10 Key Trends for SaaS B2B Growth Strategies

SaaS B2B Growth Strategies  

In this week’s 2019 State of the Internet presentation, Mary Meeker, the Midas List Kleiner Perkins/Bond Capital partner behind Spotify, Dropbox, Instacart, Slack, Square, Airbnb and Houzz, as well as Facebook and Twitter, captured how the internet is transforming the consumer and enterprise world, and even the political and regulatory sphere.   Given at Vox/Recode’s Code Conference 2019 in Scotsdale, AZ, the 333 slide presentation is a terrific whirlwind review of  technology trends from someone who has scored huge wins betting on where the puck is going (sorry, Bostonians, for the hockey reference!).

Here’s my take on 10 key highlights important to SaaS B2B growth strategies and operations:

1. Users: More than half the world population (51%) are now on the internet.  The majority of internet users – 53% – are in Asia/Pacific and only 8% in the US.

2. Technology domination of world business: seven of the largest companies by market cap in the world are tech companies, the other three are:  Berkshire Hathaway, Visa, and Johnson & Johnson.  Four of the top six technology companies are US-based.

3. Public and private investment into tech companies is at a two-decade high, nearing $200 billion last year. More and more investment leads to an ever-faster pace of innovation.

4. Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) are going up and in some places exceeding LTV which can’t last long. New ways of acquiring customers are expanding in the enterprise, such as freemium and recommendations.

5. The most effective sales and marketing is your own product; happy customers and recommendations are better than feet on the street.

6. Freemium in the Enterprise is just getting started. The freemium model got started in Gaming, moved to Consumer (Spotify) and now is just getting started as a model in the Enterprise (Dropbox).  Enablers for transforming Enterprise freemium as a model are the Cloud and efficient digital payments.

7. Interactive gaming and gaming innovation incorporating real time playing and problem solving is impacting everyone’s engagement with technology. And for the parents out there, there are 250M Fortnite players.

8. Images are an increasingly relevant form of communication while images are also the oldest form of communication. Image creation, sharing and engagement continues to ramp.  50% of Tweet impressions are now images, video or other media, not text.
— Interesting sub-point: images are increasingly focused on story-telling and collaboration; not about beautiful images.

9. Data, Data, Data:
— Data Growth and Data Stewardship/Storage: Cloud is surpassing Enterprise storage while Consumer data storage is down.
— Data privatization issues looming, but slowly being resolved. Quoted Mark Zuckerberg on how people should have the right to protect how their information is being used while enabling companies to use information to provide services.
— Data is the new application: data is being used for everything from business insights to product development incorporating customer testing, personalization and marketing and so much more.

10. Immigrants are driving tech innovation: of the top 25 most valuable tech companies, 60 percent were founded by first- or second-generation immigrants. They employed 1.9 million people last year.  The US may fall behind in innovation with more restrictive immigration policies.

Super interesting from a SaaS strategy perspective was the focus on product-led growth, incorporating freemium, gaming and visuals, versus the heavy investment in Sales and Marketing led growth of the past decade.  With ever increasing investment to fund innovation and expansion of access to the internet around the world, growth in the SaaS sector will continue to be strong.

And finally, a conclusion that I think we can all relate to: “If it feels like we’re all drinking from a data firehose, it’s because we are,” said Meeker as she showed a slide with a steep upward curve for technology advancements next to a lower upward curve portraying the human ability to adapt.  But as Meeker says, this just means there’s an opportunity for new tools to help us adapt.

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1 Comment

  1. Chuck DeVita

    Regarding the comment on freemium for the enterprise, I question if this is happening for significant enterprise solutions. Rather, freemium is an approach for getting enthusiastic users of point products (like Dropbox) who happen to work at enterprises, but that is not an enterprise solution. Freemium implies low value. Enterprise decision makers are looking for high value solutions to their business problems. Freemium rarely provides a path to access executives who have the power to change the way work is done at enterprises, which is critical for enterprise SaaS solution providers. The Box/Dropbox type model is about getting enthusiastic users with the hope that use will grow to enterprise levels. In almost all cases, this market entry model requires multiple hundreds of millions in investment to achieve sustainability. Contrast that with the industry vertical model, which has been shown to be much more capital efficient.

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