Build Your SaaS – bootstrapping in 2019

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Looking for ideas on how to promote your software product?

We received some product marketing questions from Nirav Mehta: 
  • How to get the word out about your SaaS?
  • Should you pursue partnerships?
  • How can you get distribution for your software product?
  • What marketing channels work best?

Build anticipation before you launch

One big opportunity many folks miss is building up anticipation before they launch. Examples:
  • Adam Wathan and Steve Schoger shared design tips on Twitter and on their blog for 6 months before they released their book, Refactoring UI.
  • Derick Reimer allowed people to “Claim their username” for Level.App before he launched. So far 5,787 people have registered.
  • Ben Orenstein talked about Tuple.app, his new product, on podcasts for months before they launched. 

Build a reputation for being helpful

  • Adam, Steve, Derrick, and Ben also have something else in common: they were consistently helpful to their respective audiences for years before they launched anything.
  • Being helpful now, in forums, on Twitter, in podcasts, on your blog, in your mailing list, at conferences, at meetups, in email, is an investment in your future.
  • It’s an advantage that can’t be easily copied or replicated.

Bake SEO into everything you do

  • The most underrated, and often under-pursued, grow strategy is investing in Search Engine Optimization.
  • “SEO is the biggest growth lever that you have and it's something that you should prioritize." - Ryan Hoover, Product Hunt”
  • Think about it, when people have a desire to solve a problem, what do they do? They Google it! If your product is the answer to people’s question, you want to make sure they can find it on Google. 

Quick SEO tips: 

  1. Explore what questions are asking on: Answerthepublic.com.
  2. Use a tools like Ahrefs.com on your competitors’ sites! See what keywords people are using to find their site, and what their most popular pages are.
  3. Make sure you have Google Search Console set up for your website. They have a new “Performance Report” that will show you what keywords people are using to find your site, and where you could rank better.
  4. Focus on what matters on each page:
    1. Main title - should feature the focus keywords, preferably at the beginning of the title.
    2. Subheader or first paragraph – expanded description, should also feature the focus keywords.
    3. Alt text in images – alt text was designed to show text when an image is not loading properly, or if someone has to use a screen reader. This text is read by Google as any other content.
    4. Meta description – a short, concise (usually 300 characters or less) description of a webpage, shown in search results.
  5. Keep a document on “blog post title ideas.” For example, I can see, through all my research, that “podcast distribution” is a good keyword combination to pursue. So I could write a blog post with the title: “Podcast distribution made easy - 5 steps.”
  6. Write these authoritative guide on a topic. Ben Orenstein noticed that there weren’t any good pair programming guides, so he wrote one! http://learntopair.com. These guides typically get shared a lot, which means you’ll get high quality backlinks to your site (which is important for SEO).
  7. People will also search for “[competitor name] alternatives.” Those are great keywords to target.

The big list of marketing channels:

  • Ads: Facebook Ads, Adwords, LinkedIn ads, etc. 
  • Partnerships: finding influencers that have a similar audience to you, and cross-promoting
  • SEO: getting backlinks to your landing page from other sites, and ranking for certain keywords
  • Content marketing: blogging, infographics, viral videos
  • Platform marketing: engaging in Facebook Groups, on forums, in comments threads
  • Direct mail: sending your prospects stickers, postcards, or letters by post
  • Events: attending tradeshows, conferences, and meetups and handing out business cards (or other swag) with your website address

Things to remember:

  • Marketing doesn't work like a jackpot. You're not going to hit that "one thing" that works and creates an avalanche of sales. Instead of "putting it all on black," it'd be better for you to diversify your marketing investments: you'll get customers from a variety of channels and tactics
  • Marketing is a lot like physical fitness. Small gains every week give you biggest gains in the long term. It's like hitting the gym once on January 1st and expecting to look like Arnold Schwartnegger. You've got to do something every week to get good results overall.
  • Last: for many of you, marketing is a big, hairy, ugly problem. And what's the best way to deal with a big overwhelming problem? Break it into smaller pieces.

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What is Build Your SaaS – bootstrapping in 2019?

Can you bootstrap a profitable startup in 2019? 37signals did it in 2004, and since then thousands of entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and product people have tried to launch their own web apps. But with so many venture-backed startups now, is it still possible? Follow Jon and Justin as they build & launch their new product: Transistor.fm.