Give Your Startup a Boost with Partnership Marketing

partnership marketing for startups

Life as a startup can be riddled with pains and demoralising processes. Audience building can be one of these. Unfortunately, it’s an essential part of any business’ marketing activities. Audience growth costs time and money – often delivering an underwhelming result. Thankfully, there’s a secret weapon to boosting your brand’s reach exponentially. Partnership marketing could … Read more Give Your Startup a Boost with Partnership Marketing

11 Tips For SaaS Startup Marketing

Our friends over at www.findmyworkspace.com share some amazing tips on how to improve your marketing efforts if you own a startup software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup.

The SaaS startups industry has a projected growth rate of 19.5% annually. Although the market for such is also projected to grow fast, it also goes without saying that competition in this industry is stiff and relatively fast-paced.

saas startup marketing

It gets even harder to convince people to go past the free trial stage of your product if they know they’ll get similar services  for free elsewhere. As the owner, how can you possibly keep up with the competition and up-sell your services to customers?

Here, we give you 11 tips for SaaS startup marketing.

1. Nurture leads and inactive customers through emails

Email marketing is an effective way to reach out to your customers especially for those who are into the business-to-business (B2B) industry. Email communication is personal, but not too intrusive like how social media can be, and because of that, it is perfect for software-as-a-services startups.

Leads are customers who either signed up for your services or downloaded a free e-book from you but are still basically undecided to whether or not pay for your service.

These are your potential customers. They may need a little push to convince them that your product is worth the buck. It wouldn’t hurt to do a follow-up by dropping them an email, ask them if they are still interested, or offer them a trial package to help them get started with your service.

Inactive customers however are those who have already made use of your software. In one way or another, they managed to disappear or stopped their subscription along the way. It wouldn’t hurt if you send them a follow-up email. You can ask them what has gone wrong, and offer ways to renew the service.

2. Focus on inbound or content marketing

People look for information online. If you could successfully provide information about your industry or niche, or offer tips, guidelines and how-tos that would be useful to your target market, then you are on the right track towards getting more organic leads.

You can do inbound and content marketing through frequent blogging, e-books, white papers, or even through other types of media such as webinars and podcasts. You should definitely get benefit of this, as it could also help you become an authority in your industry. It means, more leads, more customers in the end.

Don't forget to read our blog post about 25 tips for content marketing for beginners, if you are new to content marketing.

3. Make sure your service can be easily accessed everywhere

Offering a free trial is great to get leads. However, it may not be enough to keep them using your service. You need make sure your software service fits your customers' needs and usage patterns.

Do remember that your market may have specific needs. So if you are targeting people on-the-go, then it’s best to have a mobile app version along with an online web version.

4. Forge partnerships with industry-influencers or referrers

This could also be part of your inbound marketing plan. If your software is fairly new to the market, you need important partnerships to gain extra leverage or exposure to gain more leads and customers.

You need to start looking out for websites, bloggers, or industry-experts from your niche and try to establish a relationship with them. If done successfully, these partners can feature your services in their pages and in return, you may offer them an incentive or a free pass to your service.

This tip may not be easy to apply for your SaaS startup but if you can manage to do it somehow, it could be very fruitful.

5. Be more engaging and responsive to leads and customers

Nowadays, businesses that incorporate a personal touch in their services are greatly appreciated and recommended by its customers.

Have you ever heard of word of mouth? Right, it is very important and if you could keep your connection with your customers, you can benefit a lot from word of mouth. Remember, you also need to have a very good product.

Don't forget, your Software as a service startup may be overwhelming for beginners and for people who are still adjusting to its use and overall potential. Make sure customers have a way of contacting you whenever they need your assistance. It would be best if it is either through email or live chat.

6. Position yourself as an authority or expert in your niche

As we have mentioned already, part of your content marketing plan is to position yourself as a reliable expert in your field. If people can’t trust your expertise, how do you expect them to patronise your services?

Make sure to keep yourself updated with the latest trends and developments of your niche, so your customers would learn and be informed from you too.

7. Develop new ways to improve your service

This is more of product development, but new additions and features to your software as a service can be a tool to reel back in those inactive leads and customers in the past.

New additions and improvements to your service may also increase the chances of existing customers to retain your services. You should also keep updated your customer about your new features via email as well.

8. Take note of your client’s journey

More often than not, Software as a Service startups are conceived with a purpose in mind, and that usually involves making its users achieve a more efficient system in their business or personal dealings.

The job does not stop at providing said software, it also includes making sure that your clients actually get the results they wanted. When they get results, it means that your software is working. When it’s working, they will continue using it.

For that reason, you client’s journey is also important. You can take note of the problem areas that they are struggling with, and offer them tips and guides that you may have prepared from your inbound and content marketing efforts.

9. Provide incentives to long-term clients

It’s great when most of your clients have been with you for quite some time, but it does not mean that these existing relationship should not be nurtured.

Once in a while, you also need to make them feel appreciated by offering incentives and special offers. You can do this through discounts, free upgrades or free add-ons.

Don't forget you have already spent a lot of effort to get those customers, do not lose them.

10. Generate new leads through paid ads

Content Marketing through direct and organic means may take some time to establish. If you want to jumpstart your exposure, paid channels like Google Adwords and Facebook ads can be useful. This may entail significant costs, but if it is done correctly, it could guarantee immediate results.

11. Make it sharable to social media and emails

Good old word of mouth is still an effective marketing tactic. Aside from personal promotions and referrals from industry-experts, customer referrals are also great ways to attract more leads.

Encourage customers to talk about your stuff by creating a widget or a mini about page that can be easily shared through social media pages or email or chat conversations.

The first step towards creating an effective SaaS startup marketing campaign is by making sure that you and your team collaborate well enough. Collaboration can help you determine which areas could be unique selling points for your service, which areas should still be improved on, and how to reach out to your target market more effectively. So, plan ahead your SaaS startup marketing strategy.

10 Simple Ways You Can Make Your Startup Marketing Plan Great

startup marketing plan - blogging

You definitely need a different startup marketing plan. The world has changed a bit. There are new businesses lined up with increased competition everywhere. The businesses need to be different as well as unique. However, the stress is upon the startup’s marketing plan.

The world will know your startup through your marketing and advertisement. The marketing plans are the earliest things to be concerned about your business. Even before your startup technical development plan.

You need to publish your work, advertise your products and promote your business. The business you are doing will for a particular type of users and consumers, so how they will get the idea that you exist. Your existence needs to be published, make available to ideas that has not been done before.

Here are 10 simple but effective ways that can help you make your startup marketing plan:

10. Position Yourself

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 10.39.27

Where do you actually exist? Your need proper strategic positioning of your business. There are various theories that have been used for positioning strategies. A startup business is positioned when it has to take actions for the startup marketing plans. The business must be launched properly telling the world that you exist. You must launch your products while targeting for proper customers. Your target market has to be considered first before you decide your next step.

Customers and Users

The startup marketing plans usually depend on the positioning exercise that makes your product and services to be considered in the best category. Who are your customers and what will be their privileges? You must know that who will buy your product. Why they buy them from you? This helps you to plan your startup marketing well.

9. Develop Your Brand

startup marketing plan - develop your brand

You need to develop your brand. A brand is everything these days. Your name, our logo, your aims, motifs and particular trademarks will help you able to become one of a different kind. A brand development is the most important need of a startup marketing plan.

Think out of the box

As a result, it will stand out of other products in the similar market and business. You must start your business like you are already a billionaire. Do not think small, thinking big will make you big one day ultimately. Your branding will be done for once; there will be no coming back or regretting later.

8. Be Available Online and Everywhere

startup marketing plan - online availability

When you are starting a brand, you must be available online and be eveywhere. In these years, when the world demands everything on the internet, you must not let go of yourself without being present on the Internet.

Plan

First of all, you are deciding for a startup marketing plan that you cannot just let go the Internet. You have to give information about your business, and your brand on the Internet as in this digital world. The targeted customers or your business users will find you on the Internet first. If you are available, it’s good. Otherwise, your market will probably suffer miserable and be affected negatively.

7. Blog for Your Startup (Tips)

startup marketing plan - blogging

When you are available online, you need to know about the rules of the Internet. However, the Internet is not as friendly place as you think it is.

You need to be more active than other businesses to advertise yourself. This can be done by proper blogging about your products and business services. This helps you gain better and retained users.

When you are blogging, you should not directly try to sell yourself but educate your future customers. Because, to be honest, nobody is actually interested in your boring product, they want information that can help them or solve their problems.

Teach your customers not sell them!

People usually block the marketing content, they want to learn not buy your product. This is actually the idea behind content marketing, don't forget to read our other article about content marketing for startups.

6. Do Digital Public Relations

Most of all when you are present on the web, social media can be your thing. Try promoting yourself on the Internet, as the social networking websites are so active in these years. You can also be doing public relations on those social networks and always be in touch with your customers.

Some of the social media mediums you should definitely be are Twitter, Facebook and depending on your audience Pinterest and Snapchat.

5. B2B or B2C Marketing

startup marketing plan - b2b/b2c marketing

The digital marketing is the top most priority when you are deciding on startup marketing plan. Since the world is doing business all over the Internet. The business to business communities and business to customer communities are making it easier to communicate with your target customers. You should find the communities and places where your customers are depending on your target marketing; it could be B2B or B2C. Go find them.

Guerrilla Marketing

The guerrilla marketing has replaced the traditional marketing plans. The added humor in the marketing as well as the most creative viral ads could let you begin your business on steroid even without not much budget.

4. Link Building / Search Engine Optimization

startup marketing plan - search engine optimization

The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and link building concept is very important for your startup to be found on search engines. SEO and link building should not be considered as a short term goal rather it should be a long term and ongoing process for your startup. You cannot rank in the first place overnight.

Your SEO efforts can help your startup to be more available and advertised on the Internet through various means. Don't neglect it and always keep on your SEO efforts.

3. Start Online Advertising

startup marketing plan - online advertisingIf you have a budget, even with a small one, you can kick start your marketing with online advertising. Especially, with Facebook advertising you can target your specific customer groups depending on age, place, job, interests and anything that Facebook is collecting from users as data.

Even after your start, you can always consider using advertising to get more customers. Especially, if you reach the product/market fit, advertisement could be your thing to sky rocket your customer base.

2. Always Stay On Top

startup marketing plan - competition

You need to play more tactfully, through an online presence. Furthermore, you need to do more research because you need to consider yourself on top. You must capture the mind of the user and your targeted customer. Probably the agenda is the need of constant presence.

You should also consider keep an eye on your competition as well. This could handy both for keeping ahead and learning from what they are doing.

1. Launch Your Startup

startup marketing plan - launch your startup

As a result, you have made your startup marketing plan. You will constantly be working now. Therefore, launching yourself completely make you and your business get into complex times. The startup marketing plan will be followed by other latest marketing plans for your startup because you have to stick to your strategies when the business started.

Don't forget to keep your keep your startup marketing plan live and updated.

Should a startup focus on scaling or launching?

Scale your startup?

In the early stages of founding a startup there's a whole ton of stuff that you need to think about. It can be easy to get way laid by minor concerns and you might begin to loose focus on the bigger objectives. Yes a nice looking logo is important. But when you are starting from zero and no one knows who you are, what you stand for or promise to deliver/produce it matters little.

So let's take a step back and think about things through a wide angle lens, looking at the bigger picture. Where should your valuable focus and energy be directed in the early stages of starting up? Should you be getting your product to market as quickly as possible or should you be concentrating on scaling?

What is scaling?

Let us first look at what scaling means before we decide if it is to be our main focus at startup. Put very simply scaling is a process that enables the business to expand rapidly.

Scale your startup?

Think of any global business. Okay we can use everyones favourite example of McDonalds to see how scaling works. It was Ray Kroc who first started the franchise system the business still uses to this day back in the 1950's. This has enabled McDonalds to expand rapidly and successfully across the world into hundreds of different countries and thousands of locations.

If Ray had attempted to personally oversee the construction, fitting, opening and running of each new restaurant in the chain he would have been a little tired to say the least. It would be totally impossible for an individual to keep on top of everything as the business expanded. By creating the franchise system for burger restaurants Ray Croc could empower other people to start and run an a copy of an already successful stand alone business.

McDonalds is the classic example of scaling, the process that enables a business to expand rapidly with a proven formula and automated systems.

Scaling or launching?

This is the golden question and the answer is very simple. You can't scale successfully unless you know something works. You can't know if something works or not unless you have tested or launched it.

Image: Analytics via Pixabay

You need to know that there is a market and a demand for your product or service. By establishing this early on you can save a lot of wasted time and effort putting systems in place that enable you to scale.

So launching should take priority of scaling when starting up but it is good practice to be thinking about scaling to asses the potential the startup holds. Systems can be built into a startup so that when the time is right you can begin to scale but it must be proven that there is demand first to avoid a massive loss of time and money.

So how do you work out is there is demand for your offering or ideas?

Start local and test

Get your product or service out to the market at the earliest opportunity. That sounds like hard work early on but could be as simple as starting a Facebook page and inviting friends to join to gather some feedback on your ideas. Make sure you reach out to friends of friends and beyond as close friends can be overly supportive just because it's you and give a distorted source of feedback.

Test your startups potential

You need to establish as early as possible if there is a demand (market) for what you plan to give the world. Starting locally can be a great way to do this, particularly if you are producing a physical product. Even if your offering is online you can target local cafes, libraries or anywhere people are likely to have time to absorb some information about your exciting new thing.

Gather feedback, get opinions, have people use your service/product and get them signed up to future news and updates. Start to build a little testing base of people that are interested and excited by what you have to offer even if it is no more than an  idea.

If you really can't find anyone who shows much interest of the feedback is on the negative side, be sensible and head back to the drawing board. Just be thankful that you've saved time, effort and finances by not perusing your initial startup idea.

When should your startup scale?

It is a tricky question to answer in a one size fits all manor. Every startup will have different requirements and signs that is has reached a point when it can begin to scale. There are some indicators that tech gurus and investors alike would look for in a pre scaling startup.

Finances ready to scale?

Finances
Is there sufficient funding in place or available to enable the business to begin scaling? It will take money to actively acquire more customers and expand the operation of the business so it is essential that this capital is in place or accessible beforehand.

Backend/Automated Systems
Are the systems that work behind the scenes in place and ready for an increase in volume? As an example you need to have a robust payment processing system that could handle thousands more transactions that is currently does. If any part of an automated process fails you could easily loose customers and fail to successfully scale.

Dream team
Is there an amazing team in place ready to take the startup to the next level? It's a tricky balance of timing and skills to get great people on board just when you need them. Hire too early and your wages bill could damage your growth but hire too late and you could struggle to cope with a rapidly growing customer base. It's essential to have the right skills within your team to enable smooth scaling and avoid knee jerk decisions.

Product/Service  
Is the actual product or service you are going to scale ready for the potential customers? All obvious bugs should have been ironed out through constant testing and iterations to get to a point where the offering is robust enough for a wider market. Any weaknesses will rapidly be exposed with increased volumes and it will be a much bigger task to fix them.

7 Benefits of Blogging For Your Startup

blogging for your startup

In a world full of startups it is becoming increasingly difficult to be heard and attract attention. Nowhere is this more apparent than online where thousands of established sites sit high on any Google search regardless of the topic. So if having a startup landing page alone won't cut the search engine mustard, blogging for your startup can often be a great place to start in turning things in your startup's favor.

Blogging for Startups

Here are some great reasons you should be setting up a blog regardless of the stage you have reached with your startup.

1. Convey your startup's personal message

To stand out from the crowd with your ideas, product or service you need to convey your core message. Anyone taking an interest in your startup needs to know why you are best placed to deliver what it is you are promising to the world. As in any area of business, there can be many companies providing a very similar end product but you might have a personal preference in terms of the 'brand' you use.

A blog can help you communicate your own story and how life has led you on a journey that moped you into the perfect person to deliver your service/product at this exact moment. Spread this message throughout your blog posts to really flesh it out and give people something to believe in.

2. Seek and find partners or teammates

A blog that tells a story about you and your startup can be used as a call out to the wider world for like-minded folk. You might be brilliant at coding or producing flyers but there are so many plates that need spinning all at once the chances are you will need a little help sooner or later.

blogging for your startup

If you can get your blog posts shared in the right places you could find that help quicker than expected. A blog post can be read at any time of the day or night and is a little less dependant on the right place, right time element than networking for example.

Leverage the blog to let others know what you are looking for to help build the ideal version of your startup and reach out to others for ideas, skills or help. You never know where it could lead.

3. Feedback from potential users

A blog can also be used to reach out and engage with potential users. Even before you have built or served anything or one you can gather feedback about your ideas. In the long term, this could save a lot of time and money being spent in the wrong direction.

Why not ask readers what they would prefer, what they might change and what problems or issues they have that need solving. Comments left on blog posts can be used to collect valuable information and gather the thoughts of your potential end users.

4. Attract potential investors

Just as I mentioned using a blog to attract people to your team you can leverage your posts to attract investment. Seeking finances and pitching to investors can be one of the main areas where many startups fail. A well-written blog can explain clearly the finer details of your ideas and vision which can be browsed through at an investors leisure.

Equally using a blog to back up what you are conveying at a pitch or whilst out networking is a very useful tool to reinforce your message.

5. Boost your SEO and ranking

As I mentioned at the start of the post, being found online is becoming increasingly difficult. Amongst the many, many startups coming into existence each week around the globe, there is a constant race for rapid growth, expansion, and attention.

Connecting online
Image: Networks via Pixbay

Blogging for your startup can help massively in terms of getting noticed online as it gives you many pages of content specific to your project and ideas. As Google constantly updates its algorithm it gets harder to really know what works best to boost sites up the rankings and onto the top of the search results. However, the general consensus amongst those in the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) know seems to be that Google is increasingly prioritizing fresh and relevant content. A blog then is the perfect way to provide uncle Google with a healthy supply of up to date content and interactions to help boost your place in its rankings.

It's worth mentioning that the benefit will only be felt if the content is well written and original. If blog posts are deemed to be repetitive, thin on content or copied then it can count against you in the rankings. In the worst case, spammy posts can be banned by Google or other search engines altogether and you will have a hard time being found online. So do post wisely.

6. Develop your voice and brand

Having a blog is also an ideal platform to help develop your image and define who you are online. Just through the process of blogging for your startup you can adopt and adapt a style that is unique and will help shape your brand.

Get your voice heard

By sitting down and having to think about what you want to say to the world and how you will say if you are forced to find your voice. It could be that you need to review your approach. For example, a startup I was part of was connected to public transport in London. There are many frustrations with the system and as a Londoner, I was keen to highlight these to users. However once reviewing some posts later on this came across as whining and negative, not exactly the image an exciting startup should be projecting.

7. Be social via blogging for your startup

For startups creating a buzz on social media is key to getting noticed. Blogging for your startup provides you with a wealth of content as I've mentioned which is perfect for sharing across social platforms. In doing so you will gain valuable practice in using social media to your advantage as a startup.

Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc are great fun to use as an individual sharing pictures of cats but they need to be used in a different way when pushing out your message to the wider world.

By starting with some basic blog posts you will learn the best ways to schedule, publish and promote your posts to create maximum engagement and buzz.

Related: Also check out Ultimate Startup Marketing Checklist.