SaaS Stacks By Growth Stage with Expert Tips
In order to grow your SaaS revenue you need to find the best tools to help you scale your resources. Just as you charge your customers a subscription fee, you need to prepare a budget for growth tools. While some options are freemium (or some actually are free) you should want to find the right tool that matches your team and its functional and budgetary needs. In short… hardly anything amazing is free, except for the advice we’ve gathered here for you.
Choosing the right tools is hard, sometimes you don’t know if a tool even exists to help you with a function because you are too busy working on your company to realize, and other times there are so many options it’s hard to know which is best.
In this post we’ll cover some of the biggest players in the most important software categories to help your company thrive. To make this long list even more powerful… we even give you the information you need to decide if it is a good fit for your company based on its growth stage.
Every SaaS company knows they have the opportunity to use Google Analytics for tracking web site traffic, but there are many more options to tracking all that and much more detailed information about your company.
See how many people come to your site, know how many subscribers you get to your funnel, track how much revenue you are making every month, and know what features are popular in your product. But how do you access all of this information? What tools do you need, how much do they cost, and when should you consider using them based on your growth stage? Take a look below to get an idea.
As early as you publish your website you should start implementing some tracking and analytics measures. Here are some of the easiest, and cost effective tools to get started
Google Analytics – Free
When you want to see traffic, page views and referrals.
Everyone uses Google Analytics, it is an industry standard. It’s free, and let’s you track the most traffic metrics for your company website. You can set up goals, track revenue, and import data to hundreds of other tools.
Crazy Egg – $9+/mo
When you want to see how visitors view, click, and scroll on your site.
Know how your users behave on your site, then make appropriate changes to your design. Are they ignoring a call to action? Move it. Do they not bother scrolling? Put more intriguing options above the fold.
Clicky – Free up to 3k visitors/day
When you need a lot of analytics at a low price.
For advanced testing, get real-time website analytics at a low price. See heatmaps, uptime monitoring, and split-test your site. Set-up multiple dashboards, get video analytics and monitor keywords on Twitter.
Piwik – Free
When you want to host your own analytics.
Host your analytics data on your own website. Piwik is open source. Download it, add it to your site for free access to analytics, and customer insights. Easier to use than Google Analytics but may not have all of the same options.
During the growth stage, you’ll want metrics and analytics handy for funnel decision-making. These tools will help.
Mixpanel – Free Starter Plan
When you want to understand users’ actions, without dev resources, on web or mobile.
As you scale your SaaS company, you want to know what features users use, how long they take to become members, and when or if you lose them as a customer. Do all of this without knowing SQL. Another alternative is Amplitude and check out Anish‘s great breakdown comparing the two.
Preact – Free up to 25,000 MAU
When you want to understand Mixpanel data better.
Import your Mixpanel data to find deeper correlations in user behavior. You’ll get a clear understanding of what causes better results as Ptero analyzes high growth, onboarding, and low churn.
RJ Metrics – Not listed
When you want to see virtually all metrics in one place.
Dashboards for all of your most important metrics. Easy to integrate with current tools, and shows all metrics such as revenue, Month over Month, Year over Year, traffic, subscribers, newsletter optins, email driven revenue and whatever else you might need.
ChartMogul – $59+/mo
When you want to see all SaaS revenue related metrics in one tool.
This real-time tool gives you immediate access to all monetary metrics of your SaaS tool. What is your monthly revenue, what is the month over month increase, what is the year over year increase, what is the churn rate, and more. They even have a mobile app for quick reports like when you get put on the spot in a meeting.
Baremetrics – $25+/mo
Though initially created to handle your metrics from Stripe, Baremetrics now works with multiple payment processors and displays many of the same metrics as ChartMogul though with no mobile app.
The metrics and analytics from the following SaaS tools will help you optimize your growth in this important stage.
KissMetrics – $120+/mo
When you want to see customer behavior and web analytics in one place.
Initially created as the place to track users through your funnel, KissMetrics has added several other features to be competitive with tools listed above. Coordinate integrations with your other tools to guide users through your funnel.
Segment – Free+/mo
When you want to distribute customer and usage data to your favorite tools.
Think of Segment as Zapier for analytics and metrics. It shares your data across the tools you are using. This way you can make changes in one place and have it automatically updated through-out your company tool stack. For example, help desk can now see what a user has done with marketing or billing. This is integration at its best.
Heap – Free for up to 50k sessions/mo
When you want retro active SaaS usage tracking.
It never helps you make a decision or prove a point when you login to your analytics tool only to see that you haven’t started tracking a particular metric, and need to wait weeks or months to gather data. Heap helps you avoid that, install it once, and it is capable of going back to collect that data without the waiting game.
Since most SaaS websites are custom coded by developers on the team, there are few content management systems we need to review. For the rest of the site, and blog, here are two of the most common CMS available.
Get a site or blog up and running, you can easily integrate with custom coded options.
WordPress – Free + hosting costs
When you want to customize your website without using dev resources and possibly even design.
One of the most common website and blog content systems on the Internet. Thousands of new sites are launched on it everyday. There are hundreds of thousands of plugins to customize how it works, and just as many themes to customize how it looks. If you want to start with a design you can customize, check out Theme Forest.
Growth & Optimization Stages
Once you are able to afford consolidating tools, you’ll want everything in one place- the easier to control and juggle everything. This is a great, and common option.
HubSpot – $200/mo
The modern Hubspot has grown from a CMS to an all in one web marketing tool.
A platform that houses your content, allows you to build landing pages, calls to action, send emails, and get reports on your digital presence. Known as the swiss army knife of online marketing, as it houses content, analytics, email and social media. However, it is difficult to migrate from if you choose to use another platform, and design is not as easy as WordPress.
Everyone has an email marketing tool and this category may have more competition than any other on our list. Here are a few to consider for email newsletters… continue on to find automation tools for email.
MailChimp – Free
When you want to start emailing for free.
With a freemium plan it’s easy for any startup to begin by using MailChimp. Most can begin with the free plan, which makes it difficult to want to use another option until you need more features. MailChimp has just recently added more automation features though these are on the premium plans they offer. In short, Mailchimp is simple, pretty emails with some extras.
AWeber – $19/mo for 500 contacts
When you want to email newsletters AND autoresponders.
Considered the grandfather of autoresponders… AWeber has grown to be much more for email marketers. Love segmenting lists? They have you covered. Along with tons of integrations and even stock photography to make your newsletter look better.
Constant Contact – Starting at $20/mo
When you want to go bigger than free to get some extras.
This company taught the small businesses (and some large) world they need to have a corporate newsletter. They’ve been around since 1995 and serve millions of small businesses with easy templates and lots of flexibility.
Ready for more than just a periodic newsletter from your company? There are plenty of strong players ready to help you trigger almost any action based on a user’s behavior. When you tailor your emails to customer segments AND behavior… the results are impressive.
Drip – $1+/mo
When you want to easily handle workflows in email.
Best way to visually layout email automation. Recently purchased by LeadPages, so they sync well with their landing pages (which is a plus). You can buy separately or a combo. Their drag and drop interface is refreshing to setup the emails where you want them based on how a user is behaving, ie: signing up for tool, making a purchase, making an indication on their profile, etc.
Active Campaign – $9+/mo
When you want automation and email at a low price.
This is a great tool for any startup or SaaS tool that wants to send email, put automation to work for their company, and keep track of sales information in one place.
Customer.io – $100+/mo
When you want messaging based on user behavior.
For sending messages from email, through apps, in the mail and more. Customer.io is a bit different from other email marketing options though as it works with your data, this way you are always sending the right message at the right time- based on actions, features, and more.
Competitors – AutopilotHQ
Anygrowth – $17+/mo
When you want marketing automation This suite of tools is for the growth hacker, you’ll find email addresses, generate leads, send emails and more. There are even SEO tools for checking rank, finding keywords, and analyze your content pages. I also liked the social media features they offer.
Infusionsoft – $199/mo
When you want CRM, automation & advanced email tools in one suite.
Not the first name most SaaS companies think about for automation, but this tool has so much horsepower for the advanced user. They say they focus on small business, but their suite of tools would work for enterprise.
Marketo – not listed
When you want lead scoring & segmentation.
A competitor to HubSpot that focuses on automating your marketing processes. With Marketo you can build landing pages to collect leads, then their software helps you score and segment these leads like no one else. For companies with 10,000 or more leads.
Competitor – Exact Target, Pardot, Eloqua
If you need to add more emails to your marketing efforts, there are now tools that can help you search, verify and some even let you market from the same tool.
LeadIQ – $50/mo
Want to find emails from LinkedIn? LeadIQ is the easiest way to expand your list of targets.
LeadIQ is a service we internally use and it’s pretty awesome. Your SDR’s are already doing lots of LinkedIn searches to look up prospects. Stop wasting your time and use LeadIQ’s Chrome extension to easily grab each person’s email address. They also have great team plans to really boost your prospecting. (Disclaimer: Our CEO is an investor in the company).
Email Hunter – Free for 150 searches/mo
When you want to find an email address.
Sometimes you just want to find that one email address. You look all over the Internet but you just can’t find it. That’s where Email Hunter comes into the game. Type in a person’s name and they’ll start looking for their email address, even if they are only able to offer a company formula for the address, you get something you can work with.
Competitors – Datanyze, Find Any Email
Communicating with your prospects and users is necessary and a few tools make sure the emails go out and they get delivered. One even explains why emails didn’t make it to the inbox.
SendGrid – $9.95+/mo
When you need to send transaction and marketing emails.
In every SaaS company, there are times you’ll need to send transactional emails that notify a customer something has completed successfully such as a payment, user added, account created or almost any other task. SendGrid allows you to do this and send your marketing emails from one tool. You can’t beat this price to get started.
Competitors – Amazon SES, Mailgun, Campaign Monitor
Mandrill – $20+/mo
When you need to send transactional emails and you trust MailChimp.
The creators of simple, pretty marketing emails also created a dead-simple API interface to send transactional or marketing emails if you don’t need the web interface. Easy peasy solution.
BetterBounces – Price not listed
When you want to fix bounced emails.
This tools helps you understand why emails are bouncing, how to fix them if they can be fixed, and how to get those people back on your email lists as active.
Turning visitors into subscribers and users is one of the most important tasks for your website. To do this you need great copy, landing pages that follow best practices (for starters) and software that helps you test to optimize. Here are best tools we’ve looked at.
Getting started we have a few tools that will help you set up viral campaigns. This will help with getting beta users, and some buzz about your company.
Kickoff Labs – $39+/mo
When you want to gamify early signups to incentivize sharing to get beta access.
You’ve seen campaigns where you sign up for something and then get asked to share to receive a reward, often something like a boost in where you land on the list for beta testing. This is what Kickoff Labs does. They give you a place to build your viral campaign.
Competitors – Untorch
Launchrock – Free to build
When you want help acquiring your first customers.
Build your website and have access to a suite of features made specifically to help you acquire your first customers. Launchrock also has promotion options that help you bring traffic to your site when it goes live.
ClickFunnels – $97+/mo
When you want payment transactions, email and landing pages all in one.
Set up every stage of your sales funnel with landing pages. Include eCommerce (simple Stripe integration) into your pages, the email marketing and auto-responding you need, and of course, your website that is built inside CF.
During the growth stage, you’ll want use these tools to help you increase the number of signups you get for your tool. Use A/B testing to increase conversions and turn more leads into happy users.
Unbounce – Free with branded footer
When you want advanced A/B testing for your landing pages.
A landing page service that allows you to set up your landing page with a template, then add A/B testing in one tool. They have analytics, reporting, and a vast library of knowledge to help you construct the best landing page possible.
Competitors – Leadpages, Instapages
Taplytics – Free up to 25,000 MAU
When you want to A/B test mobile apps.
Ready to see what works best on your mobile apps? Taplytics is the tool you need. See what your users are doing, the analytics for each feature of your mobile app, and then set up tests to optimize usage and growth.
It’s time to optimize and the best way to do that is to figure out everything that is working well and turning up the volume. With these tools you can intensely track data to find the best indicators of success and then implement decisions to boost your funnel.
Optimizely – $49+/mo
When you want to run A/B testing.
Run A/B and optimization testing on your website without using a template or custom tool. This tools provides code that you add to your site and then allows you to make changes and test what happens when you add, change, or remove things on your site.
Competitors – Convert, Experiment Engine
When you want a full CRO suite.
A full-suite CRO software that allows you to run A/B testing, deliver targeted surveys, use web personalization and segmentation all in one tool.
Although it’s elusive, if you look at any set of analytics and you’ll see organic search as key part of inbound success. The following tools will help you make the best decisions on what tools to use in certain stages of SEO focus.
Begin your SEO journey by understanding your customers and their searches.
SE Cockpit – $40+/mo
When you need keyword research and all of the trimmings.
Keyword analysis, research and data like nowhere else. Find your keywords, research what you need to do to rank for them, and stay on top of competitors. You can even analyze keywords based on the value of ranking for them.
SEM Rush – $69.95+/mo
When you want quick domain SEO reports.
Get quick reports on any domain and the power it has in search. You’ll see what keywords you rank for, and the position, how much traffic goes to the domain you’ve entered from each keyword, how many links there are to the domain, and pay per click metrics.
Hittail – $9.95+/mo
When you want to capitalize on long tail keywords.
This tool is the expert in long tail keywords. See what keywords are searched for often and which you should easily be able to rank for. Long tail keywords are sometimes the most valuable, put them to work for your company to increase overall revenue.
Screaming Frog – £99/yr
When you want to see competitor onsite data.
Here is a crawler that fetches information from any site where you can optimize the important elements of your campaigns. Find out what others are using for titles, headlines, image information and more. Or just run a report so you can optimize your own site.
Now get into the serious business of building backlinks for more traffic, exposure, and ranking.
Moz – $149+/mo
When you want a full SEO analysis and documented improvements.
Analyze your search engine results, rankings, links, citations and more with Moz search engine marketing software. They also offer a local search software, a Twitter follower analysis tool, a content marketing analysis tool, and a performance tracking tool.
Ahrefs – $99+/mo
When you need to work on all things backlinks.
Track keywords of your choice across the web, watch for backlinks, and get alerts. Ahrefs has a Site Explorer, Content Explorer, and Keyword Explorer with several features to help you stay on top of your search presence.
Positionly – $15+/mo
When you want SEO and Inbound Marketing in one platform.
If you want an alternative to HubSpot that works with your inbound marketing strategy and helps you improve your SEO, Positionly is your tool. Find rankings, analyze competitors, run reports, audit your site, and see links to your site.
Perfect your SEO plans with these tools that give the highest quality information and tell you how to conduct yourself to get the best success in your campaigns.
Botify – $569+/mo
When you want to be told how to improve SEO & SMO.
Botify helps you optimize each page of your site for SEO and SMO purposes. See what pages are too deep in your site structure, aren’t being linked to, aren’t generating revenue, and then fix them.
Majestic – $49.99+/mo billed quarterly
When you need access to unlimited linking information.
The world’s largest linking index. As a subscriber you get access to historical linking information based on referral domain, new or lost backlinks and pages. You can download lists of links to analyze in your spreadsheet program. Majestic helps you find people who need SEO help, audit websites for SEO, and get the latest report information to identify your successes.
The support you provide your users is one of the most important deciding factors in your business. People who aren’t happy leave, stories of being upset may go viral on Medium, and in general when people aren’t happy they won’t refer others to your company. Even today word-of-mouth is one of the biggest factors in growing a company.
These support tools all work a bit differently, so you’ll have to estimate how your customers will access support and what features you’ll need to service them best.
In the early stage you’ll need a tool that simply gives users a place to contact you. Front app works great for this because you probably won’t have a lot of support issues since there aren’t a lot of users.
Front App– $12+/mo
When you want to share company email addresses.
Most companies set up email aliases like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org when this happens, and more than one person checks this inbox it’s easy to miss important emails, send multiple replies. With Front you can avoid this by letting everyone access individual emails in one place, as each message is handled it is marked as done and all users can see.
As you get more users, you’ll need a more sophisticated place to handle support. By providing a place for users to get self-help and giving them access to easy email support, you’ll keep users happy and support issues to a minimum.
Groove HQ – Free for 3 Users
When you want easy to use email support.
An email support program, this one lets you respond to inquiries from your email inbox, through the application online, or on your phone. There are canned responses, a knowledgebase option, a support widget for your site, and more features based on the free account or paid version.
Help Scout – Free for shared mailbox; $20-$40 for upgrade
When you want to scale a small team to operate like a whole department.
Avoid the old help desk ticket system and start making your small team seem large and mighty. Their solution combines customer support with a personal touch, scaling your team with simple communication, a knowledge base and it allows interaction on any page (they call them beacons).
Support Hero – $49+/mo
When you want to provide great self support.
As their site says “67% of people would prefer to use self support” which means if you have opportunity for visitors to help themselves, when they need it, they most likely will. This tools helps you optimize your onsite knowledgebase to provide the support your users need.
When you have millions of users you’ll have thousands of support requests a day. This is where it helps to have online chat and a sophisticated support tool that keeps you organized.
ZenDesk – $5+/user/mo
When you want to provide numerous and complex user support.
A complex and feature rich product, Zendesk is used by large companies like Uber. They are setup to handle all of your help desk and support needs, while being able to integrate with dozens of tools. This is an advanced tool for companies who provide high amounts of support.
Competitors – Freshdesk
Olark – $17+/mo
When you just want to chat with website visitors.
Live chat is a great way to show you are available to help your visitors or users. With Olark you can receive messages when you aren’t on, see where visitors are on your site so that you can help them with achieving their goals, and strike up conversation to do persona exploration.
Competitors – Zopim, Live Ops
Most tools are no longer silos of data and plan their integrations for your benefit. Zapier and its competitors keeps us on the edge of ability by providing opportunities to do more.
Zapier – Free
When you want multiple tools to share information and activity.
Connect activities from one tool and use them to do something in another tool. For instance, if you add a card in Trello, a task can be generated in Asana. But, it can do so much more, there are hundreds of tools it works with, and it has become an industry standard in business automation.
Competitors – IFTTT, Workato, Automate.io
SaaS companies have been quick to realize that product happiness is directly related to churn. Use these tools to get an accurate picture of what keeps your users happy, then dig into the data to find your biggest impact opportunities.
Get some early information to understand how much people enjoy your product.
Hotjar – Free for 2,000 Pageviews/day
Hotjar is the perfect tool for understanding your user base when you are first starting out. You can run NPS, surveys, and get heatmaps of what your users are clicking on. The visuals from the data is very helpful in making decisions.
Understand more about what your users are doing on your site, so that you can help them find success.
UserTesting – $99/video
Find out what your users really think by video taping their experience. User Testing hires people in your target market to visit your site, record actions on the site, and more importantly what they are thinking through the entire process.
Competitors – Erli Bird, Userinput.io
UserVoice – $45+/mo
When you want to combine customer support and product management.
Your development team and support team need to work together to provide actionable solutions to your users. This is how UserVoice helps, their platform provides a place to support users, gather their feedback and deliver it to your development team who can make improvements.
Dig into your data and learn as much as possible about your users so you can scale what is working and get massive traction.
Worthix – Free for 300 Respondents
Understand what made your users decide to sign up and buy your program. This is another tool that focuses on successes and helps you replicate it by knowing what works best to get the result you need and the solution that works for users.
Gaininsight – Not listed
When you want every opportunity for customer success.
Learn about customer success and how it will transform your business. Get the insight scoop on best practices and tap in to the community that is driving this movement. You can use the Gainsight platform to truly provide customer success that is a competitive advantage.
Intercom.io – $49+/mo
When you want customer analysis with in-app messaging.
Intercom has 3 tools; Acquire, Engage and Support. Their programs allow you to connect with people on your site and convert them to new members through messaging. You can engage the members you already have, and provide support when needed.
Competitors – Ramen.is
Qualaroo – $199+/mo
When you want to know why your users do what they do.
By using Qualaroo, you can get answers from your users and visitors about why they take the actions they do, or why they don’t. We all know, the more we understand about our users, the more we can help them be successful. Try Qualaroo to understand the reasons behind what works and use that to expand growth.
Often one of the earliest departments a startup will have, this is how companies begin working on sales to give possible investors the numbers they need to make an investment. Sales will generally stick with your company through your entire journey, but the tools you need will change. Here are those tools that we think you’ll need along the way.
Quickmail – $49+/mo
When you want to drip email campaigns to cold lists.
With Quickmail you can insert your purchased lists and automate email to them with personalization. It allows you to set up drip campaigns and is focused on helping you turn cold emailing into hot prospects for your products and business.
Growbots – $500+/mo
When you want access to accurate lists and drip campaigns to them.
Growbots created the first all-in-one outbound sales platform. Enjoy automatic lead generation and managing email drip campaigns with CRM integration. All you need to do is set up a customer profile and schedule an email campaign to automatically generate new sales opportunities.
Datanyze – Not listed.
When you want tech email lists and to find email addresses.
Some of the most accurate and responsive email lists collected online. Datanyze prides itself on finding lead information and delivering it so that you can sell your product. This company specializes in the tech industry where many startups are actively looking for sales.
LeadFuze – $150+/mo
When you want to buy leads.
Use LeadFuze to buy the leads that will get you sales. These are opted in email lists that you’ll get access to. Your monthly purchase will give you access to a number of leads every month at a great price.
Growth & Optimization Stages
Sales loft – Not listed.
This is one of the top sales development platforms available. They specialize in helping you crush your sales goals. They’ve even written a free ebook to help you set up sales systems that increase appointments and demos. This is the one place to integrate your phone, email and data.
Insight Squared – Not listed.
No more spreadsheets!! While we are all used to spreadsheets, do you ever wonder how much more productive you could be without them? This tool takes your data and presents it in a way that is easy to manipulate while being visually helpful.
As you grow, it’s an absolute necessity to choose a CRM for your business. But more than any other category of SaaS it can be difficult to make the choice of which CRM is best for your company. For starters many of them do the same basic thing- keep your customer information in a database, along with the interface to move an account to new funnel stages and add notes.
It might be tempting to start with a spreadsheet or Salesforce, but the cost is similar. It integrates with just about every tool you could hope for, and has tons of features, but why pay the price if you don’t need it? Here is a nifty tool that helps you choose the right CRM for your budget, company size and needed features.
One caveat with choosing a CRM is that migration to another platform can be painful. It isn’t impossible, but it may be more of a hassle than the average company would like.
Pipedrive – $12-$75/user/mo- 30 day trial
A CRM built for sales people by salespeople. This CRM stores all of your customer data and helps you visualize the sales process, along with what needs to be done each step of the way, such as tasks you’ve assigned. You’ll also easily see what stage of the sale each contact is at.
Competitors – Pipleline Deals, Amo CRM, Base
HubSpot CRM – Free
A CRM that works seamlessly with HubSpot, and is free for all to use.
Salesforce – $25+/mo
One of the most used and integrated CRMs available. They have a huge list of apps for integrations, but warning… if you’re migrating from another CRM you will pay a hefty integration fee to a third party partner.
Evercontact – Free
Keep your contact information up to date up-to-date from your contact list to your CRM. Information is collected from signatures, new emails, and social media.
Streak CRM – Free
A CRM inside Gmail. You can also use it to set up folder, tasks, tracking, mail merge, and an all important snooze option.
Mixmax – Free
An email tracking tool and so much more. Use it from inside Gmail to track emails, set up template emails, add in polls, images, and set up contact groups to easily choose from the send field. You’ll be able to see when a message is opened, along with the history of openings.
InStream – $10+/mo
A CRM focused on improving customer relationships. Flexible CRM 2.0 platform for customer-focused companies. Develop your relations with customers and manage sales processes.
Agile CRM– Free for 10 users
With Marketing Automation, Telephony, Helpdesk, Web Engagement, Social Media Integration, Email Campaigns and Mobile Marketing
Karma CRM – $9+/mo
A CRM based on keeping your relationships up-to-date. Add contacts to buckets and be reminded to follow up with them based on how long it has been since your last connection.