Nowadays, the software market is moving toward cloud software or SaaS (Software As a Service). Software as a Service is a form of cloud computing that allows users to connect to and make use of cloud-based applications through the Internet. Common examples include email, Netflix, Dropbox, Spotify, Mailchimp, etc.
Therefore, all users access SaaS applications on a daily basis, as any online application that runs in the cloud and can be accessed via the Internet is a SaaS application.
This software distribution model is very popular among businesses. However, competition is high, so companies offering SaaS must establish appropriate marketing strategies to differentiate themselves from their competitors and sell more.
In addition to competition, companies selling their software online face other common challenges or issues:
- Having an innovative, well-functioning SaaS system that meets the main needs of companies or individuals.
- Getting new customers: difficulty in finding companies to whom your software can be useful, and who are at the right time for a change of supplier or the implementation of a new system.
- Having a way to evaluate the probability that this opportunity will end up becoming a sale.
- Having information to accompany your prospective buyer throughout their decision process.
- Providing a fast integration service and 24/7 maintenance.
1. Analyze the software you sell online
For all these reasons, it is first necessary to analyze your company and the product you sell (specifically in this post we will focus on SaaS).
Know who you are targeting, whether it is the general public (B2C) or other companies (B2B), and what recurring problem you are solving, as well as the type of software you sell and how you sell it.
The types of SaaS that exist are classified according to:
- The mode of sale: generally, SaaS applications are based on subscription models for licensing software. Unlike a permanent license, this software distribution model links each account with a subscription that grants access to the SaaS, for a period that can be annual or monthly.
- The type of niche: each service is oriented to a specific niche with different characteristics and sizes. There is general software for everyone and for businesses, and niche software for businesses.
On the other hand, it is possible that, if your SaaS is aimed at companies and it is a “complex” software, it will require a previous process of adaptation, configuration, etc. The rest of the cases will be plug & play SaaS applications preconfigured.
It is also important that you take into account the digital environment of your company. Identify what digital strategies your competitors are developing, which you could also focus on, such as social networks, blog posts, collaborations with influencers, advertising platforms, etc.
2. Define an Inbound strategy and plan to sell your software
Once you have analysed your value proposition, it is time to define a long-term marketing strategy, focused on Inbound Marketing, to attract users to your brand in a natural way, offering them relevant content at the right time.
Here are the four phases of an Inbound Marketing strategy:
1) Attract traffic
The first objective is to get visits to the website, so in this first phase we try to get users to our blog, social networks, etc. before those of our competitors.
The tools used to attract visitors are:
- SEO techniques: so that your SaaS appears in the first search results, organically.
- Content marketing: in different content formats, such as blog articles, downloadable guides, video tutorials, podcasts or infographics.
- Social networks: to amplify the reach of the content created.
- PPC advertising (SEM and Social Ads): pay-per-click campaigns on the different platforms available (Google Ads, Facebook Ads or LinkedIn Ads).
- Third-party recommendations: guest blogging, review platforms or software directories, such as Trustpilot or Capterra.
In this second phase we want to get leads, i.e. convert visitors to our website into leads so that they provide us with their contact details.
The most commonly used tactics to encourage this conversion are as follows:
- Web, as complete as possible, with video tutorials of your software, screenshots of how it works, features, functionalities, integrations, pricing, support, etc.
- Appropriate web design, focused on usability and user experience (UI/UX).
- Relevant and exclusive content: ebooks, case studies, white papers for potential leads, in which, for example, they talk about technology for B2B and thus try to eliminate barriers and resistance from the CTO/CIO.
- Conversion elements: calls to action (CTAs) and data capture forms in the demos you offer; landing pages, through which if the user fills in a form, they can access a free or freemium trial (a free version and a premium paid version).
- Remarketing: to retarget users who visited the website but did not convert.
In the third phase, once the leads have registered, it is time to close the conversion.
At the beginning, you only have basic information about the lead, but through lead nurturing and lead scoring, you will be able to “mature” that lead. That is to say, on the one hand, you will need to get more information from the lead, and at the same time, you will be nurturing it with valuable information, relevant to it.
To do this, you can use relational tools such as CRM, email marketing, or workflows or automation flows, typical of Inbound Marketing.
In “complex” SaaS, the information can be extracted by the sales team, through the CRM, web pages they have visited, campaigns they have visited, etc.
In plug&play SaaS, the data can be extracted from the free or freemium trial that the lead has done, from email marketing, calls, automation, etc.
The last phase is the loyalty phase, in which we try to make customers prescribers of our brand. In this stage we must offer them solutions to their problems and a customer service according to their needs.
To do this, you will have to carry out actions such as:
- Roadmap of your SaaS, communications with the new functionalities that are being incorporated, advice on how to use the system better, etc.
- 24/7 online technical support.
In a second phase, the following techniques can be included:
- Cross-selling and Upselling: getting your customer to add an additional integration to their original order, which will improve their shopping experience.
- You can also offer them personalised training, consultancy services, etc.
- Affiliate marketing, so that they become one of your affiliates.
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3. Implementing the actions to start selling your software
Once the strategy has been defined, the next step is the implementation and maintenance of all the actions:
- Review and optimisation of the website, including all the necessary information about the SaaS, as well as demos, videos, tutorials, guides and FAQs to make it easier for the user to understand. It is also essential to have a website optimised for all browsers and devices (computers, mobiles and tablets).
- SEO (Search Engine Optimisation): is a set of techniques aimed at achieving the best possible positioning of a website in the results of Internet search engines, taking care of the use of keywords in web elements such as titles, section headers, images, posts…
It implies, therefore, positioning in search engines for keywords that your potential buyer may be looking for. Content marketing is about offering added value with posts, downloads, videos, infographics, etc., that solve the problems and needs of your potential customers.
If SEO is not done, there is less chance that users will visit your website, so it will be more difficult to attract them with content.
- PPC advertising campaigns: PPC (pay per click) is recommended, especially at the beginning of an Inbound strategy, to accelerate the generation of visits to your blog and thus achieve results quickly, as it allows you to appear as the first result in the ads section.
PPC campaigns are divided into SEM and Social Ads:
- SEM: Google Ads SEM ads are very interesting, since you directly attack the user’s search intent, without having to compete for the first organic positions. This reinforces your SEO campaigns, as SEO and SEM are not opposing strategies, but complementary.
- Social Ads: social networks are indispensable within a complete digital strategy. In addition to publishing organically on your brand’s social channels, pages and profiles (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), through social media ads you can impact your users, promote your SaaS, remarketing… In this way, you will reach users right where they spend their free time.
- Automation Marketing: this is one of the key processes in an effective Inbound Marketing strategy. It consists of creating automatic processes that allow you to mechanise a multitude of tasks to optimise time and, consequently, improve productivity.
Once you have the email address of the person who has visited your website, you can begin to build a relationship with them, with the aim of gradually getting to know your company, the SaaS you offer and eventually becoming a customer.
You can do this by sending additional content, through email marketing, to help users to solve any doubts they may have about your product.
The process of sending recurring emails (known as lead nurturing) will allow you to be present in the user’s mind, when they have to make a purchase decision, and even accelerate their decision process, offering them a commercial offer at the most appropriate time.
- Social networks: we have already mentioned the importance of being present in the social networks where your target audience is located. One of them will undoubtedly be LinkedIn, a very valuable resource to make your company known, especially if your company is dedicated to B2B.
This tool can help you to find, in a very effective way, potential clients to show them your software. To do this, you should post on your page frequently, find and connect with your potential customers, and participate in SaaS-related groups.
- Review platforms and software directories: Online opinions about a product or service have become increasingly important for both consumers and companies. Therefore, the need to be present on review platforms specialised in software and technology, such as Trustpilot or Capterra.
These opinions can help users to choose a product, while companies can use them to identify strengths and weaknesses of their service, in order to improve it or get more out of it.
Similarly, it is advisable to appear in specialised software directories, not only to make your business more visible and generate more traffic to your website, but also because they significantly improve SEO positioning in search engines.
4. Final recommendations to sell your software online and succeed
Finally, it is necessary to measure and analyse at each stage, selecting and defining the most relevant metrics and KPIs for your SaaS business. In this way, you will be able to constantly improve, review and optimise the actions of your strategy.
To have a good analysis, you must constantly measure the evolution of visits, leads, qualified leads and customers you generate. If your objectives have not been met, redefine them and adapt the strategy.
It is also essential to monitor your competitors to know what they are doing at all times and to have a global vision of the sector in which they operate.
Finally, remember to combine your online strategy with offline actions, oriented to B2B, such as:
- Attending trade fairs in the sector.
- Attending networking events.
- Account Marketing.
If you need help with the definition of a strategy aimed at selling your software online, contact us. A specialist will analyse your case and will help you to create an Inbound Marketing plan adapted to your objectives.