7 Essential Features Your SaaS Company Should Offer
Despite the recent market downtrend, SaaS is here to stay. Good software, even if it only serves a small need, can generate revenue and steal market share. On the other end of the financial spectrum, we’ve seen a rising number of unicorns and decacorns, businesses that grab huge audiences. These shining examples offer some critical lessons. So whether you do a case study on Slack or MailChimp or Atlassian, you’ll find they have some common characteristics. To illustrate how they grew to be so successful, we’ll outline 7 essential features that your SaaS company should offer like they did.
1. Cloud Based Access
SaaS was essentially born in the cloud. Why? Because the cloud offered easy setup, high availability, and lower maintenance costs. If you were around in the era of floppy disks, you know how much pain it was to deliver software upgrades. Even worse, it was challenging to understand and plan for all the deployment environments. For example, we remember an insurance company sending out desktop software to insurance agents. The insurance company ‘required’ that you use Microsoft Windows, but that still didn’t mean their floppy disk install would install and work. Today, that’s a web-based SaaS application with nothing to install. Just visit the site with a browser, sign up, and log in.
The goal for any SaaS provider is explosive growth. We all dream of creating a killer app, releasing it, and capturing millions of monthly subscribers (see you on our private desert island!). But SaaS growth also means managing technical debt in a way that enables scalability. Cloud computing can scale, but poor design can’t. Thus, it’s imperative to think through potential spikes in adoption and usage. Load testing can make a huge impact.
3. Simple Pricing
With SaaS, vendors can experiment with pricing to find the highest conversion rate to obtain the most revenue. Unfortunately, that can lead to confusing pricing models. Keep it simple! Whether it’s consumption based, user based, modular, or a hybrid, you want to avoid sticker shock (instant churn) or losing money (instant bankruptcy). Knowing your cost to provide the service, as is knowing the customer acquisition cost (CAC). Then you can experiment with models and prices.
4. Simple Onboarding
The make-or-break moment for most SaaS products is the first day. If you’re a SaaS user, you want to get to productivity fast. Jumping through convoluted configuration steps, waiting a few days for customer success managers to schedule your onboarding, or enduring hours of boring videos doesn’t even sound right. Investing in self-serve or streamlined in-person onboarding is well worth the effort for SaaS providers.
5. SaaS Integrations
As we described earlier, SaaS integrations [https://www.webapper.com/saas-integrations/] enable both users and developers to get more out of a product. If you’re shopping for SaaS solutions, it’s advisable to see if you can easily extend functionality with a plugin mindset. If you’re building SaaS, you’ll be able to leverage the work of others if you buy first, build later. The best long-term SaaS platforms plan for an ecosystem of extension. Slack, for example, has hundreds of potential integrations. Think “marketplace” for integrations.
Not every app can work on mobile devices, but it’s increasingly important. Sales people in the field without easy access to a CRM? Uh, no. Even with reduced capabilities, a mobile app can streamline out-of-office work. Applications written using microservices [https://www.webapper.com/microservices-vs-monolithic-architecture/] make it easier to satisfy road warriors.
7. Convenient Maintenance
Even SaaS updates may require some downtime, preferably out-of-hours and not during a busy season (e.g., SaaS accounting software at tax time). With DevOps, updates may not ever require a service interruption, so that’s obviously a wishlist item for aspiring SaaS vendors.