minutes read

How to create a SaaS product that sells – and sells itself

Written by
Nathalie Kim
Published on
May 6, 2022

SaaS is one of, if not the most significant growth industries in the digital world. You'll find plenty of facts and figures in supporting articles detailing how big its market share is and how fast it's growing. Today, we're looking at its route to market and monetization and what you should include to ensure your product provides the success you need.

Nathalie Kim
Brand and Marketing Specialist
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The state of SaaS in 2022

It’s understandable that a product that, once deployed, is capable of providing a steady, scalable income stream with minimum management is a developer’s ideal.

Cloud-based operations make SaaS products simple for users and developers. Under a subscription-based delivery, it allows the simple, steady income its creators dream of.

Why wouldn’t any startup or established provider be attracted to a steady income stream that requires little management? Having a cash flow that practically takes care of itself leaves developers free to work on their next big idea or extend and enhance services they can sell to existing users.

It’s a no-brainer, and that’s why SaaS is leading the charge of digital development and is looking so healthy in 2022.

A simple 6-step plan to successfully design and deliver your SaaS product

Who are we kidding? It’s never going to be that simple, and indeed, it shouldn’t be. It takes hard work, effort, care, and attention. But, with careful consideration and meticulous planning, you can give yourself the best possible chance of success, removing the stumbling blocks that slow, poor planning performers in their tracks and add to escalating costs. You’ll find your route to profit quicker, more efficient, and far less stressful by removing those issues.

So, how do you drive a SaaS project to success? Here are six steps to keep yourself on track.

1. Validate your idea

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

Far too many developers get caught up in the excitement of what’s possible and not what’s needed. To validate any product, it must solve a problem, and it needs to do it cost-effectively and through simple delivery.

At this point, you need to understand your potential customers’ needs and ensure your product meets them. Your ‘solution’, because that’s what it must be, whether providing productivity, entertainment, information or some other lifestyle-enhancing opportunity, must be what your customers can afford and be better than anything else that could already be available to them.

2. Understand your customer

Who is your ideal customer? If you get to the root of who they are and what they need, it will be easier to develop a product they can’t resist.

Defining user personas helps you understand exactly what to include that makes your mobile or web app irresistible. What do they need from your project that makes the subscription cost an absolute bargain? And what about it will ensure they can’t do without it for the next twelve, twenty-four, or even forever months?

3. Build a business plan

Every opportunity needs a business plan. Failing to plan is planning to fail, as they say. And whoever ‘they’ are, they’re right. Trust me.

Your plan needs to cover everything from operating as a business, your plan to monetize your product, the time and route it will take to get you to market and your first payments, and how to raise the costs and resources you’ll need to get that far.

Monetization models include:

  • Monthly or annual subscriptions
  • Subscriptions based on services, features or package use
  • Subscriptions for active users over a product instead of product installations (think: CRMs, etc.)
  • Simple fees for add-ons to ‘Freemium’ apps
  • Advertising income plans for free apps

Route to market – If you’re an existing business, you’ll already know how sales channels work and the mass of marketing activities it takes to get noticed. If you’re a new business, developing your brand, delivering a product, and establishing the best partners, practices, and resources to get you where you need to be is a massive marketing 101.

Devising a schedule – Your business plan needs a timescale as your resources and budget will depend on it. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, your schedule will face hiccups along the way, so you may have to adapt and rebuild at several key junctions. Be open to change but driven enough to stay on track!

4. Define your build plan

Your SaaS product includes far more than just the service it provides to solve your users' problems. It needs security measures, registration facilities, personalization options, updates, optimised UX/UI, navigation, help, FAQs, privacy policies, operating instructions, access control, authentication, scalability, flawless operation, etc.

All of these take time, so your build plan should have its own schedule and a possible pre-build tech stack, and an idea of the type of development team you'll need.

5. Creating your MVP

Building your MVP delivers the first real glimpse into how your product could come to life. But, more importantly, it allows your users to judge its merits.

Feedback and testing from pre-determined users will help uncover problems you might have overlooked. This is the second step of validation. If you manage to deliver a high-performing MVP, then great; if not, you should have plenty of information about what needs to change.

6. Choose your tech stack and developers

With a successful MVP under your belt, you can move on to what your tech stack should include and who will create your SaaS product.

You may have access to in-house developers or need to utilize freelancers for skill sets you’re missing. Alternatively, outsourcing to a development company with the experience and expertise to drive a solid route to delivery can save valuable time and resources.

Want more about SaaS and Tech in one nifty e-book? Download 45+ pages of pure gold for free. More about our e-book here.

How to deliver the Holy Grail – the unicorn SaaS product that sells itself

So, how to start a profitable SaaS business? There is a common-sense list that many investors or entrepreneurs fail to engage with, leaving them with an expensive product that nobody has a real need or desire to pay for.

  1. Solves a problem
  2. Offers value
  3. Brings something to its users that its alternatives don’t
  4. Beautifully branded and marketed to make it irresistible
  5. Reliable, simple, and solid, and operates exactly as it should

1. What problem will your SaaS solve?

Your product must fulfill its users' needs by solving a genuine problem or adding something unique to an existing solution. Make it interesting, uncomplicated, meaningful, and long-lasting. Whether your product is entertaining or productive, it needs these qualities to keep it sticky for users.

2. How do you determine your SaaS product value?

The value to the user should be obvious. They had a problem or a part of their life that was complicated or hard to understand, and now they don’t. Matching a monthly cost to that value must ensure that the perceived value is worth the investment.

3. Ensure your SaaS product does something unique – or at the very least, better

You’ll achieve better results if you spend time researching your chosen industry and possible users. Of course, you have hopes for your product and assumptions of what your users will expect, yet only insight and data will drive success.

4. Never underestimate the power of marketing

You know your SaaS product will change lives but do your potential users? Your route to market means being seen by the right people, a route devised by experts. The speed that high-quality marketing campaigns deliver and the customer confidence polished that beautifully presented branding offers has a return far greater than its cost. Getting it right the first time ensures the fastest flow to profit, so testing with appropriately selected focus groups delivers the most reliable data.

5. How do you build a reliable, solid, scalable SaaS product and get it to market as quickly as possible?

Ideally, you’ll have an experienced development team (or single developer for smaller projects) capable of carrying you through to deployment without a hitch.

If you don’t have a team in-house, where to find programmers for startup? We'll say, you should choose an established operation to manage your build—someone like Apptension, for example—should be selected based on their expertise, achievements, and testimonials.

Alternatively, if you’ve got a developer set-up, one of the fastest and most efficient ways to market is to utilize a ‘boilerplate’ system. Such a platform uses a vast range of pre-determined utilities and operations, leaving the real heavy lifting and coding of the product’s unique functions where it’s most needed.

SaaS Boilerplate by Apptension does just that. It covers masses of tasks, integrations, and solutions using predetermined codes that build effortlessly into your infrastructure—leaving developers much more time for real development.

It’s ready to use, customizable, and incredibly well-tested and supported. It’s easy to get to grips with and has everything a developer needs to start building right away, all to achieve an excellent product quicker than your schedule estimates.

Utilizing industry-leading technologies, your product is going to be built on an already impressive tech stack. Included as part of SaaS Boilerplate’s system are some of the most used and reliable front-end, back-end, and integration elements:

  • React
  • Redux
  • TypeScript
  • JSX
  • Python
  • Django
  • PostgreSQL
  • Docker
  • Contentful
  • Stripe
  • Sentry

There’s plenty of information about SaaS Boilerplate for investors and developers alike, including how this incredible AWS-based scalable infrastructure will simplify and streamline your build journey through to testing and deployment. And if you need any more information, we’re ready and waiting to answer your questions.

You’ve got the know-how – what are you waiting for?

This article isn't only designed to fuel food for thought but also to help guide developers and entrepreneurs down a structured path to success. With the right tools, resources, systems, and plans, building and deploying a successful SaaS product is an incredibly achievable adventure. If Adobe, Uber, Dropbox, and Shopify can do it, why shouldn’t you?