SaaS: The Chronicles of a Saturated Market
We need to be constantly reminded that we live in a capitalist world. Big words, we know, but what do they mean exactly and why in the world would we bring such a discussion to the table?
Well, as you surely understand the consequences of the system, also known as the worst of all economic systems, for the simple fact that we are living in a capitalist world we are exposed to a free market, with an abundance of choices.Sounds pretty good, right? Of course, it does, if you are the customer. But try looking at things from the perspective of the developer. How do you see this idea of the abundance of choices from way up there? It’s not an ideal situation, now is it? Well, it sure isn’t if you are thinking of launching your very own software for team management and you have to go against almost 300 different options of the same type of software1.
You could say that 300 is nothing. Maybe so. In comparison with other markets, 300 doesn’t seem like such a big number. Still, you are a new entry on the market and you have to fight each of those 300 to win a place in the first top 10. Because, in reality, no customer will have the patience to try more than 10 demos for a service. We have not gathered here today for an economics lesson. But the fact that capitalism has such deep roots in our society does have one important consequence you need to be aware of. And it’s related to one of our most prized possessions: SaaS.
What kind of world is this?
Yes, we do stand by our article regarding the switch to SaaS. This is the subscription economy. And yes, this is a capitalist society. So, we are the capitalist subscription economy, which means innovation and competition. Putting two and two together, theoretically, you get the ideal conditions for creating the most innovative products out there. In reality, however, you get a serious need for complex marketing tactics meant to promote your products over a long period of time. And that need will only get bigger and bigger as time goes by, as capitalism spins the wheel. A free market, an abundance of options, remember? So yes, while switching to SaaS is regarded as a smart business move, you need to take into consideration the possibility that your market may reach a point of saturation. It is by no means impossible. In fact, in some markets, it has already been confirmed. ( automobiles, mobile phones2)
Ok, now what?
Market saturation is a modern reality and a consequence of a rather controversial economic system. The question is what you, the maker of SaaS, the developer of software are going to do with this information. Are you going to take a step back, saying there is no point in investing in a competitive market? Are you going to navigate the B2B waters in search of virgin markets? Because if this is actually an idea you are seriously considering, we should tell you that there is no such thing. There are no markets left untouched, just waiting to be discovered and saturated. You can invent all you want, but you will still be part of a competitive market. Why? Because everyone has the right to sell, to create, to develop. And by the looks of it, everyone is already doing it.
So, whether you are developing software or are trying to better market existing one, know that while the market saturation phenomenon does exist, it should not derail you from your path.
Basically, what we are trying to say is that even though you are dealing with market saturation there are ways to market your products effectively and gain the desired results.
A shift in distribution channels
The decision-making process in SaaS is more complex than in other industries. The buyer goes through various phases, one of them, maybe the most important of all, is research. And know that B2B customers take research very seriously. Social media, review channels, recommendations, word of mouth and referrals, all are ways to get the name of your product on a list of potential purchases made by customers. Of course, each of these channels is worth your time and effort, but nothing compares to the value added by reviews. Using platforms such as G2Crowd or Capterra you are putting your product in front of the customers.
Going against your competition in an effective manner should be done by taking advantage of the popularity and trust gained by review websites. You need to attach your brand to a recognized, trustworthy review source customers trust. This would mean validation, the validation of the quality of your product. Of course, assuming that the reviews received are positive. If not, things could get complicated. This strategy is, in fact, a double-edged sword. Mind your steps, encourage customers that have enjoyed positive experiences to leave reviews on dedicated platforms and try to treat negative experiences with care. Every opinion matters, but not all can be used.
A mix and match game
Some time ago, the world was talking about how great SaaS is. But, not long after the debate and the hesitation registered among developers to switch to a new model, we’re seeing a real abundance in options. A wave of newcomers came, swallowed the market and now, everyone’s tired of eating the same dish over and over again. But what if you reinterpret the model a bit and spice up your core offer? Develop internal app stores that will allow you to have access to in-app purchases and provide the user with access to multiple products of your making and not only.
Reinterpreting existing models is what makes the world go round. It’s how everything works, including SaaS. How do you suppose this business model appeared? Was it not from the need for something different? The commoditization phenomenon, specific to saturated markets, leads to the need to differentiate one’s self from the competition.
The power of BRAND
Going from scarcity to saturation has left the SaaS world with a list of almost 34,727 software products, according to G2Crowd3 and not as many brands. The key to success in saturated markets is to build brand reputation. In all honesty, this is the marketing holy grail, but it is even more important in a saturated market. The stakes are, obviously, higher.
By building brand reputation, your customers will seek out your products. Think of it as a filter mechanism. People are filtering results based on brands and you need to offer your customers the reasons to do exactly that in your case.
Invest in building brands defined by professionalism, trustworthy brands that can solve various challenges and do exactly what they are expected to. One way you could do that is by minding the customer. And this is a double win move. Your brand needs to identify itself with the idea of customer satisfaction and personalized experiences. By using all your strength to accomplish this goal, by offering positive experiences you could open the doors towards positive feedback (point 1 of the solution talk). Because customers will let other potential customers know what you are all about. And that’s the best advertising team you could wish for.
Indeed, saturated markets can be a challenging environment to grow in, but it can be done. But once you understand that the secret is to keep an open mind, your business will thrive. You’ll be as strong as Raiden ( without a question, the strongest of Mortal Kombat fighters).