovering the app’s CVPs.

Shopify Setup Guide
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When should you NOT offer a free trial?

If you are trying to sell a complex piece of software that’s packed with features, then a 14 or even 30-day trial might be pointless. In fact, it may even overwhelm and put off prospects if they download something they can’t figure out.

In this case, it would be much better to reach out personally and offer a free demonstration. You could still offer a free trial afterward, but the prospect will have already witnessed the value of your product when used properly.

Another option is to offer a self-service product demo – a version of your product that’s already prefilled with dummy data, to help demonstrate the value of your software to the prospect. This can be a great way to get your prospect invested enough so that they’re willing to spend the time and money to adopt your SaaS.

2. Create Compelling and Valuable SEO Content

Content marketing with SEO is a tried and tested method for driving organic traffic through to your site. The benefit, of course, is that by choosing the correct keywords, the leads generated will probably already be interested in the products you have to offer.

By creating high-quality evergreen content that’s both optimised with the correct keywords, and relevant to your target audience, and by producing new content regularly and consistently, your site should start to climb search engine results.

But content marketing is an all-or-nothing venture; if you want to take advantage of this method, you’ve got to be committed. By consistently publishing 11 articles a month, you should soon start to see more traffic pull. The interesting detail is that this number of articles (11 or more) works for both B2B and B2C services.

Research is key

If you’re going to start blogging, you should:

  • Research what your competitors are writing about.
  • Research the keywords that your prospects are searching for.
  • Research what topics are new and trending.

3. Offer a Free Gift and Grow Your Email List

I’m not talking about free trials here; I’m talking lead magnets.

Email marketing remains one of the best ways to convert leads – in fact, the average ROI for every pound spent on email marketing in 2021 was just over £42, and it’s projected to increase year on year. With this in mind, offering a lead magnet in return for growing your email list makes a lot of sense!

A lead magnet is a free gift, often a book, a report, or an infographic, given away to customers in return for their email address. As long as your lead magnet is genuinely helpful to the kind of customer you want, it can be a powerful lead generation tool.

Lead magnets will allow you to grow your email list, giving you the opportunity to nurture leads through useful and informational emails, establishing yourself as a credible, trustworthy company that’s an expert in their field.

Don’t forget!

  • By making the page for your lead magnet shareable on social media platforms, you can encourage growth even further.
  • Your email list will allow you to build a loyal fanbase! Don’t be afraid to show some personality through your emails, but make each one count by providing value, and crucially, use an attention-grabbing subject line that compels your customers to click open the email and read.

More Growth Strategy Tips

To be able to grow any business, you need to understand your target customer and be able to correctly identify their pain point. You then need to focus on the benefits of your product, and how it will solve your customer’s problems. Below are some tips that every business should follow.

Write a value proposition

Your product’s value proposition will effectively communicate exactly how and why your product or service will solve a customer’s specific problem. Note that this is not the same as your unique selling proposition, which will communicate how your product or service stands apart from competitors.

Create customer personas

By creating customer personas, you’ll be able to understand what drives your target audience to buy. You’ll be able to build a complete picture to help you understand which marketing channels they are most likely to respond to, what job title they may have (opening up the opportunity for direct sales), their personal motivations for buying, and their values. All of this information, and more, can be used to optimise your marketing. Using customer personas, you’ll also be able to segment your email list and deliver more targeted marketing. Research shows that segmented marketing emails have a 100% higher click-through rate!

Optimise your landing page

Speaking of optimisation, you should probably invest in a landing page audit, if you haven’t already. Your landing page must:

  • Remain focused on delivering a clean and clear message. Be specific about solving your customer’s problem, and include a call to action above the fold.
  • Include social proof – quote testimonials from existing users. These work especially well when coming from big-name and reputable companies.
  • Include a competitor comparison page – show how your product will solve your customer’s problem in a better, more secure, cheaper, easier, or quicker way.
  • Include an FAQ section, and a library of free resources – this will make your site valuable for users, increasing the chances of them returning to your page.

Invest in Ads

If you can afford to do it, Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads work especially well. By using the correct keywords, your Ads will be targeted towards your ideal leads.

Tracking and Analytics

When you’ve got multiple acquisition channels, ads, content marketing, and social media engagement, it becomes crucial to track lead generation and acquisition to see what’s working and what isn’t, using tools such as Google Analytics and ProfitWell. For a GDPR-compliant alternative to Google Analytics, check out Plausible Analytics.

When you have a clear picture of what works, invest more time and money in those methods, while reducing or even cutting out the methods that don’t work as well.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot involved in creating a successful growth strategy for your SaaS, but by implementing these tactics and combining them with others, your hard work will pay off. The key is to not be afraid of trying new methods, while keeping a close eye on analytics!

Of course, marketing takes up a lot of time, and juggling this aspect of your business with customer service, compliance, finances, and so on, can get overwhelming. That’s where I come in. I create content, marketing emails, lead magnets and website copy for companies like yours, so you get to focus on your service. Sound good? Let’s talk!