The SaaS industry had its first touch with a herculean crisis as the COVID-19 pandemic spread through like wildfire across the globe in 2020. The industry was in a nascent stage during the last recession in 2007-2009 and when the pandemic struck most leading firms in the industry did not have any crisis protocol to fall back upon. For some firms, the challenge became enormous, as many of their client’s budgets got drastically reduced while prospects delayed their purchase decisions. However, not everything went downhill as some would have expected.
As most companies moved to a remote working model and focus started to shift towards a possible recovery, many businesses seem to find business value in the SaaS model. Even in mid-2020 when the pandemic was in full swing, a survey conducted by Statista showed that over fifty percent of respondents mentioned that spending on SaaS products remains constant in their firms or they were planning to increase it (Figure 1)
Figure 1: Impact of Covid on SaaS Spending (source: Statista)
To convert the crisis into an opportunity, companies must be able to reorient themselves and adapt. Here are some key ways to move forward.
Highlight Relevant Aspects of Your Solution – Rebrand your Offerings
SaaS firms should think about innovating their product/service packages and rebranding themselves in the eyes of their customers.
For example, if your product solution has features that are suited for collaboration, remote working, or improving communication amongst teams — look to highlight them upfront. You do not need to be a collaboration SaaS provider and yet if you have any of these features you can actively highlight the same. If you are offering an Accounting SaaS product, you can pitch it as the perfect solution for remote financial teams. Further, if it is feasible for you to make additions to your platform, consider adding on features like chat rooms, whiteboards, etc. into your SaaS product.
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Localize Your Product Offerings
In a crisis situation, different locations are disparately affected. Some countries, states, and even cities do much better than others and typically move quickly towards the path of recovery. As a SaaS provider, it is now critical, more than ever, to localize your offerings, especially in geographies that are leading the recovery.
Create custom content in local languages, highlight local success stories in country-specific pages and focus on parts of your solution that are acutely relevant in specific geographies.
Keep Your Marketing Engine on and Accelerate
This is not the time to hold back or reduce your marketing spend. In fact, at a time where many are looking at ways to reduce and optimize their businesses, the very nature of SaaS products offers them a chance to try a new solution with asymmetric risk and reward.
It is imperative for you to expand your content marketing and paid promotion outreach. You should look to increase your ad budgets, increase the frequency of ad campaigns and try out different ad formats. For example, you may like to consider investing more money in video ads as they are more likely to showcase your products in an effective manner. Focus on social platforms like LinkedIn and try to reach as many prospects as possible with accurate targeting.
Change Your Pricing Model
While you are the best judge for the pricing model for your SaaS product, it makes sense to examine it in light of the prevailing macro-economic situation. For SaaS providers targeting small businesses, consider offering steep discounts and extended free trial options that can genuinely help businesses. Rebrand yourself as a friend in a time of crisis by offering special prices for start-ups, individual users, women entrepreneurs, non-profits, and very small firms.
If you do not offer a completely free plan, it’s possibly time to offer one and encourage businesses to get a hang of your product. If your SaaS solution is good, it is very likely that in near future some of them will sign-up for a paid plan which offers the core features of your platform.
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Solve the Pain Points of Your Existing Customers
It is critical to reach out to your existing customers to check out if there is anything you can do to help them out. You can possibly roll out complementary features to some of your valued customers, offer dedicated account managers, and possibly educate them about features that might make their work easier. Reconnecting with your existing users also offers a great opportunity for upselling solutions that might be relevant for them.
It is imperative to keep the initiative at a time of crisis and rebrand your SaaS offerings to better suit the new market reality. Expand your marketing efforts and try to get a head start over your rivals. As the economy recovers, you would be in a better position to reap its benefits, if you have built up a strong sales pipeline.
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