In the digital transformation era of recent years, many SaaS businesses have moved rapidly to implement solutions that add efficiency and scalability. And thanks to advances in automation and cloud technology, it’s now possible for some to roll out new products, features, and strategies in what seems like the blink of an eye.
This speed to market provides a profitable and competitive advantage for those that can leverage it. But it also alters customer expectations across the board.
As time passes, new trends become the norm. And what once qualified as a rapid rollout now looks a lot more like what everyone is doing.
With so many SaaS solutions on the market today, customers have options. And they won’t stay with your business long unless you can continue solving their challenges in addition to providing value in ways your competitors are not.
How modern SaaS businesses are rapidly turning market demands into revenue
Let’s take a look at how some SaaS businesses over the years have been able to quickly and creatively leverage opportunities and demand in the market to deliver new and improved streams of recurring revenue—some of which have even led to exponential business growth.
1. Making a pivot into the cloud technology market
Not long ago, SaaS business leaders needed to buy and manage their own servers just to get products off the ground. They’d also have to write every line of code or hire people who could.
All of this was extremely time-consuming.
Today, that work is no longer necessary. Thanks to the cloud, entire SaaS start-ups can be launched in hours without any need for servers or even coding. That means launching new products for an existing business is even easier.
Hewlett Packard took note. In 2015, it launched Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to provide cloud services to other businesses. HPE now offers advanced information technology services and products in addition to its more well-known hardware and software.
One of the enterprise’s newest products is a service called GreenLake Hybrid Cloud, introduced just three years after HPE’s inception. The legacy tech giant has even entered the rapidly growing fintech space—completely new territory for what was originally a hardware provider.
Gartner forecasts that worldwide public cloud end-user spending will grow by 18% in 2021.
HP accurately predicted this area of growth opportunity. With enough agility to act on that prediction early on, it’s now poised to remain an industry leader.
2. Responding to demand for better reporting
In 2016, SurveyMonkey found 44% of surveyed customer experience (CX) professionals said sharing customer data, insights, and stories with their broader organization was a top challenge.
The survey provider’s response to this and other demands was to roll out SurveyMonkey CX in the summer of 2017. The platform includes new features like increased customization of surveys, advanced reporting capabilities, and more efficient and consistent ways to follow up with respondents.
The reporting capabilities in particular meet the CX demand for sharing information across organizations. SurveyMonkey CX includes easy-to-generate custom reporting and the ability to create filtered dashboards.
Demand for better reporting and data usability led to a new product rollout and a new recurring revenue stream for SurveyMonkey. And this move was certainly timely.
Even as recent as 2020, 41% of businesses were still struggling to turn data into decisions.
The main hurdles to this? A lack of data and a lack of access to data.
3. Expanding into new SaaS verticals
A current trend in SaaS is leveraging technology within a specialty area, or vertical. Without a doubt, this is a main driver of SaaS’s expansion into new sectors like real estate, non-profit, construction, and education.
MindBody is one such example. The platform got its online start in 2005 as a scheduling and business management tool for health and wellness studios and gyms. The creator’s mission? Empowering small business owners in the fitness sector to have time to do what they love.
MindBody’s creator leveraged existing connections in the health and wellness industry to grow his network and build a successful SaaS business. This only went so far, however. He also needed to iterate on the product in response to customer demand and stay ahead of any competition.
As a result, the platform set a course to expand its offerings, adding more services to accommodate consumer expectations. This meant adding not just business management tools but also extending features for the customers of the gyms and wellness centers that MindBody supported.
Starting in 2015 customers could sync their Fitbit to the platform. In 2017, Peloton devices were added as well. These are just two of a plethora of integrations and features the customers of MindBody-supported businesses enjoy.
The ability to quickly roll out these integrations as opportunities arose fed MindBody’s continued growth until it was acquired for $1.9 billion in 2019.
4. Providing more comprehensive customer acquisition solutions
Mailchimp started as a marketing email provider but has grown to become so much more than that. And it’s all thanks to customer demand.
Mailchimp heard the call from its customers: ‘We need to be able to do all our marketing in one place.’ Managing multiple types of marketing software is cumbersome. And it’s hard to manage data when it’s stored on three or four different platforms.
Rising to the challenge, Mailchimp built and launched an all-in-one marketing platform in 2017. Over time, it added features like landing pages, Facebook ads, Google remarketing ads, postcards, social posting, and marketing CRM tools.
Mailchimp now offers four tiers of service for its marketing platform, ranging in price from free to $299/month. This high-demand product converted demand into a major source of revenue in just a few short years.
5. Adding SaaS services in response to COVID-19
It’s undeniable the COVID-19 pandemic brought unique challenges to SaaS businesses—but also opportunities. SaaS leaders had to pivot and adapt quickly to survive.
SocialHub was one such business. The platform was already digitally native, providing social media marketing management completely online. However, its customers were used to brainstorming and planning content in person.
When employers had to switch to remote work in 2020, SocialHub’s customers scrambled to seamlessly plan and manage their social media marketing. All of this happened at a critical time. With everyone sheltering in place at home, social media was a prominent marketing and communication platform.
SocialHub took the cue and quickly launched a new software offering called SocialHub Meet, a video conferencing platform. This accommodated the increased demand for remote meetings so SocialHub’s customers could still get all their needs met within their marketing management platform.
How can your SaaS business compete?
What can we learn from the examples above about what it takes to compete in the modern SaaS space?
- These SaaS businesses had the ability to take what the market and their customers needed and turn it into profitable solutions.
- They had the ability to take those solutions to market quickly—to strike while the iron was hot.
- They had the ability to iterate and improve on their solutions as they went.
While these stories can serve as inspiration, how can your SaaS business gain this kind of competitive edge?
Of course, you always need to have a pulse on what your customers and the market demands. You also need to be continually willing to develop and iterate to satisfy those demands. But without the right technology, even the best of intentions can be difficult to act on.
One answer to achieving all of this can lie in digitally transforming your billing system—in implementing an adaptive monetization infrastructure that will enable you to grab the new opportunities as they come and rapidly put them into action.
An adaptive SaaS billing system makes agile go-to-market possible
Your modern SaaS toolbox requires the right billing system. You need a flexible, agile technology solution that will enable you to generate value for your customers and revenue for your business as quickly as you need to.
When you know your customers need a new product, feature, or usage model, you need to be able to create it, add it to your catalog, and automate billing for it as quickly as possible. You also need to be able to adjust it and tweak your pricing and billing as you go.
This nimbleness should not come at the cost of additional development resources or a bigger team. The process should be easy to execute and automate.
Security and accounting compliance are the other important factors that a robust billing system can accommodate without wasting time or the need for additional resources.
An adaptive SaaS billing system makes this level of catalog flexibility, agility, and competitive edge possible so your business can seize new opportunities and convert them into cash.
This is the kind of digital transformation stride that’s separating businesses that shine from those that are falling behind.
With speed to market on your side, your SaaS business can be nimble and hinge on demand while competitors struggle to stay in the game.