Service-based software companies face fierce competition. Make sure your SaaS marketing strategy is up for the challenge.

Congratulations! Your SaaS software company just hit a milestone. You officially launched, you released a big update, or made it into a glossy magazine. You’ve made it to the big time, joining the ranks of thousands of other SaaS companies. Now it’s time for an SaaS marketing strategy.

Hold on, though. Let’s back up a second. You may already have a marketing strategy, but for your SaaS company to stand out in a sea of service software companies, you need to master marketing. No problem, except for that tight budget.

The good news is that your SaaS marketing strategy doesn’t need to have a big budget to be successful. You can take advantage of an abundance of low-cost and free marketing ideas.

How to get your SaaS marketing strategy rolling

Hire a professional marketer

Even if it’s on a part-time or contract basis, one of the surest ways to stand out in a crowded field is to hire a professional to help you with marketing. A good marketer understands how to “work the room” through social media, carefully planned ad campaigns, and blogging (all of which we’ll get to in a moment).

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If your budget is extremely tight and you can’t afford to hire someone, choose someone on your team to handle your marketing until you can. Don’t make the mistake of adding on marketing duties to someone’s already overloaded plate, though. That’s a sure way to turn your marketing efforts into an afterthought, which isn’t going to help you stand out.

Use social media to meet your customers

Yes, you’ve heard it a million times. Use social media, blah, blah, blah. Well, it’s only blah, blah, blah if you misuse it. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t walk into a cocktail party, jump on the table and start yelling at everyone about how phenomenal your new software is, would you? That’s what far too many companies do on social media.

You’ll get far more quality attention if you contribute, share, and listen. Post regular, professional updates on your pages. Engage commenters in conversations either in Twitter chats, Facebook comments, or LinkedIn discussions. Here are a few additional tips to help you engage people on social media:

  • Compliment and share good ideas, even if they are from your competition.
  • Don’t make negative statements about your competitors – ever. It just makes you look bad.
  • Don’t make your comments all about you. It’s a conversation.
  • Start a Twitter chat. Keep it business-related, but interesting. You could focus on anything from customer service to sales tips. Again, be sure you are keeping it relevant to your audience – it isn’t about you.
  • Relax and have fun. Social media is social.
  • Don’t spam. You’ll annoy people. That’s not a good marketing technique.

Use ad campaigns wisely

Put the brakes on your SaaS marketing strategy if your idea of an ad is to buy billboard space in Times Square or to take out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times. That’s going to drain your marketing budget faster than you can say “Steve Jobs”, and it isn’t going to reach the audience you need.

You’ll get a much better return on your dollar if you place ads carefully and strategically. For instance, even though you’re a tech company, your customers probably aren’t in the tech industry. They’re accountants, sales professionals, real estate agents, or HR professionals. An ad in Wired isn’t going to reach them.

Connect with your audience through Google AdWords, sponsored Facebook posts, or promoted Tweets on Twitter. All of these platforms let you specify your audience and set a budget, so your advertising funds work the way you want them to.

Blog the day away

Okay, don’t actually blog the day away; you’ve got a lot to do. A blog can bring traffic to your website, though, and once you write and post it, it can continue to bring an audience to your website for years. Keep these tips in mind for your blog:

  • Keep it relevant. Your blog serves as a resource for your audience. While it might be fun to have a blog full of cute puppies, that isn’t going to help you much if your software customers are auto dealerships.
  • Blog regularly. Your blog can be an excellent marketing tool, but you’ve got to keep up with it. The more you write, the easier it will be for your customers to find you.
  • Know SEO. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one key to people finding your blog through a search engine like Google. For instance, there’s a good chance you came across this blog by searching for tips on SaaS marketing strategies.
  • Write for your audience. You aren’t going to attract new customers if you only blog about your latest software updates. Write about sales tips for sales professionals. If your audience runs a construction company write about successful contract bids or hiring temporary workers.

The takeaway

The secret behind most successful marketing is knowing and speaking to your audience. You don’t need a big budget, and you don’t need a viral hit to stand out. Stay active and professional online, target your advertising, and provide quality, useful information to your audience.

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 What marketing strategies do you use for your SaaS company? Let’s share ideas in the comments.