How to Brand Your SaaS Startup

By Sophie Foggin Published: 15 May, 2020 Last updated: February 17th, 2022 at 2:29 pm

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For SaaS startups, one of the most difficult challenges can be making themselves stand out to customers who, when shopping for a product, are faced with an overwhelming array of opportunities. 

And, between now and 2023, experts predict the market will become even more crowded, as it is predicted to have already been growing at an annual rate of 21.2% since 2018.

While the demand for software as a service continues to exist, conveying the individuality of their SaaS service is the number one priority for these startups, and this can be achieved through branding. 

Brand awareness is key for startups looking to scale and grow, and it can then be used as a base to then develop strategies around in order to promote the brand’s image. 

Here are four ways SaaS startups can build their brand. 

Identifying your audience

For SaaS startups, having a clear definition of their customer profile will provide the perfect building blocks for any brand strategy. 

In a world where personalized services are increasingly becoming part of the average customer’s expectation, SaaS companies must know exactly who they are targeting their companies towards, so that they’re able to do it more efficiently. 

There are various ways that SaaS companies can identify their ideal buyer persona. This can be done by conducting a market survey, reaching out to influencers to ask them questions or sub-contracting a company that can install code to pull this data for you.

The market survey strategy was tried and tested by SaaS startup Applango, when their sales revenue dropped drastically in 2016. Within months, the new information they had gained about their customers helped them increase traffic to their website, as well as generate new leads.

One of the easiest ways SaaS startups can identify their buyers, however, is to produce content and monitor which pieces perform the best on their website. This content can also double-up as an SEO strategy through keywords and backlinking. At the same time, this content – if paired with SaaS PR – can reach new audiences and potentially bring in new leads for any business. 

Product reviews 

Looking to invest in a new SaaS product is like searching for a new film to watch: the first thing a customer tends to look for are reviews and recommendations. 

And the stats prove it. According to data published by SEO software company Moz, almost 70% of customers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by online reviews.

Getting good reviews published in popular SaaS business review directories such as G2 crowd, GetApp, Capterra, TrustRadius and Software Advice can mean that customers searching for a service by category can find a particular startup’s product easily, when they might not have otherwise been able to.

The ability to rate products by stars on some of these review sites is also a great way for SaaS businesses to build up their credibility and consumer trust.

These websites can also incentivise SaaS startups to always perform to the best of their abilities, because while positive reviews can boost sales, negative reviews can harm business. 

In fact, the same Moz research revealed that businesses could lose up to 22% of their customers if a negative review is published about their product online.

Word of mouth

Leading SaaS companies such as instant messaging platform Slack are famous for how their word-of-mouth marketing strategy helped them raise brand awareness. 

However, word-of-mouth marketing doesn’t have to mean face-to-face recommendations.  

Successful SaaS companies have realised the power of social media, especially platforms such as Twitter, for spreading the word fast and wide. Thanks to hashtags and the ability to tag accounts, the power of a retweet, for example (depending on the account it comes from) can reach thousands of users.

Using this strategy, the team at Slack worked on their app for over a year and a half before hiring staff for the company’s marketing team. 

Although it might be more difficult for SaaS startups with little-to-no following to leverage social media in order to spread the word about their product, if they do it in the right way, it can be instrumental in building out their brand awareness.

Media coverage

Fostering a good relationship with tech journalists — whose articles sometimes depend on interviews and insight from SaaS startups — is key to building up brand awareness through diverse methods of communication. 

Whether this means reaching out to journalists to send them press releases about a new product, or offering expert analysis from individuals within your company, getting published in media outlets is a great way to spread a brand name and promote a company’s image. 

One thing SaaS startups should make sure of, however, is that they are targeting the correct types of publications. Besides the obvious big hitters like TechCrunch, The Next Web and Quartz, independent, smaller media can also be worth trying, and sometimes easier to get published in. 

For example, a big win for Belgium-based marketing segmentation tool DESelect involved publishing a press release on small tech publication MarTechSeries, which means that the Saas company now appears as the fifth most common result in a Google News search. 

If SaaS startups can convince industry influencers – such as Hubspot founder Dharmesh Shah and CrazyEgg founder Hiten Shah – to feature their products, this is also a bonus for building brand awareness.

Final thoughts

Although there is no fool-proof method when it comes to how to brand SaaS, a combination of these four tactics should be a perfect recipe for SaaS startups looking to gain brand notoriety.

A healthy mixture of SaaS PR tactics – whether it be aligning your company message with your target audience, feature in SaaS product reviews to build industry credibility, leveraging social media to increase your digital footprint, or gaining some valuable earned media exposure – is the ultimate ticket to creating an iconic SaaS brand.