How to Build Killer Features and Drive Growth For You SaaS
Killer features are innovative and solve customer problems in a way that no other product does. While a killer feature doesn’t automatically make your product great, it works with other aspects of your product to drive growth.
Read along to learn more about killer features and strategies to build them for your SaaS.
- Killer features are rare, but they add extra value to customers and make your product more likable to both new and potential customers.
- It’s a fallacy to believe one feature will turn your product from something people don’t like to an extremely valuable product. There’s more to SaaS success than killer features.
- Don’t stress about providing unique value through features alone because it means you stop being unique when competitors copy you. Invest more in delivering exceptional user experience—something that can’t be replicated easily.
- For SaaS startups, begin by studying the landscape and identifying must-have features for your industry. Do this before thinking of a killer feature or your next marketing strategy.
How to build a killer feature and stay ahead of competitors:
- Be customer-led. Collect customer feedback and track how users interact with your tool to find relevant insights.
- Allow users to upvote or downvote features on your public roadmap. Start with building the ones users are most interested in.
- Track friction in your product to reveal customer pain points. You could get killer feature ideas from this alone.
- Avoid the feature fallacy trap by sticking to your product vision, but be open to making adjustments when necessary.
What’s a killer feature?
A killer feature is that feature that’s unique and makes your app stand out from the competition. It’s often something easy for the end-user to adopt.
Components of killer features
Your killer features should:
- Add value to your users’ daily life
- Save them time
- Make something complex simple
- Be fun to use
The software space gets saturated easily, so don’t be surprised when your key features are copied. And you shouldn’t draw back from building something of value just because someone might copy it.
Birthing a killer feature is a combination of putting customers first, building for them, and being the first to present the solution. Competitors may copy you afterward, but you’ll still have that first mover advantage.
Do you need killer features?
Let’s debunk a popular myth.
Some PMs believe a new killer feature is what they need to grow their user base. So the company keeps investing in new features and the next shiny thing that will make them more likable.
This rarely ever works. It only leaves you in the build trap. A bland product that does just what every competitor or alternative does and doesn’t help solve the job faster, easier, or with a much better experience, and has no future.
In other words, you need a differentiating idea/feature for your product to be competitive. And if you don’t have a new groundbreaking idea, you’re probably better off optimizing what you already have.
Learn from Marketo: The Martech leader is launching a new, potential killer feature that none of their competitors has yet.
Everyone wants to know how to build a killer feature and stay on top of their competitors
It takes a good understanding of your target audience to create features that resonate and put your product above competitors.
This section delves into that.
Killer features are born from data
Start by switching to customer-led growth. Customer-led growth is a strategic approach that focuses on the customer, collects customer insights, and makes data-driven decisions based on them.
Some specific steps to take:
Gather user insights with welcome flows
Understand your user’s jobs to be done and the problems they are trying to solve with your product.
Then take a look at your product and determine whether or not your tool offers adequate solutions for each user persona. There has got to be a gap somewhere.
Collect user feedback on already existing features
Killer features don’t necessarily have to be brand-new. As already mentioned, sometimes, optimizing already existing features may turn them into killer features. So collect feedback on your core features and find areas of improvement.
Conduct customer interviews
By sitting down face-to-face with potential customers you can gain unmatched, nuanced qualitative data.
One-on-one interviews are a great way to find out what plagues your customers, what solutions they’re looking for, and how you fare compared to your competitors.
Engage with your users and listen to them on social media
All your customers hang out on social media, so it makes sense to be active there. Tracking conversions about you on social media will enable you to glean vital data on user needs and even get some killer feature ideas from your users.
Be data-driven when building the product roadmap
Have a public roadmap that users can add feature requests or upvote for ideas suggested by others. The data from this will be valuable when it’s time to make changes to your product. However, not everything your users say they want should be created. Stick to your product vision and only make adjustments when the suggestions fit your overall strategy.
Cross-reference feedback with product usage data
Cross-referencing feedback with product usage data enables you to properly segment users and know what functionalities and features each segment is interested in.
A tool like Userpilot helps you do that easily:
Understand where the friction is
Use the feedback and product usage data obtained to identify friction points in the product. Also, aim to understand if the friction is caused by a usability issue or simply a gap in customer education. If it’s the latter, then simply creating extensive knowledge base content will help.
Start thinking in outcomes to come up with solutions
Think in outcomes and also have a future vision for your product. Carry customers and your internal team on this journey, so they know what to expect.
Having a public roadmap is a good way to keep your audience informed. The now-next-later approach for roadmaps works well and helps ensure your next feature has a chance of becoming the killer one.
The “now” section contains the problems you’re currently working on.
Title: Slack integration
Description: Slack integration to ease syncing messages and threads between our [ACME] app and conversations in Slack.
Items marked “next” are what you’ll do after you’re done with the current projects. Ideally, you’ve identified problems to solve and have an idea of the potential benefits. But in most cases, you don’t have the perfect solution yet.
As the name suggests, items here are ideas that you’ve marked as important but don’t have the bandwidth to work on just yet. They’re left in the backlog until a further date.
Don’t fall into the feature fallacy trap while chasing killer features
Listening to your customers, gathering and analyzing data, and creating a roadmap will fill you with feature ideas to try. But stay true to your product vision; otherwise, you might end up creating a product that does many things but isn’t particularly useful.
Also, having a new feature doesn’t mean all your problems will magically disappear. Sometimes it’s just better to optimize the UX around an existing feature, so keep asking yourself how you can drive more value with existing features.
We’ll round this section with one more tip on collecting feedback: some companies fall into the trap of listening to just their loyal customers. The sentiment is understandable, but your loyal customers often just represent a fraction of your entire audience. Optimizing for them alone might mean creating a lopsided product. Collect and analyze feedback from all your customer segments.
Examples of killer features
Let’s look at some killer feature examples from SaaS companies in different industries. One common thread you’ll notice is that killer features are often innovative solutions to overlooked emotions.
Figma: Browser-based tooling
Bringing design tools directly to the browser was one of Figma’s killer features. Version control and collaboration are a nightmare. As a result of going browser-first, they were able to eliminate the problem of version control and democratize access to designs. Consequently, the number of people who experienced Figma’s delight grew beyond just designers to engineers and PMs as well.
Zoom: Virtual backgrounds and gallery view of participants
Zoom had lots of competitors, including tech giants such as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet. Yet, it became the most used videoconferencing app during Covid. When asked, people always mentioned two features as key reasons they used Zoom: adding virtual backgrounds when you attend a meeting and seeing everybody in the meeting in a gallery view.
These features are not only fun but also add massive value.
The first feature gave users some privacy and eased their anxiety: You could attend a meeting comfortably from your untidy bedroom, and nobody would know.
The second feature gave a quick insight into the engagement of the attendees of virtual training courses.
Uber: the map showing you exactly where your car is
Uber’s killer feature was the Map that showed you exactly where your car is. People hate not knowing when and how their car will arrive. It makes them feel anxious and powerless. The Map soothes their anxiety.
It’s important to differentiate yourself from the pack of SaaS companies in your industry. You’ll have a better value proposition and drive more business growth.
However, there’s a line between having differentiation in mind and falling into the build trap where you keep building and releasing things with no tangible results to back them up.
A good hack is to listen to your customers and make data-informed decisions. Do this through feedback surveys and analyzing app usage data. You may not have a killer feature during the initial phases of software development, but by continuously studying your users and reiterating, you’ll come up with features they love.
Want to collect in-app user feedback code-free? Get a Userpilot Demo and see how you can gather, analyze, and take action on feedback with it.