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. 

Looking to scale demand generation?

CONTACT US

Join our Demand Generation community

DEMAND GENERATION CLUB

Check these other blog posts:

September 28, 2022
SaaStr Success: Landing Your Biggest Whales

No matter what stage your SaaS startup is in, landing a whale–a big client that will account for a majority of your revenue–will help you generate the ARR required to keep growing. At this year’s SaaStr, the team at SaaSMQL showed hundreds of SaaS leaders an effective way to do just that. 🐳

September 28, 2022
What We Learned from Sending 27,000 Direct Mail Boxes

In 2021 we shipped over 27,000 boxes on behalf of our clients. and learned a few lessons along the way. In this article, we’ll lay it all out for you.

August 8, 2022
The 7 Best Practices of SaaS Demand Generation

SaaS demand generation is an essential part of getting new customers and growing your business, but it's not easy to do well. Read these 7 precious tips on how to build a powerful SaaS demand generation machine.

July 19, 2022
A Few Ways to Get Your Prospects Attention with a SaaS Direct Mail Campaign

Let's take a look at the components of a great SaaS direct mail campaign that you can implement today to spur new growth.

June 22, 2022
Most Common Beginner Mistakes with SaaS Marketing

In this piece, we will explore 15 of the most common mistakes beginners make with SaaS Marketing, and how to avoid them, so you can save time and energy lost by following ineffective methods.

June 21, 2022
The SaaS Customer Acquisition Cost Guide

What does it actually cost to get a new customer? This is a vital metric to master if you are looking to scale up your business in the near future. If you are a SaaS startup looking to build a predictable customer acquisition engine, or a SaaS Company that is ready to scale, this article is for yo

June 9, 2022
Customer Lifetime Value: Why It's So Important in ABM

In the following guide, we walk you through the basics of ABM and customer lifetime value — and why CLV is so critical for an effective account-based marketing strategy in the world of SaaS ABM.

May 24, 2022
Five Ways to Drive Demand for SaaS

SaaS demand generation can be complicated, but there are many ways to get your product to the front of your potential customers’ minds. Here we’ll go over some SaaS lead generation techniques that you can use to increase sales and beat the competition.

May 16, 2022
Why Direct Mail Campaigns Are Critical For Account-Based Marketing Success

This article will discuss why direct mail marketing is so important for ABM's success and how to create an effective campaign. We'll also share some tips on measuring the success of your direct mail marketing campaigns.

May 10, 2022
Why SaaS Companies Should Use Direct Mail to Generate Leads

SaaS direct mail is also a powerful way to reach decision makers and influencers at companies that aren’t currently using your product or service. When used as part of an account-based strategy, your integrated direct mail has the ability to amplify your results exponentially.

April 27, 2022
How to Effectively Grow your SaaS with Outbound Marketing

In this article we explain why it's so important for SaaS companies to use outbound strategies and the six steps you need to follow in order to execute effective outbound campaigns.

April 25, 2022
Top 12 SaaS Conferences You Can’t Miss in 2022

If you are serious about growth in 2022, and who wouldn’t be with what the global economy just endured, then plan to attend at least one of 2022’s Top 12 SaaS Conferences.

April 13, 2022
How To Choose An Account Based Marketing Agency

When it comes to SaaS growth, you want to make sure that you are putting your best foot forward. This means working with the best account based marketing agency possible. How do you choose?

April 10, 2022
The 10 Top Account-Based Marketing Platforms

We have compiled a list of the top platforms for every SaaS companies interested in launching and scaling their Account-Based Marketing strategy.

June 3, 2021
How to Nurture Enterprise Accounts with a Multi-Channel Strategy

Nurturing enterprise accounts requires continuous education through multiple channels before they might see a need for your solution. Here we discuss the most effective ways to use multiple channels to nurture your target accounts.

January 14, 2021
How to Build a Demand Generation Budget for FY2022

The shift to virtual events in 2020 and 2021, along with uncertainty about when live events will resume, makes this year’s budget planning a bit tougher than others. However, you can use the same methodology to set your team up for success in 2022.

October 22, 2020
Running Integrated Marketing Campaigns in 2022

If you’re targeting mid-market or enterprise companies, you can't rely on a single channel to drive engagement and qualified leads. Here we share examples of campaigns with solid ROI and show how to integrate different channels into a unique workflow.

October 15, 2020
Marketo vs HubSpot vs ActiveCampaign

HubSpot and Marketo are considered the #1 and #2 marketing automation softwares in the world. ActiveCampaign, on the other hand, is a powerful and easy-to-use marketing automation & sales CRM platform designed for small businesses on a budget. How do you decide which is right for you?

September 21, 2020
How to Run an ABM Initiative Without Buying an ABM Solution

You might have a golden list of accounts that the sales team wants to focus on, but you don’t have the budget for a shiny new ABM platform. Jasmine Chung, Demand Generation Manager at Openprise, showed us how they are doing it at their company and the results they are seeing.

September 3, 2020
How Intellimize Leveraged B2B Direct Mail to Generate $4.6M in Sales Pipeline

Intellimize used SaaSMQL’s expertise to launch targeted ABM campaigns, integrating Direct Mail with automated emails and LinkedIn ads to engage with 800 accounts within their ideal customer profile. Their investment generated $4.6M in ARR pipeline.

August 12, 2020
SEO Strategy: 5 Tips to Scale Your Organic Traffic

Looking for some no-nonsense SEO tips to boost your site’s search engine rankings? We sat down with Aaron Moskowitz, Director of SEO at Golden Hippo, and covered 5 easy-to-implement tactics that help increase your website's ranking and boost inbound traffic.

August 5, 2020
The 9 Most Important Metrics for B2B Startups

By tracking and taking action in improving essential metrics you can position your team for better performance and productivity. Here we provide some insights into what we believe are the most important KPIs every young B2B SaaS company should track as soon as revenue streams arise.

July 1, 2020
How We Generate $1M in Sales Pipeline with Direct Mail

Here we explain step-by-step how at SaaSMQL we are able to consistently generate over $1M in new sales pipeline every month by using a targeted direct mail approach. We also discuss mistakes to avoid during the process and how to track the campaign performance.

June 23, 2020
7 Steps to launching your first B2B Direct Mail campaign

Direct mail is the best-performing direct response channel, bringing in results “10 to 30 times better than email”. Most companies don’t leverage direct mail because it's hard to execute, and requires plenty of time and resources. Here we will go over the 7 steps to launching a direct mail campaign.

June 16, 2020
A Common Sense Approach to Account Based Analytics

In a recent webinar for DemandGen Club, Arun Sivashankaran (Founder & CEO of FunnelEnvy) shared the good, bad, and ugly from his years of experience with B2B demand generation teams tackling account based analytics & personalization.

June 2, 2020
The Basics of B2B Marketing Attribution

How do you know which programs are generating qualified leads and pipeline, and which aren’t? How can you make sure a lead is tagged correctly throughout the entirety of their buying journey? Here we discuss the basics of B2B marketing attribution.

May 27, 2020
The Top 4 Direct Mail Use Cases for B2B Startups

Modern ABM marketers are seeing direct mail emerge as an effective channel for B2B companies to engage and convert target accounts. When direct mail campaigns are integrated into a broader account-based marketing strategy, they become a powerful channel to break through noise and reach prospects.

May 21, 2020
A cost effective Sales & Marketing tech stack for early stage SaaS companies

Your marketing “tech stack” is the set of technologies your organization uses to execute and analyze marketing across the customer lifecycle, and scale your business. The key goal of your marketing tech stack is to measure the impact of your marketing activities - making difficult processes easier.

May 19, 2020
12 B2B Direct Mail Examples to Boost your Pipeline

Given the special nature of a direct mail package, it’s no wonder the average response rates are higher than email. Receiving a nice gift right at your desk in the middle of the work week is memorable, and shows that the sender made the effort to do something different.

May 14, 2020
The 5 Worst SaaS Demand Generation Sins

A strong Demand Generation program allows a company to predictably scale the number of Opps sourced by simply increasing marketing spend. Whether you’re just starting out or have been running Demand Gen programs for years, here are a few core “sins” that your team should avoid at all costs.

May 8, 2020
Right Person, Right Time: How to Leverage Buyer Intent Data

Intent data can tell you when your target accounts show strong buying signals, allowing you to target the right people at the right time. Yet, many sales and marketing teams still aren’t sure how to include this new type of data in their workflows, let alone incorporate it into actionable programs.

May 6, 2020
Building Your Target Account List Using Data

Scaling is hard. You can have the best sales team in the world, but if they’re not focusing on the right accounts, their work likely won’t amount to new clients for your business. When you focus your efforts on ideal target companies, you maximize the campaign’s efficacy and conversion.

May 4, 2020
Building a Successful Lead Handoff Between Sales & Marketing

The lead handoff process is one of the biggest bottlenecks for every company trying to grow their sales pipeline. Marketing has invested money and resources to generate qualified leads, but they are not always properly assigned to the Sales team and followed-up with.

May 1, 2020
Why SaaS Companies Underspend on Demand Generation

Low confidence in marketing attribution and ROI often causes SaaS companies to cut investments on demand generation. By tracking your CAC and the value of each stage of your marketing funnel, you can allocate your budget to drive real growth.

April 30, 2020
Driving Qualified Meetings with Direct Mail Campaigns

When direct mail campaigns are integrated into a broader account-based marketing strategy, they become a powerful channel to break through the noise and reach your ideal contacts.

April 29, 2020
How We Use LinkedIn Ads to Engage with Target Accounts

Learn how to build effective Account-Based Marketing campaigns using LinkedIn Ads. We'll present specific examples and step-by-step instructions on how to target your named accounts and drive qualified leads.

December 1, 2019
ABM Unlocked: How to Leverage Buyer Intent Data in Real Time

In this video you'll learn how you can leverage intent data to increase conversion on your ABM campaigns and engage with your target accounts. We'll provide an intro about buyer intent data, the difference between 1st party data and 3rd party data, and how to track customers' offsite behaviors.

August 15, 2019
Creating a Demand Generation Budget From Scratch

In this video you’ll learn how to draft a demand generation budget starting from your revenue goals. We’ll discuss about funnel metrics, Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC), what line items should be considered when creating the budget, how to forecast your ROI, and what tools can help you.

June 6, 2019
ABM: How to Define Your Ideal Customer Profile

In this video you'll learn how to build the right target account list. By focusing all your efforts toward the ideal accounts, you'll maximize campaign's efficacy and conversion.

March 26, 2019
How to Generate ROI from Event Marketing

In this video we'll share lessons on how to generate pipeline sponsoring third-party conferences, how to best manage follow-ups and track results, and how to scale the strategy to 100+ events per year. We'll also discuss about best practices on how to run your first user conference successfully.

December 9, 2018
Video: Integrating Direct Mail Campaigns in Your ABM Strategy

Direct mail has been emerging as an effective channel for B2B companies to engage and convert their target accounts. When direct mail campaigns are integrated into a broader account-based marketing strategy, they become a powerful channel to break through the noise and reach your ideal contacts.

July 21, 2018
What are the biggest mistakes that B2B SaaS startups make in sales?

The 8 most common sales mistakes that I frequently notice in venture-funded SaaS startups. These include adding territories too early or hire a bunch of AEs when there is no pipeline. Avoiding these early mistakes will impact your ARR from the beginning.

June 9, 2018
The 6 Initial Steps to Transition to an Account-Based Strategy

Marketing is no longer incentivized to simply generate leads at the top-of-the-funnel and throwing them to sales. The metrics that matter now are account engagement, number of opportunities generated, pipeline ($) and revenue.

June 8, 2018
Why All SaaS Companies Need Demand Generation

Demand generation entails generating sales opportunities for your company's products or services. A good demand generation engine can help a company engage new prospects, generate interest online and offline, and attract prospects, which are then converted to leads and turned into sales pipeline.