Building a successful SaaS product is becoming harder with each passing year. The competition is getting stiffer, even in niches that aren’t so popular and crowded. On top of all that, your customers are becoming numb to traditional marketing tactics.If you want to stand out, you need to go one step beyond what everyone else is doing. And if you’re tired of reinventing the wheel, try an approach that worked for countless companies before - building a community as you build your product.
In the wake of Web 3, this approach to marketing and growth is more important than ever before. Today, we’ll show you why this is the case and how you can replicate the same approach with your business.
Why You Need to Build a Community Around Your Product
Instinctively, we know that having a passionate community of supporters is a good thing. However, most business owners don’t consider that the benefits go far beyond a Facebook group you can use to ask questions.
The first major upside is customer retention. Many times, customers churn because they stop using the product or forget about its most useful features. The community is there to lure them back in and re-ignite their desire to use the product.
Even outside of your community walls, those members will be your most vocal supporters. When SEO, PPC, and social media fail, these are the people writing great reviews, supporting you in different communities, and recommending you to their friends and professional connections.
Step 1: Identify Your Target Audience
If you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one. The age-old saying is as true as ever. Before trying to build a community, determine who you actually want to participate in it.
When Adam Hempenstall created Better Proposals, he launched a Facebook community quickly after setting up the product. He knew exactly who he wanted inside: small business owners, agency owners, and freelancers - for starters.
Like many other founders, Better Proposals is something he created to scratch his own itch. He worked in an agency setting before and struggled with sending business proposals, so he created a tool for it. In other words, his community consisted of people with a problem similar to his.
Of course, not everyone is in a position to solve their own problem with a product they’re building. However, it’s a great starting point for building a community.
Instead of thinking about who should be your community, start the other way around - what kind of problem do you solve? Once you know the type of people who can benefit the most from the solution you’re offering, you have your logical answer right there.
Luckily, there is no shortage of great research tools nowadays, from social media platforms to communities such as Reddit, where you can find pure gold if you dig long enough.
Consider Web3 Platforms
If you take a look at successful Web3 platforms launched in the past couple of years, most of them are not launched on mainstream platforms like Facebook. Twitter (although decreasing in popularity lately) is a better choice.
However, consider that Web3 is all about decentralization and lack of censorship. Therefore, it might be a good idea to look into platforms like Telegram or Discord.
Or just build a platform of your own. For example, Gitcoin allows developers to work on open-source issues and get paid for their contributions in bitcoin.
Step 2: Create a Community Hub
There are plenty of different platforms where you can create a community, and the one for you will be the one where your customers spend the most time. The only way to find this out is by doing extensive customer research.
For example, Ahrefs is one of the best-known SEO products in the industry and they have almost 17,000 members at the moment of writing:
If your customers spend more time on other platforms, simply create a community there - or use the community others have created in your name. For example, Stripe has a community (subreddit) on Reddit that is not even run by the Stripe company:
You can use channels such as Twitter, Github, Instagram, or anything else that comes to mind. For many SaaS companies, Facebook groups are the default choice because as the administrator, you have more ownership compared to other platforms. Moreover, you get quite more reach compared to standard Facebook posts that need to be boosted.
Let your customers guide your product
In the end, you have the final say on where your SaaS product will go. Which features you ship, which customer groups get prioritized, and more. However, you might want to check with your customers first because they may have a different idea about the path you should take.
One way to do this is to create an idea board where your customers can suggest new features. Using a tool like FeedBear, you can let customers suggest new features and not only that. They can comment on them (together with your team), as well as vote on the ones they want to see made.
This is a superb way to keep customers engaged and give them the feeling of having a voice in the future of your product.
Step 3: Reward Members for Engagement
With your customers building up your community and doing great work, it’s only reasonable to give them some sort of reward for their participation. While monetary incentives are fine, you have to remember that these customers aren’t in it for the money in the first place.
There are some alternatives though.
Roadmaps - are always a great way to interact with your customer base. Create and share a product roadmap to keep your most loyal customers excited about the things to come. FeedBear also allows you to easily create and share a roadmap that looks great and shows your customers your plans for the upcoming months.
Build in public - and show your customers what’s happening behind the scenes. Companies like Buffer share everything that they are going through, including expenses, salaries, and plans that come to life and those that don’t.
When building in public, you’re building for transparency and opening yourself up to the world to be vulnerable. There are some risks involved, but you’re showing the good and bad sides of building a SaaS product. As a result, you can expect more involvement and sympathy from your customers.
Incentives - making a side income is always a good option for your customers, especially if you’re already selling to business-savvy entrepreneurs.
One thing that you can try is giving them the status of affiliate partners so they can resell your product for a percentage of the earnings. Since they already use and love your product, promoting them to their audience will feel natural. And if they can get a little bit of money for each sale - even better. Tools such as Tapfiliate fit the bill here.
Letting them build additional income - various SaaS companies allow their customers to sell templates or resell their products in some other way. Similar to becoming an affiliate but giving more control to the customers’ hands, this is a great option to create an army of passionate customers looking forward to extra income.
Step 4: Foster a Sense of Belonging
Once you’ve attracted an audience to your community and given them something to motivate them to stay, you need to foster a sense of belonging. After all, a community is only as strong as its members feel about being a member.
You can also use other Web3 tactics that make more sense to you. For example, exclusivity - giving access to new features and templates to your community that “regular” customers don’t have a chance to use.
You can also organize pre-sales and give access to your community to buy something that no one else can. This can be a game-changer if you give them access to a feature that makes them more income.
In an age where standing out among the competition and attracting new customers is becoming more difficult by the day, investing in building your community is one of the smartest business moves to make. Not only will it create a meaningful connection with your customers but will also bring a massive return on investment when traditional marketing tactics fail or stop working.
If you’re looking for one tool to help you get there and truly engage with your customers, give FeedBear a try! From idea boards to public roadmaps, we have an entire toolset that you can use to create an army of followers. Sign up today to get started!