Image source: Immediate Connect
There is an untapped SaaS growth marketing strategy available today, that few are aware of, that tokenizes the utility and value of your product.
These utility-based tokens add financial incentives to existing utility incentives to create a powerful growth engine to bootstrap your company.
This should be the first program you add to your blockchain marketing strategy.
By Brian BloomKing, Managing Partner
NFTs have no doubt caught your attention. And as a B2B SaaS business, your first reaction might be to dismiss NFTs as high-risk consumer investment scams.
However, there are many more NFT ideas for SaaS companies than selling cartoon monkeys. Trying to explain NFTs only through art is like explaining automobiles to people in 1900 by only talking about leather seats.
Instead, it would help if you started thinking of NFTs as a powerful new fuel for SaaS marketing strategy to create network effects that can bootstrap growth beyond any tactics available today.
Your utility and purpose is your value and it can be packaged as a token. This token can be sold or given away as an NFT or form the basis for a company coin, called an alt coin.
"You can package your company's value and purpose and place it inside a token that prospects and customers own. These token holders form a community, and the community works together to increase the token's value (yes, if done right, it can later be swapped for real cash). This increases the value of your company. "
Reach Out To Us Today To Brainstorm On How You Can Tokenize Your Business For Growth. Start Here
NFTs are one use case for web 3 technologies. It helps to understand the broader framework of web 3 to see where NFTs fit.
Web 3 is hardware and software. Unlike Web 2.0, the hardware and software are not owned by a single entity like Google or Facebook. Instead, web 3 infrastructure are distributed worldwide on computers/servers owned by thousands of 'volunteers' who host web 3 code, such as a blockchain, in exchange for something of value, such as fractional crypto reward or real money.
The more complex the task their server is being asked to perform, the higher the reward.
So web 3 is just code, sitting on a server in someone's bedroom but multiplied by the thousands. This extreme distribution makes it virtually impossible for a hacker to 'take over 'a network for malicious reasons.
Technology: Tokens, whose ownership is encoded on a blockchain (like Ethereum) but are not the main cryptocurrency of that blockchain. Represents anything two or more people agree has value.
Technology: Smart Contracts. Software coded rules that govern and enforce the creation, distribution, and trading of tokens on a blockchain.
Technology: Blockchain. The 100s of distributed computers and software that comprise a blockchain, track token ownership and transactions and clearly define who owns what. An entry of your token on the blockchain is like a receipt or certificate of ownership that you can pass to someone else (provided you have your encryption key. Don't lose it 😉
Not a necessary part of an NFT growth marketing program, but DAOs are like digital democracies where the owners of the tokens collectively vote on issues that impact the token (and the greater entity on which the token is based).
These underlying technologies have been around for over 10 years, but only now are NFT ideas starting to be used by clever growth marketers to bootstrap their start-ups. Notable use cases are starting to emerge that we can all learn from.
This post attempts to frame web3 by understanding what the 3 core concepts mean for growth in a B2B setting and how they may affect your growth strategies moving forward
Chris Dixon at Andreessen Horowitz explains how the financial value of tokens can help SaaS marketers grow their company:
"Web3 introduces a powerful new tool for bootstrapping networks: token incentives. The basic idea is that when network effects haven't kicked in during the bootstrapping phase, provide users with financial utility via token rewards to make up for the lack of native utility. Financial incentives are a key factor in the coming age of DAO governance. Tokens align network participants to work together toward a common goal — the network's growth and the token's appreciation. Tokens give users property rights: the ability to own a piece of the internet. You don't need to spend money on marketing when users are genuine owners, love what they do, and love telling other people about it."
These diagrams show the difference between today's 'classic' product-driven marketing and what is possible if you introduce Web 3 ownership to your SaaS marketing plan.
Here are some ideas to start thinking about how you can add financial incentives to your SaaS marketing strategy:
If you add token incentives as part of your marketing strategy from demand gen through to product led growth tactics, your business model might look something like this diagram.
Source: Chris Dixon - A16Z.com
Eventually, the decentralized economy will disrupt SaaS marketing strategies. As decentralized models displace centralized ones and trust is codified across 100s of distributed servers, token ownership of company value will be second-nature. So how do you implement a SaaS marketing plan that includes token incentives?
Initial efforts at NFT should incent interaction with your products and people (especially product management) and foster customer engagement by elevating an individual's sense of being part of your brand community.
Token ownership and brand communities will go hand-in-hand. As more superfans receive tokens, they will want to increase the value of the token. This will incent them to act as champions for your products, bringing in new users as they go.
Offer additional tokens for desirable digital marketing actions:
The combo can be anything you think is valuable to your potential target buyers.
Again, if the value of your product goes up, the value of this token increases and can be sold to new buyers who see its value.
You see how you can be very creative here.
Once they have a token, it becomes fun and exciting for them to track its value. In doing so, they become more engaged with your brand. Even if they do not ultimately purchase, they will not forget you.
Remember, many prospective SaaS customers for complex products have decision timeframes that can stretch out over a year or more. Owning tokens in the pre-purchase phase will help keep them more engaged while the buying committee goes through its process.
And if millennial buyers are a priority, tokens are a great way to reach them.
Recent research from B2B International shows that when making B2B purchase decisions, millennials are more likely to want fun and interesting customer experiences, grow their network and personally benefit them.
Boomers and Gen Xers place more value on purchase decisions that foster learning and growing, so tokens are probably less effective with older buyers.
By using a token that has attention via financial incentives as a key attribute, you can begin to see how much more valuable this is than a one-time Amazon gift card.
A token has inherent value that the holder may actively try to increase by participating in your brand ecosystem. It's not guaranteed that everyone who gets a token will become a customer. Still, tokens will increase the number of interested buyers in your brand. It may increase your conversion rate (even a couple of points in CR can make a huge difference in lifetime customer value).
Selling a monthly SaaS product subscription is something everyone does. The subscription value is in product utility, which in the SaaS industry can be fleeting (i.e. churn).
Upsell from a free trial to premium, but add a token as an incentive or an in-app promo. Owning a token creates another product-led principle, which creates high switching costs. If you own a stake in a company that you want to increase in value, you're much less likely to switch vendors.
If a lead gen token holder decides to become a customer later, you can 'airdrop' more tokens to differentiate between a prospect and a customer.
What would a product-led growth token look like…
One way to encourage growth and customer retention is to give your early superfans a token with special benefits. Here are some benefits you can 'bake' into the token (you can probably think of many others that are specific to your offering):
And as they use the product, reward yet more tokens for…
Again, ditch the Amazon and Starbucks cards.
For the product itself…
If your product is not pure open-source, you can tokenize private source code access. Like other communities, this would be an exclusive community of non-employees who can improve the code to improve the value of their token.
The result can be tremendous developer growth that allows your company to build features faster. You can also have a DAO where this tokenized 'priesthood' can vote on the best features as the company's future direction and then help you implement them.
NFTs could help incentivize development on your platform, especially if you don't yet have the reach of large software companies like Salesforce or Microsoft.
These token-holding developers can also join your exclusive community of NFT holders and drive more value there.
Marketing efforts around giving away SaaS subscriptions or free trials to an influencer does not guarantee you'll have their attention long term. But, if you package a token with a lifetime subscription, preferred product roadmap input (DAO, Smart contract), free conferences, exclusive artwork (alt logos?), and air drop it to an influencer, you get a more loyal evangelist who wants to see the value of their NFT increase.
The biggest limitation in implementing NFTs is not a shortage of ideas but developer talent. Most SaaS marketing teams and start-up executives do not have the technical know-how and time to deploy NFT marketing strategies.
It might also be perceived as taking resources away from the main mission.
Every start-up is always looking for more engineering resources, and setting up a crypto community project could be seen as a distraction to the core product.
This is where agencies can be a huge help. Rather than spending from the engineering budget you can create an NFT community using the marketing budget.
1) Ask a third party to make it for you – this is commonly known as outsourcing. Because this is all so new, most projects done today are collaborations between your inside marketing team and outside agency teams.
2) Use an open-source web3 project - There are many NFT project scripts and engines available for free download on Github. NFT is a relatively new project programming endeavor – It helps to have already had some NFT project development experience. Also, use Github stats to check the popularity and age of the project. Read the comments to see if there are vulnerabilities.
3) Build it yourself. This might sound intimidating, but a growing collection of Web3 project information is available online. SaaS versions of NFT components like blockchain as a service (BaaS) can help you get started more easily.
Start With The Community
Remember, people are naturally incented to increase the value of their tokens. This means each token holder is now also a promoter.
Your first and most effective SaaS marketing strategy is to leverage the NFT community members.
Over time many web3 driven SaaS marketing programs will view community roles as more critical than sales and marketing roles.
When customers buy or receive NFT, they also become part of a community. Token holders come together to create a community to discuss industry issues and to promote your offering to boost the value of their tokens. Tokens will become one of your most effective SaaS marketing strategies.
Because the crypto-world is still in its infancy, you may to use some tested SaaS marketing strategies to create awareness in the early stages to jumpstart your token community. But remember we are also advocating for the use of tokens as an incentive to boost traditional marketing programs like giving out tokens in your content marketing efforts.
Whether through social media or good old-fashioned digital marketing techniques like email marketing, PPC campaigns, or content marketing, bringing in early adopters should be your main priority when kicking off a token project.
This is all very new, and at the beginning of 2022, there's no current consensus on best practices and platforms for NFT SaaS marketing strategies. But the emerging consensus is that a combination of Twitter and organic search are most effective today. LinkedIn is also showing promise.
Until recently, Facebook banned all crypto advertising but they have started accepting some forms of it today. The effect made Twitter the unofficial channel of NFT marketing and NFT projects. You'll definitely want to have a presence on Twitter to promote your SaaS business there.
Be active on Twitter in getting followers and providing consistent, high quality thought leadership updates.
SEO/organic and are wide open right now because Google seems to be penalizing many crypto news sites. This means there is a place for brands to fill the void and capture that high-intent traffic.
Medium has become the go-to platform for promoting NFT projects. Repurpose your blog posts there.
But overall, use multiple marketing channels and stick to your promotion and growth plans, and of course, layer on the tokenization where you see the value.
We strongly feel that it is not simply a new marketing program or channel, but rather a fundamental shift in how brands interact with customers.
Brands must learn to initiate and manage communities where customers have a financial incentive to help and will be key contributors to the business ideas.
Companies that get it right, and form communities based on financial and utilitarian motivations will win over brands that continue with business as usual.
As we move further into an understanding of the possibility of web3, marketers must begin to explore and prepare for the inevitable demand for web 3 marketing initiatives from buyers.
We're here to help you brainstorm on ideas and implement actual projects for you. So reach out when you can and let's talk about what is possible.
Reach Out To Us Today To Brainstorm On How You Can Tokenize Your Business For Growth. Start Here