How to Effectively Grow Your SaaS Subscription User-Base

SaaS (software as a service) products are booming — and we have technology to thank. It’s much easier to develop software now and you don’t necessarily have to be a technical founder — you can outsource the development, which is also more affordable than ever — and with billions of internet users you have a massive potential user-base to market to and convert into customers.

Low development costs, endless customers, a fairly low barrier of entry and the opportunity to generate recurring revenue all contribute to why SaaS products are a popular business model. Most SaaS business models will offer a free trial or a plan with limited features, as well as several paid subscription options. Becoming a profitable business using this model is very possible — if you can build up your user-base. You could have the best software, but if you aren’t able to quickly attract users to at least cover your burn rate the odds of the business surviving will be extremely low.

A great SaaS product is a win-win for both the company and the customer. The customer gets access to something he or she deems to be valuable for a small monthly fee, and the company is able to generate recurring revenue, which makes it much easier to operate and have a firm grasp on the overall financial health.

If you have a SaaS business, then attracting users is a top priority. Need some ideas to help spark some growth strategies? Check out the tips and suggestions below from individuals responsible for the impressive growth of some very successful SaaS brands.

Seek feedback and feature requests from your current users.

“Outside of providing a stable and usable service, the biggest contributor to our growth is something that sometimes gets neglected the most; feedback. We aggressively get users to give us feedback on our platform and also get users to suggest what features they would like us to add. If a certain number of users request a feature we start developing it right away. This opens the door to potential users hearing about a feature we have that might interest them, then they will register for our service. It simply gives the users what they want. Some companies refuse to revamp their systems or add new features because of the cost that goes into it, but if you have enough users demanding a feature then once implemented it will more likely pay for itself.

This might sound like a paradox but it’s evident that the biggest driver of growth is user referrals. I have seen the biggest growth when users suggest a feature that isn’t in the market then we add it to our system. Once added, we see a huge influx in inquires about that feature as well as user registrations.” — Phillip Livingston, Digital Marketing Specialist at Condo Control Central

Make sure to offer a freemium option.

“The first factor that lead to our growth was our freemium model. Our service is for people to learn IT skills and become certified, so they are often career changers. Giving people the option of trying a few classes for free gets them into our funnel and gets them started on our format and style. This allows us to grow them into paid members over time.

The second major factor was advertising on the right podcast network. We chose the TWiT Network. Their listeners are fiercely loyal and so the endorsement from that network quickly translated into membership sales.” — Valerie Riley, Director of Marketing at ITProTV

K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Stupid.)

“The single biggest factor in our growth has been simplicity.

From the get-go, we wanted to solve problems for the average person and not just create a tool for developers. With that thinking, everything we built was intended to leave the user with the impression that “it just works.”

That’s the response it’s received in the marketplace.

When we launched our first version, we had no paid plans and limited functionality. What we did have was simple — and it worked. With no promotion, it quickly began people all over the globe create ways to do their work more easily and efficiently.

So we kept building while maintaining that mantra. We added more complex features, and made them simple to use. We created a pricing structure that was easy to understand, and actually empowered users rather than limiting them. And we made it easy for users to get the help they need through straightforward knowledge base content and a truly helpful support team.

When users comment about us online, they speak about how easy it is to automate their work using our form building platform. They tell of how they’re no longer waiting for IT support or outside contractors — they can build their own solutions. And word is getting around.

Whenever we’re at conferences, we meet people who are not only streamlining their own work, but sharing templates to their peer groups to help others create the same efficiencies. We’re meeting vendors who recommend us as a way to humanize data collection and integrate with their product. And we meet small business owners who power their entire operation on our platform.

All of this is because we’ve made it simple for them to do so. And that’s what we’ll continue to do.” — Jamie Thomas, co-founder and CEO of Cognito Forms

Keep your team communication streamlined and consistent.

“We hold a daily stand up meeting to start the day, every single day, even if that means over a video conference for anyone that’s not in the office. This is key for everyone on our team to share what they worked on the day before and their priorities for the day ahead, align with other stakeholders and discuss any challenges in an open/friendly environment.

This also means tech team members and business/marketing get air time and a better understanding of how the pieces fit together. For many of us, just knowing why we are working on something—what it means to the other side of the business for example—makes all the difference and real, live conversation at stand up makes that way easier to communicate.

Though time differences can pose a challenge, Slack is our go-to outside of stand up, and helps close the gap with quick, productive conversation via well thought out channels.

For example, our team has a #getshiftdone channel for sharing any high level topics — big wins/articles/general chatter about what’s going on with our company and the industry as a whole. We have more specific channels for daily comings and goings on the team (#shiftsquad) and a few others dedicated to each smaller team ie design, development, sales, or any combination of those.

Our remote team is awesome at keeping up with everything — but one key part of the equation for building ours has been real face to face time. We have a designer and developer from Poland coming to join us in Victoria, Canada for our annual holiday party again this year. They were here in the summer but as we continue to grow, it has become more and more important to make a concerted effort to get together and celebrate.” — Nadia Tatlow General Manager of Shift

Jonathan Long is the Founder of Uber Brands, a brand development agency located in Miami, focused on building e-commerce brands in the health, fitness, lifestyle and beauty industries.