“Software as a Service,” abbreviated as SaaS, is quite popular in the field of business marketing right now.
According to a study, the average number of SaaS apps that are used by various establishments has doubled from 8 to 16 since 2015. Not just that, statistics also show that the global workload of SaaS organizations reached $206 million in 2018. It is projected to grow and reach $380 million by the year 2021.
This makes it pretty clear that SaaS marketing is on the rise in 2021. Not just in 2021, but it has been on an upward index especially in the last few years. That being said, SaaS product marketing has several new trends being adopted by top businesses and marketers all across the world.
In this article, we will discuss the top 10 SaaS product marketing trends that will be very useful for every establishment trying to implement and utilize the potential of SaaS marketing.
Before we move on to the top trends in SaaS product marketing that can be useful this year, let us discuss a few more things that can be essential knowledge for all marketers and businesses associated with SaaS.
What is SaaS and how does it work?
SaaS or “Software as a Service” is basically a software licensing and delivery model. It involves software that is licensed on a subscription basis and is hosted centrally. SaaS is also referred to as “on-demand software”. Microsoft formerly referred to SaaS as “software plus services”.
The model involves the method of software delivery that enables data access from any device that has a working internet connection and a web browser. It is a web-based model, and the software vendors distributing such models host and maintain the servers as well as the databases. They also develop the code of an application that is used in the SaaS model.
The biggest advantage of SaaS is that it removes the hassle of installing and maintaining software. All you need to do is access the software with the help of an Internet connection and a web browser. This removes the complexities and complications involving software and hardware management.
For instance, let us take the example of Netflix. Netflix is a very popular OTT platform that has millions of subscribers all across the world. Netflix is a SaaS-based company that offers software to watch licensed videos on its platform. Netflix uses a subscription-based model through which the user opts for a certain subscription plan and pays a fixed amount of money on a monthly or annual basis and they can watch any video on the platform as long as their subscription is valid.
The best part about SaaS models is the fact that SaaS customers do not have to buy or maintain any hardware or software. It offers easy access to applications and all you need to access the application is a working Internet connection.
Key characteristics of SaaS – the reason for its rising popularity
According to statistics, 73% of organizations reported that almost all their apps will be SaaS-based by 2021. Along with that, 93% of CIOs have either adopted, are adopting, or making plans to adopt cloud SaaS for their establishments.
Now there must be a few reasons that have led to the rising popularity of SaaS in today’s times. The reasons are the few key characteristics and benefits offered by the model to its users. We can compare the SaaS model to the working of a bank and get a more comprehensive understanding in simple terms.
The platform protects the privacy of each customer while providing highly secure and reliable services, on a large scale. All the customers of a bank use the same financial systems and technology. Yet they do not have to worry about the security of their personal data, accounts, and information. There is no chance of anyone else accessing their personal information without appropriate authorization. SaaS models work just like that.
Let us take a look at the key features and characteristics of SaaS. This will help us understand the reason behind its popularity and its worldwide usage in recent years.
- Multitenant Architecture
Just like a bank, in a multitenant architecture model, all users and applications share one single common infrastructure and codebase. This infrastructure is centrally maintained by the host/vendors. As SaaS vendor clients are all on a single platform and codebase, vendors can quickly and more efficiently innovate and implement changes. This can save a lot of development time that would otherwise be spent on the maintenance of several outdated code versions
- Easy and Efficient Customization
SaaS models enable users to easily and effectively customize various applications according to their business needs and processes. This is enabled without any effect on the common infrastructure. The architecture of the model enables customizations in a compartmentalized way. They are unique to every user and are preserved by the use of timely upgrades. This ensures lesser risk for customers and lower adoption costs.
With the SaaS model, you can customize applications with a simple point and click. This makes traditional business software appear completely outdated and takes away the huge time involved in updating conventional business software.
- Improved Data Access
Improved data access from any networked device makes the platform easier to manage privileges and monitor data usage as well.
Businesses have started to develop SaaS integration platforms (or SIPs) to build additional SaaS applications. SaaS has moved beyond standalone software functionality and has become a platform for different mission-critical applications. Statistics suggest that the total size of the public SaaS market was projected to reach $157 billion in 2020 with 80% of businesses already using at least one SaaS application.
Because of the high flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness of SaaS models, more and more businesses are incorporating them. SaaS has found its applications in a range of areas and industries. Some of the most common areas of SaaS applications are:
- Collaboration/Social Media/Business Communications
- Customer Services and Support
- Human Resources and Talent Management
- Product Procurement, Expenditure, and Sourcing
- Business Management
- Software Development and QA/QC Testing
- Business Intelligence
- Business Analytics
- Budgeting, Reports, and Business Planning
- Governance, Risk & Compliance Assessments
- ERP, Manufacturing and Supply Chain
- Finance and Accounting Systems
That being said, every business must be aware of the latest SaaS product marketing trends to make the best use of the model in 2021. Let us take a look at the top trends of SaaS product marketing.
Top 10 SaaS product marketing trends of 2021
With the SaaS industry expecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.22% between the years 2019 to 2023, and the market size to grow by USD $60.36 billion during 2019-2023, let us take a look at the top SaaS product marketing trends that will be at the annex of the market in 2021.
1. The popularity of feature marketing
SaaS solutions are constantly evolving and companies are consistently adding new features, tools, and plug-ins to their applications and products. Feature marketing is where SaaS companies make parallel products that offer added value to the same users. Although, these products are independent and secluded from the main product of the company.
SaaS businesses are continuously collecting feedback from their existing customers to improve their existing products. Along with that, the addition of new features will open up opportunities to create additional useful content for the website. We all know that fresh content enhances the SEO of a website and generates more traffic, helping in acquiring an increased number of customers.
The key benefits of feature marketing in 2021 are:
- Attracting new customers
- Diversifying the business into different market segments
- Converting free trial users into paying customers with new upgrades
- Retaining existing customers with new features
2. Native Advertising
Statistics suggest that around 26% of all Internet users block ads on their devices. Reports also suggest that ad blocking will cause a loss of revenue that is expected to reach just over $12 billion in the U.S. in 2021.
These statistics clearly indicate that display ads are losing relevance and may not be as effective for SaaS products. This is why native ads are gaining popularity and will be widely adopted in 2021.
Native ads open up great opportunities to reach your prospects during their time of decision making and also stand to be a key to converting such an audience.
Native ads are most effective when the content is valuable to the readers so most businesses are creating content that answers the queries and problems of their audience. Highlighting the role of the product in problem resolution stands to be the key element of native ads in 2021.
Along with that, native ads can be posted on a business website or any other third-party website and can effectively bypass ad blockers. Studies have shown that native ads are viewed 53% more times than traditional display ads.
3. Use of AI and ML for hyper-personalized marketing campaigns
Statistics suggest that the Artificial Intelligence as a Service (AIaaS) market will reach $6-7 billion by the end of 2023. A lot of SaaS companies are utilizing AI to enhance user experience. This has been particularly enabled by the use of chatbots. Studies show that 80% of B2B marketers have predicted that AI is likely to revolutionize the industry by the year 2020.
AI and ML in SaaS marketing can help in data-driven marketing campaigns and hyper-personalized campaigns that are highly user-centric. AI and ML make use of behavioral and real-time data. This is used to make highly contextual messages that are closely relevant to users. AI technologies can also process huge volumes of data. When AI is combined with ML, they can optimize various marketing campaigns to ensure the best ROI.
4. Product or platform unbundling strategies
Platform unbundling strategies are likely to enhance and improve conversion for SaaS companies in the near future.
This has been enhanced by the realization of SaaS companies that indicate that not all functionalities on a platform are suitable for every prospect and their individual needs. This is where product unbundling strategies can be very useful.
Through product unbundling, companies divide their products into smaller and more specific parts. These specific parts help solve the specific problems of users. This helps companies to optimize and improve the user experience.
5. User-centric branding
In 2021, the motto of SaaS companies is to create a brand that aims at relationship-building with prospects. This will be done through the creation of user-centric stories. This means that brands will create content that users want to hear. Marketers have come to realize that branding in SaaS, especially in 2021, is very important.
Several SaaS companies are significantly emphasizing branding. This is to create a distinct brand identity that helps them stand out in the crowd. SaaS companies are emphasizing offering consistent details across all customer touchpoints.
6. Flexible pricing strategies
The price of SaaS products directly influences the purchase decisions of customers. According to studies, 98% of SaaS companies have achieved positive results by changing their pricing policies, as of 2018.
A majority of SaaS companies will therefore adopt flexible and data-driven pricing strategies in 2021.
While unbundling is going to affect the price of products, separate and flexible pricing will be adopted. This will ensure that users pay a small price for a service that can resolve a particular problem, instead of purchasing the entire package or all the services.
Some of the pricing strategies that are expected to get more popular in 2021 are:
- The freemium model will remain a key part of the pricing strategies in the SaaS business.
- The per-user pricing model is a user-based pricing model, and the price is set by the number of users of the product.
- Pay as you go is another popular pricing model. Common to cloud service providers, this pricing model enables users to pay on the basis of their usage within a certain period.
- Market penetration pricing where companies enable users to use all the features of a product at a very minimal cost.
- Business size-based pricing offers different pricing plans for different business sizes. These include small, medium, large and enterprise-level businesses.
7. Customer retention optimization
More and more users are on social media channels. This has made engaging with customers on social media one of the best ways to enhance the customer experience. Customer acquisition is a tough task in the SaaS business and customer retention, a more difficult one. Improved customer experience will enhance customer retention, customer satisfaction and will encourage customers to pay more. This will subsequently increase revenue as well.
8. Video marketing
Online videos make up 85% of all the consumer Internet traffic in the U.S. Video marketing is something that can simply not be ignored in any marketing field or campaign. Marketers and business owners, especially SaaS companies, are investing hefty sums in video marketing. Text-only content is slowly losing relevance and video content is the new “hit” of the marketing field.
9. Creating a brand experience
Customer needs are constantly evolving. Customers are seeking core value propositions, which drive performance and results. Brand positioning and messaging have become essential in the SaaS market, especially for customer acquisition and retention. The brand experience customers are looking for must be distinctive and attractive and also build a genuine and natural emotional connection with users.
10. Interactive infographics
Studies show that infographics are liked and shared three times more than any other type of content. It is also suggested by reports that 40.2% of marketers consider infographics to be the best visual format for audience engagement. SaaS companies are already utilizing interactive infographics to engage with prospects and this year will be no different.
With the above list of top 10 trends of SaaS product marketing in 2021, you can formulate the ideal strategy for your marketing campaigns.
Make sure you implement them in the right way and watch out for any other rising trends in the market in the near future! The market is dynamic and ever-evolving. So keep your mind and eyes open to all possibilities.
Guest author: Harikrishna Kundariya, a marketer, developer, IoT, ChatBot & Blockchain savvy, designer, co-founder, Director of eSparkBiz Technologies. His 8+ experience enables him to provide digital solutions to new start-ups based on IoT and ChatBot.