21 Creative Tactics to Level up Your SaaS Growth Strategy

21 Creative Tactics to Level up Your SaaS Growth Strategy

Growing a SaaS business is an uphill battle. Whether you’re a first-time founder looking to get traction or an experienced entrepreneur with a market-leading product, there always seems to be a competitor to beat or a new market to tap into.

The only question is — how do you do that?

Well, the good news is there are plenty of growth marketing tactics to try. The bad news is that not all of them work equally well for any business or product.

Before my recent career shift from Sales Leadership to Growth, I spent 1.5 years learning how SaaS companies grow — their actions, revenue drivers, growth catalysts, adopted GTM strategies, and, most importantly, how they execute their strategies.

So here’s an overview of the interesting trends and effective SaaS growth tactics I’ve discovered.

But first, let’s take a look at the SaaS market in general and make sure we all agree on the basics.

The state of SaaS growth in 2023

Considering a slow but steady growth of 11.4%, according to the ProfitWell B2B SaaS Index by Paddle, we can say that the SaaS market is still in the “normalization” period post-pandemic, although much healthier than many other sectors.

However, as many of you might have noticed, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. The key SaaS trends by Productiv paint a larger picture:

  • The SaaS landscape grew substantially from 2021 to 2022, with a 48% increase in the number of apps across the key categories.
  • SaaS portfolios have also reached an all-time high as organizations now use 371 apps on average (87 SaaS apps per department).
  • At the same time, only 47% of SaaS licenses are used over a 90-day period on average which leads businesses to prioritize license rightsizing and SaaS app consolidation.

As a side note, ChatGPT is one of the most prominent examples of the SaaS growth trend. The AI chatbot took the market by storm quickly becoming one of the top 20 SaaS apps used across all business departments, be it marketing, operations, or engineering. For example, here are some of the ChatGPT use cases for sales development.

In other words, the market and customer tool stacks get more crowded while consumers try to optimize their spending, which makes the competition as fierce as ever. As Jason Lemkin, CEO and Founder at SaaStr put it, “This is the first time in the last 10 years that SaaS has gotten harder.”

Using growth marketing for SaaS: Is it still worth it?

Considering how competitive the SaaS industry is at the moment, traditional marketing tactics simply won’t cut it. I suggest that desperate times call for creative measures.

This is why growth marketing remains a popular strategy for companies in saturated and fast-paced markets like SaaS. Often just considered a buzzword, this approach has a lot to offer for startups and established companies alike. 

Growth marketing is all about finding creative solutions to common business problems. Using experiments paired with data insights, it offers quick and efficient solutions to boost business growth.

Let’s take Dropbox as an example to put it into perspective. Rather than relying on traditional marketing tactics like paid ads for user acquisition, they came up with a referral program that quickly went viral, resulting in 3900% growth in just 15 months.

On a side note, it’s worth mentioning that there’s a slight difference between SaaS growth marketing and growth hacking. The latter aims to give you a quick boost, while growth marketing is a more systematic approach that requires a long-term, consistent strategy.

Now, let’s get to the main question: what are some growth strategies SaaS companies should adopt in 2023 and beyond?

21 growth tactics for SaaS companies

Building an effective and scalable SaaS growth strategy is no easy task. There are multiple techniques as well as tools you can use to boost your lead generation efforts and improve conversion rates. Being a long-time SaaS enthusiast, I have curated a list of 55 growth ideas specifically tailored to this industry.

If we’re talking about more comprehensive growth marketing tactics, here are 21 of my top picks across 7 categories.

Viral growth loops

Virality is the holy grail of any growth marketer, and success stories like Clubhouse or most recently ChatGPT make it easy to see why. Yet, you startups usually struggle to make such explosive growth last (again, as illustrated by Clubhouse). 

To maintain a healthy growth rate in the longer term, you should be looking to create sustainable virality loops using one of the following tactics:

  • Organic and incentivized referrals

This is a tactic where your users create word-of-mouth by sharing the product or service with their network either organically or in exchange for additional benefits and perks. Some examples of organic referrals are sharing your Spotify Wrapped or running routes from Strava on social media.

In the case of incentivized referrals, the existing users are motivated to recommend a product to others by certain rewards. Often, both the user recommending the product and the person who signs up using their referral link get some extra perks or bonuses.

As mentioned earlier, Dropbox is a classic example here — they offered additional storage space to users who joined their referral program helping attract more users to the product. Some other examples here are Gong and tl;dv which allow you to get paid for bringing in qualified demo leads or simply posting on social media.

BTW, we’ve just launched our own referral program at Reply, so feel free to join and get a number of nice bonuses, from 50 recurring data search credits to an additional 5% off as promotional credits to apply to your future purchases with Reply.

Introducing the Reply Referral Program [Live Training Session]

Learn more
  •  Watermarks and branded tags

Another example of a viral loop growth tactic you can use to spread the word about your SaaS business and bring new users is adding a small tag “Powered by {Company}” to the customer-facing interfaces of your product. 

This approach is used by dozens of successful PLG companies with a freemium model: Calendly, Intercom, Webflow, Softr, Drift, Chili Piper, and HubSpot all add “powered by” tags while allowing you to use their product for free (with some limitations).

Watermarks are similar to “Powered by” tags, but typically it’s a logo placed somewhere on a document, video, or image. Remember the logo and branded outro on all TikTok videos regardless of where you see them? That’s it! One of my go-to products, Pitch also adds a logo and link to all downloaded presentation slides.

  • External growth loops

This contains two tactics: You either allow your users to embed your product on other websites/platforms or invite individuals from outside the platform to participate in a collaborative activity. 

In the first case, a perfect example is the YouTube video player you can see on practically any website, platform, product, editor, etc. As for SaaS products, the most prominent examples here would be Airtable and Miro which allow you to copy embed code and add interactive tables or whiteboards anywhere you want. 

As for the external collaboration, this can be a Zoom meeting or a shared Google file (doc, slides, or spreadsheet). Other examples include Calendly where people can book meetings via your personal link even without their own account or Figma which allows you to share your designs with external collaborators.

Content growth tactics

Earlier this year, Patrick Campbell, Founder & CEO at ProfitWell, announced the launch of Paddle Studios, a media component that offers unique and high-quality content. Similarly, Zapier bought Makerpad as its first acquisition.

If we zoom out, we can see that some big names in the SaaS space such as HubSpot, Pendo, Stripe, Mailchimp, SEMrush, Wistia, Gong, and Outreach follow the same path. They launch podcasts or niche newsletters, build communities, run virtual events and conferences, publish books, and launch courses, academies, or product certifications.

I have been following this development for over a year and noticed some prominent trends in how top-performing SaaS companies use media companies as a part of their growth strategy. Here are some of the common elements of the media growth strategy for SaaS:

  • Podcasts or vlogs

SaaS companies start niche podcasts or vlogs to educate audiences depending on the content format they prefer. For example, Drift has 9 different podcasts about revenue, operations, marketing, and growth. Paddle Studios launched 3 podcasts about retention, budget, and SaaS growth.

BTW check out a curated list of 370+ sales-related podcasts in our Podcast Library.

As for video content format, Paddle Studios also has 6 web series about SaaS pricing, monetization, churn, taxes, and SaaS growth. Video interviews and podcasts are also growing.

Another creative SaaS growth marketing hack related to video is what tl;dv has been doing on TikTok. With 3.3M likes and 121.4K followers, this B2B SaaS company has defied all odds, making this unlikely B2B marketing channel a great source of awareness and growth.

  • Newsletters

One of the most popular parts of a SaaS media company, topic-specific newsletters can either cover a broad topic (e.g., sales) or focus on a more specific issue (e.g., cold outreach, churn, onboarding). 

For example, Toplyne builds Top of the Lyne — a newsletter about PLG. Mailchimp bought Courier Media which offers its content in audio, newsletter, and print bi-monthly magazine. HubSpot’s The Hustle has its regular daily newsletter and Trends.

Get weekly insights related to prospecting and cold outreach — subscribe to our newsletter Sales Pulse.

Join the Sales Pulse
  • Webinars and events

There are SaaS companies that heavily rely on webinars and virtual events, virtual conferences, and keynotes. For example, we at Reply host the Sales Development Excellence — an annual virtual event for SDRs and sales leaders. Vidyard has Fast Forward, Miro runs Distributed.

While COVID-19 has affected the way we consume content and network, in-person events are slowly returning to our lives. When it comes to SaaS media companies, there are some examples here as well: RoadShow by Profitwell, Outreach Unleash, Mind the Product Conferences.

  • Community

Community may be the most important part of a SaaS media company strategy, as a friendly community of professionals who share the same values and have the same problems will help keep the media company alive. This one is also often called “community-led growth.”

Some of the common types of a SaaS community are a job board, a Q&A forum, a Slack/Facebook group, a mentorship or educational program, or 1-on-1 intros and community members matching.

The Community Club, Makerpad, RevGenius, and Mind the Product I’ve mentioned earlier have implemented almost all these things.

Social proof and thought leadership

But there’s one more tactic to boost SaaS growth related to content marketing. This one relies on social proof and thought leadership to grow awareness and customer acquisition. Here are some of the ways you can implement it in your SaaS business.

  • Wall of love

Let’s start with my personal favorite here — the so-called “wall of love.” This is a nice twist on the traditional testimonials page, a centralized hub where you aggregate customer testimonials from different platforms (G2, Product Hunt, Capterra, etc.) or social mentions in one place and organize them into beautiful boards. As Testimonial puts it, a wall of love is “the best social proof we can get!”

  • Influencer marketing

Partnering with thought leaders and influencers to promote your product isn’t new. B2C companies do that all the time. As to B2B SaaS growth strategy, one interesting trend I’ve noticed is that more companies build long-term relationships with industry influencers having them join the team as strategic advisors. Being officially affiliated with a company, they can advocate for the product on social media, events, etc.

You can even get more creative here and team up with a celebrity for a fun cameo like acquire.com did with Russ Hanneman.

On the other hand, your ambassadors don’t necessarily have to be famous influencers. You can get your loyal customers to advocate for you as well. As nano-influencers with just 1-2-3k followers, they can look more genuine and trustworthy (unlike most thought leaders who are obviously getting paid to promote your brand). We’ve tried partnering with both top influencers and smaller niche thought leaders, and the latter drive much better outcomes. 

  • Social selling

One more tactic I don’t just preach but also actually practice myself is social selling on LinkedIn. Namely, we’re actively building personal brands for our key stakeholders (CEO, CMO, VP of Product) to increase our reach and raise awareness.

However, I’ve also discovered that genuine, personal engagement on social media is just as important (but much easier) than creating your own content. What I call comment marketing is a great addition to any SaaS social strategy. And it can be scaled outside of traditional social media channels like LinkedIn to reach relevant audiences on Quora, Reddit, Twitter, Threads, or relevant Slack communities.

Product-led growth tactics

While product-led growth tactics should be the subject of a whole different blog post (for example, here’s one explaining the role of PLG in sales), I couldn’t leave out a few creative hacks that could be a great addition to any SaaS growth strategy.

  • Interactive product tour

It’s amazing to see how quickly this SaaS product category has emerged, and how it’s transforming the way we showcase products and services online. This is a great opportunity to free up your sales team’s time, especially considering the average demo no-show rate of 13.3% and the fact that 30% of demos are unqualified

As a result, such interactive self-serve experiences delivered by tools like Navattic, Walnut, or Storylane are becoming a key element of PLG strategies, helping businesses drive engagement, reduce friction in the buying process, and ultimately accelerate growth.

  • Product onboarding

Another product-related growth tactic here focuses on customer onboarding. From in-product tips or interactive checklists to full-fledged educational courses, there are many ways SaaS products can facilitate growth through intuitive and smooth customer onboarding.

As a part of customer onboarding, some products would also offer support with data migration, especially to users who are switching from a different provider. This could be a great opportunity to offer more value to the users as well as lower the barrier to entry.

On top of that, you can also encourage your new users to invite their teammates or colleagues from other departments who would also benefit from the product to sign up as well. 

  • Product updates

Announcing product updates is a great way to keep your customers engaged as well as attract new users. Two key elements here are: 

  1. What you announce — adding a cool new AI feature might seem like a great idea, but if your users have been asking for an autosave or single-click sign-up for months, you’d better focus on that instead.
  2. How you do that — in-app announcements might be a great way to keep your users informed, but breaking the news to the broader audience on social media or Product Hunt is what you need to drive real growth.

There are also many examples of SaaS brands teasing new features or important announcements in advance to build up anticipation and pique the audience’s interest.

All in all, “building in public” could be a great addition to any SaaS growth strategy.

  • Localization

If you think that localizing your product only makes sense if you officially expand to a certain country or region, you’re wrong. This is the main benefit of running an online business — you can tap into the local markets to grow your user base anytime simply by translating your product UI (aka localization) into the target language. 

Localized pricing is another smart hack used by a lot of SaaS companies. The least you can do here is to show your pricing plans in the relevant currency (rather than US dollars). If you’re up for a more sophisticated tactic, try implementing dynamic pricing to charge users in specific locations based on the market saturation as well as their purchasing power. 

A good example here is Netflix’s localized pricing (here’s how much it would cost for people in different countries to watch their favorite shows).

Pricing growth tactics

Speaking of SaaS pricing, there are more creative tactics to drive product growth here. Let’s break down some of them.

  • Forever free or freemium plans with usage paywalls

Salespeople might not like free or freemium pricing for their products — and for a good reason! But when it comes to growth, lowering the barrier to entry can work wonders. Yes, they might be limited in features or scale, but at least free products are easy to “get hooked” on. 

BTW, did you know that Reply now has a completely free plan? With 200 monthly data search credits and AI sequence generation, this is a great starting point for your sales engagement journey.

The only drawback of freemium pricing for SaaS products is that you will still have to convince those users to switch to the paid plan, so don’t give away too much for free 😉

This is where usage paywalls come in handy. They are usually implemented as a part of the freemium pricing plan to limit the product capabilities or capacity available to nonpaying users.

So if you hit the limit of your free plan or want to access a premium feature, you will see a pop-up notification offering an upgrade. This tactic is also commonly used for integrations as many sales tools, including Salesforce and Lusha, offer this only as a part of their paid pricing plans.

  • Usage-based pricing

Or you can choose a completely different approach allowing for unlimited scalability with usage-based pricing. Often referred to as pay-as-you-go pricing, this is a flexible pricing model where you charge the users based on their actual usage of your product.

You can also offer usage-based pricing options along with traditional fixed fee plans as a more flexible option for enterprise or agency users. Some products might even implement this tactic through paid add-ons to their key offering. For example, you can purchase additional data search packages to ramp up your prospecting efforts with Reply Data.

This is a popular tactic among prospecting tools (data providers or email finders), no-code automation platforms, or API products, etc. A few notable examples here are Zapier, Clearbit, Twilio, Intercom, Copy.ai, etc.

  • Discounts and special offers

Another way to grow your product is by offering discounted pricing or special offers. This can be dedicated to certain holidays, e.g., traditional Black Friday deals that are the lifeblood of the Q4 quota attainment. 

Many SaaS products would also offer special promo offers as a part of their Product Hunt launch or even list their lifetime deals on AppSumo. Both are valid tactics to quickly grow your user base. 

Pro tip: Keep in mind that you will have to serve those one-time buyers in the long run for free, so think twice if it’s really worth it. 

You can also create discounts or offers tailored to certain audience segments or use cases. A great example here is the startup programs that offer discounted pricing or some extra perks to early-stage startups. This is a smart tactic for building mutually beneficial relationships with companies that have a high growth potential and will bring more value down the road.

Apply to join Reply Startup Program

Growth through added value

However, the value a business can offer to prospects goes beyond discounts or special offers. Let’s explore some of the ways to drive B2B SaaS growth through complementary products or services.

  • Freebies and sidecar products

Everyone loves a freebie! But if you’re not ready to give away your main product, you can come up with a complementary tool to boost awareness and growth. This can be anything from appealing lead magnets, like our signature generator or sales commission calculator to various browser extensions, plug-ins, add-ons, or desktop apps that make your product easier and more convenient to access and use.

A slightly different approach to this tactic is to offer a standalone tool that isn’t directly related to your main product. A good example here is our own Name2Email extension — a free email finder that has been growing organically as a standalone product with little to no marketing or other investments. 

More examples of sidecar products include Zappy by Zapier, LinkPop by Shopify, MicroMRR by MicroAcquire, etc.

  • Professional services

Priority support via Slack or a dedicated customer success manager that will handle technical setup as well as proper onboarding and training for bigger clients has already become a kind of industry standard for SaaS products targeting middle or enterprise businesses. However, there’s more value you can offer to your users with complementary professional services.

For example, I notice more sales engagement products offering complementary prospecting services or deliverability consulting. This is typically implemented for high-tier pricing plans (custom or enterprise) or sold separately as an add-on or via partnerships.

  • Compound products

Recent news in the SaaS industry, including Adobe’s acquisition of Figma, Zoom’s launch of Zoom Mail and Zoom Calendar, and Canva’s introduction of Visual Worksuite, signify one more exciting SaaS trend — compound products. Put simply, this means consolidating multiple software solutions within a single, integrated platform to create more seamless and streamlined experiences for customers.

What does it have to do with growth, you ask? As a compound product, you can expect a higher user and feature adoption with lower total integration and support costs, which can help strengthen your position in the market.

One more interesting micro-trend here is that many compound SaaS products start positioning themselves as an “operating system (OS).” Take, for example, Intercom’s Engagement OS, ​​Selldone’s Business OS, or a whole list of various OS products from ZoomInfo.

Outbound as a growth tactic

Outbound is typically considered an old-school sales/marketing tactic unfit for the dynamic world of B2B SaaS growth. And that’s true, at least to some extent. The default outbound outreach where you send slightly personalized messages to the high-volume contact list isn’t an option here. The only growth this can get you is in the number of bounces and spam reports.

So instead of relying on SDRs and traditional tech stacks, companies start hiring outbound growth reps who rely on no-code prospecting tools and can build creative, intent-based outreach strategies.

As a result, unlike traditional SDRs, outbound growth reps require a completely different skillset:

  • Analytical and builder mindset to handle complex workflows, e.g., build an automated process to scrape this job board, call a few enrichment APIs, and push data to Airtable.
  • Technical skills to use various APIs and no-code tools, build integrations, etc.
  • Creativity to stand out from the crowd and increase reply rates.
  • Business background to get an in-depth understanding of the current buyer personas and discover new audiences to target.

To cater to this new generation of outbound reps, multiple trends emerge in SaaS, from no-code prospecting tools like Clay, Rows, Airtable, and Captain Data, to various hyper-personalization techniques (mostly involving AI).

This is the trend we closely follow at Reply — by implementing outbound as a tactic for our own growth as well as rebuilding our sales engagement platform to implement more powerful AI features for smart automation and personalization. Learn more about the latest product enhancements here.

Fuel your SaaS growth with AI-powered prospecting and outreach

Try Reply now

Taking action: Build your own growth plan for 2024

Ready to put it into practice and kickstart your B2B SaaS growth heading into 2024? Don’t rush rebuilding your marketing tool stack and building sidecar products. To minimize waste and ensure the smooth execution of your strategy, start by creating a growth plan for your product.

What is a growth plan and why do you need one?

A growth plan is a strategic roadmap that outlines the specific actions and initiatives a business has to take to achieve its growth objectives. 

It is a comprehensive document that provides a structured approach to expanding your product’s reach, increasing revenue, and achieving your bigger business goals. Growth plans can be used by businesses at various stages of development, from startups looking to scale, to established companies seeking to expand into new markets or product lines.

A well-structured growth plan serves as a hands-on guide that helps a business stay focused, align its activities with its objectives, and adapt to changing market conditions. It provides a clear path for how the company intends to grow and can be a valuable tool for securing funding, gaining support from stakeholders, and ensuring that everyone in the organization is on the same page regarding growth priorities.

Key elements of a SaaS growth plan 

  1. Goals and objectives — clearly defined, measurable targets that the business aims to achieve, e.g.,  revenue targets, customer acquisition goals, market share objectives, or expansion into new geographic regions.
  2. Market analysis — a thorough examination of the market in which the business operates, including an assessment of competitors, trends, and opportunities.
  3. Target audience and personas — detailed profiles of the ideal customers the business is trying to attract, including their demographics, behaviors, and pain points.
  4. Strategies and tactics — specific approaches and actions the business plans to undertake to achieve its goals, like marketing strategies, product development initiatives, sales tactics, and more.
  5. Timeline — a schedule that outlines when each initiative will be executed. This helps in tracking progress and managing resources effectively.
  6. Resource allocation — an overview of what is required to execute the growth plan, including budget allocation, personnel, and technology.
  7. KPIs and metrics — benchmarks used to measure the success of the growth plan. Common KPIs include conversion rates, customer acquisition cost, and revenue growth.
  8. Risk assessment — evaluation of potential risks and challenges that could impede the plan’s success. This allows the business to proactively address these issues.
  9. Monitoring and reporting — procedures for regularly monitoring and reporting on the progress of the growth plan. This ensures that the plan stays on track and adjustments can be made as needed.
  10. Contingency plans — strategies for addressing unforeseen circumstances or changes in the business environment that may require adjustments to the plan.

Final word

Whether you’re only planning to start your SaaS growth marketing journey or looking for a few more creative hacks, this list of 21 must-try tactics to integrate into your strategy is a good place to start.

Hope you find it useful and enjoy implementing these tactics as a part of your own strategy!

Subscribe to our blog to receive the latest updates from the world of sales and marketing.
Stay up to date.

Related Articles

Instantly.ai Review in 2024: Is It the Right Sales Tool for Your Business?

Instantly.ai Review in 2024: Is It the Right Sales Tool for Your Business?

Instantly.ai Review in 2024: Is It the Right Sales Tool for Your Business?
What is RevOps? Everything You Need to Know in 2024

What is RevOps? Everything You Need to Know in 2024

What is RevOps? Everything You Need to Know in 2024
Smartlead Review in 2024: The Right Sales Tool for Your Business?

Smartlead Review in 2024: The Right Sales Tool for Your Business?

Smartlead Review in 2024: The Right Sales Tool for Your Business?