If you’ve always wanted to start a SaaS online business, this is the right time to launch your own SaaS application. It’s a great way to earn recurring revenue with low initial setup costs. You can use cloud storage platforms to host your application, thereby eliminating the need for expensive hardware. Moreover, it’s simpler to roll out upgrades and new features and build a loyal customer base.
SaaS or Software-as-a-Service is a cloud-based software delivery model that lets users access an application using an internet browser. Unlike traditional software, Saas applications don’t have to be downloaded and installed on a user’s computer or business network. Whether you want to design a logo or start an email marketing campaign, you’ll find a diverse array of SaaS applications. Popular examples of SaaS applications include Mailchimp, Dropbox, Zoom, Salesforce, Leadpages, systeme.io, and, of course, SmartKarrot.
According to research, more than 80% of mobile startups will start using SaaS applications by 2022. If you launch your SaaS company now and promote it in the right way, you’ll likely attract plenty of paying customers. However, in today’s competitive market, it’s essential to develop a lucid growth and marketing plan to start your SaaS online business.
Are you wondering how to start an online business and promote your SaaS application? We’ve outlined a few simple and effective steps in the following sections.
1. Develop a Groundbreaking Product
You can’t start an online business without creating a lucrative product. Irrespective of your niche and industry, you’ll likely find a plethora of existing SaaS applications.
Instead of building a completely different software, you can create one that is better than these existing applications. Here are the steps you should follow:
1.1 Market Research
Before you start developing your SaaS application, you should find out whether there is a demand for such a product. There’s no point in spending time, money, and effort to build software that no one is looking for. Once you have a vague idea of the software you want to build, identify your competitors.
Take a look at their applications, analyze their features, and find the gaps. It is these gaps that you must fulfill to make your software stand out. It’s also recommended that you stay abreast of the latest technological advancement as well as developments in your industry. This will help you identify and harness emerging trends to create an application that will attract paying customers.
1.2 Audience Research
If you want to attract paying customers, you must ensure that your SaaS application resolves their problems and queries. That’s why it is crucial to have a deep understanding of your target audience and identify their pain points. Your software will be valuable and useful to them only when it addresses their pain points. This step also helps you determine the essential features that you must include in your application.
If you’re already active on social media, you should take a look at the analytics section to get an insight into your audience. It’s also important to monitor the messages and comments you receive. This will help you delve deeper into your audience’s pain points and needs. Additionally, you can conduct polls and quizzes to find the type of tools and features your audience is looking for.
Once you’ve developed a concrete idea, it’s essential to test the waters and validate it. In other words, you must find out whether people are willing to pay for your product. Otherwise, even the most revolutionary software and powerful marketing campaign will fail to generate revenue.
It’s crucial to directly reach out to your audience through various social media platforms. If you already have a mailing list, it’s recommended that you connect with them too. The key is to find out how much your audience is willing to pay and whether they would prefer a monthly or an annual subscription. This, in turn, will help you develop your revenue model and outline your growth projections.
The next step is to create the MVP or Minimal Viable Product. Think of it as a lightweight version of your software that is often released for early adoption. It’s a great way to validate your product and identify ways to improve it.
While developing the MVP, it’s crucial to ensure that it only includes the basic functionalities. Packing too many features into your MVP might confuse new users and drive them away. At this stage, it’s also crucial to ask users for their feedback on the additional features they’d like you to include.
2. Build Your Team
You can’t launch a successful company without building a team of enthusiastic and hardworking professionals. Starting an online business isn’t an exception. If you want to build a sellable SaaS application, you’ll need a graphic designer, software developer, website developer, and digital marketer, to begin with.
However, instead of heading down the traditional recruitment route, you should consider hiring freelancers on a retainer fee. This is often more cost-effective than recruiting full-time employees. You can cut expenses further by building a remotely-located team. Platforms like Upwork, Dribbble, Fiverr, DesignCrowd, etc. let you connect with talented freelancers from all over the world.
3. Create a Marketing Strategy
Even the most life-changing SaaS application won’t generate revenue unless it reaches your target audience at the right time. You can’t wait until your MVP is ready to start developing your marketing strategy. Instead, you should create a buzz about your SaaS online business even before your MVP hits the market.
Here are a few useful tips:
3.1 Create a Website
If you want your customers to discover your software on the internet, you must build a user-friendly and easily navigable website. Make a wise choice of website hosting to ensure seamless experience for your website visitors. Include an eye-catching opt-in form on the home page to encourage visitors to sign-up for your mailing list. Additionally, the website should showcase key details of the software including its features, pricing, etc.
It’s also crucial to optimize the website content using relevant keywords to boost its search engine ranking.
Alternatively, you can create a dedicated landing page for your MVP. Make sure it highlights the distinguishing features and includes an opt-in form. It’s a great way to gather beta users and grow your mailing list before your product is ready. Make sure you promote the landing page across various channels including social media, paid search ads, and emails.
3.2 Start a Blog
Once your website is ready, it’s time to create a blog to publish original and insightful content. The idea is to regularly create relevant and high-quality blog posts that resolve your audience’s queries and address their pain points.
It’ll help you grab their attention and position your business as an industry authority. When done correctly, it also increases your website’s visibility in relevant search engine results.
Take a look at the blog of Trello, a popular project management tool:
If you’ve started developing your MVP without creating any social media profiles, you’ve already fallen behind. It’s crucial to establish an active presence on popular social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Make sure you create official social media profiles for your SaaS business and regularly publish engaging content. You can also post frequent updates about your product.
Additionally, you should use paid promotions to market your MVP landing page to a wider audience. You can also host a contest and reward the winners with a 7-day free trial of your product. It’s equally crucial to interact with your audience and respond to their queries/feedback.
As more companies embrace online operations and remote working, the market for SaaS applications will continue to grow. However, before you start a SaaS online business, make sure you validate your idea and test your MVP before launching the final product. It’s also essential to develop a rock-solid plan to promote and scale your business. 28
Do you have any other tips on how to start an online business? Share your views in the comments section below.
Surojit has over 15 years of experience in quality and implementations. He is a promoter of an extremely light and efficient Agile process to fit business needs. In his prior role as product owner, he built a robust product in a very short span of time.
Published June 25, 2020, Updated November 02, 2022