Here’s the truth about marketing in the SaaS space… there’s very little difference between the product and the marketing itself. The product is part of the marketing.
Along with the content offers, landing pages, lead capture techniques, email follow-up and nurture, the ads you run on Facebook or AdWords—the product is just another (super important) marketing tool.
Keep this in mind as we take a look at the five steps in setting the groundwork for someone using a Free Trial or Freemium version of your solution to not just purchase the full Monty—but also be excited about doing so!
1. Know Your Ideal Customer
You aren’t selling to everyone. If you think you are, you are wrong. That sort of thinking is a great way to tank your business.
In fact, you don’t even have a pool of customers. Well, you do, but as far as your marketing goes, you need to narrow each of those down to one ideal avatar (the Buyer Persona), and deal with each one by one.
I wrote a post here on building a Buyer Persona, but the TL;DR version is this:
You need to know everything you possibly can about this ideal customer: Age, gender, location, income level, buying habits, interests… Pretend you’re Hemingway building out a character. Get the details down, put all the flesh on those bones, and then narrow your marketing message down to just what you would say to this specific person at their particular point in the sales funnel.
Because, if you don’t do this, you’re going to miss on everything else after this. Again, excitement is at the core of this whole process. You want that person to be excited to try out your offering. Then you want them to be excited about giving you their credit card info somewhere down the line. You can’t make them excited if you don’t understand them at a granular level.
An illustration: You have a nephew and you want to give him something rad for his birthday. You can guess and go with something normatively-male—a truck, or a baseball mitt, or a wireless X-Box controller, or whatever. But if you don’t know the kid intimately—how old he is, what he likes to do, whether he even has an X-Box in the first place—it’s all scattershot at that point. The likelihood of you thrilling him is low.
Same thing for your potential customer. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “To WOW them, you gotta KNOW them.”[Editor’s note: Abraham Lincoln may not have said this.]
2. Expectations are Everything
A lot of SaaS companies miss big time on this one. Because the focus is often narrowed in on “just getting people to sign up” and then hoping something sticks, it’s rare to find a Free Trial that properly sets the expectations for the potential customer.
For example, if a credit card is going to be required, say so. If the Freemium version has only about ten percent of what the full version has, then say that.
There seems to be this idea that if you sorta trick someone into signing up, then the product/service is going to be so awesome that the prospect is going to become a customer once they see how great it is.
This idea simply isn’t true.
In fact, it really works in the opposite way.
If you’re not giving me the whole story up front, that’s going to cause trust issues down the line. Which isn’t going to make me want to give you money. It’s going to make me want to bounce up outta this joint as soon as possible.
Be honest. Be benefit-oriented. Be a good human being.
Set the expectations. Your prospects will appreciate you for it.
3. Make Sign-Up Easy
The more steps it takes to get someone in the door, the less likely they are going to come all the way inside.
It’s a true inverse correlation.
You want to go the truly Minimum Viable Product (MVP) route here. On your signup forms, for instance, how much information do you really need? If it’s just a name, company, and email address, then only offer those as options.
If it’s just an email—I’m looking at you, Yammer—then even better.
And once in the Trial or Freemium process, make upgrading to the full suite a breeze.
The key here is knowing your potential customer and building out from their experience (and not your own).
4. It’s All About Engagement
A good on-boarding process is vital within the SaaS space. But what is on-boarding, really? At its heart, it’s really engagement.
And I like the word engagement for it much better. Here’s why:
On-boarding focuses on the process. Engagement, on the other hand, focus on the prospect’s experience.
It’s teaching them how to set up and then use the product, all the while building that excitement to start reaping the benefits you’ve been promising all along.
And then it’s about delivering on those promises.
This process is going to look different from product to product, but the central strategy is the same: Get the prospect up and running as smoothly as possible, and make sure that you’re there throughout the whole process like a rainbow leading to big steaming pot of benefits.
5. Buying Should be Easy
This should be a no-brainer.
Evidently, after a quick tour around google, it is, evidentially speaking, not.
In ancient times (pre-2012 or so), the product and the sales funnel were two separate entities. That is no longer the case. Now, your product is the sales process.
So, if you’re coming correct on the first four steps in this process, your prospect should be champing at the bit to give you their money.
So, make it easy to do that.
The SaaS space is an exciting one. And it’s going to continue to grow. There will continue to be naval-gazing casualties along the way, of course. But the successful companies are going to be the ones that start with their ideal customer, build excitement, set the right expectations, concentrate on engagement from the prospect’s perspective, and then make it easy to upgrade.
It’s as simple as that.