The Demand Generation Checklist for SaaS Startups

June 20, 2022

Demand generation is the most crucial role for every SaaS company. Startups need to get on board with key strategies that promote SaaS lead generation, and generate a consistent pipeline to feed the growing sales team. Do you have all the necessary elements in place to run a successful demand gene

Demand generation is the most crucial role for every SaaS company. Startups need to get on board with key strategies that promote SaaS lead generation, and generate a consistent pipeline to feed the growing sales team.


Do you have all the necessary elements in place to run a successful demand generation strategy at your SaaS company?


No matter where you are in your journey, use this checklist to help you audit your systems and resources, and make sure you are ready to run a predictable demand generation engine for your SaaS startup.


1) Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs)

Ideal Customer Profiles are the basis for any good SaaS strategy as they provide the framework for all of your marketing efforts. Understanding customers’ needs and analyzing their shopping behaviors are key to reaching any target audience.


You need to first identify what your best customers look like, by thinking about the type of people who could most benefit from your software. If your software helps healthcare professionals organize their accounting, then healthcare professionals would be both your target audience and a great starting profile. It’s important that you take a close look at your existing customer list. What do they have in common? Can you highlight any pattern in terms of industry, company size, revenue, stage of maturity, etc?


Once you have built a solid target account list, it’s time to map those companies with the right decision makers and influencers. Who are the people that were involved in the deals that you won? Who started the conversation? Who ultimately signed the contract? You’ll need to put together a comprehensive list with all the stakeholders for the accounts that you listed previously. Then identify where those people spend their time, and what they like to do in their spare time –delve into each profile, the more you find, the better your targeting will be.


Before long a clear profile of your ideal customer will emerge, along with details about their life influences. This will help you form your marketing messages and determine which channels are best to promote your SaaS software to them.


TAKE ACTION: Look to see if your company has profiles that need updating or if they simply need to be created. Set aside time during your slowest season to analyze your current customer base to look for clues about your ideal customer and discuss them with your marketing and sales team.

2) Case Studies

Many of you have heard of content marketing as it relates to SaaS lead generation, but case studies are a bit of a different animal. Case studies, at their core, are in-depth studies of your best customers that have used your product and experienced amazing results.

They are considered marketing pieces, but they are highly focused on data and statistics as proving points.


Key points covered in a good case study include:

·  product applications

·  examples of product use

·  user testimonials

·  real-time quantifiable data

Case studies can increase SaaS demand generation by serving as lead magnets to attract customers, and by providing valuable social proof of your software.


By using case studies to show a real-life example of your solution being used successfully, you can easily convince lead adoption. It also helps drive organic traffic to your site by providing SEO-optimized content Google can link back to.


TAKE ACTION: Find out if your company has existing case studies that can be brushed up, or better yet, create new ones anyway. This may take some research and maybe even some personal contact with some of your best clients to accomplish, but when it’s all said and done they are perfect SaaS lead generation tools.

3) Segmented Audiences

Part of the reason you identify your ideal clients is to then have clear target audiences already segmented for advertising. How well you generate leads is directly related to how well you know and can define your audience.


This form of separating your audience also helps you better use your marketing dollars to zero in on those more likely to buy and use your software. If your aim is too broad, you could waste money on advertising to people who aren’t interested in your product.


When you create the profiles, specific facts about your ideal audience, like their pain points, needs, and interests, will feed into your audience segmentation for advertising campaigns. You can segment your audience by one or more qualities, allowing for a more precisely targeted marketing strategy and better-personalized content.


TAKE ACTION: When looking to segment your audience here are four main categories that will help you get started:

1. Demographic Segmentation: splitting an audience based on observable traits and differences like age, education level, income, and race.

2. Behavioral Segmentation: splitting your audience based on their online shopping habits or actions they may have taken on your website

3. Geographic Segmentation: splitting an audience base on location data such as zip code or country, but also by other outlying factors like whether the area is suburban or rural.

4. Generational Segmentation: splitting an audience based on generational categories like Millennials and Baby Boomers


4) Targeted Messaging

Now that you’ve created your audience profiles, you can begin your targeted messaging.

There are comprehensive guides on content strategies all over the internet, so we’ll spare you the rehash and stick to the basic principles of messaging strategies.


The main approach is to perform some form of keyword search, either through Google or another SEO content researching tool, and analyze the websites that appear at the top of the results. You’re looking for two main purposes:


·  To identify content pieces that you could add more in-depth content to,

·  To develop a new piece based on the same topic, but covered from a different angle


Whichever strategy works best for your goals is the one to choose, but keep in mind the content will need to also align with the channel on which it will be promoted. Which channel to promote will be covered in more detail later in the article, but for now, it’s enough to say the channel is also derived from important details on the buyer profiles created at the beginning.


TAKE ACTION: Take an audit of your current content, then compare it to the content from your top three competitors. Determine where the gaps in content lie and set to work tackling those areas first. You’ll likely see an uptick in organic traffic, just from this activity alone.

5) Lead Handoff with Scoring

Lead scoring is a vital activity, as all leads are not necessarily worth chasing. They need to be scored based on their value to the business. There are a ton of scoring frameworks to choose from, but the most commonly used framework categorizes leads by their actions. These leads are categorized as either:

·  Information-Qualified Lead (IQL): meaning they are currently interested in the useful information you can provide, not necessarily your products.

TAKE ACTION: This type of lead is firmly in the Awareness phase of the customer buying cycle, so focus on feeding them more information about your company and providing solutions and guides to meet their needs.

·  Marketing-Qualified Lead (MQL): This category of lead is an IQL that is now interested in how your SaaS solution provides what they are looking for. The main qualifying action of an MQL is that they have accessed or downloaded information you provided about your product.

TAKE ACTION: MQLs are firmly in the Interest portion of the buyer cycle, so the goal is to continue moving them towards conversion. This is the time to offer free trials, free consultations, discounts, and product demos to encourage conversion.

·  Sales-Qualified Lead (SQL): When an MQL moves into the Desire phase of the buyer’s cycle, they become SQLs, meaning the sales team should follow up with them as soon as possible.

TAKE ACTION:  Sales 101 says strike while the iron is hot, so following up with a lead while they are still in the Desire phase is essential to conversion.


6) Optimized Channels with Marketing Attribution

B2B Marketing Attribution is an important strategy, as it helps you weed out SaaS demand strategies that aren’t working as well as others. With attribution, you can optimize your channels based on feedback from your highest-performing pieces.


Different models attribute the conversion to different actions that did or did not happen right before conversion.


Popular attribution models include:

·  Last Interaction Attribution: gives credit to the last interaction right before the conversion

·  First Interaction Attribution: gives credit to the first interaction with the customer

·  Last Non-Direct Click: gives credit to the last non-direct click before the conversion

·  Linear Attribution: splits credit equally between all interactions with the business

·  Time Decay Attribution: splits attribution with more value given to touchpoints closer to the conversion

·  Position-based Attribution: (AKA U-shaped Attribution), splits attribution between the first interaction and the action right before conversion. Each of these is given 40% credit, with the remaining 20% split evenly amongst the other interactions.

TAKE ACTION: Take stock of which attribution model you have been using thus far and consider whether that is the best strategy for analyzing the value of your SaaS demand-driving activities. In cases where you may be using more than one attribution model, work with stakeholders to narrow it down to one.

7) Lead Funnels

The use of lead funnels is a concept that has been tossed around for years, but what does it mean for your SaaS lead generation strategy? A lead funnel is the journey of touchpoints a customer takes from first learning about your company or product to purchasing a product or service from your company. There is no defined timeline for this movement, but there are three sections to common funnel movement:

1. Top of the Funnel (ToFu): These are the Awareness and Discovery portions of a buyer’s journey and represent your target audience that is still early in their buyer’s journey.

2. Middle of the Funnel (MoFu): This is where your target audience becomes potential customers who are researching solutions for their problem or project.

3. Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu):  This area of the funnel is where conversions happen and consumers begin making an educated purchase decision

TAKE ACTION: Each of the sections of the sales funnel is important to your marketing focus. Analyze your current funnels and fix any areas of content drop-off, indicating a lack of engagement with your consumer

8) Funnel-Specific Content

One of the main points of even having a sales funnel is to load it with content that is specific to the buyers’ needs. Here are some guidelines to follow to match content with specific parts of the funnel, and by extension, specific parts of the buyer’s journey.

1. Top of the Funnel (ToFu): Focus content on blog posts, videos and even engaging quizzes or polls. Content consumed here is meant to be general and satiate the buyer’s curiosity.

2. Middle of the Funnel (MoFu): Focus on content that feeds. Guides, comparisons, and numbered list posts that include pros and cons will help move consumers from this stage to conversion.

3. Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu):  Focus on content that enables the consumer to make an educated decision. FAQs, live demos, and video tutorials are the best content for this stage.

TAKE ACTION: Audit your current Funnel-Specific content to see if it meets these guidelines and adjust accordingly.

9) Lead Nurturing Process

The lead nurturing process of any SaaS demand generation strategy is how to help ease a customer from the beginning of the funnel to the conversion. Email is one of the most effective tools for lead nurturing.

TAKE ACTION: Use these key tips to ensure your lead nurturing ends in conversion:

·  Keep it Personal: Make the emails sound like a person, not an automated system

·  Keep it Timely: Study the best times to send emails and implement timing into your strategy.

·  Use Attraction Marketing: Don’t overtly sell your product, promote some of the key benefits of your SaaS software as a value-added option for your target audience.

·  Test, Test and Retest: Use A/B testing functionality to test the impact of different iterations of your marketing emails.

10) Marketing Automation Systems

Finally, one of the strongest tools in your arsenal is implementing a marketing automation system. While you will still need to run through the steps of the checklist above, once you have built your touchpoints, there is no further need for oversight on each interaction.


Using a system like Marketo or Hubspot can help your company scale up since they were created just to help automate labor-intensive lead generation tasks, leaving you more time to focus on SQLs.


Wherever you may find yourself on the SaaS demand generation journey of knowledge, we hope we’ve given you some actionable and valuable information you can implement today to improve lead generation for your SaaS software.


If you still have questions about how all of this works together to generate valuable leads for your company, contact us, and let’s discuss ways how we can help. 

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