8 Creative Ways for SaaS Businesses to Generate Leads

23 Oct 2016

Felix Tarcomnicu

Felix Tarcomnicu is a blogger and entrepreneur, and co-founder of Cross.Promo. He enjoys writing about businesses and online marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @Felixtarcomnicu.

Software as a Service businesses (SaaS) know that sometimes it can be very challenging to find new paying customers. There are many channels waiting to be exploited, but not all of them work for every small business.

A SaaS is a different type of business that requires different marketing strategies for customer acquisition.

There are many SaaS applications available to accommodate the technological requirements of an online business. Among the popular SaaS available today, you’ll find tools that help you perform email marketing, sales, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), financial management, human resources, accounting, billing, marketing and more.

Cloud computing is largely considered by industry analysts as the most influential factor in determining how businesses will run over the next few years. In the recent years, SaaS continues to lead the cloud computing business.

Given the highly competitive nature of the industry, SaaS businesses must continue to find ways to build markets and increase the rate of inbound traffic in order to sustain long-term sales.

Any serious entrepreneur is always on the lookout for finding new channels and ways to generate more sales, which will ultimately increase revenue. In this post, I’ll share with you eight creative ways SaaS businesses can get leads for potential sales conversions.

Content marketing strategies

When trying to attract customers to your business, content remains king. Twenty three percent of total internet time is still spent reading blogs. If you consider that internet time has doubled over the last five years to 300 minutes or five hours every day, that’s an hour and 15 minutes reading content.

Blogs remain a powerful influencer for consumers. Sixty one percent of consumers report their decision to purchase or patronize a product or service was influenced by a blog. But for your content to drive interest, it must be relevant, fresh, unique and engaging enough to compel readers to action.

Keep in mind these valuable tips before writing a blog:

  • Size up your competition: check the content of other players in your industry and assess which ones generate the most engagement or shares
  • Conduct keyword research: if you want your content found, you should integrate popular keywords that are relevant to your industry
  • Conduct surveys: find out from your existing customer base which types of content interest them the most
  • Size matters: according to SearchMetrics, the ideal length for a blog post for high ranking content in Google is 1,140 to 1,285 words

It is estimated that by 2017, people will spend more than 500 minutes every day consuming media with internet-based content leading the way. Thus, expect content to continue to rule online marketing strategy for SaaS.

But content is not just about writing blog posts. You can promote your business by doing podcasts or even by starting a YouTube channel. Use your content creatively to give your users valuable tips, and spread the word about your business. An example of good content marketing strategy is that of SaaS business Baremetrics. The company writes content, often publishes a podcast, and they actively submit content on social media. Note that publishing content just for the sake of shortening your to-do list will not help. Instead, spend time on content that’s so good that your users can’t stop talking about it.

Integrate inbound marketing methods

Once you have built up strong inroads to your website, you can then integrate inbound marketing methods such as white papers, webinars and other types of gated content to convert these leads into paying customers or subscribers.

You can combine gated and nongated content strategies to reel in new customers. Nongated content, such as blogs and e-books, can be given away for free. These types of content are a great way to highlight your expertise and build up your reputation to your audience.

Once you have developed a strong following that is convinced of your ability to render usable and relevant content, it would be easier to push gated content with more in-depth information and analysis.

Also on StartupNation.com: Lead Generation Ideas That Every Startup Should Know

Optimize your website

The website is your main business address online. This is where customers find your products and services. It is absolutely important that you make a dazzling first impression on the customers who view your website.

Here are a few tips on optimizing your website:

  • It must be mobile responsive
  • Visitors should be able to download it within 2.4 seconds
  • It must be accessible by multiple browsers
  • Your web pages must be easily to navigate. Eliminating navigation options increases conversions by 25 percent
  • Incorporate clean design
  • Strategically integrate CTAs in most-frequented pages in your website

Ensuring the functionality, accessibility and overall experience of your website will encourage repeat visits and greater probability for generating leads.

Automate your sales channels

Once your website is generating leads, you can slowly shift your focus to moving them along the sales funnel so they can be converted into paying customers or subscribers.

There are a number of sales strategies you can use:

  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Content promotion
  • Outbound calling

Automating your sales channels can make the entire process more efficient and productive because it makes it easier, more convenient and simpler for the leads to interact.

You can reuse previous strategies such as offering free downloads, limited period upgrades, trial discounts and other techniques that will improve the overall value proposition to your market.

Incentivize your customer base

The growth of the internet and the ever-increasing influence of social media has tilted the balance of power in favor of the consumer. This is why if you want your SaaS business to grow, you should not only focus on market creation but market retention.

Business regardless of industry has grown extremely competitive and SaaS is one of them. Customers have more access to information today and it will continue to be the case over the next few years as the internet expands in significance. You have to focus on keeping your customer base as part of your organization.

An effective approach would be to incentivize your customer base. Introduce a referral program whereby for every successfully converted lead, the customer will receive a free item such as an upgrade or month’s subscription.

After all, despite the availability of technology, word-of-mouth advertising remains the most powerful source of promotion.

Implement cross-promotion

Cross-promotion is a one of the marketing secrets that very few are talking about. A SaaS business can cross-promote its services with another SaaS business that offers complementary products to their business. For example, a tool that offers a customer management tool can partner up with a SaaS business that provides online surveys. The two partners can give each other’s users discounts, if they subscribe to both tools.

One of the most popular cross-promotion campaigns is the partnership between Google and KitKat. For SaaS businesses, marketers can either do outreach and find partners, or they can use tools like Cross Promo which promises to automate cross-promotion for SaaS.

Utilize online reviews

Blogs may still be king in terms of content, but slowly coming up to wrest the throne are online reviews.

Although blogs are ranked third behind retail and brand websites, consumers are more likely to trust influencers than just brand content.

Surveys from 2015 have shown that 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations even from those they do not know. Seventy percent of those surveyed trusted online reviews, while 47 percent of consumers use blogs to keep track of trends and developments.

To further emphasize the point, a survey on 1,000 consumers using Google revealed that 67 percent of consumer decisions are influenced by online reviews.

Do some research and find the most influential persons in your SaaS industry and do your best to partner with them. Offer free lifetime accounts, and make them your business advocates.

Proactive free trials

Who doesn’t like to receive free trials? People who visit your website will be encouraged to take advantage of your offer but you will fail to convert them to leads unless you take a more proactive approach.

It is very important to ensure that the recipients of the free trial log in and use the software during the course of the period. Your accompanying emails should focus on the features of the software and its relevance for the user instead of just providing promotional content.

Surveys have shown that recipients who are active during the first three days of the trial period have a very high conversion rate.

Your emails should guide the recipients on how to use the key features of your software in their business. This is in line with the principles of great content: usable and relevant. Unless the recipient sees the value of its application to his or her interest, your free trial will not yield success.

Although online marketing presents a series of strategies and techniques, it is more of a process that should remain dynamic. As markets change, products innovate and technologies evolve, so should your strategies in generating inbound leads for your SaaS business.

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