Several factors contribute to a successful company: strategic financial management, a value-aligned team, and the right systems and tools, to name a few.
Enter Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. These cloud-based systems help companies solve problems in a B2B setting so other businesses can become successful. Yet, many SaaS startups struggle to generate and nourish leads, facing many of the same challenges as their target clientele.
Structure and strategy play an integral role in SaaS lead generation. Here are some key concepts to consider when showcasing your product’s value.
Outline Your Sales Funnel
Developing a clear outline of your sales funnel or customer journey is the foundation of successful customer experience management. Before connecting with your audience and selling your SaaS product, you must understand their challenges, behaviours, and place in the customer journey.
The traditional sales funnel model includes five stages:
- Awareness – the lead becomes aware of your brand while seeking solutions for challenges within their business.
- Interest – the lead is becoming interested in your brand, reviewing resources, and comparing your product to the competition.
- Decision – the lead is narrowing their focus and deciding whether this solution suits their needs.
- Action – the lead is ready to transact and become a customer, purchasing your product.
- Retention (loyalty) – the customer stays with your brand through ongoing relationship management and value.
Customers at different stages of the funnel have varying needs. For example, a customer at the awareness stage may benefit from blog posts or case studies regarding relevant challenges to their business. A lead in the decision stage may benefit from a free trial or discovery call with a client care agent. Always gather consumer opinions, as this data may be precious to the project’s future development.
A clear sales funnel also helps identify sticking points in the customer journey. You can use this tool to determine what areas need more refinement.
Improve Your Accessibility
Implement tools and systems that make it easier for prospects and customers to stay in touch with you and receive personalized attention. No one wants to keep sharing the same information over and over. Creating an omnichannel approach to communication allows potential customers to get in touch through their preferred medium.
Consider the many channels through which a customer might want to contact your business. These channels could include:
- Live chat
- Toll-free calling
- Social media
- Self-service portals
- Text messaging
- Branded apps
The more streamlined and centralized your communication options, the fewer friction customers will face when moving through the sales funnel and while being customers.
Many SaaS providers use a predatory model that makes it as challenging as possible to unsubscribe or stop payments. Autorenewals are a common occurrence in SaaS contracts. While this strategy may improve your retention rate, it often comes at the cost of customer satisfaction.
If your SaaS uses this strategy, make communication about upcoming charges and how to cancel clear throughout the funnel to ensure ongoing referrals and positive reviews.
Capture Feedback at Touchpoints
Prospect and customer feedback are invaluable for data-driven decision-making. However, many SaaS providers fail to capture feedback at various touchpoints throughout the customer journey. Instead, companies request feedback after a transaction.
Capturing feedback early in the sales funnel can help refine your lead generation strategy. For example, you can ask prospects in the decision stage why they’ve chosen not to transact after a certain period. This feedback could highlight barriers as opportunities for improvement.
Requesting feedback throughout the funnel is a must-have component of a proactive customer service strategy— anticipating problems and offering solutions.
Customer friction points are often connected to the 4 Ps of Marketing:
- Product – the SaaS product fails to meet the needs of the customer or has room for improvement.
- Placement – the marketing channels or target audience isn’t right for the SaaS product.
- Pricing – the pricing is prohibitive, or the value isn’t sufficiently showcased to justify the price.
- Promotion – communication or content distribution for the SaaS product is lacking.
Proactively engaging leads and customers will help identify which aspect of the marketing formula needs work to improve lead generation.
Use a Beta Launch
Slack is a forerunner in SaaS lead generation and launching. This billion-dollar company started marketing its app around 2012 after significant failures in its original strategy. Lead generation consisted of networking and contacting colleagues and friends to try the product in a beta launch.
The strategy was simple: share the app with a small group of diverse users and collect feedback to further shape the product for mass release. The official beta release took place in August 2013, marketed as an invitation to try the Slack app.
The Slack team collected ongoing feedback and implemented changes to suit customer needs. They also asked satisfied customers to participate in case studies and share reviews online. Two years later, the app had 30,000 users and was valued at over $1 billion.
What can SaaS companies learn from Slack? Here are a few key takeaways:
- Use your network
- Capture feedback
- Listen to customers
- Clarify which aspect of the 4Ps is or isn’t working
- Ask for reviews and recommendations
Using a beta launch helps attract leads in the early stages of the sales funnel, presenting an opportunity to showcase your product’s value with no financial risk to them.
This strategy also presents an opportunity to capture case studies and social proof. This evidence helps leads who need confidence and validation to transact, as 92.4% of B2B customers are more likely to buy a product with social proof.
Develop a Content Strategy
Developing a content strategy to help attract prospects in the awareness and interest phase is essential. The key to creating compelling, valuable content is to answer the questions your target audience asks when researching solutions to their challenges.
Content marketing is the bread and butter of SaaS lead generation, with 91% of B2B marketers implementing content marketing as a core strategy. Content can come in many forms, including:
- social media posts
- email newsletters
- lead magnets
The benefit of content marketing is that you can repurpose one piece of content into several formats to cast a wider net. For example, a video can be cross-published as an audio-only podcast episode. The podcast can be transcribed into a blog post. You can repurpose quotes and hooks from the blog into social media posts and newsletters.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a multi-faceted approach to creating competitive content to rank on search engines. In other words, SEO is the intentional creation of content that outranks the competition. Implementing an SEO content strategy can help your company show up first when a lead searches for relevant information.
SEO has two main components: on-page and technical. Technical SEO pertains to UX features like site speed, loading time, security, etc. On-page SEO refers to keyword relevance, value, and quality.
Technical SEO falls under the web development umbrella; on-page SEO is marketing-focused. On-page SEO starts with keyword research, exploring terms your customers are likely to search for, and creating content as a response.
Consider working with an SEO specialist or agency to help you build an SEO content strategy to help generate organic leads and outrank the online competition.
Consider a Freemium Model
Freemium pricing models are an excellent strategy for showcasing your SaaS product’s value to leads in the early sales funnel stages. Mitigating the financial risk removes a primary friction point for many B2B customers— particularly those with unstable startups.
Freemium models also promote scalability to appeal to enterprises of all sizes. Buffer is a SaaS product for social media planning and automation. This product has four pricing tiers:
The free tier offers basic app functionality, while the agency tier offers a robust array of features appealing to a social media agency. This model allows entrepreneurs and small firms to adjust their budgets based on their growing needs. The benefit of this approach is that customers will often take the path of least resistance, upgrading the service they know rather than spending time in the decision stage.
Free trials are an alternative risk-mitigation strategy for SaaS products without a free version. Lead generation tools gives users a chance to experience the product before investing. Proactive customer service and streamlined onboarding are essential for a successful SaaS trial period.
Create a Referral or Affiliate Program
Affiliate and referral marketing is another valuable lead-generation tool for SaaS companies. This approach rewards affiliates and referrers for loyalty by providing an incentive when they encourage someone to try the service.
Consider creating an affiliate option for well-connected members of your audience, focusing on retained customers or influencer partnerships. You can also implement this strategy with a beta launch to encourage social proof and word-of-mouth marketing.
One caveat when implementing a referral or affiliate strategy: authenticity and transparency are integral in B2B relationships. Ensure your partners follow the latest disclosure guidelines when sharing feedback on your product.
SaaS lead generation starts with clarifying the customer journey and setting actionable, measurable goals. Communication and feedback are invaluable for removing friction points and refining your product offering to meet market needs. You can generate qualified leads for your SaaS product with a strong strategy and a customer-centric approach.
About The Author:
Content marketing specialist
Ashley Lipman is an award-winning writer who discovered her passion for providing knowledge to readers worldwide on topics closest to her heart – all things digital. Since her first high school award in Creative Writing, she continues to deliver awesome content through various niches touching the digital sphere.