Product · Marketing
Voliyo recently undertook a piece of consulting work that looked at, beyond a good product offering, what makes a successful SaaS company. Voliyo investigated how SaaS companies market themselves and what kind of resources they offer beyond the products themselves.
Our findings, outlined below, aren't groundbreaking by any means, but we thought it would be good get them down succinctly, in the hope that they might help others in their own business ventures.
To start with, we put ourselves in the shoes of engineers (who are generally the target audiences of SaaSs), and pondered; what does an engineer look for when evaluating a new technology / service?
We came up with the following high level questions:
We therefore deduced the essential components of a good SaaS landing / homepage to be:
Both docs and guides are resources used by engineers when evaluating and integrating a piece of software into their own tech stacks.
Docs (or API references) provide engineers insights into the finer configuration details of a given piece of software, whereas guides are step by step tutorials that help engineers achieve specific goals. Think of API docs as encyclopedias and guides as user manuals. Most SaaS companies split their docs / guides away from their marketing websites, and we noted that these usually exist on subdomains, e.g. docs.mysaas.com. We found there are quite a few tools used to generate docs, e.g. Redocly, and even more tools used to bundle up guides, such as Docosaurus. Ultimately, it doesn't matter which build tools you choose, but the key thing to remember is to make sure that your docs & guides are split into easy-to-navigate chunks; a beginner should be able to integrate your SaaS quickly, and a more advanced user should be able to navigate through your docs to fine-tune their integration.
Companies often neglect their blogs in favour of working on more tangible projects. Naturally, we understand that blogs are never a priority, but we've certainly observed that most successful SaaS companies produce high quality tech blogs. Putting ourselves into an engineer's shoes, we'd naturally be curious about the soundness of a company if we were to choose a SaaS/IaaS instead of rolling out our own implementation. Blogs both help prove a company's competency, as well as fuel their online presence.
Likewise, FAQ pages help to prove the legitimacy of a company; if an engineer sees a FAQ page, they'll automatically feel that they're integrating a tried and tested product.
Evaluating a pricing structure is often the last stage in choosing a SaaS; it's crucial for a team to understand both how much a product will cost their business now, and in the future, as business needs grow. Mysterious 'Contact us' plans, or plans that don't explain what happens if you go over certain limits, instantly create ambiguity. In a world where people have a wide range of choice at their fingertips, the less ambiguity you create, the more likely people will choose your product offering.
There are a plethora of good software products on the market, but we've observed that a lot of these fall short on the last hurdle, and don't explain their products simply or create adequate resources that prove their legitimacy.
Relying on a SaaS/PaaS/IaaS is more than just integrating a product into a tech stack and setting up a monthly payment. Integrating a separate system into your own tech stack means putting your trust into that system, treating it as a reliable component that won't fall over or spew out bad responses, and ultimately, putting your trust into a business that will (hopefully) be there to support if/when things aren't plain sailing.
Clear pricing plans, solid docs and guides, and community / support features, may often seem like after-thoughts, but these are just as essential as producing high quality technology.
Tom Szpytman - 17.11.2020