According to Salesforce, as a SaaS provider, you’re not just selling a software product, but a complete service that includes delivery, support, and ongoing maintenance.
One of the biggest challenges, though, in the journey is to ensure you have a steady flow of visitors to your product and at the same time, ensuring they convert to subscribers.
So, here are 3 useful tips for all SaaS business entrepreneurs to scale and convert more customers.
#1 MVP for initial traction with your SaaS product
Any SaaS business is meant to solve a problem. While building your SaaS product is an ongoing process, but building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) can be a solution.
When you know what is the purpose of your SaaS product, immediately start building the basic version which solves the problem. Once your MVP is ready, take it to the market and iterate it with customer feedback.
That’s how Zenefits was launched.
Parker Conrad, the founder and CEO of Zenefits, said in an interview: “We wanted to just launch something in order to get out the door. So when we had our launch article in TechCrunch, literally half the product didn’t exist yet. We figured that nobody was going to dive so deep into the product that they would actually get to [the end]. We reasoned that most companies would stop [halfway through] and want to talk to us. That gave us at least a couple of days after we launched to get the second half built.”
But it is important to engage and create a customer base even before you launch. Neil Patel, the co-founder of 3 successful SaaS businesses, told us in a #BiteSize interview, “If you’re starting a SaaS product, you should be selling it before Day Zero.”
Neil further advised to do things like content marketing, SEO, creating a landing page like a squeeze page where people can sign up even before you build your product. All these things will help you collect email addresses of potential users. So then that way, when you’re ready to launch, you have a customer base.
Sujan Patel of Content Marketer, shared another way of engaging with customers. In a #BiteSize interview with us, he shared, “The simplest way to do this is to actually start talking to your customers. When they signup for a freemium model, you need to understand who your customers are, talk to them and help them. Just email them and say, “Hey! I’m the CEO here and I just want to talk to you.” Ask them questions about what they do, what they thought the tool did and how can you help them. And really just coach them through it. It really doesn’t matter how much time you spend.”
#2 Your Existing Customers Can Be Your Sales People
Like mentioned in one of the Kissmetrics blog post, “When your customers pay month-to-month, everyone is a part of the sales team.”
Marketing and sales work together.
A terrific SaaS VP of Marketing once told Tomasz Tunguz, a venture capitalist at redpoint, (as written in his blog post), “If the sales team is focused on hitting this quarter’s revenue target, then the marketing team ought to be focused on next quarter and the following quarter.”
Since, not all SaaS businesses can afford a huge salesforce, they should influence the existing customers to be their sales person. FreshBooks is known for sending cakes at random to new users and birthday cakes to long-time customers to make a personal connection.
In another #BiteSize interview with us, Sujan explained how they convert customers into sales people. He explained, “When somebody purchases a subscription, we say, “Congrats” and there’s a pre-written Tweet that says I just upgraded my small business to the 21st century and we kind of make it goofy and tweak it around. And over time we have optimized this. Right when customers purchase a product, you pop a share button and make it relevant. People are super excited. In B2B, viral loops and sharing works effectively when people have the most excitement. When they’re most emotionally vulnerable and when they’re most excited, when those two converge, that’s when you get the most out of virality.”
#3 If You Are Using Freemium Model, Do It Right
ZenDesk, Evernote, Expensify, Dropbox, each of them have built a vibrant user base using freemium products. That’s right, but that doesn’t mean Freemium model is ideal for every SaaS business.
The free model has dozens of iterations — free trial, trial-to-paid, trial with credit card information, trial with no credit card information, freemium model, 90-day free trial, limited version free, etc., etc. The common feature is free. Free is the oil of the SaaS marketing engine.
In a #BiteSize interview with us, Brian Balfour of Hubspot said and said it right, “Freemium is not easy, but when you get it right, it is awesome!”
He further said, “A lot of people are doing it just because others are doing it. It feels sexy in some shape or form. But there’s mismatch – the Freemium model works only for very specific types of audiences and so you have to make sure you have those specific elements.”
Brian explained the 4 elements of Freemium model in this video post, watch it here.
Another reason why Freemium model shouldn’t be applied blindly is explained by Lincoln Murphy in his blog post.
“Evernote seems to be one of the few, but they are in a great position to play the numbers game required by Freemium. First, they aren’t B2B only; business customers can use the service, but so can anyone else. In fact, Evernote is one of the few companies to say – and mean – that anyone with an Internet-connected device is a potential user / customer. Most companies being honest with themselves cannot say that. So in the B2B world, building a sustainable business off of 3% conversions just doesn’t happen.”