Product marketing is the go-to-marketing strategy of many successful SaaS enterprises.
For Jessica Webb Kennedy, former product marketing senior team lead at Trello, product marketing is the glue that holds everything together (more on “everything" later).
However, some SaaS brands still struggle to sift through the noise of generic product marketing tactics and clichéd blueprints.
Not sure where to start with SaaS product marketing?
Get a comprehensive understanding in this guide, from top SaaS product marketing examples to best practices.
SaaS product marketing is a strategic growth model that relies on marketing a product at the forefront of the market to drive customer acquisition and retention.
A typical SaaS growth process looks like this:
Yet, amidst this orchestrated chain, there's a pivot: product marketing–The choreographer makes every move count throughout the customer journey in the intricate ballet of SaaS.
This is why Jessica Webb defines Product marketing as glue; it sits at the intersection of marketing, sales, customer success, e.t.c
A broader view of this description looks like this:
In six very simple circles, the role of product marketing looks like this:
Both SaaS product marketing and traditional marketing aim to get and keep customers. But the approach differs.
The highlight of it all is that product-led SaaS companies flip the traditional sales model on their heads.
Data is key to SaaS product marketing, and success depends on metrics like Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), and Lifetime Value (LTV).
However, traditional marketing relies more on subjective measures like brand awareness and recall.
While traditional marketing tends to have less need for cross-functional collaboration, SaaS product marketing requires comprehensive support across your system. Say, the marketing team helps sales, customer success helps the growth team, and so on — with this, there's a unified collaboration with one purpose, driving demand for our product.
When you have product/market fit!
Kevin Indig, a growth advisor to executives in fast-growing startups, gave me this answer when I asked him this question.
He defines Product-Market Fit as the degree to which a market craves your product. It is when your product provides such substantial value to a segment of a market that people love it. They crave it because they've reached an aha moment.
At that moment, a user realizes the value of a product. And if they don't get to that moment, the possibility of signing up is minimal.
What do other experts say about product-market fit?
These three definitions point out several ways to measure product-market fit:
I love how Kevin puts it. He said it can be measured in several ways: retention rate, NPS, or word-of-mouth coefficient.
While many SaaS founders are obsessed with achieving product-market fit, carrying a hefty load on one's shoulder is a hefty load.
So, how do you find a product-market fit?
💡Some pro tips:
The founder of Superhuman, Rahul Vohra, used this approach after struggling to find methods that could help him achieve product-market fit. This is a chart of the results from their survey.
Here's what he had to say after the results:
“...with only 22% opting for the “very disappointed” answer, it was clear that Superhuman had not reached product/market fit. And while this result may seem disheartening, I was instead energized. I had a tool to explain our situation to the team and, most excitingly, a plan to boost our product/market fit.”
So, what else should you do?
By adopting this approach, you can systematically work towards achieving product/market fit, ensuring they are creating products that truly resonate with their target audience.
Without PMF, any product marketing efforts can end up being wasteful.
Marketing a product that has yet to resonate with its target audience means higher customer acquisition costs, lower retention rates, and an overall ineffective use of marketing dollars.
Once PMF is achieved, crafting a compelling marketing message is easier.
Every member of a SaaS product marketing team has a marketing function. From the product marketing manager to SEOs
Product marketing managers, or PMMs, often have the closest working relationships with the product team.
They work with different teams to determine whether their product is marketable, how to discuss it, what features are needed, and the story behind it.
Product marketers help prospects and customers understand the value of your product.
They act as the voice of the customer within the organization, ensuring that the product aligns with market needs, is effectively positioned and promoted, and continuously garners user interest and loyalty.
Let's look at their responsibilities:
With this, your sales representatives use sales playbooks to ease their process across different customer scenarios.
Now that we’ve covered product marketing theory, check out some of the best examples of Sass product marketing.
There are a lot of product marketing strategies to unpack from Asana. In-app onboarding, gamification, and free access to premium features are at the top of the list.
In-app onboarding is a crucial part of product marketing.
It serves as the user's first interaction with your product. The less friction in your onboarding process, the better.
Pulkit Agrawal, co-founder and CEO of Chameleon, explained that user onboarding is about product marketing. It hinges on reinforcing the value of your product rather than just teaching users how to use it.
What Asana did right was nailing product marketing through personalized questions.
Asana focuses on the functionality of its product and collects essential user persona data with personalized questions.
It is a practical approach because it uses this data to provide personalized instructions, reducing the time for users to reach their "Aha!" moments and increasing time to value. This eliminates any friction that might cause users to abandon the product.
Gamification is still a fun way to enhance product and feature adoption. Asana exemplifies this strategy well.
When a user accomplishes a task in their project management tool, a delightful creature pops up to celebrate the milestone.
This adds a touch of charm and joy and reinforces the habit of using the app repeatedly. Users who associate success (completing tasks) with the app are likely to continue using it. This, in turn, builds brand loyalty and affinity, leading to increased word-of-mouth promotion.
Asana takes an open approach with its premium features. Instead of locking it up, freemium users can access relevant features in the paid tiers.
Trying these features and seeing their value firsthand often results in more account upgrades.
Product positioning in marketing involves conveying how you want ideal customers to perceive your product.
Take Macro, for instance. They immediately highlight who it’s for and what it does– write, edit and review smarter.
All around the website, the words are clear to their target audience.
Customers often need to pay more attention to the significant impact your product can have on their time, resources, or productivity. They need reminders. Customers receiving these reminders are more likely to stay and upgrade their accounts.
Loom gets this right.
Here’s an email from Loom sharing a success story tailored to a user’s experience with the service.
Source: Really Good Emails
The email reminds the user of the benefits they gained from using the service. And it includes a call to action to encourage them to share their story with a broader audience.
Companies introduce around 30,000 new products annually. But sadly, most fail. These failures typically result from poor product-market fit, positioning problems, and ineffective messaging from poor product marketing.
To help you succeed in SaaS product marketing, here are some best practices:
According to Jonathan Bland, co-founder at Omni Lab consulting, a winning product marketing strategy centers around the user. Begin by segmenting your messaging based on the following:
- Your target audience. Create buyer personas.
- The problem they face,
- How they currently address this problem
- How your solution solves it
- The capabilities of your product feature.
Once you've organized this information, you can craft effective product marketing strategies.
Keep in mind that sometimes the target audience may change as products pivot.
For instance, PayPal initially targeted eBay sellers and smaller online sites before expanding its user base.
While prioritizing a people-first approach to content marketing, remember to always weave in your product to help your customers.
Churning out a helpful guide and coming up with a three-line statement about your product in the conclusion of your article is not enough.
Here's an example from Asana:
In an article titled: why it's important to build project maps. Asana's writer introduced a CTA button that reads "Map project outlines with Asana."
This way, they are weaving their product into the mix.
The CTA leads readers to a landing page that fully breaks down how Asana helps to create project timelines — with screenshots and GIFs that demonstrate what the product looks like inside.
At House of Growth, we believe showcasing your product in your content is not a SIN! It makes your content relevant.
Here's a product-led checklist I love:
Dr Fio did a thing with this approach
Here's her input: “A good way to take a product-led approach is to start by looking at the relationship between your content ideas and the product/service you are selling. When thinking about upcoming pieces, give them a score from 0 (it makes no sense to mention the product) to 3 (the product is crucial to solving the reader’s question or help them achieve their goal)"
Customer-obsessed companies saw impressive revenue growth, with 41% achieving at least a 10% increase. Gather feedback as your product gains traction.
Proactively employ social listening to monitor mentions and conversations about your product in online communities. Seize every opportunity to collect customer feedback through surveys, customer support interactions, and social media engagement.
Rev, a transcription SaaS company uses creative feedback emails to encourage users to leave feedback. The brand voice lets users know what the survey is about and how important it is for the team.
Customers are 2.4 times more likely to stay loyal to your brand if you resolve customer issues quickly.
Set KPIs for each product goal and use results data to guide your decisions.
Key product metrics and KPIs to gauge performance include:
- Market Penetration Rate: Evaluate the effectiveness of your product penetration. Divide your current customer count by the total target market size.
- Return on Investment (ROI): Measure success by assessing the efficiency of your investment (net income/cost of investment = ROI).
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): Conduct NPS surveys to understand how likely customers are to stay or churn.
Let's learn more about measuring SaaS product marketing efforts.
There are certain Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to look out for when measuring your SaaS product marketing efforts.
Remember, in my definition of SaaS product marketing, I talked about acquisition and retention.
Retention is one of the key KPIs to measure SaaS product marketing. It's your ultimate goal because it showcases the true value of your product.
Your customer base will continue to use your product if they find value in it.
For example, you can track:
What else can you measure? User metrics. Some key questions:
You can also track your product metrics — your onboarding success, guides completion, and qualitative feedback concerning your product.
Answer: SaaS content marketing is pivotal, helping educate users about features, benefits, and best practices. It nurtures leads, supports onboarding, drives SEO, and positions the brand as a thought leader.
Answer: Freemium models require marketing to free users and potential paying customers. The key is to highlight the value in the premium version while ensuring the free version remains useful, driving upgrades through perceived value and feature teasers.
Answer: The SaaS model, with its subscription-based approach, emphasizes customer retention and lifetime value. This requires product marketing strategies that focus on continuous value delivery, user onboarding, and feature adoption, differentiating it from one-time purchase models.
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