Our Top Tips for SaaS Start-Ups
If you’re wondering ‘how can I make my SaaS business successful?’ – this is the blog for you. Below you’ll find our tops tips for continued SaaS start-up success.
However, first it’s important to establish…
What is SaaS?
SaaS stands for Software as a Service. It’s a way of delivering Cloud-hosted programs to both consumers and companies that they can access anywhere, on any compatible device, often for a monthly subscription fee.
This is opposed to the old and more rigid software delivery model, which would see an individual or business buy a licensed piece of software and install it on a single machine.
A prominent B2B-focused example of that evolution can be seen in Microsoft’s move away from selling single-install versions Word, Excel, et al to heavily promoting its Cloud-based Office 365 suite of programs.
In the consumer world, meanwhile, it’s akin to the overwhelming trend for people to do away with physical DVDs and instead pay for a Netflix subscription, giving them access to hundreds of entertainment titles to stream without limits – anywhere, and at any time.
With 94% of businesses already in the Cloud, and ultra-high-speed 5G networks forecasted to account for 1.2 billion connections worldwide by 2025, SaaS start-ups will have the world at their feet – if they can navigate the tricky early stages and find success in their chosen niche.
If that applies to you, then read on for seven proven ways to grow your SaaS start-up faster.
1. Build a product to solve a problem – and talk about that repeatedly
Tech businesses are brilliant at bamboozling people with clever-sounding terminology and long lists of product features. There’s just one problem with that.
When your audience isn’t as technically savvy as you are, you can lose them in the first few sentences.
The first of our seven SaaS business tips to help you succeed is therefore to speak about your offering in terms of the problem it solves. Very deliberately discussing the real-world benefits of using your product will sell your potential customers on the vision of an easier, simpler life.
2. Meet a proven need with every feature
Scope creep can be an issue with any project – particularly a passion project where you’re putting everything into it. It’s only natural that you’ll get ideas along the way for features that would make your SaaS software stand out and do things that nobody else in the space has considered.
On the other hand, the reason nobody has implemented such a feature yet might well be because no customer has asked for it – or even really needs it. From initial prototyping through beta testing, to launching and then scaling your service, the second of our top tips for SaaS start-ups is to do your research and make sure every feature earns its place – and use that to inform making your minimum viable product as feature-lean and focused as possible.
3. Launch with referrals and leverage word of mouth
The third of our seven SaaS business tips to help you succeed is to use your existing network to find customers – and incentivise them from day one with a formal referral program. Referrals are one of the most effective ways to acquire new business, and by offering discounts or free subscription time, you encourage repeat referrals for people who love your service. It’s a win-win scenario that can help you grow quickly and continue reaching your ideal customers as time goes by.
4. Invest heavily in customer care
The big difference between traditional software development and SaaS is the second S – Service. In the old world of marketing a product, your job was done once the customer had made the purchase. With a service-led model, convincing them to sign up is only the first step in what will hopefully be a much longer relationship.
Software as a Service start-ups live and die on their ability to keep more customers than they lose, and your customer service, outreach, and the speed at which you solve problems will have as much of an effect on your success as the usability and innovation present in your product. That makes investing in customer care easily one of our top tips for SaaS start-ups.
5. Be flexible on pricing
Price is a significant barrier to entry for customers – especially ones considering trying an entirely new, untested service from an unknown brand. Offering several different options can help make your offering more convincing. Depending on your industry, a freemium model could be beneficial. One popular method for this sees you allowing the use of basic (but still helpful) features and asking for a subscription should the customer want to unlock the full capabilities of your service. An alternative could be offering the full software as a trial for a limited period.
If freemium doesn’t work for your industry, scalable pricing plans might. Often these involve a higher price for a shorter amount of time, with customers willing to lock-in to longer commitments gaining a discount.
Either way you flip your pricing model, being open-minded and experimenting to find the perfect balance belongs in our seven proven ways to grow your SaaS start-up faster.
6. Don’t skimp on the marketing
Our penultimate tip for continued SaaS start-up success is to pick your marketing channels strategically – and methodically make the most of each and every one.
Pay per click (PPC) advertising on Google and similar search engines will get you noticed, but it can be expensive and isn’t a viable long-term solution without some more organic web traffic backing it up. With that in mind, you’ll also want to build a buzz about your service by using the right social media for your audience; by producing content that gets you noticed and makes you look like an authority; and by ensuring you apply search engine optimisation (SEO) best practices to get your web pages found by the people who need exactly what your SaaS start-up provides.
7. Can’t find the right co-founder? Work with an agency instead
Points one to six all assume you’ve found the right people with whom to start your SaaS business. But what if you’re an entrepreneur looking for someone technically-minded to help you execute, and the right partner isn’t presenting themselves?
One answer could be to skip the search and talk to a company with the technical know-how to help you launch your SaaS start-up.
At One Beyond, we’ve got extensive experience helping SaaS start-ups bring their software services to market – including case studies for projects with Hospify, SK Euroca, Karantis360 and Smart Space Strategy.