With more and more SaaS startups emerging, it’s a crowded sector – competition is high.
Many vendors are building new SaaS products, whilst others are acquiring already-established SaaS companies. In 2020, worldwide software as a service sales amounted to US$156bn, with this forecasted to grow to over $300bn by 2026.
And it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular product option. SaaS products offer an alternative way of accessing software and storing files and tend to be a lot more efficient than traditional methods, with files being saved in the Cloud rather than on individual computers.
There’s no reliance on stock or supply chains, and users simply subscribe to the software (often on a monthly basis) and can cancel the subscription if they decide they no longer need it. This makes it more cost efficient than other models as there is no upfront cost – which, for software, is often very expensive – or the need to purchase additional software.
However, marketing a SaaS product can be a lot more challenging and testing than that of a conventional product or service. Promoting a product that has no physical presence and in a crowded market is what makes building brand awareness in this sector so different from any other.
Every brand claims to have the best product, the latest and most efficient growth hacks and the most actionable case studies, so how can you ensure you stand out amongst the crowd?
To successfully compete against competitors in the ever-growing digital world, the first step is to understand that PR outreach, content and SEO all work hand in hand.
Digital PR will allow you to establish a successful brand presence online through intelligent content marketing strategies, which will help you rank higher in Google by boosting your domain’s credibility.
Create and promote unique content
Often, many SaaS brands have a wealth of data and insights at their fingertips.
You’ve no doubt seen Spotify’s campaign, ‘Spotify Unwrapped’, where users receive data and insights about their own listening habits at the end of the calendar year. Spotify then conducted a great campaign which revealed the listening habits of people from around the world, with their usual tongue-in-cheek messaging.
This is a great example of how using data and insights can create a unique and engaging content piece, which creates awareness around it – a great example of how content marketing is a beneficial PR activity.
Conducting demographic market research to appeal to audiences who may not be aware of SaaS – but are likely to benefit from the products and services offered by the sector – is a way to build brand awareness. Think outside the box – target outlets that are not SaaS related.
Outreach and pitch to HR blogs with an overview of your product and how it could benefit internal communications or IT publications who can tell their audience how your software will keep professionals ahead of the game.
Tools such as Buzzsumo, Mention and Answer the Public can help with planning great content. Check out more PR and social media tools here.
Highlight your brand’s USP
Communicate to your audience and potential market what it is that sets your brand apart from its competitors – whether that is your reporting and analytical capabilities, security you offer, ease of use, cost or any other unique factor. As mentioned before, the SaaS sector is highly competitive, so establishing a strong persona for your brand is critical. It also offers you a competitive edge if a rival brand was to duplicate or improve upon your USP.
In our latest eBook, ‘The SaaS Growth Playbook 2022‘, our Experience Director, Kier Humphreys, explained: “Yours isn’t the only SaaS offering in the industry. What separates you is the narrative you build around your brand and your ability to demonstrate both the features you offer and the life-changing productivity, efficiency and life-hacks your model delivers.”
Click here to download the SaaS Growth Playbook
As well as focusing on the benefits of your product, good SaaS PR will address issues and offer guidance surrounding customer adoption and the impact it will have on their business.
Microsoft wrote this guide on how the education sector can use their chat-based workspace service for tasks such as project management, content creation and internal comms. As well as publishing this on their own domain, this would be a great piece to outreach to an education media list, securing more coverage and backlinks which will improve the domain rating of your website.
Put your people in the spotlight
The technology market is huge but you don’t need to be a sector expert to know the big names on campus – we probably all know the people behind Tesla, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon. So ask yourself: do you promote the brains behind your business?
Your employees are the backbone of your success and your best asset, and channelling their opinions and ideas to the press is a great way to showcase your SaaS brand’s personality.
It doesn’t just have to be relevant to technology either; you can use their thoughts to showcase your commitment to social responsibility and trending topics, to get your company into outlets that aren’t just specific to business models. The more people that associate your brand with thoughts that they resonate and agree with, the better.
Get involved in the conversation
Newsjacking is a PR activity that requires you to think outside the box. It’s a pretty simple yet effective way to get your brand’s name around and create exposure, but when done creatively can have remarkable results. To effectively take advantage of newsjacking, it’s key to understand how tech PR differs from other sectors and remain up-to-date with the most recent news trends.
The tech industry is fast-paced and requires marketers and PRs to promote a service rather than a physical product. These two factors are what makes SaaS PR so challenging.
When it comes to newsjacking, it’s simply a case of using breaking news to your advantage so your brand and SaaS application get noticed.
A great example of this is when Hootsuite, a social media management platform, used popular TV show, Games of Thrones, to create a timely and engaging video marketing piece. The video seamlessly links the SaaS brand and TV show with Hootsuite claiming they ‘help manage the quiet battles fought between social networks’.
Keep it simple, relevant and timely and this technique will prove to be very effective. This reactive approach can be achieved by setting up listening lists based on preferable keywords, using tools such as Google Alerts, Mention or Sprout Social, or using Google Trends data to keep an eye on what’s trending.
Fancy some exclusive insights? Our SaaS Growth Playbook was co-written with Google, using their unique search data to analyse trends in the global SaaS sector and what SaaS marketers need to know for the years ahead.
Click here to download the free SaaS Growth Playbook
SaaS PR – not just for tech sites
Although the world is becoming more and more digitised by the day, it is important not to forget about tried and trusted PR activities of the past.
Traditional PR is a still a fantastic route to distribute company news to relevant industry publications and trade outlets. Sending out a press release can target a completely different audience. It’s rare that people digest news from just one source; we take in information from blogs and social media etc., keep up to date with sector-specific publications and intake our news from reputable news sources and newspapers.
However, when working in technology – whether that’s specifically in the SaaS sector or wider – it’s a schoolboy error to think that tech campaigns = playing it safe. In software, 72% of ultimate decision makers are 21-40 years old, making them either millennials or part of Gen Z and they want to read content from a variety of outlets in a variety of forms in a way that’s engaging.
To get started on your release, whether it’s to announce a new appointment, a service offering or a success story, the most critical factor is finding an angle that will convince a journalist to cover the release. After all, if you don’t find it newsworthy, how can you expect a journalist to?
Statistics and solid facts presented in an engaging way are always appealing to journalists and readers as they provide reasoning and understanding. Data also backs up the story or argument being communicated in the press release, making it appear more official.
Whilst not specifically a SaaS company, payment company Klarna still operates within the technology space and their campaigns are witty, intelligent and often with an element of surprise.
From their branding to the types of PR that they run, Klarna is a great example of taking a topic that could potentially be seen as a “bit dry” – such as banking and financially statistics – and making it newsworthy to both B2B and B2C news outlets. For example, their campaign “Old Credit is History” is about financial credit models but delivered in an engaging way to secure maximum coverage.
Get the basics right
In such a crowded sector and market, appealing to a journalist and standing out in their inbox is challenging. Creating and promoting unique content is vital when looking to enhance market visibility and beat your competitors in securing coverage.
Make sure you are getting the word out about your SaaS brand through all channels possible as this will lead to many more opportunities. Most importantly, in terms of digital PR, coverage can lead to great backlinks, enhancing the credibility of your domain.
The key to creating great content and securing coverage is to write about topics that are going to benefit the publication’s readers. Spend time researching content that has performed well in the past on a similar topic and put your own spin on it. Creating and outreaching thought leadership style articles is also provides an ideal way to position you – and your brand – as experts in the field.
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