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9 Jan 2024

Ultimate marketing guide for your SaaS product without spending on ads

Ultimate marketing guide for your SaaS product without spending on ads

We know there are hundreds of marketing guides and articles written all over the web. What makes this guide different is that its purpose. This guide is aimed at solomakers, bootstrapped startups, and even hobby projects who are creating SaaS Products. This is a unique but popular combination such that marketing for this is altogether a different game.


Based on our experience and consultations we have compiled a genuine list of ways to market your SaaS product in 2024 without spending anything or in a very frugal way. It includes different approaches to market your cloud product in all its stages whether it is pre-release, beta, pre-launch or post-launch.


If you are one of the above, chances are , you would have invested less in product development and you want to spend even less in marketing your SaaS Product.


Free Marketing Approaches


  1. Coming Soon Page
  2. Join Communties
  3. KickStart SEO
  4. Beta Directories
  5. Cease Marketing and Analyze
  6. Marketing optimized Business Website
  7. Launch in Communities
  8. ProductHunt Launch
  9. Directory Submissions
  10. Life-Time deal sites
  11. Tech review platforms like G2, Capterra
  12. Blog writing
  13. Content pages in website like comparisons
  14. Free plan
  15. Product branding in free shareable links
  16. Affiliate partnerships
  17. Link exchange
  18. Coupon code sites
  19. Email marketing
  20. Make it Viral with Social Media
  21. Giving away Freebies



Why Ads should be your last resort in marketing?


Advertising in 2024 is only getting expensive. For example even after spending hundreds of dollars in Google Ads campaign, you can only (advisable) target specific Geo location or reach out to a particular region. Although Ads help to to bring your product infront of targeted users, Ads do not scale, which means unless you spend a lot and continuously, Ads will not yield the results as expected especially when it comes to SaaS as cloud products are generally global. Also there is no guarantee that users will buy your product.


But unlike other products, SaaS can be marketed different ways without Ads, but it requires patience and careful planning right from the start. Now let us go through different ways with which you can gain users at various stages of your SaaS product.


Coming Soon Page

Stage: Pre-release


Even before you release an early version of your SaaS Product, you can start attracting users. A coming soon page should provide only a glimpse of your upcoming application with a faded screenshot or illustration and a very brief description. In a short single line convey to the visitor what is the best usecase of your app. And the most important part of the Coming Soon page is a signup form. Which again should only collect email addresses of interested visitors. Anything more than a email address in the form at this stage is not recommended.


A Coming Soon page will help you validate user interest and create a pre-launch email list to whom you can email once your product is released. This will help to gain some traction on day one of your launch itself. However simply having a coming soon page alone will not bring users to your page. You can convey about your idea with this page in forums, social media, friends and family. This will help you to launch your product without 0 users on day one.


Free ComingSoon Page tools


  1. SubPage
  2. Wix
  3. Framer


Join Communities

Stage: Pre-release


This step in marketing is often missed. You should join product communities and actively participate them to increase your reputation among them. It could be voting, replying to questions, making comments. This way depending upon your type of community you can gain followers, Whether it is ProductHunt, Reddit, HackerNews, IndieHackers, it is not worth posting about your product immediately after becoming a member. If you gain followers, they will set word-of-mouth for your product once you release them. This along with your Coming Soon page (if you add its link to your Community Bio) will help other members of your Community take notice on what are you upto and may even signup to be on your waitlist as you make progress in your activities.


Free Communities


  1. Reddit
  2. HackerNews (Show: HN)
  3. IndieHackers


Kickstart SEO

Stage: Pre-release


Analyze keywords, analyze competitor SEO strategies, Start a blog and write articles that are related to your product. Also constantly update changelog of your product updates once in Public Beta. Again establishing SEO marketing even before you release your product will help gain users for your waitlist and beta launch. And by the time you launch your Product, all the SEO you would have gained will catapult your product towards a successful release.


Free Product Analytics


  1. Google Analytics
  2. PostHog



Beta Directories

Stage: Pre-production


Do not jump into launching your product. Marketing is better when done in small steps especially for small unknown companies. It is important to test your product at this stage , because there might be bugs that you don't know or much needed features that you might have missed. This is the cooling-off period or warming-up period before your product launch. Betalist.com is a good free option, there are also other Beta only directories which help your product gain some users without spending anything.


Free Beta Directories


  1. Betalist
  2. Pitchwall


Cease Marketing and Analyze

Stage: Post Beta but before final launch


This is not actually marketing, but sometimes overmarketing your product can turn out to be a disaster. This step is important to analyze what you have done so far, how much users you were able to gain in Beta. Study their behaviour using any analytics software and write reports and take actions. Before the final launch, answers these questions:


1) Are you able to retain users

2) Do users use your product actually?

3) Are they asking the right support questions?


Answering this will help you decide between setting up a launch date or making improvements to your product.


Marketing optimized Business Website

Stage: Launch


Have a business friendly website with all required pages like policies, pricing, faq, glossary, helpcenter. Make sure each page is optimized for performance (for SEO), it has required meta data and OG details. Remember Website is the first thing users see even before they signup for your product. It is the most important piece of your marketing strategy.


Free Website Builders


  1. WebFlow - Great for frontend website
  2. Framer - Great for frontend website
  3. SubPage - Best for blog, helpcenter, policies


Launching in Communities

Stage: Launch


In what ever communities you are active (except ProductHunt), submit to them about your launch one by one. Space out atleast by a week. Gauge feedback and reactions from the respective community members. Based on that fine tune your community submission strategy.



ProductHunt Launch

Stage: Launch


Hands-down, ProductHunt is the most recognized way to gain initial traction for your product launch but it is also very competitive. So follow their guidelines and submit your product for launch. You will for sure see an uptick in web traffic.


Links:


  1. Site: ProductHunt
  2. Guidelines: Launch Guide


Screenshot 2024-01-10 at 6.00.57 PM.png



Directory Submissions

Stage: Post-Launch


Pace out directory submissions just like community submissions. If your product is related to AI or has an important AI feature, then there are more directories to submit your SaaS product. This will help you gain backlinks and improve your website authority which in turn improves your search engine rankings.


Free Submission Sites:


  1. TopApps
  2. AllThingsAI
  3. SaasWorthy


Screenshot 2024-01-10 at 6.00.05 PM.png



Life-Time Deal sites

Stage: Post-Launch


Submitting your software to Life-Time deal sites like Appsumo or Pitchground will help you to attract not only traffic but also much needed revenue required to boost your business. Usually life-time deal sites have a submission process but they do not require any upfront payments from you. Instead they get commission from every sale that happens through their site. However as the name suggests, the game here is to model a deal that is attractive for their members at the same time that does not break your bank. So it is advisable to have a good strategy in place before publishing a life-time deal.


Life-Time Deal Sites:


  1. AppSumo
  2. PitchGround
  3. DealMirror


Screenshot 2024-01-10 at 5.58.36 PM.png



Tech review platforms like G2, Capterra

Stage: Post-Launch


Once you have some regular users on board and reviewing by how they use your product and their feedback. If positive, then it is time to submit your product to prime technology review platforms aka Grand Software Directories such as G2, Capterra. The popularity in these platforms are based by the number of positive reviews posted for your product in their platforms. So it is recommended run a review campaign with your users asking them to post reviews on these sites. In case you get less responses, pamper them with some free upgrades as long it is within the guidelines mentioned in the review site.


Tech Review Sites


  1. G2
  2. Capterra
  3. CrozDesk
  4. TrustRadius


Screenshot 2024-01-10 at 5.57.57 PM.png



Blog writing

Stage: All Stages


To establish early website authority and better SEO presence, it is highly recommended to start writing blogs articles related to your product even before it is released. Writing original content, with related keywords will help gain organic traffic on the long run. Blog Writing is essential if you rely on free marketing.


Blog Platforms


  1. WordPress
  2. SubPage
  3. Ghost



Content pages in website like comparisons

Stage: Post-Launch


In this era a one-page product website or website with minimal number of pages cannot do marketing a favor. Remember your website is your primary presence of your product. Using which you should drive users to visit your site, make them signup and try your application. So we recommend creating a number of content oriented pages and portals related to your product like glossary, docs, comparisons, directories. This will also establish trust with your first time visitors suggesting that your business is an expert in what they have built, while also driving much needed organic traffic and back links.


Content Pages


  1. SubPage Glossary
  2. SubPage IntegrationLibrary


Screenshot 2024-01-10 at 5.56.57 PM.png



Free Plan

Stage: Pre-Launch


Always have a free plan to drive quick traffic. But keep the free plan cost effective for you at the same time good enough such that users will talk about it driving word-of-mouth. Free plan = Free advertising. More people search for "Free CRM software" than "Paid CRM software". A free plan will help in getting user feedback and faster user adoption too. People love Free. But also make your paid plans exciting so they do not perceive your software as cheap but valuable.


Screenshot 2024-01-10 at 5.40.01 PM.png



Product branding in free shareable links

Stage: Post-Launch


This is only recommended in your free or starting plans. Also this may not be applicable to all types of software. If your product provides shareable links, pages, embeddable widgets like a chat box, then have a reference to your website saying like "Made with MySaaS" or "Powered by SaaS". This will help in backlinks plus it provides free visibility for your product.


Screenshot 2024-01-10 at 5.36.44 PM.png



Affiliate partnerships

Stage: Post Launch


Affiliate marketing is tying up with affiliates who will sell the product for you and in turn they get a cut from the acquired revenue. Getting the right partnership will boost your revenue but it requires a pragmatic approach. It is not required to have an affiliate tool to do partnerships but they help reduce your effort.


Free affiliate tools


  1. Trolley
  2. Tolt.io


Link exchange

Stage: Post Launch


As already mentioned, good authoritative back links for your website will boost your search engine rankings. Link exchange tools, will assist in building a network of back links for your domain. However as a word of caution, over-using link exchanges can also bring down your score, as search engines might take it as Spam. So use it in a organic way with a gradual buildup.


Link Exchange Tools


  1. Smartlinks.ai



Coupon code sites

Stage: Post Launch


On important events, give discount prices or coupon codes for your software and display them on your website like a popup. Also mention it in social media and on free coupon code sites. When users retweet or like your posts, it will bring extra attention and attract more traffic to your site.


Email Marketing

Stage: All Stages


Email marketing is not just about selling to users via email. But to establish a connection between users and your product. On important product announcements, blog articles, events, email potentially interested users. Also track their open rates and click through rates to gauge interest.


Free Email Marketing tools


  1. MailChimp
  2. MailJet


Make it Viral with Social Media

Stage: All Stages


Leverage Social Media tools to cross post your content and also for posting exclusive content that would be tailored for that platform. In these days, you never know when your content will become viral, so keep posting and wait for the jackpot.


Social Media Tools


  1. Buffer
  2. HootSuite



Giving away Freebies

Stage: Post Launch


To pull more traffic into your website, you can give a free tool that can be used without signup or account. For example ahrefs.com provide a free backlink checker. Package a particular function or feature of your app that can be used in this context. If it is unique and genuinely useful, word-of-mouth will make it popular faster.



Conclusion

Free Marketing is like the chicken-egg problem, where you need popularity to gain traction. But to gain popularity you need more users. So it is important to put the right amount of effort at the right time to pull it off.









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