What is SaaS marketing? (Definition, benefits and how-to)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Software as a service (SaaS) programs are popular as many companies want to provide customers with consistent value on a subscription basis. Marketing these services is significantly different from a physical product, as the company operates under a different business model that requires unique strategies. Learning about marketing SaaS products and how to target customers can help you to develop your marketing career and increase your professional knowledge. In this article, we discuss what SaaS marketing is, its benefits, how to create a successful campaign and some of the strategies marketers use.

What is SaaS marketing?

SaaS marketing is a type of marketing specialising in creating campaigns to promote subscription-based software. The SaaS business model is still relatively new as customers seek to extract maximum value from a program or a bundle of applications, which gives marketing agencies and software organisations many opportunities to market their innovative services. Since SaaS programs typically operate under a subscription model, there are unique ways to market the service to entice new customers. This marketing method can help companies increase brand awareness, acquire new customers and promote new products.

Related: What is a SaaS company? Understanding SaaS businesses

Benefits of SaaS

There are multiple advantages of SaaS over physical products, such as:

Free trials for users

Due to the digital and cloud-based nature of SaaS applications, companies can offer users a trial period to test the software's features in a limited capacity or for a short time. Customers generally greatly appreciate free trials, as they're charged monthly for these software products otherwise, and a better understanding of how to use the software and how it applies to their personal or professional lives may entice them to commit to the service. As an alternative to a free trial, a company can give customers a money-back guarantee period.

Customers pay less for the service

Customers pay more upfront for a physical product, but SaaS applications allow users to pay less monthly, which may be more economical for them. Traditionally, digital products charged customers a large upfront fee, which reserved the applications for those serious about using the product or for organisations needing it to operate. As applications progressed to a subscription model, companies could offer a lower monthly fee for a wider, more casual audience that may extend their subscriptions.

Related: Digital marketing skills: definition and examples

Provides value to customers

This form of marketing allows companies to highlight the value these services provide for customers. Instead of a traditional product model where the customer pays for a static product, SaaS applications undergo constant updates and feature additions. Marketing companies can focus on the value these services provide and entice customers with new features, designs or updates. Some SaaS application bundles also add new software to the package at no additional cost to the customer to increase brand loyalty.

Related: Value marketing: definition, examples and benefits

How to create an effective SaaS marketing campaign

If you're wondering how to create a successful marketing campaign, you can follow these general steps:

1. Create specific goals and objectives

With all marketing campaigns, it's essential you understand the goals and objectives of the campaign and what the organisation hopes to achieve. There are a few different types of goals regarding marketing campaigns, such as reaching out to new audiences, boosting brand loyalty, increasing reach or raising awareness. Create SMART goals to help you brainstorm actionable and realistic objectives. SMART goals include:

  • Specific: The more specific your goals, the better you might understand the campaign and how to achieve your objectives. Specific goals mean that all individuals working on the campaign understand the mission clearly without the opportunity for personal interpretation.

  • Measurable: When creating goals, ensure you can track their progress. Measurable goals mean you can make tweaks and adjustments where necessary to develop the campaign and ensure success.

  • Achievable: Achievable goals are realistic so all team members can contribute to a cause productively. This helps to motivate employees, as they're able to see the campaign's progress.

  • Relevant: With relevant goals, the team can understand the campaign's mission better and contribute productively.

  • Time-based: Adding a timeframe to the campaign and its goals allows you to add urgency to the project, which encourages the team to use their time and energy efficiently.

Related: How to write SMART goals in 6 steps (with tips and examples)

2. Identify a target audience

Identifying a target audience allows the marketing department to curate all content and imagery for the specific demographic. During your team brainstorming session, consider who needs the SaaS application and what type of business would benefit from using the software. You can then create detailed customer profiles, including their personal and professional background and other supplementary information to help acquire a more realistic vision of your target market. After that, make a user profile to see how customers may interact with your product.

Related: How to define your target market: examples and types

3. Select your marketing channels

The target audience and marketing channels you choose to promote are closely interrelated and are crucial components of planning your marketing campaign. Some older audiences may not frequent social media platforms as often as millennials, so creating TV advertisements may target them better. Conversely, younger audiences may use SaaS applications more often due to their digital fluency and are looking for cheap subscription plans for useful software. Other marketing channels include:

  • radio stations

  • TV networks

  • social media websites and applications

  • email campaigns

  • guest posts on blogs

  • sponsored content

  • print advertising

  • traditional billboard advertising

Related: Types of marketing campaign: definition and benefits

4. Create engaging content

Marketing departments also deal with creating the content they promote and the creative team are responsible for making engaging content to appeal to the chosen target demographic. It's also important to consider the marketing channel, as different platforms have different trends, design requirements and considerations. Whether it's copy or visual elements, research what your target audience may enjoy and craft content directed to them.

Related: How to create an effective social media content calendar

5. Track performance and key performance indicators (KPIs)

Once you publish your marketing campaign, tracking its performance with measurable metrics provides actionable data. It's easier to track KPIs with digital advertising, as marketing departments attach cookies and trackers to any online actions from the customer, which they can store as data. With active evaluation, you can determine if your campaign requires any adjustments or if it's a success.

Related: What KPI stands for and how to use it in your career

Strategies for marketing SaaS products

Here are some strategies for marketing SaaS products and helpful tips to assist you with your campaigns:

  • Content marketing: As SaaS applications are often long-term investments for customers, it's important your campaigns address any pain points they're experiencing and inform them that your service alleviates those issues. The SaaS industry is competitive, so ensure your content is persona-driven, high-quality and personal to distinguish your service from the competition.

  • Search engine optimisation: Search engine optimisation is a major factor to consider when creating digital copy for your website to generate leads and convert visitors into customers. By optimising your website and integrating it with other social media platforms, you may rank higher on search engine results and obtain more reach.

  • Provide offers: Giving customers the chance to purchase your service at a discounted rate or on a special offer is a positive way of creating goodwill and an opportunity of expanding your reach, as your service is now more accessible. You may offer a free trial period, limited discount or a special themed offer and market it as a promotion.

  • Influencers: One of the most effective forms of modern advertising is influencer marketing, where a company hires internet celebrities to promote its product and provide a more in-depth review of it to its audience. A key component of hiring an influencer is ensuring their audience matches your target demographic to maximise your investment.

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