Karl Kangur
December 17, 2020
SaaS Business Trends 2021

To maintain business growth, you need to strike a balance between how your SaaS product drives user behavior and keeping an eye on trends. Product developers can sometimes get preoccupied with the former and lose sight of the importance of being intelligently reactive.

New technology, disruptive software tools, global events, and gradual changes in user expectations all contribute to a business landscape that rewards strategic flexibility. Put simply, it pays to consider shifts in digital trends when designing marketing strategies, as well as to prioritize new product features.

Here are some examples of current digital trends and ways that SaaS businesses can take advantage of them in the new year.

COVID-19’s Impact on Supply Chains

While the Coronavirus pandemic has prompted a surge in e-commerce transactions, it has also crippled online retailers by damaging their supply chains’ efficiency. It’s a unique scenario, where a singular event triggered a rise in adoption and simultaneously compromised businesses’ ability to take advantage of it.

SaaS products that enable the relationship between retailers and suppliers are now able to leverage this weird situation to their advantage. They can do this in two ways:

  • Firstly, they could prioritize new risk-management features. When a retailer sees a spike in product demand at the same time as a dip in their suppliers’ capacity to deliver, intelligent inventory management and streamlined ordering processes are critical.
  • Secondly, a SaaS business that already offers these features could shift their marketing focus to them. InFlow does this in an elegant way by never addressing the pandemic itself but rather focusing their sales copy on their ability to optimize order management.

A smart product owner would do well to implement additional enhancements to existing features in this area of their product. At the same time, a CMO would be wise to kick off a marketing campaign highlighting the risks of being understocked during a time of increased demand.

This may be only one example of how a global event has affected a particular industry. But there’s almost no niche untouched by this catastrophe. SaaS businesses can grow during this challenging time by finding innovative ways to address unique problems or shining a light on how their product already does so.

Embrace the Culture of Self-Improvement

During a time when the adoption of your SaaS product may be compromised due to the current health crisis, there are creative ways to remain relevant to your target market. One of the best methods of actively staying in your audience’s lives is to offer educational material related to their world.

Lockdowns and forced quarantines during the pandemic have seen skills-development become a global trend. Isolated people are doing what they can to remain mentally active and improve their lives during an emotionally testing period. For many, this includes preparing themselves and their businesses for success once they re-emerge into the world.

A great example of a company taking advantage of this trend is ZenMaid, a B2B SaaS that sells a cleaning-service administration tool. No doubt aware that several of their customers will be affected by the fact that people won’t be allowing cleaners into their houses during the pandemic, Zenmaid launched a “Courses” section on their site.

Image source: zenmaid.com

Now, during a period when they’re unlikely to be deploying maids to their various customers, ZenMaid customers can prepare themselves by doing entrepreneurial courses on subjects like:

  • Sales and Marketing
  • Systems and Automation
  • Hiring and Training
  • Business Management

Diligent business owners, now seeing their companies struggle through a period where there’s no market for their service, have the opportunity to immerse themselves in high-quality educational material hosted on ZenMaid’s web platform.

This approach won’t necessarily eliminate churn, but it will go a long way towards keeping customers aware of the product. Moreover, it will buy a ton of goodwill and loyalty to the brand.

Increased Awareness of Machine Learning, Analytics, and Automation

SaaS tools automating processes that used to rely on human interpretation of data are becoming increasingly popular. As machine learning technology evolves, it becomes more accessible via open-source frameworks. Greater accessibility means a lower barrier to entry for small SaaS companies that base their business models on interpreting large amounts of raw data.

Lower barriers to entry result in a business landscape that’s primed for innovation. SaaS companies wanting to use machine learning for analytics and automation can now do so with fewer challenges than two or three years ago.

What trend has this created, and how can SaaS businesses leverage it for growth?

As the number of software products enabling automated responses to the analysis of “big data” increases, end users are becoming desensitized to its complexity and aware of its benefits. This increased awareness of machine learning’s business applications means SaaS companies can confidently work complex technical concepts into their marketing material, even at the top end of their marketing funnel.

AI and Machine Learning for B2B

Exposure to complex, scientific concepts during the early stages of the sales process is no longer the turn-off it used to be. And this is especially in the B2B space. Business customers are highly incentivized to seek out solutions to pain points that are hampering their growth.

Aura, an automated Amazon repricing tool, shows their confidence in this notion by hitting the AI and machine learning concepts hard and early in their website’s sales copy. Aura shows no fear in illustrating the role this technology plays in their core product. They’ve embraced the notion that potential customers are familiar enough with these concepts not to be alienated by such a tech-intensive sales message.

Image source: goaura.com

If your product delivers an automated service that uses AI, machine learning, or any other form of complex data analysis, don’t be afraid to work this fact into your marketing messages. Your audience will be ready for it.

Enable Smart Collaboration

Companies are increasingly moving into a decentralized-workforce space. Whether this move is due to having a progressive recruitment culture or as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, getting the most out of remote teams is critical to growth. And using effective collaboration tools is vital in getting the most out of a decentralized team.

With this spike in remote working, many SaaS companies that enable collaboration are pouring their resources into offering exceptional value in this space. There’s a virtual race between these SaaS companies to provide their potential subscribers the most valuable suite of collaboration features available on the market.

While the temptation must always be there to diversify your product’s features to attract a broader range of customers, some companies are going all-in on streamlining collaboration. FileCamp is a great example. This digital asset management company has gone out of its way to deliver innovative features that make online interaction with remote colleagues and clients as simple as possible.  From AI-powered automatic image tagging to next-gen asset categorization and sharing, FileCamp isn’t holding back when capitalizing on the remote work trend.

Image source: filecamp.com

Get the Most out of Your Chatbots

The obvious benefit of having a chatbot on your website is that it can grease the wheels of your sales cycle. When a customer can interact with a salesperson (or sales bot) and obtain answers to their questions without having to navigate through your site, you’re making the route towards conversion much easier.

Aside from providing the gratification of getting questions answered in real-time, chatbots now also offer several functions to optimize your sales funnel. Let’s look at some of the most effective mechanisms chatbots use to improve conversion.

Replace Cumbersome Lead-Generation Forms

Landbot allows companies to harvest lead information conversationally, rather than forcing visitors to fill out typical lead-magnet forms. When Landbot themselves implemented this approach, they saw a 3-4 times higher visitor-to-trial conversion rate.

Enable Super-Granular Segmentation

The ability to categorize your leads appropriately is at the heart of account-based marketing. It is one of the most effective methods of providing personalized sales content to your leads. MobileMonkey is a chatbot that specializes in enabling this level of segmentation.

Image source: mobilemonkey.com

Build Your Email Subscriber List

Website visitors are becoming increasingly fatigued with standard lead magnets. Harvesting email addresses by offering additional content in the form of an e-book isn’t the foolproof mechanism it used to be. Enter chatbots – the next generation of lead magnets.

The main reason chatbots are so much better at getting a visitor to hand over their email address is that they’ll be doing it in an interactive conversation. Even though they know it’s with a bot, visitors are more comfortable in this kind of a process. There are numerous ways chatbots can be leveraged to obtain email addresses, but almost all of them include building a rapport with the person first, and that’s simply not possible with a standard web form.

In Closing

There are many ways you can leverage digital trends to grow your SaaS business. The simplest method is to shift your marketing message to highlight existing features aligned with new customer behavior or expectations.

You can also choose to prioritize features that you know speak to a particular digital trend. A slightly more drastic approach would be to pivot your product’s primary function towards a trend that’s likely to remain important indefinitely.

Regardless of the approach you choose for your SaaS company, the most important aspect of taking advantage of digital trends is to remain aware of them. Read the right blogs, follow the right thought leaders’ Twitter feeds, and incentivize your product owners to do the same. Successfully leveraging a digital trend for growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It can only happen when the right people are paying attention to the world around them.


In the last 9 years, Karl Kangur has bootstrapped companies in various industries, ranging from e-commerce stores to media sites with hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors, I have practical experience in all areas of digital marketing and a strong focus on delivering measurable results from the get-go. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here or follow/tweet him @growthkarl



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