SaaS Marketing in 2022: Maturation and more responsibility
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), once the new acronym for the tech block, has become so deeply ingrained in our tech world that it has spawned a new generation of models as a service (we’re looking at you AIaaS) – and a whole realm of savvy SaaS marketers. Indeed, SaaS has long abandoned its “emerging” roots and reached a new level of marketing maturation.
But this newfound maturity comes with great responsibility. Recent surveys of SaaS marketers have revealed that strategy, segmentation, differentiation and adoption of new technologies will be of increased importance to this group in 2022. And, as the world continues to recover from COVID -19 and its impact on the labor economy, the focus will be even more on employee engagement and building inter-departmental relationships.
The Broad Strokes: Drivers and Challenges of SaaS Industry Growth
Unsurprisingly, our world of remote working and technological disruption will continue to be the primary growth engines for the SaaS industry. And for the leading SaaS and cloud companies that can deliver this growth, valuations are at an all-time high – 34x ARR today, up from a fairly constant 10x through 2018, per SaaStr. But just as our digitized, app-happy workforce can help us increase our revenue, it can just as easily take us out.
-The move to mobile is never over, but the office only is. The telecommuter will continue to drive SaaS applications to mobile so they can connect anytime, anywhere on a variety of devices.
-AI and IoT, along with the endless supply of newcomers in these fields, will lead to major growth in SaaS.
-Marketers are flying blind to a much greater extent than in previous years: with more and more potential buyers using impossible-to-follow methods of obtaining information about products and services (e.g. media roundups, user forums, personal networks) marketers will face increasing pressure to generate the demand needed to meet revenue targets.
SaaS marketing will be more tech and data driven
Yes, there was a time when metrics didn’t reign supreme in marketing, but that time is NOT now. And as romantic as the ideas of instinct and natural marketing ability are, they have given way to algorithms, automation and AI.
– Predictive analytics will move from experimentation to the general public, as companies strive to deploy them at every customer touchpoint. Marketers who can effectively implement these new tools will build customer loyalty, especially among Gen Z.
-Product Lead strategies that focus on upselling customers from freemium to paid versions will continue to develop, creating a new stage in the marketing funnel called Product Qualified Lead (PQL).
-The COVID-induced labor shortage will allow SaaS providers to disintermediate industries that have resisted automation.
Values and culture gain in importance
With employees’ relationships with their jobs shaken since the onset of COVID-19 – with corporate layoffs giving way to the Great Resignation – SaaS marketers will need to play a leadership role in shaping the experience of employees. Communicative and empathetic managers capable of fostering employee engagement will make great strides in retaining talent and, therefore, impacting customer engagement.
Outside of their own teams, marketers will need to step up their alignment with groups such as governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) and environment, social and governance (ESG) that focus on company values and practices. It is no longer enough to communicate around pure offers.
– Employee experience will become vitally important in 2022, as employees from all walks of life seek more purpose in their working lives. Support must be provided to workers so that they can create and maintain the internal relationships that will keep them happy in their work.
– Greater employee engagement will become a driver for customer engagement, a whole new marketing driver.
-GRC will become more mainstream, making each department more willing to share information and resources with each other. This increased focus on GRC strategy will reduce risks, costs and duplication of effort between departments.
-Marketers will need to be especially careful that a brand’s story satisfies and complements the pressing issues supported by ESG. And, in this sense, the ESG framework and its players will be growth engines in 2022.
As SaaS assumes its more mature status in the tech realm, marketing leaders will need to adapt to their broader roles as technology drivers, relationship builders and strategic architects in order to continue their growth trajectory. in 2022.
Angus Robertson is Partner and Marketing Director of Chief Outsiders, the nation’s fastest growing executive as a service company.