Are you familiar with the concept of hacking? It’s interesting how the word “hack” has changed over time. The one thing that has remained intact is its core meaning. When something is hacked, its secrets are revealed.
Just in case you aren't here's a couple definitions for you to consider:
- Using heaving blows to cut an object.
- Gaining unauthorized access of data or a system through the use of a computer.
If you own an SaaS enterprise, you’re going to have to hack your way to success. You’re going to have to hack new ideas and techniques and put your knew knowledge to work. You’ll also have to hack older ideas and techniques, such as email marketing, share buttons on content, linking, customization of content, and anything that can wear the title of inbound marketing.
You may even hack into your own mind to find hidden and buried answers.
Inbound marketing has been a factor at least since 2006. It is one of most effective marketing methods of doing business online. Outbound, older methods but still effective, include email lists, paying for leads (and praying for leads), and buying ads. It was expensive and yielded spotty results for marketers. Today, inbound marketing hinges on the philosophy of publishing content that your customers want, need, and will react to.
Inbound marketing is concerned with the following:
- Distribution – Focus on creating targeted content that answers your customer’s questions and needs. Then, make it a point to share that content in as many social media hot spots as possible.
- Create Lifecycle Marketing – What you want is for strangers to eventually become promoters of your product. This includes present customers, visitors, contacts and potential customers.
- Personalize Your Content – Speak to the specific and relevant needs of your customers. Once you get to know your customers, it becomes easier and your messages become far more effective.
- Market Through Multi-Channels – This involves reaching your clients wherever they are. Publish relevant content in the right place at the right time. As you well know, waiting for your customers to find you is not answer to marketing in today’s world. Your customers will appreciate the fact that you can find them where they are. It commands their respect!
- Master Integration – Content creation, publishing and social media should all be integrated with analytics tools that can make it all work like a well-oiled machine. If you’re a marketer, is just gives you an incentive to find your customers where they want to be found.
This is what hacking in 2015 and beyond will be all about. There are two levels of growth hacks: pre-launch and post-launch.
Your pre-launch hacks should be the time frame where you focus on getting early adopters to give you critical feedback on your service. This is necessary before you approach a larger audience. An effective pre-launch of your SaaS business can help create the momentum that will eventually allow you enter competitive markets with confidence.
Consider the following pre-launch hacking strategies:
- Give away a free course or tool that your customers will find relevant. Your tool can also be an e-Book through the mail. The information given away should address a problem that your tool is capable of solving.
- Find out who the influencers are in your space and invite them for a free Beta test. Influencer command a following, otherwise, they wouldn’t be called influencers.
- Consider funding through a crowdsource platform. Crowdsourcing is known to work with fantastic results.
- Keep tabs on your pre-launch crowd to revisit for social remarketing. If they showed any kind of interest, they could become a lead, and eventually a customer.
- Create a monster PR hit list. Think of all the important people that have a “need to know.”
- Leverage LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a serious business platform and can yield positive results. LinkedIn stats are amazing and off the chart—far too many to reference in one sitting, but consider the following. There are over 400 million users and growing. LinkedIn reaches over 200 countries and territories. 70% of LinkedIn’s users are outside the United States. 56% of LinkedIn users are male. 59% is the number of LinkedIn users who have never worked at a company with more than 200 employees.
- Optimize your website for search. People all over the world are looking for your product—they just don’t know it yet. An optimized website can help them find you.
Once you are in motion, there are a number of hacks that can help get you noticed.
- Get featured on Product Hunt. This is a website where products are shared and discovered.
- Use your blog to feature industry influencers. If you can get industry experts to guest blog, you’re well on you way to getting some serious notoriety.
- Create dashboards that allow you to track and monitor metrics. It’s vitally important to measure how each of your channels is performing. This way, you can make adjustments to add or remove programs.
- Utilize automate email workflows. Get your emails delivered, opened, read, and have you clients take action.
- Track and follow up on branded mentions. Whenever your brand is mentioned, you should know about it and be able to follow up.
- Create a sign-up form that can go viral.
Tracking Your Marketing Metrics
In the post-launch phase, we mentioned that you should track and monitor your metrics and growth. Monitoring metrics is critical to your overall success. At any stage, they can help you measure the effectiveness of any marketing campaign, and they can also serve as a benchmark for growth. You get to diagnose risk and to consider new opportunities.
SaaS Marketing Metrics That You Should Keep Watch Over
- Unique Visitors. Watch this closely because it gives you a good idea of how many new visitors arrive at your website. While you may not know the exact reason people are coming to your site, it’s still give you an idea of how accessible your site is.
- As we mentioned before and with respect to SaaS, a lead is anyone who has expressed interest, asked for a demo, or talked with sales etc. These are people who are close to the top of the sales funnel. There are ways of telling if your SaaS lead is a bad fit.
- They lack the budget. If the budget isn’t there, there’s really nothing you can do. Like the old saying goes, “You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.”
- They lack the power to make the “buying” decision. Hopefully, you were on top of this in the initial contact stages, but there are times when someone talks a “big game” and gives you the wrong information. There’s nothing that you can do at this point except try and reach the actual game changer.
- Get Qualified Leads. With respect to SaaS, these are the prospects who are generally in the middle of your funnel and how have asked for free trials or a product demo. A free trial means that a person is “kicking the tires” to see how that product can benefit their business. This is evident of strong desire to get involved with your product.
- Keep an Eye on New Customers. It’s a simple question, “How many new customers signed up for your service last month or this month?" While you’re focusing on revenue, don’t overlook the fact the new customers represent future revenue and growth.
- Watch Revenue Closely. Watch three revenues closely: MRR, ARR, and ARPA. Watching these will give you a birds-eye view of how much revenue is coming in. Cash in the hand means a great deal.
- Turning Leads Into Qualified Customers. This is one of the most important metrics to keep a close eye on. Growth hacking is all about turning qualified leads into customers who are willing to pay. So, the percentage of those who signed up for a free trial that are buying your product.
- Unique Visitor to Qualified Lead. Let’s suppose that you have a large number of visitors coming to your site. That’s always good news by any means. But what percentage of these visitors actually become qualified leads? And keep in mind that a qualified lead, SaaS, is anyone who shows interest. If you can nail down this number, it’s easier to run A/B testing which can yield even greater insights.
- Keep Your Eyes on Churn. Depending on how you look at it, churn looked at in terms of revenue or customers. Churn is how much business you’re losing over a specific period of time. Understanding churn helps you to understand who needs your product and who doesn’t. Then, quickly make the necessary adjustments to market only to those who value it.
- (CLTV). Watch customer lifetime value as if you were a hawk watching its prey. There is a monetary value for the length of time that each customer spends with your company. When a customer emerges from the funnel, you have a good idea of how much they’ll spend and how much money you’ll ultimately spend on them.
- Cost of Customer Acquisition. (CAC) is your total cost of sales and marketing divided by the number of customers who sign up during any given period. Watch this closely.
- Gross Margin. Take a look at the percentage of sales with respect to revenue after subtracting the costs of delivering your product to market.
Let’s face it, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Implementing and tracking records is no easy task. The tough task is determining what metrics you’ll use and how they’ll be tracked. So, to help ensure that you’re reporting on factual (real numbers), consider two pieces of advice.
- Have a system for recording each metric. This is the only way to ensure that your measurements are sectioned and stay consistent.
- Use the right intelligent business tools. These tools can pull data from multiple sources into a single dashboard. Data used in this manner can all be used in the same calculations. You get to lay it all out in one moment.
Success in SaaS is all about taking everything into consideration. Remember, lead generation is the ultimate goal of inbound marketing. Lead generation is the ultimate proof that your strategies are working—or failing. It tells you that your content is resonating and that it’s making people take action. That action can be a purchase, resourcing a download, or requesting a demo.
Keep your eyes on the target. SaaS will take a sustained effort form everyone in your organization. Enjoy life at the top!