Predictability is key to achieving real SaaS business growth. Predicting your revenue accurately allows you to make better decisions regarding expenditures, new hires, and product development. It’s critical to know whether you’re on track to hit your revenue goals and whether you’ll have enough cash on-hand to pay your bills at the end of the month.
You can forecast your revenue if you know how many new leads your business receives each month and how many of those leads convert into paying customers. You’ll inevitably grow your revenue if you can improve and increase your lead generation.
Unfortunately, generating leads for SaaS can be one of the biggest challenges a business can face. In this post, I’ll share 11 ways to improve your SaaS lead generation and generate real results.
Have a Defined Goal
How do you define a ‘lead’?
Is the lead someone who might purchase? Is it someone who signed up for your email list or liked or shared one of your LinkedIn posts? You must define what makes a lead and what does not, since SaaS marketers work with a variety of leads. You may even be targeting a variety of leads in different campaigns, so you will require a system that can automate lead qualification. It can be extremely powerful and simple to automate.
It’s especially crucial in SaaS marketing for startups to get this right, or else you risk causing a lot of confusion and making inaccurate growth projections. There are three types of SaaS leads:
- Information Qualified Leads (IQL)
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
- Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)
These three categories represent three different levels of customer intent. Let’s have a look at each of them.
Information Qualified Leads (IQL)
Cold leads, also known as IQLs, are prospect leads at the beginning of the buyer journey, aka the awareness stage. They are typically people who have encountered your top-of-funnel content (blogs, e-books) and have given up an email address in exchange for more valuable information (such as signing up for your blog or reading an e-book).
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
MQLs are in the consideration phase of the customer journey, and are referred to as “warm leads.” They are closer to purchasing than IQLs, but not as hot as SQLs. Prospects have continued to express interest in your product, have probably watched a few webinars, downloaded some whitepapers, and view your company as an option for solving the problems they are facing.
Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)
Most of us want the SQL kind of leads but, unfortunately, we have to start with IQLs and nurture the leads until they become SQLs or “hot leads.” A SQL is in the decision phase of the buying cycle and is ready to make a decision. Salespeople typically get involved here, offering a bottom-of-the-funnel type offer (such as a free demo or trial) and striving to close the deal.
Content Creation for Lead Generation
Creating content is a great way to generate leads. Today, content marketing is the future of marketing. With a plethora of content tactics at their disposal, SaaS marketers are well on their way to victory if they start with just these three: blogging, gated content, and webinars.
In the 90s, blogs were all the rage, and soon after they became “uncool” very quickly. They have now come full circle. There are over 70 million blog posts published every month on WordPress websites alone.
Creating mediocre SaaS blog posts and publishing them on a semi-regular basis isn’t enough to achieve real success. You must ensure that your blog aligns with your SaaS marketing objectives. If your objective is to generate leads, you must be dedicated to doing so. Remember, consistency is critical. You will not turn a reader into an opportunity unless you provide such remarkable value that they are desperate for more.
Keep these questions in mind when creating blog content:
- Is my post directed to my specific target audience? Does it provide a solution to them?
- Is the search volume of my keywords good enough to justify why I’m writing this topic?
- Are there clear and actionable insights in my post?
- Is the post impressive enough for me to give my email address after reading it?
No matter how great your post idea is, if it doesn’t answer at least one of the above questions, your blog isn’t ready to publish (or your topic idea doesn’t need to be written). Always include a clear customer persona and give the reader real, actionable value.
It’s all about give and take. You’re doing trade with your audience. A good example is giving away a valuable e-book in exchange for a prospect’s information (typically an email address).
How can you expect prospective customers to give up their email address when there are so many valuable in-depth blog posts and videos available for free online? The key is providing value that no other company can offer. You will have a better chance of winning if you have already shown your exceptional proficiency, which is why you will often find this approach employed on SaaS blog pages.
Here is an example of how it can be done from Shopify:
Shopify places gated content above the fold on their blog page, as shown here. They offer you content that you’d normally pay to get. It’s impossible to turn down an offer like that. Free business lessons?
You can very easily build a large email list of leads by offering exceptional value in exchange for just an email address.
Hosting a webinar is the best way to show your expertise and authority on a subject.
Choose a subject you or your company is an expert in, then decide on the format. Here are a few choices to consider:
- One speaker—pre-prepped content that can be presented with or without a live speaker.
- Two speakers—an interview scenario that can be live or pre-recorded.Get industry experts and authority figures for these interviews.
- Multi-speaker—this involves one main host and guests in a panel. This format is quite popular in the SaaS niche as it helps drive conversations around specific topics.
Once you’ve decided what the webinar is going to cover and how it will run, it’s time to get some sign-ups! Targeted social media ads are one of the best ways to accomplish this. You should create a dedicated landing page and add CTAs to relevant pages on your website.
There are many webinar platforms for SaaS applications. Some of the most popular include WebinarJam, Demio, Zoom, LiveStorm, EverWebinar, ZohoMeeting, WebinarNinja and GoToWebinar. You must secure a platform to host the webinar, as well as handle sign-ups and SMS or email reminders.
Recorded webinars can be a tremendous asset for content marketing after the event is over. You can utilize old live webinars as on-demand webinars, video guides, or even have them transcribed into e-books or blog posts.
The Best Lead Generator Is Your Website
Whether you’re focusing on organic traffic through content marketing, paid social media campaigns, or extensive email marketing programs, you’re probably directing prospective clients to your website. As a result, you must ensure that your website is optimized to increase your conversion rates if that is the case.
There is an entire field dedicated to conversion optimization, but here are some pointers from experts that will get you started.
Have an Exit Intent Popup
Have you ever been browsing a website and noticed that as you moved your cursor towards the top of the screen a little popup box appeared? The box is referred to as an exit intent popup.
When a prospect clicks on the exit button, the popup is activated. It’s the holy grail of website lead gen as it acts like a last ditch effort to get your audience to give you what you’re asking. The contents of the box are entirely up to you, but it’s usually a good idea to give away something of incredible value for free (such as a free email course).
You should consider establishing different exit intent popup windows for different web pages. The customer may be interested in a different offer if they are exiting a blog page (e.g. subscribe to our blog) than if they are exiting a product page (e.g. how about a free trial?).
Get a ChatBot
Your chatbot should function as your store’s virtual assistant to get your customers talking. A chatbot can play the same role as a physical store employee, by helping customers find their way around or offering service. Even if they are just looking, an employee is always present to help them.
You can set up a chatbot to answer a number of common questions, or to direct the prospect to their area of need. If the chatbot is unable to answer a particular question, don’t shy away from saying “give us your email, we’ll get back to you.” Cha-ching!
Here is an example from RingCentral:
RingCentral’s chatbot eliminates barriers and makes it simple and instant to start a conversation with a salesperson.
Offer a Free Trial
A free trial is the best way to snag hot leads at the bottom of the funnel. Having a prospect go deep into your product during a trial is not only a great way to capture some prospect information, but it also gives them an opportunity to determine if it works for them. If the trial lasts long enough, they will begin integrating it into their company processes, which ensures a yes every time.
In addition, it provides your salespeople with a good reason to connect with customers. Would you like a free demo, Mr. Customer? Here’s what we have to offer…
Rather than having prospective customers only clicking “free trial” buttons, helping them use and understand your software will increase the conversion rates. It’s one thing to click a “try it free” button, but it’s another to actually spend some time diving deep.
One way to accomplish this is by pairing up a sales representative with a free demo. This will also open an avenue for you to know how serious they are about using your solution. You can also assist prospects by creating quality content to guide them through using your product.
Videos are excellent content for this, as they help show your prospects the features of your software. Prospects can follow along and experiment with your video in real time, and that’s what makes it so effective here.
Social Media as a B2B SaaS Lead Generation Solution
Choosing your SaaS marketing channels wisely is critical to success. Recall that you are marketing to business decision-makers, so you will likely not reach your target audience on platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok.
Despite that, you shouldn’t write off social media entirely. Far from it.
Many social media platforms still function well for SaaS lead generation, particularly LinkedIn, which is fairly business-oriented. You should also consider using Twitter and, especially if your customer personas are the right demographic, Facebook.
Run Targeted Ads (In-Stream Ads)
When users are scrolling through Facebook or LinkedIn, they’ll most likely see a display ad. SaaS businesses typically use them as a type of native advertising based on their customer personas. This strategy pushes ads to users that match the criteria you’ve set such as interests, occupation, and location.
Have you ever wondered why sometimes after you’ve searched for something online, you start getting ads on that particular thing on your social media pages? Well, LinkedIn and Facebook have pixels that help businesses track the traffic that comes to their website. These pixels are also used to remarket content to those prospective customers on social media.
Pixels allow you to construct what is known as a lookalike audience. In other words, you can request Facebook to locate similar individuals (in terms of demographics and interests, for example) to those who have been to your website and show them an ad. An ad being shown to highly relevant people is more likely if they share several aspects with prospects who have already shown an interest in your company.
Your ad must direct viewers to take a specific action when using social media for lead generation. The best approach to accomplish this is to encourage viewers to click through to a particular landing page in an effort to convert prospective customers into leads on your website.
InMail on LinkedIn operates a bit differently than in-stream advertisements. It’s similar to sending an advertisement directly to someone’s inbox, rather than displaying it in their social feed. Yes, it is a more assertive approach, but it gets stuff done. InMail on LinkedIn has a 300% higher reply rate than emails using identical content.
Everyone is attempting to improve email at the moment. Slack is calling themselves the “alternative to email.” Some businesses are returning to physical mailings in response to InMail killing email. But to be fair, these guys drinking craft beer and listening to their favorite indie bands on vinyl are probably still twirling their mustaches, you get the point.
Despite this, the fact remains that email marketing is still a very lucrative field with an insane return on investment. You can get some pretty sweet open rates if your headlines are strong.
Here is how to achieve this:
- Include a CTA button in your email signature.
Companies send hundreds, if not thousands of emails on a daily basis. If you send tens of emails daily, imagine the number of emails sent by different businesses in a day. Unless you have a strong call to action in your email signatures, you are missing out on a chance. Yes, it is important not to overstuff your signature. You have undoubtedly already included your social media links as well as your contact information. The trick is to keep it simple but also include a link to sign up for a free trial or subscribe to your blog.
- Request for email sign-ups EVERYWHERE.
Avoiding going overboard as no one wishes to wade through endless popups to reach a website. You can, however, include several CTAs in your marketing content without being excessively pushy. You can have about four CTAs on a page, with all of them requiring an email address. Be subtle and smart about it and you’ll accomplish this without intrusive popup ads.
- Create an email series campaign.
At some point or another, some of your prospects will fall out of the pipeline. Whether they decided against making a purchase or preferred a competitor, you will inevitably have a percentage of leads that do not convert into a “yes,” and others may never give you a sound “no.”
All is not lost. Even if a competitor wins the account, there’s still a chance that those prospects will become paying customers in the future, so don’t write them off just yet. Instead of hoping for luck, establish an email drip campaign in which you slowly and steadily demonstrate that you are the solution they require. At some point, their existing solution will not be adequate, and you’ll be there waiting for the jackpot.
Rather than creating lots of conversion-focused campaigns, these drip campaigns should be less frequent and less intense. A single email every month should suffice, and it should focus on providing as much value as possible rather than simply sending emails for the sake of it. For instance, you can invite them to your future webinar, offer them an e-book, etc.
It is crucial to employ a multi-channel approach when generating leads for SaaS. Putting all your eggs in one basket and expecting them all to hatch is improbable. You must experiment, find out what works best for your business, test, fine-tune, and try again.
Here is a list of the significant SaaS business growth lead generation techniques:
|Content Marketing||Website||Social Media||Email Marketing|
|Blog||Exit Intent Popups||In-Stream Ads||Add CTAs to email signatures|
|Gated Content||Chatbot||LinkedIn InMail||Maximize email signups|
|Webinars||Free Trials||Boosted Posts||Drip Campaigns|
Sure, there are many other tactics you can employ, but these have been tried and tested to result in SaaS triumphs.
Do you want to learn more on SaaS lead generation?
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