These are some things I have learned over the last few years marketing our SaaS product, working with SaaS companies at Volta and hanging out with the “cool marketing kids” around Halifax (mostly former Radian6 crowd):
In a SaaS product environment, customers are always looking for signs whether they can trust their vendor. Make this an important part of your corporate identity. When you are seeking for those first few early adopters, you must understand that those people are investing in your company as much as in your product. You should allocate resources to build a corporate identity that projects trust. Some practical examples are public uptime status pages (like https://status.github.com) or photos, names and emails of team members on the about us page etc.
You should also have a section that wins over IT professionals and managers with hard data. If you go to the Salesforce pricing page, you will see how they do a great job there by providing a “Download the full edition comparison chart” document.
Your existing customers will come up for renewal once their subscription expires. Do not try to bill them without letting them know that you will renew their subscription (no brainer) but also do not make a mistake of assuming that all of them will just happily renew their subscription so that you can focus on the new client acquisition. Always treat clients that are on their last leg of subscription as prospective clients. This means, engage them, remind them of the value they are receiving and ensure their renewal goes flawlessly.
Sales and marketing for client acquisition will be your largest expense in a “true” SaaS startup. Monitor these carefully on a daily basis.
There is a common pattern among founding teams. Teams that are strong on business side do better in B2B play while teams that are strong technically do better on the B2C side. Technical teams too easily fall in the trap of promoting features. Business savvy founders know better so they promote experiences.
Selling on price never ideal but if you must sell on lower price understand that customers value reliability, ease of use and flexibility as much as they do lower cost.
Look for distribution partners only when you are already making money. I have made this mistake way too many times.