What is Software as a Service (SaaS)?
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a marketing mechanism in which companies offer the functionalities and features of their developed applications, quite merely a software product, in ways that bring in revenue in the form of a license fee as well as a regular service charge. Anyone engaged in the production of software applications is a potential SaaS marketer while anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world is a potential customer.
How is SaaS product marketing different?
Over the years, SaaS has revolutionised how software and ITES products are marketed. To begin with, selling this type of product is a task in itself. The marketing strategy required differs widely from that of your typical brick and mortar product. To begin with, you will be marketing something that is not tangible, so the customer experience of look and feel doesn’t apply. It is not something that a layman is expected to understand either because it might be something that might interest only a few companies. Besides, SaaS products always evolve and update themselves, so sometimes explaining something as simple as its features can be a trick in itself.
A peek into SaaS marketing techniques
According to Cisco’s Global Cloud Index, by 2021, 75% of cloud workflows will be offered as SaaS. Given the increasing use of SaaS as a delivery platform of these products, the competition in this industry is intense. As a natural flow SaaS strategies too have, therefore, pioneered marketing thought leadership within the industry. We have seen antivirus packages offer multiple options for their products, mentioning the benefits and features of each product. More importantly, we see the price indicated, helping us to correlate the cost-benefit of the product. This is a classic SaaS strategy that guides potential customers in their decision making while enticing them to try out the product.
The “7-day free trial” is another SaaS strategy that has caught on among SaaS product marketers. It is an excellent customer acquisition strategy that allows customers to try out the services and be satisfied using it, all the while not paying a penny. SaaS product marketers have gradually evolved the marketing process to provide a more customer-friendly experience. Be it the easy sign-up processes and the limited but more clear cut product options; SaaS marketing has helped software makers to establish their products as true money-spinners, selling billions of software online.
SaaS marketing’s influence in overall marketing strategies
Most SaaS products are purchased in a completely non-traditional manner. A customer looking for a SaaS driven solution will look it up on the internet, shortlist the available options, look into their prices and features and probably try out the free trials. The entire procurement process is entirely unguided. Much of the possibility of customer acquisition depends on how well the product was marketed, albeit without physical interaction between the customer, the product and the product manager. This is quite contrary to traditional products and models where the customer gets a first-hand download of the product from a sales rep. Much depends on the persuasiveness of the salesperson and the physical features of the product itself, amongst other things. Many of the SaaS marketing features can and are being employed by other management execs. So when we see the development of high-quality website content by an FMCG product or a cement company, they are only taking a leaf out of the SaaS marketing almanack. Hotels, for example, are becoming more and more active gathering positive reviews across web platforms and cementing their visibility with onsite and offsite SEOs. The importance of SaaS marketing lies, not just in product management interview questions, but also in the way marketing is done.
Universal relevance of SaaS marketing
This universal appeal is down to the efficiency that SaaS brings into marketing and the outcome-oriented strategies that have proven to be effective for successful SaaS vendors. SaaS product managers have been able to drive home their product differentiator very effectively. The drive for delivering products that are ‘only much better’ than their competitors have handed them their unique value proposition. The marketing world has observed that it doesn’t always need to be the price. Radically leveraging on the features and service deliveries have also helped SaaS products stand out tall among competition. SaaS marketing has seen the emergence of free trials and free plans as effective models of product marketing. If your brand is offering a full refund to unsatisfied customers, it is the influence of SaaS marketing right there. These simple tactics have been highly functional in ensuring maximum customer on-boarding for SaaS companies. It is, therefore, no wonder that these winning strategies are permeating into traditional product management domain as well.
SaaS expertise among future product managers
Looking at the way SaaS strategies are ingrained into modern product marketing campaigns and strategy, product management interview questions must undoubtedly be peppered with SaaS related enquiries. Besides, as illustrated above, SaaS marketing seems to have a universal appeal which makes it relevant in the entire product management realm. Traditional questions about ‘example of good product that is poorly marketed’ or ‘maintaining the balance between product management and product developers/engineers’ are important in identifying the raw talent in a bunch of aspiring product managers along with a deep dive into their knowledge of SaaS marketing. So when it comes to finding out who your perfect product manager is, judging them on their SaaS marketing knowledge depth is very pertinent in the present day marketing scenario. Alternatively, if you are preparing to face a product management job opening, it will be prudent to expect a few SaaS marketing related probing among your product management interview questions. As the marketing fraternity is embracing the effectiveness of SaaS marketing techniques into its fold, prowess over this red hot marketing mechanism will pay dividends in the future of every aspiring product manager.