Understanding the Key to Customer Acquisition in SaaS

In many ways, SaaS marketing is unlike any other industry. Rather than simply hoping to encourage one-time purchases, you are looking to attract long-term subscribers that provide sustainable business growth over time.

That process can take time and effort. It does, however, get just a bit easier if you understand the key to customer acquisition in SaaS.

Signing up to become a subscriber of an SaaS solution, regardless of industry and offering, takes a significant commitment on the part of your audience. It’s not a decision made lightly, given that it’s easy to get stuck with a solution for months and even years. And if they do jump off, you experience a high churn rate that can actively hurt your business.

To make that process easier, your customer acquisition and marketing strategy should focus on one key area: visualization. If your marketing efforts can accurately show your audience what they’ll get once they become subscribers, your chances of gaining customers that positively contribute to your business for a long time to come increase drastically. A few ways can help you to accomplish just that.

Provide Demo Capabilities

Most SaaS solutions, regardless of their target audience and core functionality, share one thing: they’re confusing. Simply explaining what your software does may not be enough to convey its actual benefits to your audience.

One solution to that problem is to offer a free demo of your software. It allows you to show your software in action, but in a controlled environment managed by your sales and marketing professionals. Ivanti, for example, uses its demo option to show exactly how the relatively abstract term of end point protection actually benefits businesses in the real world.


Customize Your Pricing Options

A major reason why most customers shy away from SaaS solutions is simply connected to price. Onboarding requires a financial commitment that goes far beyond a one-time purchase. As a result, especially small businesses and individuals on tight budgets are hesitant to try out a solution that may blow through that budget quicker than they can account for.

That’s why customized pricing options can be so beneficial. Openlink, a leader in treasury management software realizes this and makes sure it doesn’t post it’s pricing online. Instead you must work with one of their sales people to deploy the ideal solution for what you need.

Doing so may scare of small businesses and startups, which simply don’t have the means to spend at the same level as the enterprise. This is a great tactic to identify your audience with your model. SMB’s assume they can’t afford something they don’t get to see the pricing on. And for the most part, they’re right..

Embrace the Freemium Model

Successful SaaS marketers have long embraced a freemium model, and the strategy is only becoming more successful as mobile apps are beginning to penetrate the space. The concept is simple: use a limited version of the software for free, but pay for any premium features that could further help your business.

As the Harvard Business Review concluded in a comprehensive study and review, this freemium model is especially successful when compared with other opportunities to get users onto your platform. In fact, it works so well specifically because there is no time limit or eventual financial commitment if the user chooses not to embrace the premium features.

Jitterbit, an application integration platform, uses the concept with great success. New users on the app can take advantage of a 30 day trial, but will have to sign up for some of the software’s more extensive features. As a result, users can check out the platform with no harm to their financial bottom line, before deciding about a potential long-term fit.

Offer a Free Trial

Finally, we come to perhaps the most popular option among SaaS marketers: the free trial. If you offer a few days or weeks of your software for free, you increase the chances that users will recognize just how important and beneficial your platform can be, increasing their chances of staying on after the trial expires.

And make no mistake: those trials do improve your conversion rates to paying subscribers. As Mike Templeman points out in Forbes, trials that offer full capabilities for free can have a major impact on actually getting potential subscribers on board who were previously on the fence. It’s the most obvious way to allow your audience to visualize the benefits of your platform.

Building a Sustainable Customer Acquisition Strategy in SaaS

All of the above options can help your audience better visualize your solution before they commit to a financial subscription. But they also come with an additional benefit that’s impossible to ignore: you gain their contact information for further, more targeted marketing opportunities.

A demo, freemium subscription, or free trial all require your audience to sign up in exchange for experiencing your software. Now, you can take advantage of lead nurturing, slowly nudging them closer toward the sale and successfully onboarding them as paying subscribers.

An offer like a free trial gets your foot in the door of potential subscribers. But still, between 40% and 60% of your trial users never come back to your software once they sign up. Through lead nurturing, you can decrease that potential, and increase your lead conversions as a result.

The key to customer acquisition in SaaS, in other words, is simple: get your audience to visualize the software, and what it would be like to become a subscriber. Then, use the same opportunity to capture their contact information, and increase your chances of nurturing them through the process of becoming revenue-generating customers.

Execute that strategy successfully, and your SaaS solution will grow and succeed. Fail to do so, and you might rue the day ignored what your customers were actually looking for.

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