Developing a marketing software strategy can be a challenge for software startups that don't have a background in marketing or business planning.
But marketing strategy is critical if you want to stop wasting money on marketing or sales efforts that don't work.
Keep reading to find out our recommended software marketing strategies that are applicable to most small to medium size software or SaaS businesses.
Before you even think about software marketing strategies, it is important to have a very clear picture of your business goals, and a detailed profile of your target customer.
Start with this how-to guide to help lay the framework for strong business marketing strategies. Once you have your marketing objectives defined, and you understand your target customers, then review the recommended marketing software strategy list below to identify which are best for your particular software business.
Here is our list of ten recommended software marketing strategies that should be a starting point for most small/medium software product firms. When deciding upon which strategies to build your marketing plan, consider how these align with your goals and target customer needs.
Focus is important for any small business, so try to select 3-5 key strategies that will be the primary focus of your marketing efforts. Choose them based on which strategies best support your business objectives and meet your target customer needs and interests.
Unless your target market is not online (eg, the elderly or homeless), your primary marketing software strategy should be via internet marketing. The goal should be for your product or service to come up when a prospect does a Google search, visits a forum or a blog, visits key websites in your industry, reads articles online, etc.
Include a free trial (time-limited or with reduced features) or a free basic version of your software to allow prospects to immediately experience it. If it is not possible to provide a free version, then at least provide some means for your prospective customer to experience the software: an interactive demo or video, for example.
Likewise, it should be as painless and fast as possible for a new customer to start using your software once they decide to purchase it. If your software allows it, the entire process should be done online (as a download, or an online service).
Remember that your best prospects are usually your existing customers. They should be a key part of your marketing software strategy. Plan a regular email newsletter, get active in your customer forum, create how-to guides and case studies that highlight new ways existing customers can use your products or services.
Build a network of partners who have complementary relationships with your target customers. These do not have to be technology or software providers, but they could be. Also think about other professional services your customers use (accountants, lawyers, consultants), industry influencers, and top-tier influential customers.
For example, you could establish and participate in a customer forum, or arrange regular events for your customers (in-person events or online webinars). The point is to keep the dialog open, keep your brand foremost in the mind of your customers and prospects, and gather valuable market research on your customers' needs in the process.
You could identify resellers, OEMs, distributors or consultants who could be a valuable channel for your software. You could also establish an affiliate program. Make sure there is sufficient training and incentive for your channel partners to actively market and sell your software.
Consider what other services (training, customization, consultancy) or side products that you could market to either help sell your primary software product, or provide opportunities to upsell.
Create separate landing pages depending on the different keywords that different sub-segments might be using, and craft your messaging on each of those landing pages accordingly. You could take the segmentation as far as creating separate products, or stay with a single product line and just vary the messaging depending on your audience.
The idea here is to slice up your target market until you are targeting a niche where you have a unique differentiator or advantage.
For example, what if you have just developed the best contact management software out there (or so you think...)? Marketing that as a horizontal software product targeting basically everyone would be a real challenge. But think about what niche it may be most suited for (what need drove you to develop it in the first place?) may allow you to come up with a unique solution (e.g., contact management software for energy traders).
One of the most valuable software sales tools is the customer case study, especially when selling B2B. Think about creative ways to use real-world case studies and customer examples throughout your marketing to communicate your message and make it real to your prospects.
For more help on developing your marketing software strategy, start with these tips for putting together a compelling marketing plan.