It feels like yesterday when the first public PaaS (platform as a Service) named Zimki was launched at EuroOSCON in March 2006. Fontango launched the beta version after finishing its development in 2005. However, when PaaS was introduced to the masses — not many people understood its importance very well. Therein, defining a proper PaaS marketing strategy seemed unnecessary.
Even though the core marketing for every product will always remain the same — we sell, and market products, and clients buy them as they need them. The problem now is that while the initial intent of the service was to simplify code writing – its usage and benefits have grown by manifolds.
According to Financial News media, “the PaaS market size is expected to grow to $164.3 Billion by 2026.” This suggests that many more companies are looking into private & hybrid PaaS options to make the most of the cloud computing market. In addition, Statista’s report on worldwide PaaS shows that the market revenue will surpass $100 Billion in the US alone this year. Moreover, the global PaaS market will break records and exceed $400 Billion in 2022.
While these are all hypotheses until we see these numbers, the chances of these expert insights coming true are more than us expecting rain just because our nose tingled a bit when we woke up this morning. Thus, marketers must start by understanding PaaS basics and the key characteristics that will help them create a good PaaS marketing strategy.
Understanding PaaS — a brief guide for marketers
What is PaaS
The simplest way to define and describe PaaS is by first understanding that it is a form of cloud computing. Its progression has changed how business applications are built and run. With the help of PaaS, now a new application can be delivered within a web browser in lesser time. The developers can use a point-and-click interface or deploy it through a custom code.
How to use PaaS
PaaS allows businesses to:
- manage custom cloud application
Without introducing any complexities they faced before, building and maintaining the company’s servers and infrastructures. In short, it can be said that PaaS offers a time & cost-efficient solution to the business.
Differences between PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS
Cloud computing birthed more than just PaaS – it also gave us its siblings, IaaS and SaaS. While most companies like Netflix use SaaS, all 3 of these offer custom cloud computing solutions depending on the type a company requires.
IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) allows organizations to manage their business resources on the cloud. These resources include their network, servers, and data storage. IaaS is a flexible category and offers a ‘pay-as-you-go’ option to add custom features.
PaaS helps businesses and developers host, build, and deploy agile & customer-facing applications by offering them a custom framework. PaaS management is somewhere between IaaS and SaaS in a way that lets you build upon the framework and manages most of the items for you.
SaaS (software as a service) needs the least amount of management from you and is the most commonly used cloud service. These products offer cloud-based tools and applications to both consumers and businesses.
“Companies in the industry are increasingly preferring hybrid cloud solutions to increase efficiency, innovation, and reduce costs. A hybrid cloud refers to a cloud infrastructure environment that is a mixture of private cloud, on-premises computing and public cloud solutions. Platform as a service providing companies in the industry are leveraging this technology to enhance their agility, capability, increase development & deployment speed, and reduce IT costs.”
– Quote from Research and Markets Report
Is salesforce SaaS or PaaS or IaaS?
Although many people argue that salesforce is either SaaS or a hybrid example of both SaaS and PaaS combined, the company says that Salesforce is a PaaS. The Salesforce platform is the world’s number 1 PaaS solution. Moreover, the SalesForce Lightning extension is considered the next-gen PaaS solution.
Examples of PaaS
Some other examples of PaaS include:
- SAP Cloud
- Microsoft Azure
- Apprenda Cloud Platform
- Google App Engine (from Gmail to Google Earth, everything is PaaS)
- AWS Lambda
- Pivotal Cloud Foundry
- IBM Cloud Foundry
- Oracle Cloud Platform
- Red Hat OpenShift
- Zoho Creator
Building a Proper PaaS Marketing Strategy
Let’s look at the steps necessary to consider when building a PaaS marketing strategy. Ironically, these steps will work for all kinds of cloud marketing strategies – be it IaaS marketing, SaaS marketing, or XaaS marketing.
Step 1 – Understanding the Product from a Marketer’s Perspective
When you are working on building a PaaS marketing strategy, it is essential first to understand the basics of PaaS (as I have explained above) and the features your product offers. No matter how technological your product is – if your team has no idea about it, they can’t help others think of it as a solution to anything as well.
Step 2 – Creating Custom Target Market Segments
Most tech companies target other businesses, but that is not all you need to know. For example, a company’s CEO or founder might not have enough time to read your inmails, emails, or your company page despite following it. The best target audience would be people who can quickly understand the importance of your product. Therefore, your target audience should always include a primary focus on the IT or Tech department heads, depending on the marketed product type.
Step 3 – Competitor Research
Your product needs to stay ahead for better revenue and sales generation. Doing thorough competitor research can help you discover the growth points they might be missing and offer you a case study of what worked for them and what didn’t. However, knowing what works for them doesn’t mean you just steal their ideas. If you do so – you might get a little attention from the target audience, but you will still be behind your competitor. Instead, discover the market gaps & target demographics and then work on a strategy to fill them in instead. Use their already workable strategy as garnishing to yours rather than making it a holy grail.
Step 4 – Prioritizing Marketing Types & Platforms
This is by far the most crucial point regarding your marketing strategy. While we all know digital marketing is the new gen marketing, no one marketer is a jack of all marketing types. So for step 4, you need to think about the marketing types that will help you with;
- Brand Visibility
- Brand Authority
- Lead Generation
- Revenue Generation
Before I tell the marketing types that I include in the strategies I build – it is essential to understand that they vary from business to business. If a company is just launching itself, it might not be able to do everything and anything. Therefore, always prioritize when building a strategy.
First, you need to pin down the growth points and then expand your strategy from there. Set reality-based KPIs and expectations for the team to ensure there’s no burnout or blame game, and take it six months at a time. My go-to PaaS marketing strategy always includes:
- Organic Marketing
- Inbound Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Voice Marketing (relatively new technique)
- Search Engine Marketing
- Product Marketing
- User-Generated Marketing.
- Acquisition & Retention Marketing
- Referral Marketing
- Brand Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Conversational & Word-of-Mouth Marketing
- Video Marketing
- Neuro-Marketing with a dash of Emotional Marketing
- Social Media Marketing (just because your product needs b2b marketing doesn’t mean Linkedin is the only social media solution)
You can also throw in influencer marketing to the mix – if your budget allows it. For me, the first influencers are always the clients themselves.
Key Points to keep in mind when building a Proper PaaS Marketing Strategy
1. Customer Experience
I once worked with a tech company that offered eLearning solutions to businesses. Yet, everyone in the leadership didn’t know how to log in to WordPress, download surveys from SurveyMonkey, etc. This helped the team understand the importance of customer experience, so they always worked extra hard to ensure their customers never faced an issue when using their services.
Likewise, designing an application or website is essential to keep the customer experience in mind. The idea is to make things easy for them. Don’t overcomplicate things by keeping the blogs tab just in the footer or hidden in a scroll-down tab. The easier and more functional your service is for the customers, the more word-of-mouth marketing you get.
From color psychology to the font type – you need to have a look at it all.
2. User Onboarding
When it comes to PaaS, first expressions are the last ones, and people mostly do judge a book by its cover. However, client experience is an integral part of any product marketing team when selling something technical because not all clients are equipped with the knowledge to understand technical jargon and processes. Therefore, user onboarding comes in handy and helps showcase your product’s total value.
A user onboarding benefits in not just customer acquisition or activation, but aims to build a retention level with upward growth in a way that also increases revenue. Moreover, if the user onboarding is done correctly, it can also lead a company to acquire new customers due to the word-of-mouth marketing done by the existing happy client.
With existing customers marketing for you by referring their peers and colleagues – your customer acquisition costs can reduce significantly, creating a snowball effect for the business growth. To conclude, user onboarding can help you win your customers over in the first few minutes and make them stay loyal to you for not just weeks but years!
3. Trial Periods
One of the best ways to convert a potential customer is by offering them a trial period of the product. This lets them test it just like they want to and gives them an illusion of getting something for free. Take Netflix, for example, they started with a 30-day free trial for their potential subscribers. Now when they have gained enough attention – they finish the trial periods.
You can drive a similar strategy as well.
4. Highlight Benefits rather than Features
Someone who’s not as technologically advanced as the developers of your product might not care about all the features it offers. Instead, they want to know why your product is best for them. Therefore, keeping the communication lines between you and your customer as clear and concise as possible is essential. Focus on how your product will add value to their costs, employees, and time.
This is where your competitor research will come in handy; if you know your customers’ pain points, you can offer them the solutions they want. However, in trying to do so, ensure you don’t overwhelm the prospects by giving them too much information.
An example is when an Eco-friendly alternative company offers solutions like bamboo straws or brushes. They don’t go into how sleek their product was because of some specific processing or ingredient – their main selling line is that this thing here you see will help the environment and decay faster in comparison to plastic. From their blogs to social media posts and podcasts, they focus on what their products offer in value rather than something else, and it works.
Another example of this is SalesForce – when talking about PaaS and why they are the number 1 solution for companies – they only talk about the benefits and pain points. They don’t go into details about the features. However, they created an infographic and added all the features to it rather than going into detail.
5. Set the Right Expectations
Never lie to the leadership that you can generate so and so revenue and little time. Long-term growth can NOT be achieved with black hat methods and techniques. A company’s growth takes time – no one will wake up, see your product, and think they should click buy because they saw an advert or because you sent them an email. Tofu, Mofu & Bofu exist for a reason in the sales funnel.
Similarly, don’t lie when marketing your product. There’s no point saying a train can fly to sell it only to end up with negative reviews on the internet. Today’s generation is savvy and knows when they are being marketed to. Hence, it is essential to be transparent about your product’s functionality rather than selling its subscription like a unicorn. You might get one-time payments, but they can be canceled too.
Bad reviews mean a reduction in customer acquisition and retention rates – directly impacting your sales and revenue.
Developing a marketing strategy will always focus on similar platforms and techniques — no matter which product or company. The only thing that adds-on to the value of a strategy is its execution per planning. Many tech companies have started to prefer hiring marketing and content teams with backgrounds in tech or software engineering because they feel it is easier than having employee integration or product training. But by doing so, they are missing out on the most important thing — a layman’s viewpoint. If everyone in the company understands the product without trying it — they can never market it to a non-technical person.
With a proper understanding and a good marketing strategy for SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, or XaaS, as discussed in this content piece, you can reach the right target audience and demographics per your requirements.
Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Thank you!