According to Gartner, The market for SaaS companies is going to be $33 billion by 2016, and even more beyond that. This essentially means that the competition within the SaaS market is going to grow significantly, and potential clients will have a larger variety of choices they can consider. For SaaS companies, this is both an opportunity and danger.
The opportunity part rests with the idea that more and more people are going to be using SaaS products, which essentially means a huge potential of revenue increase. But, with the competition growing even fiercer, how do you survive in the market and grow, especially if you are a startup/small business?
The solution to this dilemma resides within inbound methodology. The main objective of a SaaS company is provide value to the potential client and maximize the lifetime value of customers. This is the way they can have a positive ROI and actually make profits. With the help of inbound marketing, this is more than possible, in fact, companies like Salesforce and Shopify have been using Inbound before it became a general trend and the results speak for themselves.
Salesforce and Shopify don’t do anything extraordinary or create software that only they provide: they create products that their clients absolutely love. How do you know what your clients love and want? That’s right, with the help of inbound.
Developing the right buyer personas, understanding their pain points and demands, their lifestyle, business needs and mapping out the perfect buyer’s journey for them is the key to creating products that customers will love.
If you are already through the most difficult part of creating the right buyer personas for your business and mapping out the buyer’s journey, here are 5 best practices you should utilize to gain maximum value from inbound marketing methodology.
1. Generate Awesome Content
Original and valuable content is the beating heart of any successful inbound strategy. Your content should consist of something that will offer real value to your potential leads. Share demos, free trials, valuable pieces of content, case studies, success stories with clients you had before to engage them and build trust. This is something that is and should be utilized by all SaaS companies that implement inbound marketing.
But what most companies fail to see, is the cornerstone of SaaS business: keeping your existing clients happy, educated and satisfied. Long term client retention is what drives the business of a SaaS company, not acquisition of new leads. You may spend tons of effort, energy, time and resources to acquire new leads and convert them into customers, but if you cannot keep them with you for long, you ultimately end up with negative ROI.
This is something to think about seriously and understand at which stage you are currently in: if you are a startup, focus on heavy lead generation first, then shift to client satisfaction with the help of your content. If you already got a client base, your top priority will be retaining your existing clients and keeping them happy, and only then focusing on getting more leads. Ideally, this should be a simultaneous task to complete, but for startups and small companies it’s hard to accomplish due to lack of time and resources. Keep this information in mind and prioritize your tasks in the content strategy.
2. Website Optimization
For any company online, their website is the most important tool when it comes to lead generation. This is especially true for a SaaS company, since its selling online services/software/apps and what people are looking for is user friendly interface, easy navigation and quality. If your website doesn’t look like any of this, then you are in trouble. Think of it as an imaginary pre interview with your company. If the first impression is good, the visitor will tend to stay on the website and explore more. However, if it fails to meet his/her expectations they will probably just leave and there is nothing you can do to stop them.
Your website is the online library of your content. This is where your content lives and gets seen by the public. You need to create the correct atmosphere (context) for it to look perfect.
Also use your best converting offers to your advantage. If you use any marketing automation software (like Hubspot for instance), you will have enough data to be able to tell which of your offers converts leads best and which CTAs work properly. Use this to your advantage: Place the CTAs of your best performing landing pages where they are visible to the public. Do this for all the stages of the buyers journey: from awareness stage up to decision. If your visitors like your website and know exactly where to go next, there is nothing stopping them from getting converted.
Another best practice of inbound methodology is constant engagement with your leads as well as existing customers. Never let your customers feel alone, ask them questions, encourage feedback and idea generation, discussions, etc. This is especially important for newly acquired leads and customers.
Engagement with your leads can boost your chances of upselling and increase conversion rates, while engagement with customers during the trial period, can actually help you convert them before the trial period expires. New customers are generally filled with enthusiasm and are eager and open to discussions. The first 3 days of the trial period are the most important for you as a vendor. Do your best to engage and guide you customers towards their goals. This way you can increase your chances of converting them before they get accustomed and “cold”.
4. Lead Nurturing
It’s important to understand that not all leads are created equal. The lead lifecycle stage generally consists of 4 stages: Lead, MQL, SQL and ready to buy. Some of your leads may be in the SQL stage for instance and some might still need more engagement and nurturing to become sales qualified.
Landing pages and emails are the key for this goal. With the help of landing pages, your visitors submit some information about themselves based on the criteria that you choose to download the valuable piece of content behind the form. Usually, this includes email address, name, website URL and something else you might need. The general advice here is to create landing pages for every stage of the buyer’s journey (awareness, consideration, decision) and tailor the length of the form accordingly. So for awareness stage content you form should include fewer fields than consideration and same goes for decision stage.
Generally, visitors that are willing to submit more information about themselves to get your offer are more qualified. This means that they have done a lot research already, have an idea of what they need and decided to try your company.
At the same time, visitors that submit less information are the ones that will need further nurturing, since they are mostly in the awareness/consideration stage and still considering what to do next.
As you already have their email address, name, website, etc. you can do a bit of research about the person to find out as much information as you can and after that, create custom, valuable offers tailored to their needs, to nurture them further down the buyer’s journey. This way you can strengthen the bonds between your company and the lead, while also build trust. All of this is going to increase your conversion rates dramatically, if executed correctly.
5. Encourage Leads to Give Your Software a Try
Since you are a SaaS company, your best card is your product itself. To acquire new customers, it’s not enough to generate high quality content, although it’s very important. You need to signify your product. Offer content that demonstrates the best parts of your software to your MQLs and show how it will help them achieve their business goals. Since you are using inbound, you will have enough data to actually know and understand their business and tailor your message accordingly and even if you don’t, you can always find out since you practice constant engagement. Pretty neat right? The best part is that you will learn even more about them as time goes by and the amount of your information increases: if you really know and understand what your leads/customers want and you are able to deliver it, there is no way you can’t convert them.
Applying the best Inbound practices to your SaaS company will help you build a solid reputation in your niche, while also boost your chances to prosper as a successful business. Remember, care, quality and engagement are the key things you should focus on. Embrace Inbound, it will not let you down.