You need to develop a robust SaaS marketing plan – but sometimes you just need to do some quick tactical things to get the ball rolling. First, see the first part of this series SaaS Marketing Plan: 100 Places to Promote your App (Part 1)… and then read this post.
BTW, here’s a great post on some inexpensive places to Advertise (text, display, etc.) your product, which is different from what I talk about below.
Below are even more places / methods to get your product out in the wild.
SaaS Marketing Plan: Daily Deal / Bundle / Discount Sites
Most of these are really targeted at the tech / startup crowd, but there might be something like this for your market (if not, maybe that is an opportunity for you, too).
Also consider the potential impact of being associated with a “discount” service like this. AppSumo has built up a great following and positions their offers in a way that takes away the “discount” feel. But if you offer a premium service for a premium, niche crowd, these are likely not for you.
- AppSumo <== the biggest and the best, so far.
- Others have come and gone… so far those two are the only that have found a scalable and sustainable business model
What is a SaaS Marketplace?
Go where the money is. And go there often.
If you know of a place where lots of shoppers are – like the Mall – you want to be there, too.
This is the idea behind SaaS & App marketplaces, at least from the SaaS vendor perspective.
These marketplaces allow you to reach audiences you probably won’t be able to on your own, at least not economically.
Not all of these will apply to you, some will take more work than others to integrate with, some are worth it, some aren’t… do your homework but there are probably ways to do this and it could be a big boost!
Something to keep in mind is what I call the ‘psychology of intermediaries‘ on your customers.
If you are using Affiliate Marketing (and it is very likely that you should at some point), you have to understand that they send you customers.
Whether you pay them for leads, Free Trial sign-ups, or only when they become a paying customer, the fact is, the customer buys directly from you.
Even if you give the affiliate a 100% commission on the first month, or 6 months… the customer doesn’t know that.
All they know is that they’re buying directly from you.
On the flip-side, marketplaces (often) sell on your behalf; customers buy from the marketplace and then use your product.
Your relationship with the customer is different and you need to be aware of that.
This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, just something to be aware of.
You also need to fully understand the scope of the financial relationship with the marketplace partner to know whether they’ll take a cut of your upsells, downsells, or cross-sells, and plan accordingly.
But also plan for the fact that the customer is not yours (psychology again), but is your marketplace partner’s.
SaaS Marketing Plan: Marketplaces / App Stores
- Google App Marketplace
- Chrome Store
- Intuit App Center
- Clickbank – a marketplace that enables Affiliate Marketing, too!
- JVZoo – Relatively new; similar to Clickbank but some unique features
- Microsoft Azure SaaS Marketplace
- And others coming online all the time
SaaS Marketing Plan: 3rd Party Integrations
Lots of independent web apps are creating APIs and their own directories of integration partners; what we would refer to as an ecosystem play.
These app or vendor-specific marketplaces can be a great alternative to the mass-appeal, horizontal, noise-filled marketplaces like Google Apps Marketplace.
(Google Apps Marketplace could actually be placed in this category, but I put it under marketplace simply due to its reach)
Your time and resources might be better spent focused on integrating with a smaller app where you’re more likely to be discovered than with integrating with Google Apps, for example, where there is a lot more competition.
Some companies, like Evernote, only allow their integration partners to advertise in-app to their users. This makes sense; only give access to their user base to companies that will INCREASE the usage of their system by driving people back to Evernote.
By the way, several of my clients are integrated with – and advertise with – Evernote and I’ve heard only good things about the results so far.
The key is to know your customers and know what adjacent products they already use… and go there. Here are a handful of links to get you started….
You might have to dig to find where to sign-up or to become an integration partner.
- Amazon Web Services
- Constant Contact
The secret to using integrations with other apps – aside from going where you target audience already exists – is to create a marketing campaign around that integration. Work with the other vendor to ensure you get visibility in their marketing, do joint or co-promotion, send people to a specific landing page on your site that references the vendor you’re partnering with, etc. Just like any worthwhile initiative, these integrations require work… but they can be quite lucrative if done correctly.
SaaS Marketing Plan: Cloud Connectors / API Aggregators
There are several companies building ways for SaaS / Cloud Apps to talk to each other as well as on-premises Software. Don’t look at those as simply providers of functionality… look at those as distribution opportunities for your app!
Joint Ventures w/ Adjacent / Complimentary products
These are just some ideas of how to work with other – complementary Apps – outside of formal “integrations” as a way of getting your name in front of the right crowd.
- Get a link during their sign-up process (and give a link, too)
- Get mentioned during email campaigns, post-signup activation, etc.
- Do cross-promotions / bundles / cross-sells
- Find someone to mail out for you… someone who is a trusted advisor to your target market
Mailing Lists / Blogs / Expert “Endorsements”
- Get mentioned by users / customers on social networks being awesome
- Give incentives to mention you (credits, cash, awards, etc.)
- Get on Mixergy.com by being awesome (applies to founders, mostly; and get someone else to pitch for you!)
- Get a guest post on KISSMetrics by being awesome
- Get mentioned by top analysts – both horizontal and in your vertical – by helping them
- Offer to be a case study for the analysts
- It might be worth buying a strategy or coaching session with someone and then offering to be a case study / testimonial for them if it gets you access to their crowd
Analyst Reminder: Remember that this only matters if their audience is YOUR audience, too!
- Get mentioned or featured in industry rags by being awesome and connecting with industry insiders
Industry magazines are still very prevalent, and many still employ an offline – print – component that are read by the people you want to sell your product to. Don’t assume since you’re an online business that working with an “old school” tree-killing publication is counter-intuitive.
You go where your audience is. When you watch TV you see ads for web business. Listen to the radio, same thing. Print magazines have URLs for you to type in or QR codes… Now I know, you probably don’t have a TV, only listen to Spotify and NPR online and only consume your daily news on your iPad. Awesome. Go back and read the part about how you’re not your customer!
Look, there are still industry rags that are very influential. Talk to folks in your target market(s) and find out what the trusted pubs are that they read and then reach out to write an article for them. If they won’t let you because they don’t know you, find a highly-respected person in the industry and see if you can create an article jointly / attach their name to it.
The same publication might want/require you to advertise in the magazine, which isn’t bad. This just reinforces the brand elsewhere in the magazine. You can probably extend that ad to their website and sponsor events.
Then you can leverage other industry pubs/websites for ads. Then use retargeting if possible to show your ad as those people browse around – reinforcing your brand even more. Now you’ve built your brand from the ground up within that industry and you’ve become respected and trusted along the way. Super simple, right? 😉
This obviously takes time, money, money, and resources – and money – since repetition is key, but the content/expertise part of this strategy will shorten it and make your brand stronger if done correctly.
So… how do you “be awesome?”… think about your Customer and WIIFT – What’s In It For Them.
How can you help them somehow? Make that happen.
My Awesome Disclaimer
There are only a few of these sites that I am really familiar with, and even then I’m just giving you the links, not vouching for them. Use them at your own risk and read their Terms of Service & Privacy policies really well (probably always a good idea).
There are a few links above that are affiliate links… meaning if you give them money for something – a listing, a book, etc. – I’ll get a cut. But all that means is that I am more confident in their abilities or the content of the book, program, etc. as I would never promote for a fee anything I don’t believe in. Still, you should do your homework and make your decisions based on your own due diligence. Cool?
Also, you should look into creating an affiliate program so people will promote your stuff for you. See my post on Affiliate Marketing for SaaS & Web Apps for more info.