42 SaaS Experts Reveal Their #1 SaaS Growth Hack
According to research done by McKinsey, if a software company grows at 20 percent annually, it has a 92 percent chance of ceasing to exist within a few years.
However, there are people that are able to sustain growth over time and manage to push past challenges life throws their way.
I decided to gather 41 of them and ask them one question:
Whats your #1 SaaS Growth Hack?
Let me tell you, the insights I received from these 27 established SaaS founders, CEO’s & growth marketers were nothing short of amazing! I’ve listed all of them below.
Build in Public
There is a dual fatigue plaguing the world of SaaS: people are both fed up with faceless corporations and they are already paying for too many subscriptions. For software founders seeking recurring revenue and building a professional brand, that’s a double burn.
The best way out of this is leaning into discomfort and serving the underlying psychological needs of our prospective customers: we have to present the humans behind the operation and make it easier for payments to be automated away from the monthly “I am paying for too many things” panic.
To do that, I build my software businesses in public, directly engaging with my customers and partners as I create and improve the product. I show them the real ups and downs of the journey, allowing them to invest their trust, attention, and ultimately their software budget in me and what I offer.
At the same time, I leverage that trust by offering annual plans or, in the beginning, lifetime purchases for early adopters.
Out of sight, out of mind, and I have a whole year —or more— to build a foundation of trust, excellent service, and a true connection with my customers.
Figure Out The Retention Part of Your Unit Economics
We can learn a lot by looking at customer acquisition costs and lifetime value, but I suggest SaaS businesses first make sure that they understand retention.
A subscription business should really focus on why your customers keep using your service. What keeps them coming back? Have they incorporated your service into their workflow? Would they struggle to imagine working without your service?
Look for leading indicators that provide clues. For example, if you segment by frequency of usage, you might find that there are those who use your service daily. Look for ways to develop new features to upsell that segment. What do they value? Don’t just look at usage stats, but reach out to them for more understanding of their own businesses and what you therefore might build.
There will also be those who signed up, played around with the service, but never really used it. Those are the ones at risk of churning. Is there something you could do to keep them? Or should you say no to that segment and then actively make it clear in your communications that you do not serve it? That way, you eliminate future low value customers who will distract your efforts.
Focus on Channel Layering
The #1 hack I would give people is – Focus on channel layering.
For example, when we think about trying to create demand generation engine on a channel like Linkedin, we go at it from multiple layers.
First, we activate dozens of our teams to post on Linkedin and build topical thought leadership that is platform agnostic (say talking about email optimization or lead conversion or owned assets).
Then the next layer is we reach out to customers and partners and encourage them to share on Linkedin about their favorite use cases with the platform.
Then the third layer is we run ads (especially thought leadership ads, which are promoted organic posts).
With these three layers we drive substantially more revenue and business than if we had any one of these approaches operating independently.
‘Sent from iPhone’ in Lead Generation Emails
No, we didn’t send emails from an iPhone. But the simple addition of ‘Sent from iPhone’ at the end of each email instantaneously made our correspondence stand out.
The advantages are diverse: it can imply that a real person is reaching out, that the message is handwritten, and thus more personal.
People tend to receive hundreds of marketing offers and be averse to automated email approaches, but this subtle touch humanizes the interaction.
Furthermore, it often initiates conversations – we received numerous replies just questioning why we hadn’t invested in a mailing program, and from there, we fostered several successful partnerships. It’s an unconventional and distinctive method of making initial contact.
To summarize, consider adding a personal touch to your emails beyond a mere name and surname or ‘love your work’, which has been done countless times.
Include something that implies YOU wrote and manually sent the email – perhaps even leave in a small grammatical error. In today’s world of automation and AI, human connections are valued more than ever.
Implement a Customer Referral Program With a Dual Incentive Structure
My #1 SaaS Growth Hack is implementing a customer referral program with a dual incentive structure.
When existing customers refer new clients, both parties receive a benefit, such as a month of free service or premium features.
This creates a win-win situation, encouraging current users to actively promote the service while offering new customers a compelling reason to join.
This approach not only lowers customer acquisition costs but also increases customer lifetime value by fostering a community of satisfied and engaged users.
Leverage People Who Have Access to Your ICP in Bulk
When starting out or even when growing it is going to be hard to reach your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). You might be able to reach them, but do they really trust you though?
By leveraging someone who has access to your ICP you are also going to build more trust around your brand and product. Two great ways of leveraging someone else its network are; affiliate marketing & running a podcast.
Affiliate Marketing is a way for others to recommend you, and when they deliver you a paid client you are giving them a kickback fee in return.
The best affiliates to begin with are people who you either know already, are using your product or someone you recruit which has access to your ICP in bulk. Think about someone who has a blog, newsletter, social media presence towards your target audience.
Running a podcast is a great way to leverage someone else its network. Find experts in your industry, who have a big following from your target audience. Interview them, have them provide value towards your target audience and make sure you ask them to promote the podcast. This way they can share their knowledge, and you can benefit from their network, as you will brand the podcast towards your company.
Build Your Product in a Way That Allows To Update and A/B Test Pricing at Will
Growth doesn’t come without new and expanding revenue. For a long time, Ashore’s growth struggled from a poor pricing model.
The reality is that even adequate products can have great growth with the right pricing strategy, and optimizing your pricing model is a key component to success.
My recommendation for any SaaS startup is to build their product in a way that allows for volatile pricing models — the ability to update and A/B test pricing at will.
We unlocked the most amount of growth when we leaned into pricing models that increased revenue per unit over time.
I’d encourage any startup to avoid any flat rating pricing model and, instead, lean into models that allow for easy, low barriers to entry and revenue growth through users or usage.
It’s easier to expand revenue per unit than create new revenue, after all!
Utilize BRIDGeS Framework
Consistent improvement – of both your product and your craft. You can’t win new customers if your product stays the same. And you can’t innovate and improve if the craft of your team – their skills, knowledge, and passion – doesn’t level up.
That’s why we came up with a convenient tool to define the path forward, our BRIDGeS framework, which suits various purposes. It helps you ask the right questions and find the right answers for growth: who your customers are, what they need, and what you can do to solve their problems.
Use Illustrations to Communicate Complex Ideas
Throughout my career I’ve watched so many companies invest heavily in content—only to treat the imagery or visuals that accompany their content as an afterthought.
Especially in today’s world of ever scrolling timelines, I see that as a big missed opportunity—and that’s especially true when it comes to communicating complex topics.
Best yet, quality illustrations like this don’t have to cost and arm and leg and can be used across mediums—we’ve used this on our website, in ads, in newsletters, and across social media.
I’d be hard-pressed to show you a marketing investment that I’ve made that generated better ROI.
Focus on Great Service as a Differentiatior
In the early days, kiss all the frogs. Be more attentive to prospects. Do more for them, be more responsive, give exceptional service worth talking about. I’ve never seen a market where great service couldn’t be used as a differentiator.
Product Led Growth
My best growth hack is to do Product-led Growth.
Having a freemium or free trial, with great product onboarding that drives to Aha is an extremely powerful way to convert customers at a lower customer acquisition and service cost.
One can learn how we do Product-led at Userflow here https://userflow.com/
Build a Community
The #1 growth hack for early-stage SaaS products is “build community.” Gather people around a business problem & challenge they have and try to discuss trends/tactics & help them with your knowledge for free. This is the best source of early adopters & the best source of Product Feedback you can get.
Get in Touch With Your Best Customers
Segment your users into groups based on their LTV and then get in touch with your best customers to find out what they have in common.
Chat with them over email and try to get them on a call. After a while you should be able to find out what they have in common.
Use these learnings to redo your messaging across all your online presence to make sure it’s really resonating with your ideal customers. Over time this should improve both your conversion rate and lifetime value.
Page One Hijacking
Pick a Name For Your Company That Starts With The Letter “A”
Pick a name for your company or product that starts with the letter “A”. You’ll automatically be placed at the top of most lists and often be shown above the fold.
My top recommendation for SaaS growth is a strategy I call “Prime Tasks.” This approach involves committing to one key action each day that showcases your offer to at least 10 new people. It’s a deliberate and consistent effort to expand your product’s reach.
For example, you might send personalized outreach messages on LinkedIn, craft engaging tweets that highlight your product’s unique value, produce informative YouTube videos about your service, or strategically run ads and promote posts on social media platforms. The essential aspect is that each task directly exposes your product to a new audience.
This method is not just about quantitative growth; it’s about qualitative engagement. By choosing tasks that resonate with your target audience, you’re not only broadening your reach but also establishing meaningful connections. Whether it’s a tweet that sparks a conversation or a LinkedIn post that gets shared widely, each action contributes to building a robust presence for your SaaS product.
“Prime Tasks” is about consistent, daily efforts that collectively lead to substantial growth. It’s an effective way to ensure your product gains traction and visibility in a crowded digital landscape, one focused step at a time.
Make an Email Based Course
An email based course allows you to kick knowledge authentically without worrying about on-page SEO optimization.
Don’t expect that all of your leads and prospects are experts in your space.
Write up a 5-7 step email course that covers topics your leads are familiar with in their day to day.
Link to the course in your email signature, on your website, and anytime you’re answering an inbound chat.
Become a Contributor in an Online Community and Help People Solve Their Problems
Identify segments of customers who would use, and pay, for your product. Sign up to communities where those people hang out. There’s likely hundreds of communities on Facebook as well as dedicated websites and forums catering to specific interests.
Spend time absorbing yourself into that group. No promotion, just understanding their issues. Doing so will improve your product and knowledge of the area.
As always, though, non-technical people will run into issues you know about. So even if your product doesn’t solve those issues – contribute, help, recommend, and build a name for yourself as a contributor and member of the community.
Once your presence is established, perhaps a month or so in (depending on how active the community is) update your profile to share what you work on and how it can solve their problems. Begin gently promoting your product if people have issues which it solve.
People will, in time, begin to switch across – they know you and trust you.
Once you have 10 active community members using your product, your job is done. They’ll promote your product. The cycle continues. Use of your product grows, and the community is yours.
Send 50 Emails a Day from 50 Email Domains Each
Number one growth hack for b2b saas is getting 50 email domains to run outbound campaigns, sending 50 emails a day from each.
This lets you reach 2500 prospects a day for just few hundred dollars in software costs, which is uncomparable to costs for other acquisition channels.
My #1 SaaS Growth Hack is programmatic SEO. Imagine being able to spin up hundreds or even thousands of unique pieces of content using a data set, a little code, and a bit of curation.
Instead of manually producing each individual piece of content, you can produce multiple at once. Instead of cranking out one or two blog posts a week, you can publish a hundred all at once.
This is the power of programmatic content. Its content creation at scale. Using templated page structure and a predictable set of data sources, content creation becomes a process of assembly.
The four main types of programmatic content are: templates, conversions, comparisons, and curation.
Focus on User Feedback
My number one hack would be to focus on user feedback. Talk to your desired target audience, and only then you start building the actual product.
There’s literally no better guarantee or “hack’ to make sure all of your time, money, and energy is flowing towards something your customers are actually willing to pay for. Which, in return, gives you the financial runway to scale in the long run.
Also, never stop listening. Make sure you provide proactive feedback options, like a feedback tool, and see every conversation with your customer as an opportunity to learn about their needs and problems.
Make Your Existing Pages More Link-Worthy With “Citable Elements”
In today’s SaaS landscape, gaining visibility through link building is not just about producing great content; it’s about being smarter, and making your existing pages more link-worthy with “citable elements” (credit to Garrett French at Citation Labs for the name).
These elements transform any page into a potential target for link building, especially pages designed for sales but not typically linkable.
By embedding unique, useful content that appeals to a range of benefit stakeholders, not just the direct buyer, we can address their specific needs and questions.
For instance, including an ROI calculator or industry-specific guides directly on product pages adds immense value and makes these pages more attractive for linking.
This process involves understanding the full spectrum of your audience, identifying the link gaps, and creatively inserting useful content that resonates with various stakeholders.
Promoting these elements through targeted content and pitches enhances their visibility, making your link building campaign more effective and driving better ROI.
Have A Purpose To Your Vision
Focus on being more socially responsible. Purpose within your company can help you remain competitive in a fast-changing society. Your purpose can be a great principle to have for your success.
Being a socially responsible company can help you develop a more attractive image of shareholders and consumers, which can positively impact your bottom lines, gaining more trust and customer loyalty.
Being socially responsible is a great way to stand out from the competition and attract new customers. It can also help you build trust with your existing customers and employees.
There are many ways to be more socially responsible, using sustainable practices in your business. When you are socially responsible, you are not only helping the environment and your community, but you are also helping your bottom line.
Socially responsible companies are more profitable than those that are not. So, being socially responsible is a great place to start if you want to improve your business.
Engage your team! (Employees are more likely to be engaged and motivated when they work for a purpose-driven business.) Your employees are essential to implementing Word-of-mouth marketing, a powerful tool to help you grow your SaaS business exponentially.
When your employees & existing customers are happy with your product, they are likelier to recommend it to their friends and colleagues. To make the referral process as easy as possible, you can offer your customers incentives, such as discounts or free trials, for referring new users.
You can also use tracking tools to measure the success of your referral program and see how many new customers you are acquiring through word-of-mouth marketing.
Real Growth “Hacks” are Rare Today. Guerilla Marketing Still Works Though
Real growth “hacks” are rare today. Guerilla marketing still works though: Join Reddit channels, Quora topics, FB groups, Linkedin influencers etc and be active.
Don’t always go for the sell, but once in a while push your solution in there. The limit with this tactic: It’s best as a founder activity. And founder time is scarce. But it’s very effective and I still do it even after reaching $50k+ MRR
Write Well Thought Out Articles and Utilize Land and Expand Strategy
First, because of the importance of SEO, writing well thought out articles that are meaningful to your ideal customer who uses your SaaS is a source of long term free traffic.
In the early days of your company, while you are doing customer discovery, keep an ear out for questions that don’t currently have answers that the prospect would want to know the answer to. Big bonus points if it’s a question important enough to them that they would Google it.
Why would they do this? Because they love you. People don’t tell their friends about you unless you are so great that they are willing to associate their own ‘personal brand’ with you.
The ‘land and expand strategy’ is related to the referral strategy, but it’s a little different. It is where you get one person at a company to use you, and because you make them successful, their coworkers and management find out about you and you spread around the organization. Some of our biggest customers have been acquired this way.
Make Sure Buyers Understand How Bad Their Pain Is
We all know that in sales, the buyer must have pain. However, most sellers don’t go deep enough on this pain.
You see, people don’t change what they’re doing for “nice to have” or for something they want.
They change for problems.
They change because something is so terrible, and rotten, and excruciatingly painful that they can’t wait to get rid of the pain.
So in a demo, it’s not enough just to find pain. We have to make sure the buyer knows that pain is likely to kill them.
Ask them things like: “How much has that cost you?” and actually work through the calculations with them.
When they realize the pain and the problems are worse than they thought, and that you have a product that removes these pains, they’ll beg you to use it.
And you’ll start closing deals at rates you’ve only dreamed of.
Word of Mouth is The #1 Growth Hack for Devtools Companies
When building a devtool for the end users, word of mouth is the #1 growth hack and it really comes down to how your product facilitates expansion within the user’s teams and peers at other organisations.
Build a product that fits in developer workflows, empowers them and harnesses collaboration. Devtools only work if developers love you and want to share with their communities either through collaborative features or via online communities.
Companies Should Build Familiarity in Order to Prospect
Most companies are trying to cold prospect in order to build familiarity. But the “land grab” for attention is too noisy and its getting harder to see results from cold outbound.
Instead, companies should build familiarity in order to prospect. In other words, become known enough first so that when you do cold outbound, prospects are more likely to reply since you’re not a stranger.
Spend time creating content and engaging with your buyer personas, influencers, and end users online/in person first.
Leverage Facebook Groups to Build Trust and Credibility
In the early stages of GreenPal, which is essentially a SaaS platform for landscaping professionals, one of our key growth hacks was leveraging Facebook groups, especially those tied to industry associations.
Make it Easy for Users to Experience The Value of The Product
The best hack is always the one that is long-term and doesn’t stop working. My favorite “hack” is and will always be becoming product-led.
When you launch your free trial/freemium model, you’ll typically find you now have 20-30% more signups than you did before.
When you make it easy for users to experience the value of the product, you’ll find users turning into paying customers without talking to you. Hands down this is the best hack. 🙂
Using an Omnichannel Marketing Approach
Don’t over depend on a single channel to engage your audiences attention and to take action.
Learn where are all the places your ICP hang out and use different forms of communication at different timing that will resonate with your audience including email, LinkedIn, text, paid ads and even Direct Mail (everyone has a mailbox, and are checking more so then emails).
Create Content Hubs Around Material and Information That Your Customer Base Would Find Useful
The best SaaS growth hack is to create content hubs around material and information that your customer base would find useful that aligns with your specific technology.
For example, if I am creating an AI email marketing tool, I would create content hubs around the following topics: Email Statistics and Facts, How to Write Engaging Email Copy, and What are Email Best Practices.
Within each of these hubs you should create content that takes a deep dive into the topic and shows that you are the authoritative voice in that particular space.
The content can be in the form of blog articles, videos, infographics, or any other medium that your customer base consumes.
By creating this content you are driving authority which will increase search engine visibility/traffic and you will also be able to repurpose this content for a variety of other channels: social media, other websites/content hubs, and much more!
Reach Your Customers Where They Are
Our number one SaaS growth hack would be to reach your customers where they are when it comes to getting them interested in your solutions.
For instance, our company focuses on homeowners and the companies that work with homeowners. Homeowners have multiple interests but targeting homeowners when they are searching for skin care products is not going to serve our company.
Focus on the needs of your customers and get to know your customers. By focusing on the details of your customers, you will know how to communicate to them and save your company money by targeting your marketing dollars.
Align Values With Your Customers
My biggest growth hack is aligning values with your customers. Be it a SaaS acquisition or building an exceptional product, I make sure the values are communicated clearly.
I advise founders to have open conversations with potential customers to understand their expectations and align their offering with the customers’ goals, essentially achieving a product-market fit. This approach can lead to more successful and mutually beneficial deals in the long run.
One of the great examples we have now at saas.group is Rewardful. I believe they are doing an exceptional job speaking their customers’ language and truly getting their value proposition through.
Share Your Revenue With Partners That Refer New Customers
Referral Programs are often overlooked but they have great potential when it comes to SaaS revenue growth. Sharing your revenue with your partners that refer new customers boosts growth faster than any paid ads.
On top of that, if a happy customer refers new clients, they are less likely to churn. Transformify achieved 600% revenue and profit growth in 2021 thanks to its referral program.
Even now, in 2023, despite the wars and recession, the referral program continues to bring new high – quality customers eager to use TFYs workforce management system.
Look Closely Where Your Prospects Spend Their Time Online Before They Find You
Since we are an add-on, a growth hack we utilise is to look closely where our prospects are spending their time online before they find us.
In our case it is with our Tech Partner platforms such as our Inventory Management, MRP, ERP, ECommerce and POS vendors and work with them and their reps.
SaaS for SMB;s is still a people business and people like working with people they like, so we make an effort to collaborate & align with our partners.
A simple example would be to regularly drop Customers Stories to our tech partner reps via LinkedIn messenger, so they have them on their phone (most look at LinkedIn on their phone).
This way they can see both our solutions in collaboration as a solution for the customer, and they have quick and easy access back to it rather than this messaging being lost in an email newsletter or presentation saved in a file somewhere.
Find a Complimentary Partner That You Can Add Value To
My number 1 growth hack is to find a complimentary partner that you can add value to and get them to promote you into their customer base. This can be done with things like joint videos, webinars and panel discussions.
Everyone in an Organization Needs to be Aligned to Its North Star
I firmly believe that everyone in an organization needs to be aligned to its north star with clarity around the company’s dream for the future, how it’s differentiated versus alternatives, how its beliefs inform and inspire everything we do and benefit its customers and how that makes them feel.
Embrace Hyper-Targeted Email Automation
Cut the cord on traditional marketing. Embrace hyper-targeted email automation. Segment like there’s no tomorrow.
Today’s segment: small-business owners who love cats. Tomorrow: vegan yoga teachers that dig podcasts.
Personalization is no longer a preference—it’s a necessity. Email right, email tight, watch your SaaS user base ignite!
Personalized Content for a Well Defined ICP
Personalized content for a well defined ICP. You need to speak to them about the exact problem you solve and trigger an emotion. Then use that content for Outbound Social Blogs
Providing Good Quality Content Along SEO Best Practices
Providing good quality content for your users, and then applying SEO tactics(link building, keywords, etc) to drive visitors to that content.
Helping People Out In Online Communities
Helping people out on online communities & positioning oneself as a subject matter expert.
What an amazing collection of useful, practical and straightforward advice! Wouldn’t you agree?
Now I want to turn it over to you:
Whats your #1 SaaS growth hack?
Let me know by sending your answer in an email to email@example.com or by commenting below.