How to differentiate your SaaS product from your competition
Every new, innovative market comes out with a bang, transforms, and then tapers off to find its stability in the business world. For the last decade the SaaS market has experienced wild growth and horizontal expansion into all areas of business and consumer processes. There is a SaaS solution for just about anything. The “Uber” for this and that. Improvements of other solutions have overtaken first-comers. The SaaS market is now reaching its place of maturity and it’s vital that SaaS companies differentiate their SaaS product.
Back in 2013, the average number of competitors that a SaaS company had entering the market was just three. Now the number of competitors SaaS companies face is over 3x higher.
Customers have options and all the resources at their fingertips to find a solution that fits their needs.
It’s SaaS teams’ job to make sure their product is clearly that solution when the right customers are looking.
So how can SaaS companies differentiate their product from the growing competition? They can position themselves as the right solution to the right target audience.
Here is how to differentiate your SaaS product:
1. Identify target personas within target markets:
SaaS products can be diverse in their value offering and applicable across many different markets but this can be detrimental rather than beneficial for your marketing team. When you spread yourself too thin and try to appeal to all markets, your clear value as a solution for one type of customer becomes watered down. You cannot focus all of your efforts on a large crowd and be very successful. If you want to target customers well and with your team’s full resources, you have to niche down. SaaS companies should identify key target markets that would see the greatest, direct value in their product to focus on. A persona is the ideal customer within that market. A persona is very detailed to help teams get specific about their work to market and sell. A persona profile includes the role within a company, the demographics, location, searching habits, buying process, and key pain points that pertain to the ideal customer. By nailing down what the target markets and target personas are, companies can focus their efforts and resources. Learn more about how to identify and target SaaS personas here.
2. Take a look at who’s competing for the same market space:
With 3x more competitors and growing, it’s important to take a look at who is moving around you and how to make sure you are different. Teams should look at how competitors are speaking to customers, what kind of copy and messaging they are using, where they are positioning paid ads and content, and what key features and solutions they are focusing on. Teams that do an excellent job at countering competition and differentiating their product know what key value and feature within their product are the competitive values. There is likely a lot of crossover between a product and its competition. Honing in and understanding what, for your target customers, makes your product fundamentally different is key. This is a key responsibility of product marketers. Learn more about Product Marketing and the top 5 skills product marketers must have mastered to make SaaS products a success.
3. Nail down key messaging that communicates value:
After niching down target market and personas, teams must determine how they will speak to their personas in a specific and differentiated way. Key messaging is central, high level yet specific messaging to be used across ads, content, copy, etc. that speaks directly to target personas. Key messaging helps teams stay away from being too general and vague for their audiences and helps to communicate value directly to their target customers. For example, instead of “our product speeds up your website”, targeted messaging would hone in on customer-specific concerns: “our product speeds up your eCommerce customer experience for higher conversions”.
Key messaging should:
- Speak to one persona
- Communicate the product as a solution
- Speak to key persona’s pain points
- Use industry jargon and terms
- Be clear and concise
- Focus on displaying the features and benefits that most interest the target personas
4. Position your brand with content, social, and PR:
Your messaging should be used to create content that is engaging, educational, and informative for your target personas where they are most likely to find it. It’s vital that companies can understand their target personas completely: what they search, where they search, what their key pain points are, what language they use when searching, and what topics they are interested in beyond their product. The companies that excel beyond their competition with content and ads do so by working to be a resource for their target personas rather than just throwing out sales jargon hoping they bite. Think about Salesforce, Hubspot, Mailchimp, and Shopify of shining examples of content marketing and positioning done right. They have massive banks of really engaging, informative content that appears top of search when their target audience does their research. Their overall goal is so prevalent in their strategy, that they often produce content that doesn’t even directly address their product. For instance, Hubspot has entire blogs about sales team best practices and remote working. Why? Because their target audience still has interests in those areas and it positions Hubspot as an overall helpful, authoritative company. Creating informative content that positions your product as the solution for specific audiences is key to differentiation. 89% of top performing SaaS companies have a blog but only 11% of SaaS companies in general are investing in their content strategy. Clearly, there is an opportunity to differentiate.
5. Follow up and support your customer’s success:
A way that is overlooked to differentiate from the competition is how you continue the sales process and ensure your customers successful adopt your product. The internal buying process for SaaS is so much more complex than other products. Your product has to be pitched internally and agreed upon as a solution. Supporting that with your sales team and having resources available is essential to converting leads easier. Offering to help pitch to higher decision makers, put together custom proposals, and create custom offerings event to match company goals can help your team differentiate from competition. Beyond this, ensuring companies adopt your product is key to long term revenue and making sure that they don’t switch to competitors. Your team can support this with a great onboarding process, educational resources, live support, and ongoing education within your product.
6. Keep customers included in your product’s evolution:
With so many competitors constantly evolving and all reaching to be the perfect solution for your target customers, it’s important to keep users hooked by including them in the evolution of your product. You want to show users how your team is working hard to meet their needs with new features and updates. An easy way to educate users on features and show they how to use your product is to notify them within your product. Beamer is a feed that sits within your product and opens when a user click on an icon. You can fill your Beamer feed with messages pointing out key features, showing users best practices, etc. It keeps new users engaged and exploring your product. You can add photos, videos, GIFs, links, etc. to your updates to make them simple to understand and engaging. Your team can see comments and reactions coming in from your Beamer feed and better understand how to support new users. This kind of product discovery and continued support differentiates you from the competition even after conversion, to build revenue-driving loyalty.
Differentiating your product against the competition goes beyond just how you brand and market with SaaS. The sales process is unique and longer and your team needs to be more valuable to customers throughout the whole process to beat the growing competition. For an easy way to keep leads and users engaged, try Beamer on your site and within your product today.