Understanding SaaS and its Eco-System
In today’s digital age with the high-speed internet, perpetual paper license or CD / DVD means to download the software is a thing of the past.
The information technology sector has already moved towards cloud computing and the environment. As customer/user, you are no more bound by any local machine/hardware & software.
SaaS is a new technology service and state of the art way of accessing the information. And today’s major SaaS providers areMicrosoft, Adobe (Creative Cloud), Box, Amazon Web Services and Oracle and widely used SaaS solutions include Microsoft Office 365, Google G Suite, Dropbox and Adobe Creative Cloud to name a few.
The year 2017 is the trend-setting year for the ultimate state of the cloud performance and technology is moving further at an impeccable speed The future of SaaS in specific looks bright and the SaaS market size around 2021 is expected to be Uthe S $ 132 billion.
A right product ( SaaS service) with the right marketing and advertising efforts can achieve wonders in terms of sustainable revenue for the enterprise.
Before getting into the right mix of advertising and marketing strategy let us have a little-detailed study on what SaaS is all about and the underlying marketing and sales process in the industry.
What is SaaS?
Software as a service ( SaaS) is a business model for software delivery and licensing through which a third party provider hosting application and makes it available to customers online.
It helps the organization to save costs and efforts in terms of removing the need to install and run an application on their own computers/data centres. So there is no procurement of hardware, maintenance provision, licensing, installation & support.
SaaS revenue model is generally “ Pay –as-you-use – model” either on monthly/ annually, depending on how a customer subscribes to a SaaS offering and has the flexibility of discontinuing it anytime.
SaaS is typically accessed by the customer using a lightweight computer that is well optimized to establishing a remote connection with a server-based computing environment to do all the jobs.
Today Saas has become the common delivery model for most of the business application like office software, messaging software, CAD, CRM, HRM, ERP and so on.
All leading enterprise software has already incorporated SaaS as a part of their business strategy. For mor information on SaaS refer Wikipedia
SaaS and Cloud Computing
SaaS is an integral part of overall cloud computing along with IaaS ( Infrastructure as a service),PaaS ( Platform as a service), DaaS ( Desktop as a service, MSaaS ( managed software as a service),MBaaS ( Mobile backend as a service) and ITMaaS) Information technology management as a service).
SaaS Marketing Goals & Process.
Essentially being a business to business product (service), the marketing process starts with the design of a good product /service/application ( as per market needs) and promotion of the same.
An extensive research required to arrive at a well-designed product( the SaaS Service) along with the price point.
Keep in mind that customer is not buying your application per se but subscribing your service for a particular period.
It is not an item which is getting transferred to a customer but a solution against his transaction.
SaaS Marketing Mix
- SaaS product/service.
- Design an awesome product with killer 24X7 service.
- SaaS Pricing.
- A realistic pricing vis a vis competition with the offer.
- SaaS marketing Channels.
- Online direct subscription or through appointed national distributors and their IT trade partners.
- Online media
- Offline media.
- Offer that includes ( but not limited to ) free trial, a trial with credit card /without credit card option, 90 days free trial ..” Free’ is going to be fuel for “Saas” search engine marketing.
SaaS sales Process and Goal:
SaaS is unlike other B 2 B sales (long sales cycle for closing the order), instead, it is always a rapid process.
Customers are always in quest for an immediate solution for their IT ecosystem and may consult their technology partners or search online, watch the online demo, try the trial version and go for the closure.
Closure for any SaaS order may be a matter for few hours to few days max. And as a SaaS enterprise, your sales goal is to maximize revenue by making a product ( service) and brand ( over a period of time) with an offer ( both trial and price) that sells by itself.
Advertising Strategy for Saas Enterprises
Work towards branding by conventional marketing ( ATL &BTL)
Brand awareness and achieving the branding objective is essential to meet medium to long-term business objective of SaaS enterprise. A carefully planned ATL & BTL activities to be undertaken always during launch and subsequent phases of the product life cycle besides a defined online marketing strategy.
A careful budget allocation and a marketing activity calendar is recommended to improve the brand salience. Few of the recommended marcom means are as follows.
-PR activity including talk shows in business TV channels in a software /cloud computing-related shows.
-Participation in Nasscom events( in India) and similar trade shows.
-Speaker panel in trade forums and conferences.
-Informative data sheet ( hard copy)
-Advertisement in niche trade ( B 2B) magazine.
On Digital Platform
The reach, speed and interactivity of digital platform is unquestionable. Around the year activity requires to be planned by SaaS enterprise primarily for lead generation.
The recommended activities in the digital platform are presented below.
Content marketing/blogs/Articles in companies own website, relevant third-party websites, forum discussion is powerful online means to develop awareness and opinion building in favour of your brand and services.
It continuously brings quality & relevant organic traffic onsite though it may take some time and it is cost effective.
Creative blog post, whiteboard video, webinar, podcast, authoritative guidelines from experts infrequent intervals in an interactive audience platform can generate quality leads for the SaaS business.
Along with good and creative content, the marketing team should always ensure proper distribution of the contents to bring forth expected results. Promoting content to online audiences in multiple media formats through the channels which can be owned, earned and paid.
The marketing team of SaaS enterprise should also look at the option for an user-generated content as this has got good acceptance amongst the audience.
Content posted by their social reference groups are more relatable and trustworthy than content produced by professional marketers.
Product Demo &Trials through Webinar
An important source for lead generation and closure in the SaaS industry. Experiencing the positive product performance is a tangible benefit to a customer from SaaS which is otherwise an intangible concept.
Through the webinar SaaS enterprise also projects a customer-friendly image and inspire confidence to the customer in the process.
The key for a successful product demo and trial is to strike a balance between demonstrating value without overwhelming the customer and doing it in a light-touch.
The marketing team of the SaasS enterprise should design a defined trial scheme and offer throughout the year and communicate the same effect on the internet.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is the process and practices of enhancing the regular flow of quality traffic in your website by making your content always discoverable in Google, Bing and others.
On page, SEO is always under the command and control of the site owners. You create content which gives solutions to readers and the strategy adopted through keyword research, internal linking, use of titles and descriptions, as well as page load time and UI as per standard Google protocol.
Creating inbound and outbound link with the trusted and authoritative external sites is part of Off-page SEO practices and social media shares also play an important role.
And content distribution is also part of Off-page SEO strategy for a SaaS enterprise. A right blend of On page and Off page SEO can help to boost the content marketing effort of a SaaS enterprise.
Google Adwords Campaign
Though it calls for an investment, still is considered to be the best option to generate leads for SaaS company. Every day millions of clicks received by Google’s advertising platform and ads are always more prominent in Google search.
SaaS enterprise is primarily dependent on online business leads cannot afford to miss out on this and requires a part of its marketing budget planned for a PPC campaign. Pay per click ads delivers quality traffic and leads to the website and it is always scalable.
It is often found that the visitors after browsing your website leaves the site without a call to action. It seems the audience has always having lethargy towards any call to action.
Instead of losing out, the SaaS marketing team can adopt “Retargeting” the same audience through Google ads whenever they visit other websites.
Retargeting is a valuable tool for marketers as it gives the SaaS marketing team another chance to establish trust, credibility, and familiarity with website visitors.
The user, having previously been interested in your website, clicks on the ad and returns to your site, where they complete the call to action (for example, they purchase your product)
“ All great things in life that always come in pairs” and always have a chance to make the success story in the marketplace. It can ascend to a certain level by edging out competition by leveraging each other’s strength.
SaaS companies can adopt this collaborative marketing model with like-minded brand/ partners so that each other can complement the product offering.
The collaborative model has access to resources ( beneficial to each other) that includes the database, heightens the credibility and saves the time to reach a new segment.
Through the co-marketing campaign, both the SaaS partners jointly can create unique research-driven content and generate leads. If handled professionally, it becomes very cost effective and enhance the reach of an individual brand and demonstrate thought leadership.
All these are time-tested marcom means which can help the Saas enterprise to develop its brand in medium to long run and excels in its revenue performance by generating leads and sales conversion.
My blog-post is addressed to new start-ups entrepreneur contemplating to make an entry into this domain, researcher, vendors, IT partners, media and students who may be looking for a career in this sector and hoping this would enable them a better insight into the industry.
The images used in this post are mostly from Pixabay ( free images). Due attribution extended to the images procured from other sources.
The images are used in order to make the post-reading more audience-friendly and I do not claim ownership of any images used in the post.