One of the most beautiful things about SaaS businesses is their ability to scale, therefore the lifeblood of any SaaS - especially a young one - is new users. That sounds great and all, but how do you go about cutting through all the noise and finding users when there are seemingly endless voices competing for their attention?
The key is to establish a user acquisition strategy and stick to it consistently while testing what does and doesn't work so you can optimize over time. Here are 5 specific strategies for acquiring new users in 2021.
1 - Planning for Success With a UAM (User Acquisition Model)
When you are developing a marketing strategy, one of the first questions you must answer is “how much do we need to invest to achieve the growth we need?” This can be an intimidating question for a brand new product, especially if your SaaS is a “first mover” in your market where there is little historical data to depend on. When we are working with a new SaaS client, building a predictable User Acquisition Model is one of the first things that we do to create a roadmap from which we can plan.
A user acquisition model is a forecasting tool that we have developed that predicts future revenue growth based on a few key data points. Using analytics from organic traffic and previous metrics gathered from other campaigns, we can project how much an initial cost of acquisition might be, what the lifetime value of that acquired user is, and therefore plan how aggressively we can invest into various marketing strategies.
2 - Developing a Strong Content Marketing Plan
Optimizing for the search algorithm AND the human algorithm
I know what you’re thinking… “Who has time to write blogs when you’re trying to scale a product?” Content marketing is about so much more than just random blogging. Creating content that informs, educates, and spurs your audience to action should only increase your rate of scale and is a wise investment in future growth.
Great content has two primary purposes: it builds SEO and it adds velocity to your sales funnel. In other words, your content should be optimized for both Google’s algorithm and the “human algorithm”.
SEO-focused content writing could take up an entire series of blogs in itself, but in simple terms, it really comes down to one main idea. You need to identify how your potential customers use Google (and other search engines) to search for information surrounding your product and create content that delivers that information to them. In practice, there are myriad strategies and tactics that you can employ to do this effectively such as keyword research, On-page SEO, backlinking, etc. At the end of the day, helping your content get found in organic search will allow you to guide your audience to your product as a solution.
Having your content appear in search doesn’t do much good if it doesn’t compel your readers to take action and continue down the sales funnel toward a sale. This is why your content must be optimized for the human algorithm in addition to the search algorithm. Developing a strong body of resources that speaks to potential customers at every stage of the journey - from brand stranger to loyal customer - is paramount.
3 - Leveraging Your Network With Referral Marketing
Turn Your Users Into The Ultimate Sales Machine
Social proof is an incredibly powerful force in gaining new users. Most people consider word-of-mouth referrals to be one of the most trusted signals of brand value. Moreover, many users will be happy to shout from the rooftops how great your product is if they are a big enough fan. Nevertheless, incentivizing this sort of product evangelism can really help you pour gas on the flame of user recommendations. Through the use of affiliate or referral software like Refersion and Post Affiliate Pro, you can reward your users for sharing your product with their own network. Even when you are offering what would seem like a large commission percentage, the cost of acquisition can often be lower than on other paid channels. Additionally, it increases brand awareness at no cost in cases where new users are not immediately acquired.
4 - Retargeting - The “Low Hanging Fruit” of User Acquisition
The most likely audience of people to convert into users of your product are people that have already expressed an interest in it. For this reason, retargeting is a must-use strategy in your SaaS marketing playbook. If a potential customer has been on your site, viewed a certain percentage of a video that you have released, liked a social post, etc - it is in your best interest to continue to market to them until they convert into a customer. We often speak of “cold traffic” when using paid marketing strategies to reach people who are unaware of your brand. Conversely, these users are “warming up” to your brand. It stands to reason that it will take you less time to close the sale with this cohort of people than with an audience that has never heard of you before.
5 - Reducing Churn: A Major Growth Obstacle
Many people are aware of what churn is and that it is bad news when it comes to a subscription-based SaaS business model. What most people don’t know is that a high churn rate can essentially build an impenetrable wall between you and future growth that you can simply not overcome. Let’s envision a scenario where all of your user acquisition channels bring in an average of 5,000 new users every month. If you have a monthly churn rate of 5% you will reach a plateau at 100,000 users. The only way to rise above this obstacle is to either A) invest more into user acquisition, B) reduce your churn rate or C) ideally both.
Strategies to Reduce Churn
There are many strategies that you can use to reduce your churn rate. Continually engaging your users to ensure they are getting the most out of your product is a big one. Offering perks and new features can also help users stick with the product. Another popular strategy is to offer longer billing cycles as an option for those that want to receive some sort of discount in return.
Where to Get Started
At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to where you should invest your marketing time, energy, and dollars first. It will all depend on your business’s current growth trajectory and your audience. Your marketing team or a marketing partner should be able to consider all of the distinct aspects of your business and SaaS product and develop a marketing strategy that is tailor-fit to your unique situation.