For your SaaS company to achieve scale, you need to do more than just bring in new revenue. Sustainable growth requires all areas of your business to work together so you’re not just bringing in new customers but also retaining existing customers.
From making sure you’re targeting the right customers to begin with to, letting your product prove its own value, here are five secrets to B2B SaaS growth.
1. Understand Your Niche
Ready-to-use SaaS products solve for a specific need — they're more enticing than creating software in-house and versatile enough to offer a comprehensive solution to a problem while still being specialized enough to provide a unique value proposition. For these reasons, SaaS products, when correctly marketed and sold, can be in extremely high demand.
It's hard to be successful as a SaaS company if you spread yourself too thin. In other words, if you try to offer a wide range of basic functions rather than a limited range of exceptional features, you'll lose your market.
For every SaaS company, there's a balancing act that needs to occur in order to be successful. To find your niche, consider the level of competition for solutions like yours, how penetrable the market is and if your product offers anything new (or addresses a different audience). Use those gaps to differentiate yourself from competitors.
Additionally, understanding who your product is for, your ideal customer profile, will help you target the right prospects and focus your marketing and product development on the features that will provide your target niche with the most value.
2. Nurture a Strong Partner Network
Nurturing strong relationships with businesses that target similar market segments to you is a great way to increase your customer base. But cultivating strong partnerships requires time and energy, so it's important to focus your efforts in the right place.
First, determine the traits you're looking for in a co-marketing partner. Do you have similar ICPs? How related should their offering be to yours? Do you want all your partners to be around the same growth stage as you?
You should also ask yourself what types of partnerships you want to avoid. Take time to learn more about what potential partners do and how best to approach them. For any partnership to be successful it must be viable and mutually beneficial — whether that means revenue sharing or some other indirect benefit. If you identify possible challenges upfront it will be easier to adapt your model accordingly.
While no other business is going to do all of your promotion and selling for you, partnerships may significantly extend your reach and customer network. For example, Kissmetrics' partner network helped them increase their user base by 1,000 percent in six months, transforming them from a small B2B startup into a recognizable industry player and name.
3. Leverage Product-Led Growth
Product-led growth puts your product in the center of your marketing and sales efforts with the goal of having your solution essentially selling itself.
Identify levers for growth within your product, and use them to make it easier for customers to become more engaged with it. Many companies use freemium models, demos or free trials for this purpose. By allowing customers to try your product before they buy it, you’re enabling them to experience the value for themselves.
Vidyard does this by allowing anyone to record, store and share videos for free. But if users want interactivity features, performance insights or the ability to embed more than five videos on websites, then they’ll need to upgrade to a paid version.
As you’re developing your product, be intentional about how it can be upgraded by your users. Build tiers or free-to-paid upgrade requirements around your product’s core value so that you can give users a taste so they’ll want to become a paid customer all on their own.
4. Teach Customers How to Succeed
SaaS products are meant to be easy to use and efficient. In order to ensure the widespread adoption of your product, it’s important to teach customers how to use it to the greatest effect — whether that’s through consultation services, in-product chat features, blog posts, new feature tutorials, training videos, email workflows, a self-service knowledge base or certification courses.
If a customer has a question about using your product, they need to be able to find the answer quickly and frictionlessly.
Your customer support services should focus on delighting and empowering customers beyond just simple operating instructions. The most effective educational features teach prospects how to be better at their jobs, in addition to teaching them how to use your software platform successfully. After all, even the most innovative software isn’t a cure-all — it’s a tool intended to accentuate strengths and enable users, but it cannot stand in for talent and industry expertise.
What better way to ensure customer loyalty than to offer your customers all the tools and information they need to succeed in their position? Drawing the link from your product to real strategies and human processes gives it greater staying power and relevance.
For example, HubSpot offers the Hubspot Academy, a section of their SaaS platform devoted to helping customers grow and become more savvy, successful marketers. These courses dive into how the HubSpot platform can be leveraged and cover relevant methodologies and strategies as well.
These courses create such a great experience for users that HubSpot customers will frequently share their certifications on social media and promote the academy, and by extent HubSpot, to their networks.
5. Be Your Own Best Case Study
Try to find ways to use your own product so you can put your money where your mouth is in terms of the value of your solution.
HubSpot did this with inbound marketing. They coined the term inbound marketing, used that methodology to grow their business and built a platform around leveraging that methodology. The inbound methodology guided their product development, and they became one of the best SaaS companies in the world.
So, now they are able to reference their own growth as proof of their product’s and methodology’s success. They took a risk by eschewing outbound tactics, and it paid off, which increased the credibility of their solution.
Drift took a similar approach to their company’s growth by eliminating forms from their website and only using their own chatbots to convert website visitors to prove that conversational marketing can be effective.
As you start selling to more mainstream audiences, people will need to see tangible proof of your product’s success before they’re willing to buy. By being that example yourself, you’re able to expand into those markets easier than if you had to rely solely on customer testimonials and case studies.
The five growth secrets we’ve discussed all play roles in those areas — teaching your customers to succeed can help with retention and expansion. Product-led growth can help with acquisition and expansion, etc. — but you need to make sure to devote resources to all three of those areas in order to grow sustainably.