How To Build The Best SaaS Product Marketing Strategy [7 Steps]
Do you want to build an efficient SaaS Product Marketing strategy, but are not sure where to start? There is so much involved in creating a great strategy, from target audiences to KPIs to customer journeys, but Userpilot is here to help.
In this post, we go over the main product growth strategy steps and some examples of SaaS business growth strategies.
- A SaaS product marketing strategy is a step-by-step plan to drive product growth with your existing customers.
- You can understand your target audience with research-based user personas.
- Your product should be positioned – i.e have a context that communicates valuable information about who you are, what your product and who your product is for, how much it will cost, and what users can expect.
- You should outline realistic and achievable objectives and KPIs for your product.
- User journey maps, a research-based visual representation of your user’s experience with your product, are a reliable way of visualizing touchpoints, pain points, and obstacles.
- User journey maps can help you increase customer acquisition, user activation, product adoption, user retention, and encourage users to be advocates for your product.
- Automating tasks is an effective way of personalizing your users’ experience of your product and collecting data on how they interact with your product to enhance it.
- Product experimentation and A/B testing will validate your assumptions about how users interact with your product, all while acknowledging them as individuals.
What is a product marketing strategy?
A SaaS product marketing strategy is a step-by-step plan to drive product growth with your existing customers, as opposed to traditional marketing which seeks to obtain new customers.
A successful product marketing strategy places the customer at the forefront of its approach by understanding who your customers are, what their problem is, what influences their buying decisions, and how they see your business in relation to solving their problem. This will enable you to create product demand, adoption, retention, and account expansion, all while revealing your product’s advantages in line with your competitors and the market; this will help you establish product pricing, positioning, and promotion.
So how do you create a successful SaaS product marketing strategy?
Product marketing strategy step #1: Who is your target audience?
The crucial first step is understanding who your target audience is – you can achieve this by creating a user persona. This is a research-backed visual representation of your audience that will help you understand your customers better: understanding a user’s problem and how your product will help them solve it will enable you to make your product more appealing to them.
It’s important to note that a user persona is different from a buyer persona: the former is someone who directly uses your product, the latter is someone who decides to purchase your product.
Figure out exactly what you want to know – Do your products solve their job-to-be-done? What makes your product appealing to them? Would they improve anything? – and set a quota of how many users you will collect data for; this will depend on time and financial constraints.
Your research can be both quantitative and qualitative. Here is what to focus on when creating a user persona:
Quantitative, Secondary Research
- Demographic: age, gender and/or sex, marital status, and socioeconomic aspects like education, location, and profession.
- Existing statistical data from online sources, databases, and journals.
Don’t overdo the quantitative data: knowing your user is 30, single, and a teacher is all well and good but it’s more important to understand how they interact with your product.
Qualitative, Primary Research
- Personal interviews: in person or over the phone
- Focus groups
Product marketing strategy step #2: Define your positioning
Positioning is all about setting the context for your product. It communicates valuable information about who you are, what your product and who your product is for, how much it will cost, and what users can expect.
Positioning allows you to dismantle assumptions and set clear expectations from the get-go by identifying your core benefit and competitive advantage in your product’s market. As April Dunford says: “Positioning defines how your product is a leader at delivering something that a well-defined set of customers cares a lot about.” This way, your customers will not be confused or disappointed when they use your product, and they will understand what makes it more desirable than alternatives in the market.
When defining your position, consider:
- How your product solves your user’s job-to-be-done
- Your product’s USP and/or key features
- What makes your product better than your competitors?
- Why should users trust you and your product?
Once you answer these questions, you can transform the answers into a statement that portrays your brand’s tone, contains exciting calls-to-action words, and highlights the advantages of using your product. Your positioning statement is your product’s elevator pitch.
Product marketing strategy step 3#: Set objectives and KPIs
Your objectives are your primary goals for your product. They should be precise, measurable, and realistically doable. It’s useful to outline the specific tasks you have to accomplish to achieve your objectives.
Your KPIs – key performance indicators – are metrics you measure to track your progress towards your objective. For example, you can track the effectiveness of your product marketing strategies and tactics. Note that KPIs are different from OKRs, more about that on this post here.
KPIs within a product marketing strategy can include retention rates, activation rates, and customer acquisition costs. Your KPIs should be consistent, have functional relevance, and be manageable in quantity so your team can extract the data they need and identify growth opportunities.
It’s also useful to have a reasonable threshold for comparison so your team can easily identify if your KPI’s progress is on target, exceeding expectations, or underperforming.
Product marketing strategy step #4: Map the user journey
Before planning any tactics, you need to understand your user’s journey so you can identify the area that needs improvement. You can understand your user’s journey by creating a user journey map.
A user journey map is a research-based visual representation of your user’s experience with your product. The map allows you to see the individual steps users take to complete a task within your product, how users currently interact with your product, and identifies new ways users could interact with your product.
This is what makes it different from a user experience journey; the former isolates one part of the user’s experience, whereas the latter tracks every interaction your user has with your product.
What you should include in your user journey map:
- User persona
- A specific part of the user persona’s journey you want to map
- Goals for user journey milestones: key points in the user journey, usually at the end of each task and/or stage
- Touchpoints: smaller aspects of the journey that needs to happen so the user can reach a milestone
Use a journey mapping tool to build the map once when you’re ready – various templates which can be created using quantitative or qualitative data will help you visualize touchpoints, pain points, and obstacles.
Product marketing strategy step #5: Define tactics based on objectives
User journey maps work best when you focus on a specific stage in the journey. Isolating one issue at a time will make it easier to achieve your objective.
There are various things you may want to achieve – Do you want to drive more new user acquisition? Do you want to focus on increasing retention or adoption?
Below are some examples of tactics you can try to achieve your objectives.
Product marketing strategy: Acquisition stage tactics
The acquisition stage is all about getting more customers. In the SaaS world, the goal is usually to get trials and/or demos booked.
There are two key tactics we recommend for acquiring new customers:
First, you should optimize your website for conversion, especially your landing page. Great landing pages utilize the data from user personas to offer customers CTAs alongside the information they’re looking for.
A great way to encourage a CTA is through customer incentivization – try offering customers a chance to win something if they book a trial and/or demo! People love giveaways.
Second, drive traffic with an SEO content strategy. This can be organic traffic from blogs (new content or updated and republished archived content), videos, ebooks, guides, email newsletters, or podcasts, or paid traffic to promote the content you produce and/or drive traffic to your optimized landing pages for conversion. Organic and paid social media marketing is also useful for promoting your brand and sharing your content.
Product marketing strategy: Activation stage tactics
The activation stage is the first stage of the customer lifecycle – when your user drives value from your product. Getting users to activate quickly is important because people have short attention spans – if they don’t feel like they’re getting value from your product as soon as possible, they may never return, and then you’ve lost a customer.
The activation stage is different from the “AHA moment” – the AHA moment is your user’s emotional reaction to your product’s value (for example, likes and comments on an Instagram post) and user activation is the moment your users get the value from your product.
There are two key tactics we recommend for activation:
First, build a personalized user onboarding based on the data from your user personas. While your user persona represents your ideal customer/target audience, your users are individuals.
A personalized user onboarding experience is one of the best ways of keeping your users engaged and loyal, which will help with retention and referral later on. You can personalize your user’s experience by including a welcome screen, incorporating user data throughout the user journey, and even letting customers choose their own journey.
For example, Headspace, a meditation app, allows users to select why they’re signing up (curiosity, anxiety, sleep problems) and the path the app takes them on from there is based on the reason they choose, creating a segmented and highly personal experience.
Second, use contextual email marketing to showcase value and bring users back to your app. Contextual email marketing stands out amongst the pages and pages of junk mail or ‘other’ emails in your user’s folders by using context rather than relying on demographic information alone. The whole point of contextual emailing marketing is to understand your user’s needs to create the greatest experience for them.
There are four triggers contextual email marketing uses: events, tags, scores, and milestones.
Events are user actions within the app, like logging in or adding a new debit card. Tags are labels you apply to your user’s information to track specific things, such as app behavior (opened chat support X times this month) or app engagement (using an in-app feature).
Scores help you reward user loyalty by measuring the data collected from events and tags – some apps offer points for referrals, making your user a product advocate. And finally, milestones are the points you want your user to reach – the Couch to 5k app gives users badges when they reach various distances, increasing user morale and likeliness to continue using the app.
Product marketing strategy: Adoption stage tactics
The adoption stage is all about getting users to stick around after they have activated – you can do this by providing valuable secondary features users can adopt. You can learn about this at Userpilot’s Product Adoption School.
Not only is retaining and upselling to your current users cheaper, but in a SaaS context, you have to constantly prove the value of your product to your current users so you don’t lose them.
I’d recommend really zooming in on your in-app marketing at this stage.
In-app marketing is exactly what it sounds like – marketing that takes place when the user is interacting with your app.
Users can ignore emails, but in-app marketing is harder to bypass.
It can take the form of in-app messages, which are tailored to user segments to create a personal experience; they’re also less irritating than push notifications (Duolingo are known for their push notifications, but for the wrong reasons).
It can also take the form of tooltips that promote secondary features the user isn’t getting the benefit from – for example, time-tracking app Harvest offers a CTA tip when users log in to highlight features they aren’t currently using.
Product marketing strategy: Retention stage tactics
The retention stage, like the adoption stage, is all about getting users to stick around but after they have paid their first month for your product.
You want them to continue using your product, continue paying for it and become advocates for your product. And, critically, you want to keep churn rates (the rate at which customers stop doing business with you) to a minimum. These tools can help.
We recommend two key tactics:
1. Utilize user feedback.
Understanding what your users love about your product and, more importantly, what they feel could be improved is crucial to keep them coming back month after month. One of the best ways to get user feedback is through microsurveys.
These are bite-sized surveys that can be user and context-specific. They are a quick and easy way to gather quantitative data.
You can use a five-star system to rate user experience satisfaction or a 1-10 product satisfaction rating system. You can use a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer in response to questions like ‘did you find what you needed today?’. You can be more detailed and ask questions like ‘why did you decide to leave our site?’. Answers could be ‘I didn’t find what I needed’, ‘just browsing’, or ‘I changed my mind’.
2. Use content to educate your customers through in-app self-support.
Blog posts and videos with titles like ‘Getting started with X’ and ‘Use case examples’ help users independently navigate your product; research shows retention rates are higher in businesses with a knowledge base (as high as 85%) and 55% of users are more likely to be loyal to businesses with a knowledge base.
Product marketing strategy: Referral stage tactics
The referral stage is all about creating user advocates for your product. Incentivising customers to advocate for your product within their professional and/or personal networks is an efficient way to generate leads and influence their friends, family, and colleagues on a personal level.
This is different from brand advocates, who are a select few users (usually influencers) who promote brands on a grander scale via social media.
The two best tactics for creating advocates are:
One – celebrating success and asking for reviews. You can reward advocates for successfully boosting sales with discounted offers and premium access to sales, making them more likely to advocate for you long-term and ask your advocates for honest reviews of your products. Since advocates are targeting their personal network, they will not want to promote a product they don’t like because they will feel like they are cheating their peers – asking for honest reviews will not only improve your product, but your advocate will feel like their feedback is valued, thus making them want to advocate for you again and again.
Two – account expansion. This involves encouraging users to upgrade their subscription plans, be it to a higher one or from a free to paid one. You can encourage this through in-app messaging, which I discussed in the adoption stage. Slack, one of the best examples of referral marketing, uses in-app messages to prompt its users to upgrade their subscription when they hit the ‘magic number’ – they found that if a user reached 2,000 messages, they were more likely to pay for their premium package.
Product marketing strategy step #6: Automate tasks
Automating tasks is a no-brainer. Using your user journey map, you can identify repetitive tasks that you can automate which will make your job easier; you can’t monitor your users’ behavior and new signups 24/7 so sending messages manually is not feasible. It is much more efficient to automate tasks.
Done correctly, these automated tasks will increase your user activation, product adoption, user retention, and may even lead to user advocacy.
The types of automated tasks you should focus on are welcoming new users with personalized emails with links to encourage activation and adoption, prompting users to register for demos and trails, or signing up when they visit your landing page, nudging them with onboarding messages to help them smoothly navigate your website and/or product, and sending personalized communication about offers and updates to keep your users engaged.
There are numerous SaaS marketing tools that can help you with this.
Product marketing strategy step #7: Measure and improve
The final step is measuring your results and improving your product marketing strategy
. You want to constantly improve your product, as well as increase customer activation rates, engagement levels, and user retention, and decrease churn. The best way to do it is through product experimentation.
Userpilot allows you to set goals for each of your in-app experiences and measure progress towards them.
Product roadmaps, user personas, and user journey maps are all well and good but realistically, they are educated guesses. They’re informed assumptions, not gospel; every user is an individual and will react to your product differently. Experimentation allows you to validate your assumptions by collecting data on how different kinds of users interact with your app.
A/B testing can help. A/B testing is a way of comparing two versions of a product against each other to find out which performs better. Does a certain kind of content channel generate more activation? If you experiment, you’ll know. Are your CTAs more effective in a specific part of your product? If you experiment, you’ll know. Are videos more engaging than microsurveys? If you experiment, you’ll know.
Once you have all these actionable insights, you can improve your product accordingly. Data doesn’t lie.
Check out our video on how to create experiments and A/B testing with Userpilot.
Key takeaways on building an efficient SaaS Product Marketing Strategy
- A Product Marketing Strategy is all about research, research, and research!
- Once you have collected your data, you can utilize it in the experimentation and testing stages to produce the best possible version of your product
Building an efficient SaaS product marketing strategy may feel overwhelming at first, but if you follow our 7 step guide you’ll know you’re on the right path.
Do you want to build product experiences code-free? Book a demo call with our team and get started!