The SaaS market is expected to become a 220 billion dollar industry by 2022. Companies in a wide range of B2B industries see tremendous success, so opportunities are abundant, even if the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a more cautious approach by some startups.
However, with older and more established SaaS companies taking control of their market, breaking through and building an audience is becoming increasingly difficult, with a staggering 92% of SaaS startups failing within three years, even with funding.
Many factors contribute to the failure rate, but a lot of them can be traced back to the SaaS launch phase, which usually sets the stage for how the company is going to perform.
So don’t let your ideas turn into yet another SaaS business for sale and focus on what you can do to succeed. Because the launch phase plays such a critical role in whether a SaaS startup will make it or break it, let’s look at the most important aspects of carrying it out, and what pitfalls you should avoid if you want to maximize your chances, both in the short and long term.
Make Sure Your Idea is Viable
Launching a SaaS business consists of countless tasks, which will often take months to execute. However, before you can even begin the process, you’ll need to figure out whether your idea is even worth pursuing in the first place.
As mentioned before, there’s an abundance of SaaS companies operating in most industries, so if you’re going to be in a position to succeed, you will need to have an idea for a service that is somehow different from everyone else.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you need to come up with a completely new idea, as that can be almost impossible. But it does mean that while the basic service can be similar to what others are doing, you need to have a strong and persuasive reason for why current users of other solutions should switch to you.
And the good news is, there are multiple ways how you can do that.
One of the most straightforward approaches is to figure out how you can build on what everyone else is doing. Perhaps your solution could be more effective? Or maybe it could be easier to use?
Sometimes, even a seemingly simple feature can be all that’s needed to break into a competitive market, given that it is important to the audience that you’re catering to.
If you can’t bring anything new to the table, you could consider trying to lower your margins and offer a better price. That can work for bringing over new customers initially, but you’ll need to make sure that you can sustain your pricing model in the long run if you don’t want to risk not having enough cash flow to sustain the business.
Finally, make sure that you don’t rely on your own judgment and actually verify your ideas with the help of your target audience. Talk with people that you think your solution can help, ask them about what they are currently using, and try to explain the main idea behind your product.
Seeing how they respond will provide you with invaluable insights about whether your product will be useful and different enough to warrant making the switch.
Figure Out Your Target Audience
Once you know that your idea is viable, you’ll need to figure out who you’ll be selling it to. Getting in the mind of B2B SaaS customers is essential because it’s the only way to make sure that your product and your messaging are consistent with what your audience expects.
Matching up the audience with the product that you have is probably the most crucial aspect of the SaaS product launch since marketing to the wrong audience can make even a truly great product a total failure.
Start with a basic idea of a group of people that would find your solution useful, and then hammer out the details about who they are, what they do, what their problems are, where they hang out online, and anything else that you might find relevant.
Once again, talking to the people you plan on selling to is crucial, as it will provide you with countless insights about what they look for in SaaS solutions, how they approach making a buying decision, and how they prefer to learn about what the product does.
While this process does take time, if you are thorough and develop a detailed avatar of who you want to target, that will serve as a basis for all future decisions. It will allow you to make the most out of the resources that you have available, and run laser-targeted marketing campaigns, maximizing your ROI.
Figure Out Your Funding Options
Deciding on a funding strategy for your SaaS launch is one of the most important decisions that you’ll make. Should you try to bootstrap your way through the launch to maintain maximum independence? Or do you want to have more flexibility and give your business the best chance of success by getting funding that will provide you with more opportunities for product development and marketing?
Well, there isn’t a definite answer to these questions, and a lot of it will depend on where you currently are in your product development phase. If you already have a minimum viable product (MVP), it might be a good idea to launch on your own and see how far you can grow the company before you need outside funding.
But if you’re still in developmental stages and need a financial injection to keep going, seeking investors can give you a much-needed breathing room and ensure that the product you eventually come up with is the best possible version that you can create.
If you do choose to seek funding, it’s essential to consider the different SaaS funding options that are available. If you can get a committed investor to stand behind you, they may not only provide you with resources but also contribute their knowledge and their vast network of connections, making the launch process much easier.
Set Up a Bulletproof Marketing Funnel
No matter how you look at it, the success of your startup will ultimately depend on how well you can attract and convert prospective customers. The steps that we discussed above are all vital, but they need to translate into an effective marketing strategy if you’re going to achieve the results that you want.
Before putting together the funnel itself, you will need to develop a central hub for your online presence and create a website. One of the biggest SaaS marketing challenges is fierce competition. The good news is, there are plenty of conversion-focused web design solutions out there, some of which are designed specifically for the SaaS industry, providing you with a proven framework to work with.
However, you will still need to perform competition research, find out what your audience responds to, and implement changes on your website based on the data and feedback you received throughout the launch.
Another crucial aspect of setting up a funnel is having a way to capture and engage your leads. There are plenty of email marketing solutions out there, but since you’ll likely deal with leads from a wide range of sources, including direct outreach, subscriptions, and referrals, opting for a straightforward and convenient solution might make the most sense.
If you don’t want to spend time familiarizing yourself with the functionality and the interface of specialized email marketing solutions, you could opt for a Gmail mail merge extension, which allows you to send mass emails to customizable lists from your Gmail account.
Importing lists is as simple as clicking a button on a Google Sheet, so you’ll save time and have a simple system that doesn’t have a steep learning curve.
Once you have leads in your funnel, you’ll need a way to track performance and optimize your campaigns so that you can get the most out of every single prospective customer that you attract.
Luckily, there are plenty of paid and free tracking solutions that will help you create more personalized campaigns that will not only improve your results but will also provide more value to your audience.
Launching a successful SaaS product is not easy. With competition in most markets rising every year, companies must thoroughly execute their launch strategy if they want to put themselves in the best position to succeed.
But if you take the time to evaluate your idea, zero in on your target audience, and figure out how you’re going to attract funding and prospective customers, you can avoid some of the most common pitfalls and make the right choices every step of the way.