How Are SaaS Apps Getting Found?

by Richard

How-Are-SaaS-Getting-Found-One of the big challenges for any early-stage SaaS is getting found in the sea of other SaaS and technology advances happening daily.

You could be using every possible SEO technique for your website, but SEO alone isn’t going to bring in enough of the right kind of customers in the amount of time you have before funding dries up.

One of the important points to consider in your SaaS marketing is that you want your distribution to be based on the best possible strategies to reach those who fit the profile of your ideal client. You want to be able to target first the areas where those clients hang out so that you’re not wasting time on ineffective strategies. One of your first steps before diving into any marketing is to create those persona/s. Even if you are pressed for time, doing a thorough job of identifying your target persona will be worth it so you aren’t wasting time targeting the wrong areas.

So, once you have those personas sorted, how are you going to reach the right prospects? Here are some of the most effective strategies that SaaS are using right now;

App Directories

There are a multitude of directories out there, but some are better quality than others. Lincoln Murphy wrote about 50 places to promote your app (and then 50 more), but one of the gems to take out of his piece is this “protip”;

app-directories

So, keep those “non-tech” places in mind, but make sure you’re found in the better directories too. As he points out, going through the process of completing all those submission forms will also help you refine your value proposition.

Where to begin? In a scouting various SaaS owners on the web, these directories come up often as being the most useful;

  • Angel.co
  • AlternativeTo.net
  • AppAppeal.com
  • Capterra.com
  • Crunchbase.com
  • FeedMyApp.com
  • GetApp.com
  • G2Crowd.com
  • LaunchingNext.com
  • ReadySaaSGo.com
  • SaaSDirectory.com

There are obviously hundreds of other options available, but those listed have been mentioned often and positively.

[tweetthis]Are app directories the best way to reach your clients? Think about where they can be found.[/tweetthis]

Get Featured

Everyone’s trying to get featured on Product Hunt’s homepage, and while that’s awesome if you succeed, it’s not easy getting chosen since they’re pitched by so many startups. They’re definitely still a good option to try, but in the meantime you should also try to get yourself featured on other sites too.

Groove found that TechCrunch was just as difficult to get featured on, but by reaching out to a number of other outlets (they share their list here), they were soon featured in other places.

Check out that list (which may be a little dated) and come up with your own list of sites to pitch for your SaaS. The best ones to get featured on have these characteristics;

  • Your target audience reads them (so not necessarily just other SaaS or tech-types; your accounting app could be featured on a popular finance or small business blog, for example).
  • They have established a good reputation and are getting strong traffic.
  • They somehow logically relate to you (for example, it could be the blog of a well-known app that you integrate with).

Content

We’re not just talking here about the content on your blog or what you give away as a lead magnet; you need content that goes further than your website to reach a broader audience. Apart from getting yourself featured on other’s websites as discussed previously, get your content up yourself in other places where your target audience can be found.

Free

Free sites that draw a lot of visitors are great, especially if you’ve got a shoestring marketing budget. The downside is that you’ll need to work hard to stand out above everyone else on those sites.

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Some free tactics to try:

  • Publishing posts on LinkedIn.
  • Creating engaging SlideShare presentations.
  • Publishing posts on Medium.
  • Video on Vimeo or YouTube, or even quick Vine clips.
  • Posts on Tumblr.
  • Creating and curating collections on Scoop.it.
  • Quora. Answer any questions which relate to something your content covers and post a link to your content in your answer.
  • Syndicate on Business2Community, Bizsugar, B2B Marketing Zone or any other relevant syndication blog.

Paid

There are a number of paid options for boosting your content to a wider audience. You could go the route of sponsored posts on social media platforms (stick to the ones you’ve identified to be the most likely places to find your desired customer), or you could go for paid content distribution through one of the many networks which are now available.

Paid content distribution via a content distribution network (CDN) involves chosen posts from your blog appearing in the “from around the web” or “you may be interested in these” sections which you often find at the bottom of popular blogs. Your post could appear on Huffington Post, CNN, USA Today or a number of other popular sites which allow them in return for revenue from the CDN. If this sounds like something for you, check out Taboola, Outbrain or nRelate which are three of the most popular CDNs.

Partnerships

No SaaS is an island, and you don’t have to do it all on your own. An established partner is a great way of amplifying your reach and broadening your market. You get to leverage their better-known name, larger network and potentially greater sales and marketing resources. A partner could be;

  • An app that yours integrates with.
  • A SaaS who is not in direct competition with you but whose audience is similar to yours. This is especially good if your products are complementary.
  • Channel partners. These are partners who are trained in your product and resell it for their own profit (HubSpot is well-known for this).

Insight Squared describes the following partnership types;

insight-squared

However you decide to establish a partnership relationship, there should be value in it for both sides in order for it to be successful. What is the incentive for your partner to advocate for you?

Email Campaigns

In its simplest form, a partnership could involve someone with a large email list recommending your product to their clients. Lincoln Murphy put together some excellent guidelines on what to do with partnership email campaigns.

It is important in this situation that you establish the goals of your campaign and give some real thought to who you are targeting on their list. What level of membership do they have with your partner? What will appeal to them in terms of benefits and price?

Offers

You could consider offering a deal on a site which offers “daily deals” to visitors. AppSumo is one with a large following who regularly offer deals on products they like themselves. Note that as this write-up from Clickminded states, their clientele are used to being offered a reasonable discount, so things will work out better if you’re prepared to do that.

Of course, AppSumo takes a significant share in the profits of the deal in return, but the benefits of getting a big boost in exposure are the payoff you’re looking for. Deals run for a limited time, but if customers like what they got from you, your SaaS gets talked about and referred to long after the deal is over.

Channel Partnerships

As a general rule, channel partnerships are much more complex to set up, so if you’re at a really early stage, they may be better left until later, when you’re more established and prepared to handle the work involved.

Authorized resellers of your product need to be well-versed in how it works and enabled to resell with the right kind of content and sales materials or mechanisms. Programs generally require structure with a clear path to the benefits for your partner, which takes time to flesh out.

New Breed Marketing suggests you consider these items when deciding if a channel partnership is right for your SaaS;

channel-partnership

Successful channel partnerships re

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an dedicate someone to managing channel partnerships – if you’re not responsive or easy to deal with, the partner will probably write the whole thing off as too difficult. This is why channel partnerships tend to be better when you’ve already built momentum behind your SaaS and have the time required to establish them properly.

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Final Thoughts

There are a number of different ways to get your SaaS found which we haven’t covered in this article; paid advertising, content marketing on your website and networking/presenting at events, among others.

The four methods covered here are some of the more effective ways to get your SaaS in front of a larger audience in a shorter amount of time. They are tried and tested by other SaaS with good results.

One of the key things to remember, especially if you are short on time, is to first target the places which are most likely to reach your target audience. Reach is good, but it’s pointless if you’re not reaching the right people.

When you’re an early stage SaaS, moving early to improve your reach will be crucial to secure the growth you need before funds run dry. Try out some of these methods and we’d be interested to know, what has worked the best to get your SaaS found?

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