bot-cast presents | 5 MIN READ
Did you know that if a SaaS company grows only at 20% every year, there is a 92% chance it will cease to exist in the coming years? This shows that having marginal growth is not acceptable in SaaS. When it comes to this industry, experts often refer to the term “growth hacking” - A method where SaaS marketers employ creative, low-cost strategies to boost their cloud signups and sales. Considering the high stakes and fierce competition in the SaaS marketplace, growth hacking is probably the only ray of hope for the SaaS industry to grow beyond the dreadful boundary of 20%.
A SaaS industry needs to have a well-planned and executed strategy that can help them push through competition, reach its goals, and become successful.
If you are also a SaaS business on the lookout for Growth Hacking Strategies, you have landed at the right place. In this article, we will discuss everything related to growth hacking strategies from definition, framework, and strategies, to examples, and growth hacking tools.
So, fasten up your seatbelts for an educative journey.
What Are Growth Hacking Strategies in SaaS?
The term growth hacking is used to describe certain types of techniques that help a business or product to grow efficiently and rapidly. These growth hacking strategies are often associated with Software as a Service (SaaS) since they heavily rely on:
Growth Hacking Strategies Vs. Traditional Marketing Strategies
Growth hacking strategies differ from traditional marketing in several ways. A few of them have been mentioned below:
Traditional marketing generally involves large-scale campaigns with the objective of reaching a wide audience through mediums like:
Whereas growth hacking strategies usually focus on low-cost strategies that one can quickly test and implement.
As mentioned earlier in the scope, the mediums used by traditional marketing are quite expensive. And it can put a dent in your budget if you are a small business or a startup.
On the other hand, growth hacking focuses on low-cost strategies like:
Social Media Marketing
These strategies can be executed with minimal investments.
Traditional marketing can take a long time to ideate and implement, while growth hacking strategies focus on a quick testing and implementation approach to find out what works best.
Traditional marketing relies more on assumptions and intuitions, which can make it difficult to measure success. On the contrary, growth hacking is data-driven, making it easier to track success for each strategy and optimize performance accordingly.
Traditional marketing campaigns are more rigid and less adaptable by nature, making them less future-proof and risky. In contrast, growth hacking strategies are more adaptable and flexible. SaaS companies can test and iterate it on different strategies to rapidly scale their user base.
What is Growth Hacking Framework
Growth hacking strategies will differ broadly from industry to industry, and more specifically, from company to company. Yet, the pathways or frameworks to achieve growth, no matter the industry or service, have a commonality to them. Following are the 5 basic tenets of the Growth Hacking Framework for SaaS companies applicable worldwide.
1. Define Objectives
The first thing to do — lay the groundwork for your growth journey. Clearly define the objectives of your undertaking — what are you trying to achieve at the end? Are you trying to:
Gain a competitive edge over others?
Increase customer satisfaction?
Solidifying your brand image?
Once you set the goals of your undertaking clearly, you will be much more likely to identify the experiments that will actually work for your goals.
2. Brainstorm Ideas
Once you establish your objectives, research further on the various approaches taken by people who have trod the same waters. Read on for more information on how entrepreneurs before had tested out various methodologies, as well as what worked or didn't work for them.
One of the best things to brainstorm ideas is to pay heed to your team, no matter their ranks or positions. People in executive positions have a closer eye on the ground and are attuned to the expectations of your customer/audience base.
Similarly, people in leadership positions also have a repository of knowledge, having worked in close quarters with the same customers/audience. They may prove to be an invaluable source of great ideas.
Basically, your next big idea can come from anywhere. So exercise your mental faculties through extensive research, and don't forget to loop in multiple minds during the brainstorming stage.
3. Set Priorities
The next obvious course of action, after establishing the next great idea, is to set your priorities. This means asking yourself questions like:
How am I to keep my team’s work-life balance maintained during this endeavor?
Which would be more important during this endeavor — my brand or my customers?
With a limited budget for marketing, should I lean into social media, or rely on traditional marketing?
Setting priorities early on is important because they help you to avoid disasters and collateral damages during the course of testing out your growth hacks.
4. Implement Strategy
Once your plans and priorities have been identified and fixed, all that is left to do is to put your plan into action. Test your hypothesis, make mistakes, and, more importantly, do not be afraid. The greatest learnings come from mistakes committed.
But perhaps the most important thing to remember is this — document your findings. It is imperative to maintain a record of your findings as it will be helpful for others who’ll be in your shoes someday.
5. Analyze Results
As already illustrated in the point above, it is very important to document your experiments and strategies. Once you’ve put your plan/(s) into action, take a closer look at the results of your strategies. See what has worked over time and which areas still need improvement. Measure and weigh the results of your plan against it.
Analyzing results is the most important tenet of creating effective growth hacking strategies. At the same time, it is also crucial to attribute the successes of your efforts back to you.
Top 10 Growth Hacking Strategies for SaaS
Now that we have our basics covered about growth hacking, let's straight away jump into the top 10 Growth Hacking Strategies for SaaS companies.
1. Get Listed on Online Directories
It’s not enough to build a product that sells. It takes extra effort to help your product get discovered, and online directories are a great way to start some organic growth. 97% of consumers consider product reviews while making a purchase decision. This shows that online directories aren’t just the digital replacements for Yellow Pages. Their use-case goes beyond the traditional ‘finding the right vendor’.
Below are some of the most popular directories for SaaS companies,
It’s true that industry-specific directories already have relevant traffic, firms that are looking to buy just what you’re selling. But directories are also a place of community reviews that give the much-needed credibility and customer trust that your SaaS company needs. SaaS management platforms help businesses proactively identify and manage all of the SaaS software used in the business.
2. CRO Tools
One of the primary reasons for low sales is a leaky sales funnel. This is where CRO tools (Conversion Rate Optimization) pitch in. SaaS companies are in the constant loop of turning visitors into users, leads into PQLs(Product Qualified Leads), and PQLs into paying customers. This means constantly monitoring and revising conversions, engagement, and upselling to keep the growth intact. CRO tools shown below give the much-needed push in between where the process becomes stagnant.
a. Exit-intent Popups
Many companies think that popups are dead because they tamper with the website experience. The only trick here is to use it after knowing the problem, intention, and solution. If done right, popups can have a conversion rate of 10% to 60%. But they need to be content-specific and behavioural.
While deploying a popup, consider the big five parameters:
Defining these parameters depends on your core message, but there are chances of a high conversion rate if you get these right.
In the above example, we deployed a popup for our white label blogs which was successful as this exit-intent popup brought in a CTR of ~ 26% and increased our leads by 9%.
b. Sticky Bars
A sticky bar is a horizontal bar on the website used for increasing conversions. It often has a crisp message with a powerful CTA. Sticky bars are an excellent alternative for companies that don’t want to use popups as they aren’t as intrusive.
Above is an example, where we used a sticky bar for our latest feature Slack Live Chat. The bar was minimal and crisp, resulting in a higher volume of traffic on the landing page.
75% of your website visitors will leave without giving you any information, and your anonymous visitors will be just that - anonymous. And a big reason why we need to look at this is because you are burning a lot of advertisement dollars into these eyeballs on your website, and it only makes sense to deploy a mechanism that gives better engagement, conversion and ROI.
Currently, 58% of the companies using chatbots are b2b companies since bots enhance website conversion rate by 33% in the industry! In a highly saturated market, it’s wise to go beyond conventional marketing strategies. 77% of SaaS marketing professionals think personalization can fuel b2b growth through providing a better customer experience.
Bots considerably increase lead generation and qualification activities on digital platforms through automated conversations and reduced human efforts.
For example, we deployed a bot on our own website to engage with our audience and capture their intent. And furthermore, to make it more contextual, we deployed different bots on our most popular pages like pricing, and features, so that the bot can context-specific conversations with them.
In simple terms, here's what the bot does,
Engages with the visitors on our website
Starts a friendly conversation with them
Probes them to understand their motive on the website
Based on the motive, the bot asks qualifying questions
Looks at the data and decides whether the lead is qualified
If so, passes the information to our Salesforce CRM
And suggests the visitor to read some of our signature blog topics
And having it do just this, it has delivered us crazy results as you see in our weekly report below. 1.4K+ leads per week is just awesome!
The reason why chatbots are one of the top growth hacking techniques in the SaaS industry is that chatbots facilitate conversational marketing - a technique that allows real-time engagement on your digital platforms.
You may think building a chatbot is tough, nah, it is as easy as it can get with no-code bot builders. No-code bot platforms like WotNot have a really simple drag and drop interface to create conversation flows in hours, with any dependency on your technical team.
We'll talk about WotNot in detail in the later part of the blog.
4. Product Hunt Launch
If you have added a new tool or rolled out a complimentary product, Product Hunt is the go-to place for launching your product. It is a niche community of passionate SaaS founders and product enthusiasts looking for the best new products. A presence there can get you a burst of recognition and do wonders for your brand awareness.
Have you ever been on a stage for a performance as a kid thinking this experience will either make or break you? Think of Product Hunt just that for your SaaS product launch. A successful launch on the platform can land you in the top position and bring a chain of potential subscribers with it. But an unsuccessful launch can do the opposite.
So before launching your product, ask yourself, do you have a well-built product in the tech startup domain? Is your product something that offers value? Do you have an audience for that product? Will the audience pay for your product? Once you’re clear, start promoting the launch of your product to reach the top of the Product Hunt list.
A few years back, we launched a significant update of our Live Chat feature on Product Hunt. After meticulous planning for the launch, our product ended at the #1st position on the list with a trophy to display our popularity and by the end of the day, it settled on the #5 position. Not bad, right!
Here’s a list of things we did to get to the top,
Find/Hire a top hunter.
Determine the right time to launch (Usually 12 PM IST)
Let your team know and assure your own upvotes
Respond to Comments
Promote within your social circle
Try getting existing customers to comment
Leverage your Email List
Promote launch on your social media
Look for communities that would be interested in your launch.
Product Hunt can give you a massive boost for the first few weeks of your launch. But you need to understand that this traffic is just a one-time boost. You shouldn’t expect consistent traffic from here after your launch activities. But in the given time frame, you can expect high traffic and put strategies in place to convert that into leads. The biggest plus of this channel is that you find like-minded people who are always on the lookout to find the best and newest tools to solve problems.
5. Influencer Reviews
Influencer Reviews aren’t just for B2C. They’re as effective in SaaS and other B2B businesses. Before making a software purchase, any SaaS company would identify vendors, compare the features, and review using review portals. A review by an industry expert and an influential personality would, by default, get more recognition and credibility.
A majority of the population also uses social media and follows influencers on these platforms. So what great way to market your product where your prospects already are? You already have a relevant audience. Probably one of the primary hindrances that businesses have using this strategy is a budget. But that can be worked out.
First, look for the best influencers in their field and have an established audience that matches your buyer’s persona.
Start engaging with them on their social media handles. React to their content, comment on their posts, and participate in their live streams.
When they share your content, always reshare or retweet to acknowledge and appreciate them.
Once you’ve built a rapport with them, you can offer an incentive to promote your product.
It doesn’t just have to be monetary but also a lifetime free subscription or a 12-month pass to your product, etc.
Allow them to try the product and write an honest review to their audience.
Good influencers that have a good reach need constant nurturing and convincing. So don’t just magically expect them to give you a review but talk to them like you actually mean a favour. Relationships are everything in business, and the better relationship you have with influencers, the more helpful they could be to you.
Influencer marketing also needs to be a win-win situation. An influencer needs to benefit from your product/content as much as you can benefit from their audience. Even if you’re spending money, do your research on the reach and authenticity of the influencer to know you’ll get a good ROI.
6. Referral Marketing
Despite the competition, firms have built an empire of subscribers based on just referral marketing. Sounds fascinating, isn’t it? But the power of referral is real. After all, don’t we all trust the recommendations of a person we know instead of a stranger? The lifetime value of a referred customer is 16% higher than a non-referred one, and companies with a referral program experience an 82% higher revenue than those that don’t.
By incentivizing referrals, you’re building a solid user base. Just the way Evernote did with “invite your friends, and they’ll get premium, and you earn points''. Some of the other most common referral techniques are to offer a discount on subscription, free extension of the trial, and access to premium features for free.
As a SaaS business, referral marketing extensively lowers your customer acquisition cost. You’re offering rewards only when a prospect becomes a customer. That reward bears minimum or no cost to you, say providing an extended trial period or providing access to exclusive features for a limited period.
Furthermore, when a customer refers to your product, they’re likely to refer to like-minded prospects looking for a product like yours. You’re not just getting leads but rather getting reliable leads. Research shows that a high-impact recommendation from someone you know triggers a purchase 50% higher than a recommendation from the company!
7. Enlist on Lifetime Deal Sites
No matter how much money an enterprise has, they will always look for a cheaper alternative for buying new software or tools. It is a universal behaviour always to spend less, save more. There are a lot of platforms in the B2C sector that enlists exclusive deals of top brands and companies, which helps both the customers and the companies. The former to find a product/service at a cheaper rate and the latter to generate brand awareness. The same is practiced in B2B through sites like Appsumo.
As a SaaS product, you can partner with Appsumo to gain traction and develop awareness for your product. Sometimes you can do everything right but still lack distribution power. A digital marketplace where you can get eyeballs from the relevant audiences is just the Growth hacking technique you need in this case. You can generate a large number of sales and quickly get the value of the discounts and deals you offer them on these platforms.
8. Go Freemium
It is evident that SaaS and freemium work well together. Freemium SaaS tools convert 25% more customers without the need for sales as compared to free trials. A Freemium model allows users to use the basic product or service for free but must pay for a premium version with additional features. But you must be having the one question that everyone does while thinking of going freemium, “Will it really help me grow my business?” There is no straightforward answer to that.
Freemium is considered a highly effective marketing strategy. Instead of all words, you’re allowing your customers to evaluate the product by themselves. So before answering your question, let me ask, do you believe in your product? Is your product unique enough to market itself? Then freemium is for you as you will get tonnes of people who will try your product and help you find potential paid customers.
You also need to understand that offering a free plan means a high volume. A high volume means your product is marketed to even their customers without any additional efforts from your end.
Let me give talk about a case study of why we adopted a Freemium model.
We were experiencing a decent number of signups & traffic each month, but was still below what we hoped to achieve. We researched several channels to increase traffic and signups, and also looked into where the majority of our current traffic & signups came from.
What we found was that ~58% of our signups came from bot referrals, i.e., visitors who visited our customers' website and spoke with the chat widget. While doing this, they felt a need for their own business and clicked on the ‘powered by’ branding on our chat widget to check the product out.
Since these numbers were already amazing, it only made sense for us get more traffic to our website and get more signups by having a hundreds and thousands of businesses using our chat widget for free. So we rolled out the freemium pricing strategy.
Some of our customers have millions of visits monthly, and we wanted to leverage their traffic. Eventually, this helped us increase our signups, with 30% of the total signups coming from the ‘powered by’ branding the bot gets from getting deployed on numerous sites.
At a time when advertising is all about chunking out expenditure, this level of free viewership makes the freemium pricing model worth it. You also get to track the user behaviour for your product and understand what’s working well for your customers and what isn’t. This isn’t something you can find out with a 14-day or a 30-day trial period.
9. Create a Library of Content
Content marketing has remained a constant strategy for growth for SaaS over the years. Content marketing isn’t just publishing lots of blogs and social media posts but also publishing lots of quality blogs and posts that engage visitors and urge them to come back for more and also about reworking your old content to attract a particular set of audiences.
When I say quality, I mean putting our relevant content out there that your audience expects from you. It is how we structured our content strategy. Most of our customers approach WotNot for multiple purposes that include Lead Generation, Customer Support, Appointment Booking, Enterprise Chatbot Development, WhatsApp Chatbot, White label Chatbot, etc.
As a result, we designed our content around those lines and wrote blogs on topics like:
We’ve also published gated content like webinars and e-books to generate leads. The wonders content marketing can do for your SEO is incomparable. You get to decide the keywords you want to rank on, consistently attract new traffic, and drive conversions on the website.
Content marketing again enhances your organic traffic since high-quality content drives 3x more leads than paid advertising. But since content marketing is the most accessible way to the growth ladder, it is also one of the most competitive. So some tips to stand out are:
Balance information and curiosity
Add the empathetic touch
Understand what motivates your audience
Add images or infographics
Consider the SEO metrics (Keywords, length, title, meta description, etc.)
10. Leverage the Network Effects of Integrations
If you get to the bottom of core SaaS challenges, you’ll realize that many customers fail to recognize the value of the product and, most times, are hesitant to switch from using their existing tools. Due to this, it becomes imperative to leverage software that adopts a platform-based model with a range of plugins and integrations. A collaboration between technologies can create a ‘network effect’- a phenomenon where if a product's value to the user increases, the number of users for the product grows, and more information, data, and content is produced. Network effects are responsible for 70% of the value created by tech companies.
Integrations in SaaS helps improve overall operational efficiency, quality and also creates a new competitive advantage. You can create plugins or facilitate integrations with popular platform-based software with an integration store like Slack, Salesforce, WordPress, etc. Here, users can quickly find your product and install it, which can boost your organic traffic. WordPress features a vast library of plugins that facilitate the integration of third-party features for important tasks.
WotNot has a plugin in WordPress, and this plugin brings in a considerable amount of organic traffic to our website and is responsible for around 5% of our monthly signups.
Top 3 Growth Hacking Examples
We saw the top 10 growth hacking strategies, now let's have a look at a few inspiring examples of when companies hit a home run by implementing growth hacking strategies.
Proven is a job board that was able to boost its organic traffic by a whopping 43% without creating new content or increasing its marketing spending. They employed an ingenious and cost-effective growth hack strategy that truly serves as an inspiration for all the SaaS companies looking to improve their organic traffic.
So, all they did was — conduct an internal competition called Mission Week. In this competition, every employee was tasked to improve and promote an existing piece of content that wasn’t performing well. In return, they would earn points for their contribution. So, all the employees participated in the competition and helped in activities like:
Everyone had the common objective of gaining points. In the end, all the cumulative efforts brought a huge impact, improving rankings of many pieces of content. This ultimately resulted in increased organic traffic.
Dropbox used a creative growth of gamifying its entire onboarding process. They offered their existing users more free storage whenever they linked their Dropbox account on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. They also added incentives on completion of various tasks on Dropbox like:
Sharing a file
This growth hack worked, resulting in exponential growth for Dropbox.
InsightSquared increased conversions by reducing form length. Their marketing operations team found out that their form was too long and was stopping people from completing them. So, they removed an optional field in their form and saw that it brought 112% better results.
Top 5 Growth Hacking Tools
To implement growth hacking strategies, you need to have some growth hacking tools in your arsenal. These tools not only ensure that you achieve your goals but also helps you achieve them faster.
WotNot is a no code chatbot platform that helps you to build chatbots for multiple use cases like lead generation, customer support, appointment booking, and many more. This tool is known for automating several processes at scale. It also leverages conversational marketing techniques to keep your visitors engaged.
Its key features include:
A no-code bot builder with a drag-drop interface
An analytics dashboard that helps you to visualize chatbot’s impact
Live chat feature that helps to manage conversations in real-time
Outbounds bots to proactively reach out to your audience
Create and deploy bots on multiple channels like Web, WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook
Native integrations to a large pool of popular tools
Manage live chats directly from Slack with Slack Live Chat feature
Unbounce is a great no-code growth hacking tool that helps you to create, publish, and A/B test custom landing pages. This eventually helps you to boost conversion.
Its key features include:
100+ ready-made templates
Drag-and-drop landing page builder
Pop-ups & sticky bars builder
A/B testing features
AWeber is a key growth hacking tool for SaaS startups that help them to grow with automated email campaigns.
Its key features include:
AI-powered design assistant that helps build top-notch landing pages and email templates
AMP for emails
Campaign automation & personalization
Pre-built template library
Keap empowers SaaS businesses to automate several aspects of their business with its CRM and sales & marketing tools.
Talking about its key features, it includes:
Follow-up Automation via Messages and Emails
Sales & Marketing Automation
If you are a SaaS company looking for a growth hacking tool for lead generation, HelloBar is the answer. It’s an awesome growth hacking tool that helps design messages for your website that not only increases engagement, but also boosts lead generation.
The key features of this tool includes:
Design barcodes, display ads, pop-ups
A/B testing features
So there you have it — a complete guide on growth hacking strategies for your SaaS business. Here, we covered almost every aspect which there has to be for SaaS growth hacking. All the growth hacking strategies are tried and tested. For most of them, realize that the focus is always on allowing users to determine the product value rather than just promoting the product.
This is the reason why growth hacking techniques are slightly different from conventional marketing techniques. When you use such tactics, you’re not telling the prospects to buy your product but instead letting them decide whether your product is right for them, eventually sowing a solid foundation for building long-lasting customer relationships.
If these ten growth hacking strategies don’t work for you, don’t be disappointed; it’s not the only way to grow. Keep innovating and experimenting with ideas, and you will one day find the strategy that resonates with the SaaS business you have.
Co-founder of WotNot. His leadership, pioneering vision, and relentless drive to innovate and disrupt has made WotNot a major player in the industry.