Tools for Growing your SaaS app like a Pirate

Tools for Growing your SaaS app like a Pirate
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by Sanjeev Kapoor 01 Apr 2016

For the last few posts we have been talking a lot about SaaS metrics.

Let’s talk about tools today.

More specifically, tools that help you grow traffic, improve conversions, keep customers loyal, and increase profitability so that those metrics keep looking better and better.

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Once your marketing stack is set up you will be able to gain insights about your ideal user, plug holes in the sales and onboarding funnel, improve product market fit, make the overall customer experience better, and streamline customer communication.

Your CAC (customer acquisition cost) will plunge and your customer LTV (life time value) will increase. Your MRR (monthly recurring revenue) and ARPU (average revenue per user) will be more than previous months. Your revenue and user churn rates will drop off, and the payback period will decrease

All of this means more money in the bank.

On the customer experience front the FCRR (First Contact Resolution Rate) will improve and the average first response time will reduce which means that customer issues are solved faster, making for happier users.

This post will segment the tools based on the AARRR (acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue) metrics, a.k.a. Pirate metrics.

Tools for acquiring users

These tools will help you acquire more free trial users:

  • Moz: Moz provides a set of tools that, among other things, help you identify high performing keywords, conduct competitive SEO analysis and determine what kind of backlinks you need to improve your search results. Get the right traffic and everything else follows.
  • Leadpages: Leadpages is a nifty tool for high converting building landing pages that don’t require any technical knowhow. It also comes with pop-up boxes that let you capture emails which can then be nurtured using email marketing.
  • Sumome: Sumome is a set of tools that make it easy for you to build an email list.
  • Mailchimp: Once people are on your email list use Mailchimp to send regular emails with a call to action to sign up as a free trial user.
  • Google Analytics: It doesn’t need any introduction. Use Google Analytics , especially features like goals and events to turn user acquisition activities so much more impactful.
  • Visual Website Optimizer/Optimizely: Use these tools to increase the conversion rate of your site so that more people sign up and become a free user. You can also use these tools inside your app to improve the product experience and make people stick around.

Tools for activating and retaining users

Your job here is to onboard the trial users who have just signed up into highly engaged users.  Focusing on this aspect will reduce CAC and increase LTV. These tools will help you do that:

  • Intercom: Send triggered emails, in-app notifications, and messaging to establish a clear line of communication with users. Engagement increases, and so does the chances that the free trial user will adopt your app into her daily workflow.
  • io/Vero: Two apps for sending triggered emails. Additionally, you can A/B test emails and sending times so that the information received by your users is helpful
  • Groove: Groove is a help desk system designed for small teams. Make it easy for users to raise tickets and send feedback. It also has an integrated knowledge base system.
  • Zendesk/Desk: More help desk solutions, but for larger startups with more users and revenue. These tools fall just short of the enterprise level where Salesforce rules the roost.
  • Kissmetrics/Mixpanel: In-depth in-app analytics which tell you exactly what user is doing what inside your app. These insights can improve the user experience of your app.
  • Pushcrew: Use this app to send push notifications to users even when they are not on your site. Use it, for example, to inform users about a new blog post.

Tools for getting users to refer your app

These tools make it easy for your users to refer your app to their contacts. More referrals essentially mean free users which reduces your CAC.

  • Friendbuy: Launch a Dropbox like customer referral campaign and easily A/B test and optimize them without developer input.
  • Referral SaaSquatch: Integrate with payment processers like Braintree, Stripe , and Recurly to integrate a referral campaign across multiple customer touchpoints.

Tools for collecting and managing revenue

These tools will make it easy for you to actually collect revenue, and manage your accounts.

  • Stripe/Braintree/Recurly: Use these payment processors to easily integrate payment forms with your app.
  • Baremetrics: If you are using Stripe use this free analytics platform to get a deep dive into the critical metrics that matter to your business and your profitability.
  • Xero/Quickbooks/FreeAgent: Use either of these three to handle invoices, generate tax reports and financial statements, payroll etc. These tools integrate with other SaaS tools like Stripe and are built for startups.


At any given time you will be working with a multiplicity of third party apps as you market your products and grow your user base. This list is a starting point and you should evaluate the product based on your exact needs  which will change as you expand.

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