SaaS is a challenging enterprise for even the best of marketers to say the least. VC funding rounds, acquisitions, and marketing all play an important role in whether the company will survive or crash and burn. The biggest challenge for SaaS business owners is that many try and run their company just like any other venture. Within a short time, they realize that breaking even or even gaining traction seems impossible.
There are reasons they fail, which can include a lack of market, a failing business model, too much churn, first-to-market as oppose to fast-to-market, and poor management teams. There’s always more, but these are the core elements of why SaaS companies never leave the ground.
As an entrepreneur that has recently launched a new SaaS business, there are a number of resources available that can help your business grow and thrive. In fact, there are a lot. At this stage it helps if you can cut through all the clutter and choose from among the very best. Your mission will always be to stay informed and to grow your business.
1. Startups for the Rest of Us – The hosts of the podcast, Mike Taber and Rob Walling, have two decades of combined experience in the SaaS industry. This covers their experiences and stories of other successful SaaS entrepreneurs. You will learn what to avoid. The information is invaluable.
2. You Bet Your SaaS – The podcast is hosted by Andreessen Horowitz cover industry aspects at large. Here you will find a plethora of success stories along with blunders to avoid. It is a good complement to Startups for the Rest of Us.
3. Ramp Podcast from InsightSquared – If you’re heavily into analytics, this is the podcast of choice. Industry experts break things down and offer deep-dives into running your SaaS business from the data end of things.
4. Gimlet’s Startup – This takes the SaaS startup and examines the process from a fresh perspective. It’s refreshing because it’s not completely focused on software as others tend to be. You’ll find that the first two episodes focus on the startup process for a number of companies across the entire season. The third season varies, and examines only one startup per episode. It’s worth a listen.
Networking and Communities for SaaS
5. Growthhackers – This is an amazing community of engineers, marketers, and product managers who collaborate and focus on building and engaging the user base of a business. It’s a free community where participants can post questions, interact, and virtually ask questions about anything.
6. Inbound.org – This is where your company can get a wealth of valuable information about inbound marketing. An added benefit is that you can interact with other professionals. Be sure and check out the authoritative articles written. You can build a complete professional profile and maybe find your next business opportunity.
Key Reading and Blogs
7. A16z.com – Here, it’s back to reading and some of the most valuable insights around that impact the SaaS community. This is great information and you’ll gain new perspective that include everything from starting your SaaS business to financing and the aspects of company culture. There are valuable tech topics that you don’t want to overlook. This venue offers an exceptional overview of the industry.
8. Groove – Pick a successful company and follow its story. You’ll have to become a member, but it could be well worth your time to gain personal insights from people who came up through the trenches.
9. Price Intelligently – Pricing strategies can make or break your SaaS business. Pricing will among the most difficult things to pin down on your journey. You get to see first-hand how they arrive at their own pricing metrics, and can gain additional insights from their blog. The articles are all data-driven, so get read to crunch some numbers and gain invaluable insights on how to get the most value out of your own services.
10. SaaStr – This venue provides great information for your company regardless of its present stage. Topics like scale, growth, exit, and early offer tons of information that you can sink your teeth into.
11. Kissmetrics Blog – If you’re interested in metrics, this blog will provide the information and direction you need to fully understand your business. This is where you’ll find some of the hottest and most informative articles about the industry. You’ll find their infographics section to be second-to-none. They also offer superb webinars that sets this venue apart from many others.
12. Sixteen Ventures – Lincoln Murphy is an industry veteran and commands the helm. Learn about your customer’s lifecycle and how you can best optimize your customer acquisition efforts along with retention. SaaS companies lose a lot of business through churn. This is a major source of valuable information if you want to learn how to retain your customers.
Checking out SaaS industry blogs is a great way to keep in touch and find updated SaaS marketing information.
Running a successful business is the result of understanding the metrics that drive business growth. Throughout the life of your SaaS business, you will continually have to deal with the following:
This is your cancellation rate. A percentage of your churn will be paying customers. A low churn rate indicates your customers are happy and subscribing to your service. As time goes on, these customers become even more valuable. Reducing churn takes into consideration things that are not always related to product development and building out new features.
Launch an internal engagement marketing program. Many SaaS marketers focus on capturing new customers, as they should. Try turning your efforts in to market your product’s benefits to existing customers rather than new customers. Give them an incentive to try new features, along with the benefits of trying those features. Products like “Intercom” is a customer communication platform that will allow you to accomplish your goals. Never allow customers to merely drift away or miss out on the opportunity to try new features you’ve just rolled out. This is a great way encourage customers by starting a new conversation.
Launch “Win Back” campaigns. Even with the best of intentions, you’re going to lose customers through churn. However, there’s no reason why you can’t reach out to these customers to try and win them back. You may want to consider offering an extra service, discounts, or other incentives. Enticing them to return could be a big win because they are already familiar with your company. You won’t have to market to these customers in the same way you would new customers. Highlight new features added since they left. You may be surprised how many customers return.
Use Predictive Analytics
Get busy with predictive analytics to discover patterns that may indicate a customer is about to cancel their prescription. If you’re already using engagement marketing, predictive analytics is a great approach to backup your overall marketing incentives. Customers are what your business needs to survive. Rather than try to bring them back, it’s better to catch them before the depart. Predictive analytics can help you determine what’s working and what’s not with respect to aspects of your application package. Once a customer leaves, you may not get the chance to reclaim them.
If you’re already using engagement marketing, predictive analytics is a great approach to backup your overall marketing incentives.
Think back to when you first came up with the number for pricing your product. Did you base your pricing on what competitors charged? Or, perhaps you based pricing on what you thought customers were willing to pay. While there’s nothing wrong with these methods, you may be willing to charge more if customers find your products to be incredibly useful. There’s always a chance, but you’ll never know without testing your prices.
Value-based-pricing is something to look at. It’s based on how much time and money your product saves customers. If customers find your product to be useful, there is a strong chance they’ll be willing to adjust to a new price. Tools like Convert or VWO can help you test the waters.
Keep the following incentives in mind, and remember to apply them to your SaaS business.
1. Articulate your product’s value at every opportunity.
2. Find an amazing cause and keep rallying your team around that cause.
3. Know your customers, and always make them heroes.
4. Build a platform that you can build out.
5. Trust is your #1 resource. Never give a customer a reason to lose it.
6. Fight battles above your weight class.
7. Keep taking risks and ride the wave of success.
Having started a SaaS business is a good thing. You’re one of those people who’s making the word spin on its axis. Keep up the great work, and keep your head above the water.