How To Filter Between Good and Not-so-Good SaaS Growth Practices

Victoria Rudi
July 13, 2022
⌚ 4 min read

You’re exposed to numerous SaaS growth practices if you’re an entrepreneur or SaaS executive.

Nothing wrong with it—after all, observing, adapting, and trying what works for others will help you learn and grow faster. However, discernment is needed when choosing between SaaS growth practices.

Not all practices are the same, as some may require systemic changes in how you run your business. Before deploying a new SaaS growth practice, you must understand its implications. To do that, you must zoom out and see the bigger picture.

Luckily, you can filter between good and not-so-good SaaS growth practices by using the following taxonomy:

→ Methodology-based practices

► Quick note: A SaaS methodology refers to a collection of growth practices articulated as part of a system or a contextual framework. These practices are deployed sequentially or simultaneously, following a coherent and logical scheme.

Example: After Step A, we have to take Step B, then Step C. Or, we can deploy Steps A and B simultaneously and then apply Step C once we’ve observed the X result.

Some founders and SaaS executives choose between different growth methodologies, such as:

  • Inbound marketing: Built by HubSpot, this framework is based on attracting leads and customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them.
  • Community-led growth: Developed by Commsor, this methodology requires putting the community at the heart of the business and leaning on that community to map the way forward.
  • Account-based marketing: This framework revolves around identifying and targeting best-fit accounts that have the biggest revenue potential for your SaaS.
  • And more.

► Quick note: Usually, founders and SaaS executives will deploy multiple complementary growth methodologies simultaneously.

👍 The good:

  • You don’t have to waste time thinking about what to do next. A methodology comes with integrated growth practices that derive one from another.
  • Usually, methodologies are well explained and documented, making them easy to implement.
  • It’s an ongoing system. Once you’ve set it up, you’ll have an almost automated workflow.

👎 The bad:

  • You may ignore new growth practices or methodologies that work better for your SaaS.
  • You may choose the wrong methodology for your SaaS.
  • Deploying a methodology doesn’t necessarily mean it will help you grow your SaaS. Let’s take inbound marketing, for example: creating valuable content to attract and nurture high-quality leads sounds pretty straightforward. However, you still have to ensure a good level of content quality to achieve the results you expect from the inbound marketing methodology.

→ Systemic-based practices

Some growth practices may stay at the basis of your overall business direction. For example, you may want to deploy growth practices, such as:

  • Niching your audience
  • Choosing a vertical niche
  • Narrowing down your outreach area

Some founders or SaaS executives may be oblivious about this type of growth practice, having no clear criteria when deciding to niche, for example.

They’ll just build their business using a system-based approach to growth practices, molding their growth direction depending on some random niching or segmenting choices they’ve made.

So when identifying the right growth practices for your SaaS, ask yourself whether they’ll change or not the way you do your business.

For example, running demo webinars to acquire new leads doesn’t require changes in how you run your business.

On the other hand, niching your audience and narrowing it down to one target group will significantly influence how you run your SaaS. This growth practice will impact your:

  • Outreach campaign
  • Messaging
  • Marketing strategy
  • Product design
  • And more

So before choosing a growth practice for your SaaS, make sure to identify whether it’s systemic and whether it makes sense to deploy it and change the way you run your business or not.

👍 The good:

  • These practices will help you understand your direction and build your business accordingly. For example, suppose you’ve decided to narrow your audience to a well-defined segment. In that case, you may decide to develop a specific set of product features that otherwise you’d have ignored.
  • Systemic practices will serve as your North Start, fueling your subsequent actions.

👎 The bad:

  • If the systemic growth practice doesn’t work, you may have to change multiple business elements to readjust to a new practice.
  • It may be difficult to experiment with other growth practices. Just think about it: if your entire business is built on targeting marketing professionals, reaching out to other segments may be challenging without building an entirely new marketing campaign or product vision.

→ Singular practices

These growth practices don’t require changes in how you run your business. You can launch them as experimental projects and see whether they work. Here are some examples:

  • Run a virtual event or webinar
  • Create a learning program for your users
  • Launch a virtual game to capture leads
  • Offer interactive demos
  • Produce a media product

👍 The good:

  • Experiment with multiple SaaS growth practices at the same time.
  • Get faster results.
  • Assess quicker whether a practice works or not.
  • Easily abandon the growth practices that don’t work without having to change anything systemic about your business.
  • Have bigger autonomy. Adapt and tweak the SaaS growth practice to your company’s profile. With methodology-based practices, for example, you have to follow the book. Any tweak in the methodology may negatively impact your results.  

👎 The bad:

These practices come with some limitations, such as:

  • Resources: Some growth practices may require a great deal of investment and time.
  • Bandwidth: Deploying some singular growth practices may take much of your team’s time.
  • Business Model: For example, you may discover that some SaaS growth practices work for product-led companies only.
  • Product: If your platform doesn’t operate based on templates, there’s no way you can nudge your users into becoming template creators. Also, there’s no point in building a template marketplace.

You’ll want to test and work with multiple SaaS growth practices when building your business. So make sure to stay aware of each practice’s typology and implications.