February 4, 2015

6 Best Practices for SaaS Lead Generation

As with any SaaS company, your annual contract value is going to dictate which tactics make the most sense to acquire customers while staying ROI-positive. This means that with a greater annual contract value (ACV), you can justify spends on more expensive Google AdWords, for example. But inbound tactics gain increased importance when competing for a lower ACV and to help increase the effectiveness of outbound or paid efforts as they give you more options for SEM promotion and sales enablement when prospecting. 

In this post we will dive into the six best practices that, from our experience, can successfully increase lead generation and ultimately generate ROI.

SaaS Lead Generation Best Practices

1. Inbound Marketing & Content Promotion

Inbound marketing focuses on the methodology of attract, convert, close and delight. The first step is to attract prospects to your business, ideally through your website using content marketing (such as a blog), and then applying the inbound marketing methodology using white papers, webinars and other valuable gated assets to convert these visitors into leads and customers. The single most effective way to do this is to create remarkable content. This should be useful, actionable and intriguing content that helps your prospects do their jobs better and addresses their unique pain points and challenges.

As more companies continue to adopt content marketing as a tactic your space may become increasingly crowded. Beyond creating remarkable content, you need to promote it to targeted influencers and audiences. Create a content-promotion strategy that will enable you to reach your target audience at their digital watering hole, so to speak. Outline what additional assets need to be created in addition to the content itself, such as a slideshare presentation to accompany a white paper for example. Incorporate this process into content production so once your campaign is finalized, all the pieces are in place for your marketing team and other individuals to appropriately share it. Remember, don't promote content just for the sake of promoting it, make sure that you are adding value to the conversation. 

Additionally, create an influencer outreach list that you can use to share anything you think its members would find useful. 

2. Website Conversion-Rate Optimization (CRO) 

Your website is the first impression your company makes on a visitor. It needs to be clean, responsive, actionable and built with the user in mind. Your site is also where all of your content lives; it's a library of your remarkable content, and like a library you have the ability to showcase your best work. Use this to your advantage. Find areas on your site on which visitors tend to focus and add CTAs promoting your highest-converting content. Small percentage point increases from visitor-to-lead conversion rate can pay dividends farther down the funnel.

They key to conversion rate optimization is providing simple and contextually relevant next steps for visitors to take throughout your site and to continually test and optimize your messaging, calls-to-action, and other design elements. 

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3. Marketing Automation

Now that your website is generating leads, your focus can shift to moving them down the funnel. This is achieved through a combination of email marketing, content marketing, content promotion, and phone calls or rep driven emails along defined conversion paths. Marketing automation makes this processes more efficient, effective, and measurable. 

Automation can help you learn more about your leads as people, and how they interact with your business. Set up workflows for premium content offer downloads, expired trials and other key attribution activities that have led leads to purchase in the past such as viewing your pricing page. Incorporating automation into your lead nurturing strategy will help keep a lead alive longer and increase their likelihood that they will convert to a paying customer. 

4. Free Trial Conversion-Rate Optimization 

There are a number of different ways to increase conversion rates on your free trials, but the most significant opportunity is to engage with users. Your free trial will never convert users into customers if you don’t lead them along the way.

The first key point is activation within your free trial to ensure that the highest percentage possible trials in fact login and use the product over the course of your trial. Lifecycle emails will never work if they only promote your software. Rather, they should educate recipients on the most popular features and usages, prompting them to log in. Prospects that are active during the first three days of a free trial convert at a significantly higher rate.

The second key is to use lifecycle marketing emails to help trialers experience the key benefits of your platform, or the ones that are most important to them as a buyer over the course of the entire trial. By creating email workflows, you can automatically send emails to users triggered by different actions and milestones. 

5. Closed-Loop Targeting Based on Lifetime Value

Closed-loop targeting is going beyond tracking the sources of your website visitors, also identifying whether they took the action you most desire. This type of targeting gives you a 360-degree view of your campaigns and where your most (and least) profitable customers are coming from.

A great place to start is with monthly cohort analysis of your new customers and free-trial to better understand which tactics are driving leads to acquisition, and which acquisition channels are delivering customers with the greatest lifetime value for your company. Segment these cohorts by channel, campaign and persona to begin. Use these insights to build a highly targeted and optimized marketing strategy for new prospects that builds off the same tactics that generated the best customers you have today.

6. Customer Success

The responsibilities of marketing and sales no longer end when a deal is closed, but rather shift to keeping customers happy and educated. Often, your customer base is an opportunity for second-order revenue. Here is where referral programs and partner networks come into place.

Despite cutting-edge marketing tactics and tools, word of mouth is still, by far, the most effective form of marketing. Friends referring friends or colleagues referring colleagues, either way you can incentivize your customers to recommend your software by offering added features, discounts or trials of premium software.

The other strategy would be to implement partner networks similar to HubSpot. By partnering with your customer base, you can motivate customers to sell your software for you with added perks. Capitalizing on your happy customers can be a strategic way to generate greater ROI. 

 As your start getting some of these items in place, you'll have a solid foundation on which you can build an effective demand generation program. Demand generation takes all of these points a step further to really increase conversion rates and lead generation efforts and, ultimately, drive revenue for your organization.

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Matthew Buckley

Matthew Buckley is a former New Breeder.


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