You are really passionate about technology, and you have a great idea of a SaaS product. You did your research and invested a lot of money into developing the MVP.
But when it came to marketing your product, you found yourself short of money!
Don’t worry! You are not alone.
Most startups don’t pay much attention to marketing. And when they do, the money is already spent on developing the product.
Anyway, as I have worked with SaaS startups with similar situations, I found that it’s not entirely impossible to market your SaaS product with zero budget.
But how do you do that?
If you ask yourself the question, the first answer that may come to your mind is “make your content go viral.”
At first glance, it may sound reasonable. But in reality, you can not “create” viral content. It’s not in your hand.Besides, virality doesn't always mean sales or lead generation. Click To Tweet
So if we can’t rely on virality, what can we do to market your product without a marketing budget?
Here are the top 16 ways how you can market your product for free.
Jump to the Content:
1. Offer Your Solution for Free Initially
Try before you buy is not a new concept. But it is more relevant in the area of SaaS products. Because gaining trust for a physically non-existent product is a tough job.
Solution? Offer your Saas product for free in the initial days.
As a SaaS startup just launching, your first goal is to get your name known to the market. And offering the product for free is a great way to do that.
Paying or not, if someone expresses interest and take time to check out your product, it’s excellent news for a couple of reasons!
- It validates that your product has real value.
- It provides you with free user data and user feedback; free users can give you loads of information on how you can improve the product.
- It automatically builds up your email list and makes your email marketing going.
Early adopters— Ravi Kikan #BounceBackNow On Amazon (@ravikikan) September 16, 2020
Get them fast, get them young
Now work backwards on which platforms they might be and throw open a plethora of content which is interesting and engaging with a CTA
2. Start Creating Content to Project Authority
Content is king, even in 2020. There is no doubt about it.
A 2018 study done by Content Marketing Institute shows that 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing for their business.
So it’s a must-try marketing approach for SaaS businesses with a tight budget.
Content marketing initially has two parts.
- Content Creation
- Content Distribution
The basic idea is creating extremely helpful content to solve your audience’s problems and making sure the right audience views the content.
Let’s say, you have a SaaS product that lets freelancers efficiently manage their expenses. It is evident that your content must revolve around solving freelancers’ money problems.
So, you decided to create content: “Ultimate Guide on How Freelancers Manage Their Expenses.”
How do you know your audience wants to read this topic?
Just do a google search! And it will tell you if this is something your audience wants to read or not.
Ok! So you created the content. The next step is to promote it.
Here’s what a simple outreach process looks like…..
- Share on all social media, Personal and professional.
- Ask your friends and family to share the content.
- Submit to subreddits.
- Post it on Facebook groups
- Reach to all the people you have mentioned in the article and ask them to share.
- Approach to people who have linked to similar articles.
- Answer questions on Quora.
- Promote it to your email list. (if you have any)
Want to know how exactly I promoted this article? Here’s a checklist for you…
3. Write Expert Round-up Posts
Round up posts are an effective way to get noticed in the market.
Round-ups are created by collecting the opinions of industry experts and curating them nicely under a single post. You probably saw a lot of round up posts by now.
Here’s an example of a round-up post by Pawan Kumar
This is super easy to do.
- Find the industry experts in your niche.
- Connect with them on Linkedin/ Twitter or get their email id.
- Send them all a specific question to answer.
- Don’t expect everyone to reply back. But most of them will. And they all have some interesting perspectives to share.
- Add their answers to your blog.
- Publish it.
- Let the person know the blog is live and tell them to share it.
This is called an expert round-up post.
The basic funda here is to tug on people’s egos. If you feature them on your post, it’s highly likely that they will share your post with their network.
The more share your content gets, the more views, the more tractions, and the more chance of paid customer.
4. Write SEO Content
Focusing on SEO and creating SEO content is another must-try low-budget SaaS marketing strategy. Here your goal is to create content that ranks on Google. Now, the topics should not be any topic, but based on the keywords people are searching for.
Let’s say you are selling an HR CRM, then you should talk about HR best practices, the problems of HRs, tools, tips, and tricks etc.
You could write a comprehensive guide of HR tips and tricks and get it ranked.
Anyone who searched for the content is definitely your prospective customer. And if your content ranks on google, sweet mother of god, that is an automated lead generation machine.
You might ask, isn’t SEO Content marketing and Content marketing the same?
The answer is no. Although SEO content comes under content marketing.
- Content Marketing is when you come up with uniques content ideas, guides, round up posts. Create the content and promote the content across channels to get people to notice.
- SEO Content marketing is when you don’t come up with unique content ideas, but you do keyword research, see what people are searching on the internet, you try to find their intent.
And then, you create a kickass content based on your research.
Now, you can also promote SEO content through content marketing. But here, your aim must be to get links to your website to improve ranking.
5. Marketing Videos
No, I’m not talking about those animated explainer videos.
I’m talking about taking a video camera, shooting a video yourself explaining what you are doing, and putting it on the internet.
You see, people connect with people. If you show your face in your marketing videos, it will do two things
- Create a brand for you and your product
- People will see that you are a real person and will begin to trust you and your product.
And building trust, thats essential for your marketing efforts.
6. Use the Power of Forums
Quora: Quora is the biggest question-answer platform with 300 million monthly users. Users can post questions on different topics, and get answers from an expert all over the world. This makes Quora one of the best platforms to market your product.
Let’s say you want to market your HR CRM solution. You go to Quora, search for questions and communities in that niche. And you start answering questions.
These type of questions you can answer on Quora:
- Your software-related question. E.g., “What is the best HR CRM software?“
- Topics in your niche, such as “how to be productive as an HR?“
- Brand related questions: such as how your product is better than your competitors.
Now, Quora is strict about promoting a product. In this case, you can add a disclaimer at the end of your answer, claiming what you do and say that your POV may be biased because you work with this brand.
Mind you though, this is a very demanding and time-consuming process.
But that makes it perfect for trying out Quora for some time, and see for yourself if it’s working for your business.
Reddit: This article would be incomplete without mentioning the potential of Reddit.
Reddit is an online community where people of the same interests join subreddits and discuss their interest topics.
If used in the right way, it can work wonders for your SaaS business.
But, self-promotion on Reddit is a big No-No. You must read all the subreddits’ guidelines and take permission from the moderators before posting, or you could get banned from the subreddit.
Reddit is really helpful because communities there are highly active and engaging.
If your shared content is valuable, people will most definitely engage with your content, increasing the chance of getting noticed and getting paid customers.
7. Build Personal Brand on Linkedin
In terms of reach, no platform can beat Linkedin right now. And as a SaaS startup, you must not miss this opportunity to build your brand on Linkedin. It is easy and convenient for a single person to do.
- Create a Linkedin profile for yourself and your company.
- Start posting relevant content from your personal account. Don’t post regular content on the company page. Instead, use it for showing BTS content or announcing updates.
- All the magic happens on your personal profile. Make sure you stay consistent on content creation and promote your company page from time to time.
Dhruvam Thakur, from The Smart Taxi, is doing a brilliant job with personal branding and promoting his company.
8. Do Guest Post
Guest posting on reputed publications is a great way to get some eyeballs in your product. It also earns you backlinks, which helps to increase blog authority.
But, guest posting to a high DA website is not easy. You must do a lot of networking in the industry to get a good guest posting opportunity.
Personal or online meet-ups, conferences, and Linkedin connections can help you find the right people for guest posting.
However, this goes without saying that you must be an excellent content creator and a superb networker to land guest post opportunities.
9. Partner With Events and Giveaway Premium Subs
This is the most underrated way to market your SaaS business.
But partnering with small and medium-sized events and giving their audience discount coupons or a premium subscription for your product can give you a lot of traction and eyeballs.
And it’s easy to do. Events are always looking for companies who can partner with them and give away something for engagement activities.
And in return, they can give your product/ brand shoutout on their social media handles. It’s an excellent branding activity.
10. Get your Product Listed on Product Hunt, G2 Crowd or Appsumo
Getting listed on Product Hunt or G2 Crowd is easy, takes no more than a few minutes, and it’s 100% free. The best part is, it gives instant access to a community of millions of people who are actually interested in trying out new products.
G2 Crowd has almost half-million user reviews on different products and business solutions.
Product Hunt has two million monthly active users.
More than enough to get you the initial traction you need.
Make sure to ask your current users to add a review on Product Hunt or G2 Crowd. Because however enthusiastic they are about your product, they may not be that enthusiastic about writing a review.
11. Do Webinars
Especially after the pandemic, online webinars got a massive boost. It is working for other businesses, and as a SaaS startup, you must try it too.
But to be honest, a lot of work goes behind a webinar.Here are the steps…
- Come up with Unique webinar topic ideas.
- Do comprehensive research on everything you can find on the topic online; blogs, podcasts, webinars, videos. Study them, and create an updated content outline for your webinar.
- Try to come up with some possible audience questions and prepare their answers.
The key here is to genuinely provide massive value to your audience through your webinar and promote your product at the end.
12. Collaborate with Micro-Influencers
Unlike big influencers, micro-influencers on any platform have the highest engagement ratio. Buffer’s recent study shows that
“Influencers with 1,000 to 5,000 followers have the highest engagement at an 8.8 percent engagement rate.”
That’s why you should collaborate with micro-influencers on every platform.
- It will give you a decent engagement.
- It’s virtually free. A lot of micro-influencers can share your content or do a shoutout with little to no money.
You can do many of these influencer collaborations, and it will give you a lot of boost in your visibility.
For instance, BlueTie has been collaborating with a lot of Linkedin Influencers for the last couple of months, and it has generated them good traction and brand visibility.
13. Do Email Marketing
There is no better way to grow your SaaS brand than doing email marketing.
You see, you can’t control social media algorithms; you can’t control Google search algorithm changes.
But you have complete control over your emails. It is the most high-performing, high converting, and a highly-personalized way to target your customers.
Every single contact on your email list has given their email after knowing you. They expect to receive unique content and offers from you in their inbox.
It is the best platform to really understand your audience and communicate with them one to one.
Another reason to start email marketing now is that it’s completely free initially and doesn’t depend on the algorithm change.
You can use email marketing in two ways.
- Email Newsletter
- Drip Campaign
- Email Newsletter: It is the newspaper for your brand. Whatever you’re doing about your business and brand, you share all the stories with your audience. You can announce product launch, new update, the latest release, send out offers, run contests, and many more.
- Drip Campaign: Here, you address your audience’s pain points and upsell your products with automated, highly personalized email campaigns. With the analytics from your website and newsletter, it will be a lot easier to create a drip campaign.
14. Create Case Studies
Case studies are golden marketing tactics for SaaS companies, especially in the B2B space. After you acquire some paid or unpaid user, create a case study on how your product helped your customer solve their specific problem.
This will increase your brand image, authority, and build trust among your prospective customers.
Keep in mind though, case studies are not for bringing traffic to the website, but they will surely increase your product’s conversion rate.
How do you make one?Go to your users and ask them in detail how they use your product in their daily life and how exactly it is helping them ease their life. Click To Tweet
Most users will be happy to tell you all about it. But if they don’t, offer them a freebie or discount in return to sweeten the deal.
If you want to see an example, here is a great one via Buzzsumo
15. Bid on Competitor Name
Do you have a lot of competitors? Then here’s a sneaky way to cash out on their names.
Create some comparison articles and “alternative solution” articles.
For example, if your product is a video calling app, you can create content comparing your product with some of the top competitors i.e.
- Your product vs. Zoom vs. Google Meet
Also, you can create alternative solution content, such as
- “Best alternative solution for Zoom.“
Because let’s be honest, nobody searches for “best video calling software” nowadays.
Instead, most people search for alternatives to a brand. And creating these types of content is one of the best ways to quickly rank on google.
16. Create a Micro Product
A micro product is another feather in your SaaS marketing effort. The basic idea is to create a web-based tool to solve specific problems of your potential customer.
Provide it completely free and market that tool and upsell your main product later.
Hubspot does brilliantly with the website grader tool. This tool lets you know if your website is optimized in terms of
- Mobile Optimization
When someone uses the tool, it asks for their email id. And Hubspot upsells their product over users’ email inbox later.
When you have a kickass product, but no money for marketing, you have to think out of the box to create buzz around your product.
Feel free to steal ideas from this list to create a marketing plan for your SaaS product.
But the most crucial part is to get moving. Do not think it is impossible to market your product without a budget.
Yes, it will be a little more time consuming, but put in the little extra work and get the ball rolling.
By the way, let me know which one do you find most valuable? Also, comment below what are the other ideas you can think of. I will surely add those in the article.