Obviously, mastering the art of increasing your sales leads can be a huge catalyst for growth. As we learn in our SaaS Founder interviews, many software companies start out with grassroots efforts to acquire initial leads. But as the organization begins to evolve beyond those first customers, it requires marketing to sustain growth.
So, let's dive into some lead generation strategies for your SaaS organization.
Before we dive into specific lead generation tactics, let's talk about the most important part - strategy. Strategy can get a bad rap at times, but we are really just talking about having a plan versus doing activities randomly.
The first step to take when initiating a lead generation or marketing strategy is to have a clear understanding of your target audience as well as knowing them inside and out.
We get it, most startups want to keep the doors wide open for any potential customer. The issue is that this dilutes your marketing and messaging to the point that you are often significantly less effective.
Marketing has many tactics available - search, advertising, social, influencer, direct outreach, sponsored content, affiliate and on and on. As part of your targeting, you should be able to narrow down to certain channels that you can put focused effort into.
Tactical planning is primarily about creating a consistent approach ( to help with measurement and brand perception ) as well as integration of tactics so they work together to be more effective.
This term is called integrated marketing and it is much more than a fancy phrase for marketing agencies. The most effective marketing efforts strive to reach a target multiple times across multiple channels and funnel them into converting.
When our marketing isn't integrated and we are not driving people towards conversion, then we are more relying on luck to achieve results.
In addition to having a clear target market and a tactical plan, you must measure your marketing and adapt it constantly to improve results. It is absolutely impossible to execute a new strategy or tactic and have it be wildly successful. Anyone who thinks this, has a misunderstanding of business in general as it is a constant evolution.
The key here is to measure and focus on the right metrics. trust me, you can track hundreds of KPIs ( Key Performance Indicators ) but obsessing over the wrong ones can cause you to make bad decisions.
Work backwards - start with the desired outcomes and then develop measurable metrics that are critical to achieving that outcome. Avoid vanity metrics that make you feel good, but are meaningless.
As mentioned, there are many different tactics to leverage when it comes to market. Here is a simple and not even a fully inclusive list just to give you an idea of what we are talking about.
And on and on.
But for Saas, there are some tactics that we believe are the best to include in your strategy for lead generation.
We love search optimization for SaaS companies because it drives people who are in need.
At Insivia we often talk about frictionless sales - being able to sell a prospect without a lot of effort. This could be an instant purchase of a subscription, a short trial period or for enterprise SaaS a simple closing process. Search traffic is often one of the best drives of frictionless sales.
Why? Because these folks have a need they are looking to fulfill. It could be an answer to a question, a problem or solution they want to employ. When you get a conversion from a visitor via search there is often motive and urgency behind it.
Compare this to other tactics like advertising which try to get in front of people who may or may not have a need.
Building an affiliate program can be a massive driver of success for any SaaS looking to scale. Finding affiliates with a highly targeted network of people that trust their opinion can be one of the few ways to turn on the spigot in terms of lead generation.
For instance, a person who has written a book and has a show on youtube on real estate investing has over 500,000 subscribers. You have a software for real estate investors. if you give your affiliate $10 for every sign-up, you can get thousands in a short period with their promotion and know you are paying for the exact right audience you want.
Ok, remarketing is a little different as it relies on having driven traffic to your website in the first place. But conceptually it can be an amazing tactic.
Why? Few people convert on their first interaction with your brand and therefore you must re-engage with them. When retargeting is focused on showing ads/messages to the right visitors from your site, it can equate to a lot of conversions.
There are a lot of activities you can get into for driving awarness, traffic and conversions to your site. Some of the below concepts are not as typical but can be good ideas to pursue.
Yes, there may be networks and groups out there that support your target audience - and you should join them - but that does not mean that you cannot create your own.
Consider creating a very niche group for like minded individuals to join and engage with each other. As the owner of the group, you have some ability to lead the conversation or gain additional insight into your audience.
When you want to find leads on LinkedIn or Reddit, the key is to avoid wide audience groups - there are plenty already. While a group for real estate investors may already exist, you may be able to start a group for "Single Family Real Estate Investors in Beach Communities".
You can always create multiple groups, but targeted groups will attract people more due to their specificity.
Most of your leads are used to several forms of marketing content. Many B2B companies share courses, white papers, infographics, guides, and e-book; this strategy of sharing free educational content is becoming a common generation tactic to attract qualified leads.
You can stand out by offering something unique with a low budget; just think of developing a micro application. Since it is going to be free, you do not have to work with a high budget.
For instance, if you offer real estate accounting software, you could easily build a free mobile app that allows for quick finance calculations on a property. This will attract a wide range of your target audience giving you a channel to market to them as well as their contact data.
Firstly, research your target industry, its problem or needs, and how you can help them solve their problems. Afterwards, take your time to create your products and be sure that the software product is of great use to your target audience. You can also infuse blog posts in the software by developing content that align with the industry. After this, promote the software product and push it to your potential leads.
Partner programs take the affiliate model to a new level. You often see partner programs with enterprise SaaS companies that require a software to be implemented and integrated when a company buys it.
Partner programs require effort to build especially if you want to do them right. Training and certifications to materials and partner events are hallmarks of good partner programs.
No matter the size of your SaaS product, you can build a partner program in various ways. It is worth thinking who would be an ancillary audience that would gain benefit or value from being able to offer your software product to their clients.
Many times companies will focus on activity instead of results. Setting arbitrary numbers of blog and social media posts as their metrics of achievement. But we all know that results are what matter.
Let's assume your do not need convincing that quality will produce better results than quantity. Given you already understand the importance of quality, here are some things to help you ensure that quality.
Very few things of quality started out with a guess. Even scientists that stumble upon discoveries do so after years of education and building their experiments off of other research.
It's easy to just jump in especially if you are a confident industry expert. But before you create that article or email, stop and do some research for both the subject matter and the execution as there are always ways that you can leap ahead at the start of anything.
Yes, seems like a no brainer but it is easy to phone it in or pass it off to the least expensive resource. Quality takes effort. We have created blog articles that get thousands of visits a day - but it required hours of writing, hours of custom graphics, video creation and promotion. It cost time and money to produce quality.
Measure & Test
Want higher quality? Figure out what works and what does not. Make tweaks to what you do and watch what happens. Again, it can be very easy to be complacent. Measuring, reviewing analytics, interpreting data, making hypothesis', testing and repeating the process all over again feels daunting but it is necessary.
If you are in the SaaS world, you should know the importance of product feedback and customer insight, but often few companies extend this to their marketing efforts.
Was that white paper useful, how often do you like getting email, is there something that would be of huge value to you?
Simple questions to customers can help you deliver better quality that is more on target.
We've talked a good bit about specific strategies and tactics to drive lead generation for your SaaS company, but what about tactics that are not always directly correlated to leads?
Brand Awareness - making audience familiar with your name and company are an important part of the process when it comes to lead generation. Typically, we could tactics such as social media, public relations and some content marketing such as thought leadership in the category of awareness.
What most people don't realize is how much Brand Awareness can have on the success of their other lead generation strategies.
For example, in the case of search optimization it is typical that a searcher will click the top 3 results the most in a progressive volume - typically about 33% of clients on the first result down to 15% on the 3rd.
But, studies have shown that if a recognized brand name is in the 3rd to 6th position, it can disrupt this normal CTR. This means that if I search something and I recognize the name in one of the results, I am more likely to click on that than the first result.
This is why Brand Awareness is so important because that familiarity that you build up will increase the actions that an audience will take.
Free trials constitute an effective B2B SaaS sales generation strategy. With this lead generation method, you can boost your brand awareness while also giving prospects the chance to test the capabilities and features of your products. It can also help you with your product design and development as you can get more than enough feedback from clients.
Once clients have finished their trials, you can reach them by phone or in the form of an email campaign to get their feedback and know if they have made the decision to subscribe to the product. Rather than utilizing free trials, you can use the Freemium pricing model in which customers only have access to basic features of your SaaS products.
B2B lead generation has several amazing benefits for your company. Some of them include: