Winning new customers using old methods isn’t easy, especially in an age where consumers can self educate and marketplaces are filled with similar solutions.
One market where winning customers is particularly difficult is the software as a service (SaaS) market. The SaaS market is one of the largest markets in the world but the problem is that many companies offer similar solutions, making it hard for any individual one (aside from the top players) to differentiate and stand out.
Also, for those SaaS companies using outdated marketing and sales tactics to win customers – such as cold calls, email blasts, and TV and newspaper advertisements – you're going to see decreasing returns.
But despite the high level of competition in the SaaS market, there are a number of SaaS companies that are winning new customers – new, qualified customers. These companies are using a more effective marketing method, it's called Inbound Marketing.
You might not be familiar with the term (though you should be) so in this blog, we’ll share seven ways SaaS companies are using Inbound Marketing to win new customers.
1. They document and use buyer personas
While buyer personas are absolutely key to the marketing success of any company, they are even more so for companies that offer software as a service (SaaS).
Many SaaS companies understand that the purchase decision process for a SaaS solution is long and complex: to ensure the solution is a good fit for the company, multiple senior business members – from the end user to the CEO – have to evaluate it.
This is not at all uncommon, but for your SaaS company to actually target and sell to these prospects – you first need to understand their pain points and what makes them tick, and this is where buyer personas come in handy.
By building and refining buyer personas, you can begin to understand the pain points of each decision maker involved in the purchase process. Using this information you can then create tailored, relevant content that helps those decision makers to understand the problems they are experiencing whilst presenting your product – the SaaS software or service – as the solution they need.
Buyer personas are the starting point of any marketing activity – but if you need help building your buyer personas, why not get in touch? We run Inbound Buyer Persona workshops and you can also get started by using the HubSpot buyer persona builder here.
2. They use freemium offers to drive conversions
The term ‘freemium’ refers to a pricing strategy where a product or service is initially offered free of charge, while additional features or services must be paid for. Usually, the freemium version doesn’t expire or run out, as would a free trial, so you can use the limited functionality for however long you like.
By offering a version of your product for free, potential customers can get used to it and understand the value it provides before acquiring the paid version of it to access all its features.
Good examples of freemium products/software that we use daily include Slack, Grammarly and Trello – you can access the fundamental features of each product but to use all the features you must pay for them.
3. They use fantastic top of the funnel (TOFU) content to attract new visitors
TOFU content – blogs, articles, videos – is designed to help website visitors understand their business pain, as well as make them aware of potential solutions. High-quality content that answers your prospects’ problems and includes engaging calls-to-action (CTAs) will help to build brand awareness, brand sentiment and drive website conversions.
Microsoft, for example, utilise both video and blog content to introduce Microsoft Azure, all of which is educational! Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service that is both software as a service, platform as a service, and infrastructure as a service. Another example is Wistia. Wistia have a whole learning area around educating people on video production, rarely does it mention its own tool.
4. They use quality landing pages to gate content and offers
Firstly, what do we mean by gated content? Well, gated content refers to any online material – eBooks, white papers, market research, guides, even videos now – hosted on a landing page and behind a form submission. For the web page visitor to obtain the content asset, they must fill in and submit the form on the page. From a lead generation perspective, forms will usually include qualifying information such as: name, email address, business and other information.
As gated content can only be obtained by the website visitor filling in the form on the landing page, they make for great lead generators.
Providing you have a diverse array of content – content relevant to your buyer personas, of course – you can use gated content assets to keep contacts coming back to your website and move them further into the buyer’s journey.
Take Anaplan for example. Anaplan is a cloud-based business planning and performance management platform. Its website has a huge repository of relevant content that can be used to engage and re-engage website visitors, as well as drive conversions.
5. They build educational content around their products and send it to known leads
Capturing the interest of contacts early at the middle of the funnel – in other words, when they are considering solutions available on the market – is key to cementing your business as the solution your prospects need.
Of course, achieving this is wholly dependent on the quality of the content that you provide and whether that content 1) clearly addresses your prospects’ business problem(s) 2) demonstrates a high level of expertise and 3) shows just how you can help.
With this considered, one thing successful Inbound SaaS companies are doing is using content assets such as case studies, success stories, reviews and testimonials to not just show how great they are – but also to show their prospects how they have helped other businesses.
With real-life examples (case studies and success stories) and customer reviews and testimonials, SaaS companies can attract more customers and drive more conversions.
Want some examples of good SaaS product demos and case studies? Check this out from Zendesk and this from Workday.
6. They use bottom of the funnel content to convert people who are nearly ready to buy
Rather than instantly asking their sales team to pick up the phone and call contacts who show signs of being ready to buy, SaaS companies use bottom of the funnel content to more naturally engage and coerce contacts – allowing prospects to identify when they are ready to buy.
Product demonstrations, pricing documents, free trials and freemium versions of the product, for example, are all great ways to convert contacts at the bottom of the funnel – especially free trials and freemium versions of the product as it gives contacts an idea of just how the product works and its benefits.
For examples of 30-day free trials, you can see this page from Docusign, as well as Freshbooks that has its pricing live on its website.
7. They DELIGHT current customers and keeping them coming back
Your relationship with your customers doesn’t end after the sale. Your customers are your best advocates and one thing the best Inbound SaaS companies do after the sale is to continue nurturing their existing customers.
These SaaS companies ensure that customers regularly receive relevant, high-quality content and offers and discounts and they always keep their existing customers in mind.
As a result, these customers quickly become advocates for these SaaS companies and speak highly of it to their fellow business professionals and acquaintances. Whenever someone needs a solution that the SaaS company provides, they are quick to recommend it and defend it.
Your customers are often your best salespeople – so make sure you treat them right! If you want an example, check out HubSpot. HubSpot have a blog dedicated to their customers and its full of great content that helps customers to get the most out of the HubSpot platform.