According to HubSpot, 61% of marketers regard lead generation as their number one challenge.
The hard truth is that lead generation is a pivotal first step in building your customer relationship as a SaaS startup. You can’t build your customer base by just creating flashy ads anymore. You have to be more proactive online without being annoying, to make sure you attract valuable customers. I know it can be even more difficult for SaaS startups, but I’ve got you covered.
In this blog post, I’ll be guiding you through how you can generate leads to upscale your business. If you’re still unsure on how to proceed with your lead generation feel free to contact me and we can have a chat!
What is SaaS Lead Generation?
Lead generation in SaaS is a strategy for businesses that includes compiling a list of potential customers that will need your product. The list can consist of emails or a social media audience that the business can reach out to. As a SaaS business, you can generate your leads in many ways, but what sets SaaS apart is the use of online targeted marketing efforts. You can do this through SEO content marketing, referral programs and prioritizing customer requests.
There are two types of leads: marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and sales-qualified leads (SQLs).
MQLs are your potential customers who you haven’t reached out to yet.
SQLs are your potential customers who you’ve reached out to, and you’ve vetted as ready to purchase your SaaS product or service. MQLs can easily be turned into SQLs if you focus on building a relationship.
As we can see, the result of lead generation doesn’t automatically mean immediate sales. But it’s important to prioritize getting MQLs. Even if your MQLs aren’t ready for your product at the moment, if your strategy’s solid, they may be more inclined to choose it when they do. Once you have your MQLs, it’s important to nurture them so that you’re in the forefront of their minds when they're ready to purchase your solution.
As a startup, your lead generation strategy is key to help scale your growth because it’s the start of a blossoming relationship between you and your customers. The types of tactics you can use for lead generation fall under two umbrellas: inbound and outbound marketing.
Inbound vs. Outbound marketing for SaaS leads
Outbound and inbound marketing are basically your push and pull tactics. Outbound marketing focuses on pushing your product to potential leads. It may be seen as the more aggressive approach, but it can be effective for your sales-qualified leads because they’ll already be willing to buy. Think of fragrance store sales reps stopping you in the mall to try their new fragrance. It may be annoying for some people but not for those already looking for a new fragrance.
Inbound marketing focuses on pulling customers towards your product. This may be seen as the better approach for B2B buyers, because they want to feel like it was fully their decision to choose your SaaS solution. It gives a sense of control for the buyer. The benefit for SaaS companies is that, when going for inbound marketing tactics, your content needs to be attractive, engaging, and satisfying.
HubSpot’s CEO is an advocate for prioritizing 90% inbound marketing to 10% outbound marketing for SaaS companies. Ultimately, inbound marketing may be the better option. Especially for a SaaS startup because in terms of budget, it costs you 61% less to get your leads compared to outbound marketing which can get quite costly.
Why should you have an effective Lead Generation Strategy as a startup SaaS company?
Without leads, it’s really difficult for you to maximize your growth and boost your revenue. Here’s why you should be focusing on your SaaS leads strategy:
You can reach a wider market: A great SaaS leads strategy keeps you in the forefront of B2B buyers’ minds. Although as a startup you want to focus on a target market, leads can help you find other prospects you never thought of that also need your SaaS solution. Lead generation helps you notice trends you missed, so you can add them to your overall content marketing scheme.
Boost your sales: Prioritizing your leads allows you to drive traffic to your product. When you do it well, the quality of your customers improve, which generates a higher value for your product. As I mentioned before, targeted marketing is the key for you to be getting the sales you deserve.
Add value to your SaaS business: Lead generation helps you rank in visibility, credibility and customer trust.
You may be facing struggles as a startup because you’ve shared your product but nobody’s signing up. In addition to your leads strategy, you can also benefit from a SaaS coach to help you identify the details that may be holding you back.
5 Strategies to Generate Leads as a SaaS Startup
1. Find out from your customers what platforms they like to use
Customers don’t just use Google to search for their SaaS solutions. Although SEO is your best friend, online platforms in general are a great place to leverage more leads because they offer more engagement. B2B buyers see online platforms as a more genuine research field because there tends to be a sense of community where like-minded groups can share products they enjoy.
Don’t underestimate the power of these platforms, for example:
There’s a subreddit community for SaaS with over 41,472 members. That’s an extremely large community of users that are able to connect more with the brand on a daily basis. Asserting your SaaS product on these platforms helps you translate your brand story quicker, get user insights, build trust, rapport, and make content distribution much easier.
2. Create engaging content that appeals to your customer persona
Your website content is super important because B2B buyers nowadays love doing their research. You want to make sure you stand out from your competitors online. The key to great content here is not quantity, but quality. To create engaging content you need to make sure it’s:
Unique: Think about what makes your SaaS product special compared to other products that may offer a similar service. By selecting a theme that centers around your special offering which your customer persona would need, you can make sure to have a message that appeals to many.
Personalized: You’ll be able to personalize your content by using behavioral lead data (content interactions, social media engagement, sign ups to your site, etc.) Analyzing this data helps you understand why SaaS users do certain things so that you can make your content more relevant to them.
Interactive: Try and include short quizzes, shareable infographics and interactive white papers. Interactive content grabs more attention and can be more memorable to your leads because it offers an experience. Research from Ion Interactive found that 70% of SaaS marketers saw their interactive content encouraged higher conversions of site visitors to buyers. The goal here is to turn your SaaS content into something that incites conversation instead of just a showcase.
Overall, remember that you’re showing your product value through your free and accessible content. The better and more consistent it is, the more leads you’ll generate.
3. Optimize your website for mobile, so it’s more accessible
Accessibility is crucial. How can you prove your value if more people can’t access it? Mobile use is continuously on the rise because buyers don’t want to spend too much time in front of a desktop. So to capture and convert more leads, it’s always a good idea to make sure people can access your website from any device.
For your website to be optimized for mobile, it needs to load fast and be pretty easy to navigate without any confusing add-ons. Buyers will really appreciate an attractive website that’s easy to get through to find what they're looking for. Project management softwares like Slack and Trello have easy-to-navigate and mobile-friendly interfaces that help teams never skip a beat when it comes to working.
Don’t lose leads simply because your website is frustrating, it’s not worth it!
4. Offer customer incentives
Incentives are great because it gives buyers more motivation to share your SaaS products, also helping you to create customer lifetime value.
A popular incentive for lead generation is a free trial. Giving your customers full access to your product for a specific time while having their contact information and user data is a powerful strategy that SaaS startups need to include. Many successful B2B and B2C SaaS companies like Squarespace and Netflix use this, and it works amazing.
It benefits both you and your potential buyers because they can experience the full potential of your SaaS solution to help them decide, while you can gain insight on what you’re doing right and wrong.
Customer referrals are a clever way to get your leads up because your users help spread your product to those that they know need it. Dropbox was one of the first SaaS companies to utilize referral programs by offering an extra 16GB of file for referring a friend. Plus, the friend gets the same bonus too. Genius. Through that, they were able to double their growth every 3 months!
5. Collaborate & Communicate
Collaborating with other established SaaS businesses that complement your SaaS solution is a fast and valuable way to generate new leads. For example, if your product is a web conferencing platform, you can collaborate with another company’s CRM software. This helps their customers notice your software and make the switch since you’re integrated to a product that they use often.
To help you find out which SaaS products you should collaborate with, you can just ask your customers. You’ll just need to find out from them which apps they use the most in addition to yours, and what type of integration can make their workflow smoother.
Good communication comes in the form of participating online, whether it’s social media or online B2B forums, and maintaining a relationship with past customers. Perhaps you have users that offboarded from your product. Don’t forget about them. You can continue giving email updates about any improvements or new features you’ve added. Even if the past users don’t return, they may be more inclined to share with those that they know would love your product.
What are you waiting for?
Now you have a firm foundation on how you can generate your SaaS leads to upscale your business. By using all of the strategies I’ve laid out, you’ll be sure to stay on the right track, as long as you stay consistent.
Starting your SaaS company is definitely an uphill climb, but you don’t have to do it alone. To make your journey a little easier, my SaaS Acceleration Camp can equip you with the right tools and insights to get you to the top. If you’re willing to learn more, check out the FAQs page.
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