My theme for 2024: SaaS marketing experiments

I've decided that in 2024, the main theme of my writing will be marketing and growth tips for SaaS founders.

I'll share the real-world results from experiments I'm running at my company (​Transistor​) and tactics I've seen work at my friends' companies.


A recurring sentiment I hear from fellow bootstrapped founders is:

"These days, it's so much harder finding good marketing channels for SaaS than 5-10 years ago."

Getting a reliable customer acquisition machine running has never been easy. But recently, it's been even harder. Every channel has so much competition: SEO, content, affiliates, ads, social media, PR.

Marketing has always been about rising above the noise to get your product noticed, but there's more noise than ever.

During my ​year-in-review, I asked myself: "How can I be most helpful to the bootstrapping community?" The answer came from my readers: help us with marketing and growth!

Many indie founders struggle with the following:

Real-world case study

Back in 2018-2019, when Jon and I were building ​Transistor, we shared our journey publicly (both on our podcast and in writing​). This included sharing our revenue numbers plus the experiments we ran to build and grow the product.

Since then, I've missed the energy of working in public and sharing our lessons with the community.

Transistor is six years old this year, and I'd like to re-ignite its growth.

According to the "Law of Large Numbers," growing revenue is significantly harder once your annual revenue reaches seven figures.

For example, if you grew 30% at $1,000 MRR, it would be much harder to do the same once you've hit $100,000 MRR. It's not hard to hustle for an additional $300 in MRR, but growing revenue by $300k is difficult!

Transistor has never had a month where MRR shrank, but I'd love to increase our month-over-month growth rate.

So this year, I'd like to return to "build in public" and share real-world experiments, tactics, and learnings from my work at Transistor.

Lean marketing approach

I used to invest heavily in marketing automation, tracking, attribution, configuring funnels, and retargeting. But after 16 years of doing marketing for SaaS companies... I'm convinced that ​90% of it is unnecessary.

Ultimately, the only marketing metric that matters is which marketing efforts generate real revenue.

The challenge is that most analytics tools, like Google Analytics, force you to give an "approximated value" for each conversion event.

In 2019, I realized I could use ​Rewardful​ (the affiliate tracking software) to track any link-based campaign. For example, if I was doing ads on Reddit, I could create a link with an attribute called ?via=reddit-spring-2023.

The advantage of this approach is that Rewardful connects campaigns to real revenue in Stripe. As soon as a visitor clicks a link, it tracks them through the funnel ("Started Trial" --> "Converted to Paid").

In Rewardful, for each marketing experiment I ran, I had a dashboard of Visitors, Leads, Conversions, and the total amount of revenue earned.

Since I started talking about this in 2019, I've noticed other founders taking this approach as well:

In 2024, I plan to expand on this approach: identifying the marketing activities that we know are generating real (Stripe-verified) revenue.

How you can help

My first step is to learn more about how you're doing marketing now.

If you have a SaaS, please fill out this survey.

You can also share my post on ​Twitter, ​Threads, ​Mastodon, LinkedIn, and BlueSky.

Justin Jackson

Published on January 14th, 2024
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