7 Proven Ways to Grow Your SaaS Business

Dayana Mayfield


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SaaS products are essential for daily professional and entrepreneurial life. 99% of businesses use at least one SaaS solution. 

This year alone, SaaS spending is predicted to grow 18%.

Regardless of your industry, there’s like a lot of demand for your product that you’re not capturing yet.

Maybe your ideal users are relying on competitor products, or in-direct solutions like spreadsheets or cobbled-together teck stacks. 

Either way, it’s up to you to grow your SaaS using proven methods. 

In this guide, we offer smart SaaS business tips to help you grow your user base and revenue.

1. Continuously optimize product-market fit

Stay focused on the problem you’re solving, the value you provide, and your best customers.

Don’t get swayed by new ideas or even new potential markets if they have the chance to alienate your current customer base before it’s even established.

The closer you can get to your customers (through regular interactions) the more you’ll be reminded of the real value you provide. 

Product-market fit is an intricate dance. You should be continuously defining your product vision and honing in your ideal user.

During prototyping, beta testing, and launching, and then years later when you’re scaling, you’ll be tempted by new ideas. You’ll want to create awesome new features that you think are important. 

But unless dozens of customers, beta users, or prospects explicitly ask you to build these features, you should not build them. Popular social media scheduling tool Buffer had to cut 10 employees after building expensive new features and apps based on guesses. It later turned out there was no new revenue to be made with the add-ons.

In order to succeed, you need to validate new concepts, features, and products before you build. There are several ways to do this.

  1. Launch a minimalist landing page to collect interested participants and test what they’re willing to pay.

  2. Interview 10 - 30 people who match your ideal customer, show them your feature prototype, get their feedback, and ask how important that feature is.

  3. Send a survey to 50 - 500 people to validate that they have the problem your new feature solves, and ask what price range they would pay for software that solves it.

By keeping your product on track with target user demands, you’ll have more money to invest in growth initiatives. You’ll also be more likely to retain current users and turn those users into brand ambassadors who love recommending your product to others.

how to grow your saas business

2. Plan for virality

SaaS products with built-in virality can go from little-known companies to household names (at least in the professional world) practically overnight. 

The built-in virality comes when users share links with non-users. 

If possible, try to build in some sort of sharing functionality so users can help you grow your user base simply by using your product. 

Here are the top examples of SaaS products with built-in virality:

  • Loom - Loom is a video and screen-recording tool that went viral as online workers all over the world started using it to share feedback and instructions in an asynchronous manner. The virality is built in because users share their video URLs with non-users, many of whom sign up.

  • Canva - As one of the most popular graphic design platforms, Canva has excelled with their thousands and thousands of free online templates. Users share their in-progress designs with collaborators via sharing links, which helped the product go viral. Also, many creators develop Canva templates as their online offers, and so people will sign up after purchasing them. 

  • Clearscope - Not all viral SaaS products need to be as mass-market as Loom and Canva. Niche products can get a boost from this viral strategy as well. For example, Clearscope is an SEO content optimization tool that has become very popular as content marketing agencies and in-house content managers have shared brief URLs with writers.

If your product truly does not have viral potential, fear not. There are other ways to encourage word-of-mouth sharing.

Here’s how to grow your SaaS without link-sharing:

  • Side project marketing - You can grow your SaaS company by creating a free “side project” that is highly sharable, like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. For best results, host it on your main website and use it to enroll more free trial users. 

  • Product-led backlinks - Sometimes, SaaS products don’t have link-sharing as a common user activity, but users do embed code on their websites. For example, Curator is a social media aggregator that makes it easy to embed your social feed on your site. When using the free plan, the embed code includes a “Powered by Curator” link. These backlinks increase the site’s domain rank and boost search engine rankings.

  • Affiliate programs - If the above virality tips don’t apply to your SaaS business, try launching an affiliate program. Teachable has one of the most successful affiliate programs of any SaaS companies, because many creators teach people how to launch online course businesses. Affiliates earn a 30% commission for the first year.

  • Referral programs - Unlike affiliate programs, people don’t get a portion of each sale, but rather a reward for who they refer. This option is good for SaaS companies whose users aren’t business coaches or online creators. Ubindi, a platform for yoga teachers and small studios, has a referral program. Users get a $10 credit for every teacher they refer.

3. Update your pricing

One of the best ways to grow a SaaS business is to update your pricing. 

Too many SaaS companies are modeling themselves after horizontal products (those that serve every industry) and launching freemium business models even when it doesn’t fit. 

A freemium model can be detrimental to your SaaS business if done wrong. For the most part, the only SaaS businesses that can afford to offer a free forever plan are those with a massive addressable market. Freemium should be seen as acquisition model, a way to market your business. For products that can be potentially used by businesses of any industry or size, freemium is a way to experience rapid growth.

However, for most SaaS companies, freemium means you run the risk of satiating users in your much smaller addressable market, meaning you’ve shrunk your pool of potential customers even further. 

Most SaaS companies should instead offer free trials, or if there addressable market is quite small and the product is hard to set up alone, they should only offer annual contracts with no software trials.

What should you charge when you’re building a SaaS business? The answer is: whatever fewer than 20% of your prospects object to.

You’ll always have pricing objections, but when you’re in the early stages, you don’t want price to ruin too many potential deals.

Customer research, surveys, and feedback during sales calls can all inform what price to use. 

SaaS companies will stick to the same prices for too long. So don’t be afraid to raise your pricing every couple of years.

4. Use consumer-style branding 

One of the best ways to ensure that your growth and marketing tactics will be successful is to create a stand-out brand. 

Let’s face it. Too many SaaS companies are relying on the same messaging and boring graphic design styles. 

To stand out in crowded markets, you need to quite literally stand out.

B2B SaaS companies with consumer-style branding and informal messaging get better results with their content campaigns and advertisements than companies whose branding blends in. 

Of course, you still want to make sure that your brand speaks to your target audience. 

Lavender is a great example of this. The AI email-writing platform helps sales people craft cold outreach and follow-ups twice as fast as writing from scratch. 

lavendar email ai

Salespeople tend to be go-getters with a lot of energy, so Lavendar’s bold branding really speaks to them.

5. Master cold outreach

When scaling your SaaS, it’s easy to get sucked into fancy funnels, campaigns, hacks, strategies, and tactics.

But for most successful SaaS companies, they get their initial customers—and the bulk of their continued growth—through cold outreach, namely cold emailing, cold calling, and cold DMs on LinkedIn.

While your competitors are busy with ineffective strategies and shiny object syndrome, your company can focus on reaching out directly to ideal customers.

Here’s how to take your cold sales strategy to the next level:

  • Upskill sales development representatives and incentivize them for delivering leads to account executives

  • Open up sales offices in key locations so you have boots on the ground for local phone calls and in-person meetings

  • Hire salespeople who can use the native language of the countries and markets you’re expanding into

  • Continuously test new messaging across your cold outreach channels

  • Pay attention to the cold outreach that gets you to respond and learn from it. 

6. Scale with paid ads

Acquisition costs are rising, and paid advertising is a dangerous game for a startup with little to no revenue. You shouldn’t start blowing money on ads right away. 

But when you’re looking to grow your SaaS business, you need to invest in highly scalable marketing methods. And that’s where advertising comes in. 

Digital advertising comes down to a few main formats:

  • Search ads - All SaaS companies can benefit from search ads because you make your keyphrase criteria as narrow or broad as you like, depending on your budget. Only target bottom-of-funnel keyphrases like “interior design business software” or go for top-of-funnel keyphrases as well and use them to promote your content. For niche SaaS companies that serve a particular vertical, search engine ads placed on Google and Bing tend to outperform social media ads. 

  • Social media ads - You can also run ads on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and other platforms. When it comes to these types of ads the audience-platform matchup is everything. You need to only advertise where you’re sure your ideal user hangs out. These ads work best for freemium SaaS companies that can direct traffic straight to their free account or free trial offers. However, enterprise B2B SaaS companies can benefit from driving traffic to their high-value content like reports, templates, and guides. 

  • Display ads - And lastly, we have display ads. These types of ads show up on blogs and digital publications. They cost less per click than the options above and receive a lot more impressions. It can be hard for B2B companies to accurately target new users with this tactic, but this strategy is perfect for retargeting people who have clicked on your other ads or engaged with your website in some way. 

7. Go all in on content and SEO

Inbound marketing promises more leads at a lower cost. However, it can take a while to get up and running with inbound marketing and start seeing results.

All in all, here are the top content formats to consider:

  • SEO blogs and landing pages - Search engine optimization is the key driver of traffic and customer acquisition for many SaaS companies. If you aren’t prioritizing SEO, you better believe your competitors are. The best formats for SEO content are how-to blogs, listicle blogs, and feature landing pages. 

  • Content opt-ins - In the B2B space, content opt-ins are essential for growth. You can create industry reports with proprietary content, ebooks, guides, templates, calculators, and other content formats. Require that people give up their email address in exchange for the content. Depending on your sales model, you can then trigger automated email marketing campaigns or pass leads over to the sales department. 

  • Social posts - Organic social media posts should be crafted exclusively for that channel, whether that’s short-form videos, images, or text-based content. Make sure to hire experienced content creators or a social media agency, because social media content requires unique skillsets and talents to be effective. 

  • Courses - You can also create free courses and academies. Many online courses cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If you can produce similar content and offer it for free, you can win over your target audience. 

  • Virtual events - Virtual events are a great way to grow your SaaS business. Help your target audience stay up to date with the latest strategies and tactics in your industry. Virtual events are relatively inexpensive to produce and can be a huge draw. They also give you time-sensitive content for your paid advertising campaigns, allowing for better conversion rates than standard opt-ins. 

If you’re growing a new SaaS startup, begin with one channel. Depending on your industry and product, this could be LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, or a blog. Most likely, you’ll want to choose SEO-focused blog content to begin, but for some niches, specific social platforms are a better start. 

If you have a decent marketing budget, make sure to prioritize organic SEO. There’s a lot of chatter online about how AI will make SEO obsolete, but that’s simply untrue. Google is actually penalizing AI content, and is instead prioritizing content with tons of details, examples, images, tables, etc. 

Great content is really about solving problems for your target audience. 

No matter your industry, your target audience needs to stay informed on industry changes and continuously improve their own performance. Create content that helps them do so. 

If you have a very small budget, you might be better off creating organic content for LinkedIn instead of trying to create content on your blog and then promote it on social media. Animalz has an awesome article on why content promotion isn’t what most people think. 

content promotion infographic

The truth is that each content channel has its own best format. 

So, you’re better off optimizing content for each channel. Think of it as repurposing instead of promoting. 

If you’re scaling an established SaaS business, focus on the quality of the content and become the go-to authority in your niche. Create high-quality courses, industry reports, and virtual events that newer competitors don’t have the bandwidth for. 

You’ll make your brand more credible and become a source for education, even among industry professionals that aren’t using your product yet. The psychological principle of reciprocity means that when your target audience is positively impacted by your content, they’ll be more likely to share it with others, refer your business, and sign up as a paying customer .

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