New tools to improve performance
on October 28, 2021 (last modified on January 14, 2022) • 16 minute read
There are a ton of SaaS growth hacks out there.
In fact, the variety of tactics that you can implement can confuse you – making you overthink every step. You can even end up trying too many hacks, one after the other, without sticking to one consistently enough to see results.
The solution? This guide. We’ve handpicked the top 11 SaaS growth hacks to help you through decision paralysis.
The best part? All of them are proven to work since they come straight from the horse’s mouth – the people who’ve grown SaaS products.
So without further ado, let’s dive in. You’ll learn the following today:
Growth hacking is a marketing subfield that covers executing strategies devised to grow a business.
Often, these are low-cost, creative strategies that start as a hypothesis, are tested as applied to the business, and finally analyzed for performance to see how much they contributed to adding and retaining customers to a business.
SaaS growth hacking is finding quick, innovative, and cost-effective ways to get more users for your application.
Take, Dropbox, for instance. They used a referral strategy to quickly and effectively grow their SaaS business – rewarding users with free storage space for bringing their friends on board the cloud-based file hosting service.
Similarly, Noah Kagan grew his business, AppSumo, using email marketing as his growth strategy. We’ll share more of these SaaS growth hacks in just a bit. First, let’s look at how growth hacks can help your SaaS business:
First off, an obvious benefit of SaaS growth hacks is that they put you into a growth mindset. You don’t slack off or push goals to later. Instead, you set up SMART goals such as ‘get X users by X time by doing X’ and start looking for cost-effective ways to reach that goal.
This is probably among the best benefits of SaaS growth hacking. Strategies that you execute for growing your user base are analyzed thoroughly to see how well they reap results.
This means every growth hack you try is an experiment – one that you’re open to learning from. This is highly beneficial in comparison to a fixed mindset that focuses on particular campaigns without experimenting to improvise and change course before it’s too late.
As a SaaS business leader, there’s no shortage of metrics you could be monitoring, but the real question is, which metrics should you be paying most attention to? To monitor the health of your SaaS business, you want to identify any obstacles to growth and determine which elements of your growth strategy require improvements. To do that, you can track the following key metrics in a convenient dashboard with data from Profitwell:
If you want to track these in ProfitWell, you can do it easily by building a plug-and-play dashboard that takes your customer data from ProfitWell and automatically visualizes the right metrics to allow you to monitor your SaaS revenue performance at a glance.
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your Profitwell account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
Consistently experimenting, optimizing, and analyzing growth hacks gives you a better understanding of your customers and industry on the whole.
This in-depth knowledge is super valuable for improving your app, specific features, and even introducing new features based on what you learn about your users’ struggles and how they use your app.
Closely related to the perk above is the benefit of improving your product to please your users better.
Wondering how? By understanding your customers better. As you take feedback in and improve your app, you’ll also be able to retain users, which is super important.
A better product also means you’re optimizing it for growing word of mouth and referrals. After all, if your current customers love using your app, they’re likely going to recommend it others.
Moreover, getting to know your customers better helps you improve your onboarding process that, in turn, improves user retention. And, you can improve marketing by getting users to market for you (hint: look at what Dropbox did).
The idea of growth hacking comes from the need to find scalable, cost-effective ways to grow instead of spending a fortune on traditional marketing and advertising methods.
Once you’re able to find such growth hacks, you can apply them to drive more ROI and maximize growth further.
And now, for the meat of the matter, we’ve proven SaaS growth hacks for you to try.
As is the drill, we’ve sourced these SaaS growth hacking strategies from experts who have been down in the trenches. In fact, of the folks we talked to, 71.8% are SaaS companies, 20.5% are agencies working for SaaS, and the remaining 7.7% are SaaS investors.
All the SaaS investors we talked to have been in the field for 2-3 years. On the other hand, all the agencies working with SaaS companies have over 3 years of experience.
Of the respondents who are SaaS companies, the majority, 32.1%, have been in business for 2-3 years. 25% have been in the field for 4-5 years while another 25% have 10+ years of experience. 7.1% have experience of 6-7 years and 8-9 years each. Only 3.6% of these respondents have a year-long or less experience.
So to make it uber-simple for you to understand who is sharing which tip, we’ve divided the SaaS growth hacks into three broad categories:
Let’s dig in.
We have one major tip here, and that’s to:
“Examine your website if you want to contemplate growth hacking your SaaS application,” recommends RevenueGeeks’ Adam Wood.
“Increasing the number of visits to your pages, from my experience, believe it or not, won’t help if they can’t navigate your site,” Wood observes.
The goal? Make your website simple to use. Wood calls it a “simple and effective growth hack that will enhance user conversions include FAQ sections, easy sign-ups, and user-friendly product pages. A wonderful example of a shortcut for visitors to your website is using the homepage as a landing page.”
In short, some actionable steps to take: create a simple site structure, make it mobile-friendly, and work on your page load speed to prevent users from leaving simply because the site didn’t load fast enough.
Related: Website Conversion Rate Optimization Tips: How to Optimize Conversion Rates with Low Traffic?
We have the following tips in this section:
This growth tip always works wonders. The reason? It tells target users that others like them are using your app so there’s no reason they shouldn’t.
Joaquín Roca of Minerva notes, “There are so many SaaS tools out there, and people may not be so sure how yours will stand out from the rest.
One great way to keep your SaaS business growing is to showcase other companies which have used it and benefited from it on your website. This will make your SaaS business seem more credible and it will make other businesses feel more comfortable giving yours a chance.”
This one’s a hat tip to Charles Cridland from YourParkingSpace.
Cridland suggests: “Launch a podcast campaign and make it a part of your PR strategy to connect with your audience in a meaningful way. Being a guest on targeted podcasts is a quick and effective way to build brand awareness and positively impact sales.”
The best part? This is an evergreen SaaS growth hack. As Cridland explains, “podcasts can be listened to for months or even years after they were recorded.” This means dropping knowledge bombs on a podcast can help drive users to your service years after the original episode goes lives.
The key, however, is to make sure you pitch the right podcast. So what’s the right show to pitch yourself as a guest? It’s the one that your ideal customer listens to.
“When determining which podcast to target, do your research and choose the one that aligns the subject matter to your expertise,” Cridland advises. “Choose a topic with a focus on your customers, for example, industry trends or research, but not your business or product.”
To add, Cridland highlights: “when pitching a podcaster, make sure that your proposed topic has not been covered recently. Think about the unique angle you can offer and nail down your content to have a good story and a clear message before seeking exposure.”
Related: 18 Marketing Podcasts That Have Built A Cult Following
Competitors’ pages are bottom of the funnel content that helps leads call their shots. The fact of the matter is that “most buyers will be aware of other solutions and will be looking to compare them,” says Brad Tousenard from SpinupWP.
So instead of being a business pretending to be the only solution for their buyers, Tousenard recommends you “create a competitor comparison page Directly comparing rival products.”
Sharing their experience, Tousenard comments, “early on in our company’s history, we created a competitor comparison for our SaaS product. Our page is in the form of a table listing comparing our product with those of five of our competitors in terms of features offered. Our comparison page quickly become one of the most popular pages on our website and currently converts at 11%.”
Related: What’s the Right Content for Each Stage of Your Content Marketing Funnel? 40 Marketers Share Their Advice
Anura Solutions’ Rich Kahn says “presuming you have a client base that is happy with your product and you’re growing at a normal rate, my growth hacking tip to significantly increase the growth is to establish a referral program.”
“Most clients that are using the software are happy to refer new business, but if it’s not kept at the forefront of their mind, they tend to forget to refer,” Kahn observes.
“Having a formalized referral program that reminds clients that you have a referral program keeps it fun and engaging. It not only keeps your clients engaged and excited but also helps to grow additional clients as your current client base is acting as a secondary (and free) salesforce,” explains Kahn.
And here’s more: referred customers are five times more likely to take benefit of your referral program than non-referred customers. What’s more, referred users are also likely to be more loyal and profitable than non-referred ones.
Related: 12 Ways to Analyze Your Referral Sources in Google Analytics
“There are a couple of growth hacking strategies that have been proven to work best for SaaS companies. The most effective strategy is offering a free trial,” opines Rishika Patel of WriteCream.
“This will generate a massive amount of leads, which ultimately means more successful customers.”
Keep in mind though, not all leads will convert immediately. Some might not even convert at all – remaining lifelong freemium users. But those users come with their benefits too – often sharing about your tool with their friends, colleagues, and on social media as well.
Our respondents agree that a free trial is an effective SaaS growth strategy. In fact, the majority say free trial offer and top-notch customer service are the best SaaS growth hacks.
Following closely behind these hacks are two more – recommended one after the other in popularity – content repurposing and building a library of content. In short, content marketing is a viable growth strategy for SaaS companies.
Next, our respondents recommend: incentivizing referrals, designing excellent (read: usable) landing pages, email marketing, using social media for promotion, influencer marketing, and retargeting ads (in that order).
“I think the best growth hacks in SaaS companies are using explainer videos to create a strong online presence,” opines Breadnbeyond’s Andre Oentoro.
Admittedly, video content comes with a strong ROI. Video helps with everything – from explaining your product in an easy-to-understand way to generating leads. Take these numbers as proof:
The reason that video helps so much? It’s a format people love consuming. Plus, “videos are very important in ranking your website in search engines,” adds Oentoro. “Your video thumbnails that appear in search engine results are more likely to grab people’s attention.”
Another SaaS growth hack is to make it easy for users to use your app, which is where an engaging onboarding program comes into the picture.
“Onboarding/trading programs are huge game-changers for SaaS businesses,” Mykola Tymkiv of MacKeeper points out.
“Most users avoid new SaaS solutions due to difficult learning curves. They simply don’t want to spend their time learning how to use the software, or they just don’t have time to spare. You can easily fix this common objection by creating a solid onboarding/training program for your SaaS.”
Some ways you can make improve your onboarding program: make it simple, create an interactive checklist that encourages users to take the steps to understand your app, and focus on a major feature or two instead of overloading information.
As for the last few SaaS growth hacks, we have 3 tips:
“Build a healthy social media presence and engage with other groups within your industry via LinkedIn groups,” recommends Explainerd’s Natasha Rei.
“Remember that everyone starts somewhere and if you’re engaged in conversations surrounding issues that your audience cares about, people will recognize the value added by interacting with you and gradually start following along socially as well.”
In addition to LinkedIn, you can try growing a Slack or Facebook community of your target users. Make sure the group provides a lot of free value so when your prospects are ready to purchase, they choose you.
To make sure you’re offering the most value to your target audience, Rei advises talking to your users. “Review what your existing customers are doing that can help to grow your numbers. If [you can], dig deep into what might be different — maybe even try asking them for input on what type of content they’d like to engage with.”
Related: No Ad Budget? 20 Marketers Share How to Grow Your Audience on Facebook for Free
Sharing their experience, Aleksandar Micev from Treblle says, “The number one hack that worked for us was recommendations. Being a developer myself, I’m always eager to test out new products if recommended by thought leaders in my space, so we also utilized this approach. We reached out to a few influential people in our community to give Treblle a try. If they liked it, they would share it on social media.”
Micev commends Twitter in particular. “Twitter is the channel that works excellent for this type of campaign.” Another platform they tried? Reddit where they joined relevant online communities.
“We all know that Reddit is a great place for developers, and you can find subreddits for almost anything. The approach is simple: provide value first and then link your product in a casual manner,” writes Micev.
“If your product is good enough to solve people’s problems, they will sign up and try it. Few of our posts were among the 10 top posts of the month in subreddits like /entrepreneur, /laravel, and /api. This got us a good amount of traffic and few signups.”
Not a Reddit fan? Micev points out “this approach applies to Hackernews and Quora as well. Moving forward, we are focused on creating high-quality content on our blog and building relationships with blogs and online magazines geared towards API and app development.
Hackernoon is one of the distribution channels we are using for our blog content. One of our blogs actually managed to get into the top 5 stories of the day and got featured in their newsletter,” explains Micev.
“To really attract users and grow your product is a combination of a couple of things,” Micev sums up. “First, your product has to solve a problem, then you have to find out where your audience spends their time, see the content they consume, and then publish your content on every platform your audience sits it.”
Although we’ve already mentioned providing value by sharing relevant content a couple of times, it helps to focus on it as a separate growth strategy.
To this end, Esparkbiz’s Jigar Agrawal shares their experience: “We do follow a number of growth strategies to increase the consumer base and what most consistently work for us is content marketing with improved SEO tactics,”
“Everyone loves to click the 1st result of any Google search. And getting at top of the Google search needs more SEO strategies. To talk particularly about products once customers have landed on the site, we do offer some discounts as well as referral bonus that ensures the client not only ends up taking the product but also refer a friend to take one,” Agrawal elaborates.
From tapping into video and content marketing to simplifying your onboarding process, sharing social proof, and guest podcasting, these SaaS growth hacks are proven to work.
Not sure where to get started? Pick one from these 11 tips and stick to it for a time. Make sure you set SMART goals and track results to see how the tactic works for you.
No matter which growth tactic you implement though, two things will help you win: consistency and experimentation.
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