SaaS demand generation is an essential part of getting new customers and growing your business, but it's not easy to do well. As marketing leaders and founders, we want to both be effective and efficient with our efforts to grow — and a big part of that growth is demand generation, meaning the SaaS marketing activities that drive long-term engagement.
This includes lead generation, demand capture, and SaaS pipeline advancement, with careful attention along the way to resolving customer challenges and pain points. In time, you will drive the kind of brand loyalty that keeps customers coming back again and again and solidifies your place among the pack as an industry leader.
While you could read dozens of guides about SaaS marketing strategies that contribute to long-term growth, we've found that there are a select few best practices that, if you take ownership over, will help you grow your SaaS company. Below, we’ve included seven of them that will enable you to build a powerful SaaS demand generation machine.
1. Make Sure You Have Product-Market Fit
The best way to drive demand generation for your SaaS company is to make sure you have product-market fit before you launch into any SaaS marketing activities. Product-market fit means that your product solves a problem for customers, and the problem is one that they’re willing to pay for. If you don’t have product-market fit, then all your marketing efforts are going to be wasted because nobody will be interested in buying your product. And once you have that fit solidified, then you can start pouring gas on the fire fueling your SaaS marketing engine.
Here are some tips for getting closer to product-market fit:
● Define who your customers are. Before anything else, you need to clearly define an ideal customer profile, a topic we go into in-depth in this article and delve into further in the next section. What problems do they have that your product solves? What are their characteristics (age, location, income)? How do they interact with technology? What social channels do they use? These questions will help drive your product development and shape your messaging and content strategy down the road.
● Test assumptions with surveys and interviews. Once you've defined who your ideal customer is, it's time to test some assumptions about how well-suited they are for what you're offering. Do this by sending out surveys or conducting interviews with people who fit your ideal customer profile. Ask them what problems they have that might be solvable through your software.
● Get feedback from early adopters. Invite a small group of ideal customers to test your software in its early stages. Ask them directly what they like about it and what improvements they think could be made. This will help you understand where there might be room for improvement in your product roadmap, as well as what features customers really care about having included in future versions of the software.
By defining your product-market fit, you’ll be prepared to iron out the kinks in your software before moving on to the next steps of SaaS demand generation. Without that fit, there will be no demand, so it’s important to get things right from the get-go.
2. Focus on Your Ideal Customer Profile Only
If you are struggling to grow your SaaS business, there is a good chance that you are not focusing on your ideal customer profile (or maybe haven’t even defined it yet). Your ideal customer profile gives you a niche, and you should be laser-focused on targeting that niche through the right channels and messaging.
For example, if you're selling to Fortune 500 companies, don't try to sell to small businesses or freelancers, and vice versa. In fact, you’ll want to get even more specific than that, don't just say "small-business owners"; say "U.S.-based dentists with annual revenue of $XYZ who established their practices within the past five years." These factors, and others such as budget, company size, and geography, will help you understand where to spend your time and resources when targeting ideal customers and driving demand generation for your SaaS company.
Simply put, your ideal customer profile is the first step in understanding the exact person you need to target and how you should go approach your SaaS marketing. It serves as one of the most valuable tools in helping you prioritize your marketing efforts and focus on the people who will not only benefit most from your product but also be likely to invest in it.
3. Build a List of Your Target Accounts, Segmented By Tiers
The key to driving SaaS demand generation is knowing who to target, how, and when. Having an ideal customer profile isn’t enough; you need a list of target accounts consisting of people who fit your ideal customer profile but may be at different stages of the buyer journey. From there, you can segment your accounts by tiers, meaning you build account lists that differentiate between tier 1, tier 2, tier 3, and so on.
Using these segmented lists, you can create account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns that will allow you to reach each of the tiers at different stages in the buying process. Essentially, you’ll be able to target various buyers more accurately with unique messaging based on their readiness to buy and how much they are willing to invest.
With these segments in mind, make sure every member of your sales team (even if that’s just you and one or two others) knows who these people are, what their companies do, and what stage they are at in the buying journey. This way, your communications and SaaS marketing efforts will always be relevant to the person receiving them.
4. Create a Content Strategy Based on Detailed SEO Keyword Research
One of the most important aspects of demand generation is creating and executing a content marketing strategy that will target your ideal customers, help you build brand awareness, generate leads, and fill your SaaS pipeline. This strategy should address how your content will perform in search engines, and this is where SEO keyword research comes into play.
The more relevant your content is to popular keywords you’re targeting, the higher it will rank in search results — and the more likely it will be that someone clicks on it. Therefore, your goal with SEO keyword research is to find out which terms people tend to use when searching for something related to your business. Then, you can create content that’s optimized using these terms so you can rank higher in search results and get more traffic from Google and other search engines.
To create an SEO-focused content strategy, Search Engine Journal recommends the following:
● Start with a broad search term related to your industry that you think people might search for, such as “CRM software.”
● Further define the keyword variations, product features, questions your ideal customer might have, and other details. Include long-tail keywords that help you narrow the scope of your keyword research.
● Use your favorite keyword research tool to identify the keywords that would be most likely to help you rank higher.
With this list in hand, you can then incorporate the most relevant keywords into your writing, with a focus on meeting your ideal customer’s needs and answering their questions. At the same time, you’ll be creating a brand voice and identity that, done right, resonates with your audience and drives demand for more of your content — so much so that people are eager to open your emails, read your blog posts, engage with your social media posts, and overall keep up with your brand.
5. Design an Efficient Lead Flow
So, you’ve built a great lead generation machine through your content and advertising, but it’s not going to produce results if you don’t have a smart system in place to hand off those leads to sales. An efficient lead flow is a must for your SaaS demand generation efforts: From top of the funnel to handoff to sales to opportunity to close, every stage of the funnel is an important step in moving leads further along in the buying process.
Begin with an audit of your current sales funnel so you know where leads are dropping off. Are people clicking on your ads but not taking the next step to book a call? Are people landing on your website but quickly bouncing? How many of those leads are being converted into customers? And how many of those customers are actually paying for your product or service, and at what tier? If you don’t know answers to these and other key questions, get them ASAP.
Keep in mind that leads can come in many forms, including phone calls, website visits, and social media interactions. And while each type of lead has its own unique value, they all share one common attribute: they're potential customers. To design an efficient lead flow for each lead, consider the various stages of the sales funnel:
● At the top of the funnel, prospects are just learning about your business. They may be interested in your product or service, but they don't know enough to take action yet. The goal at this stage is to build awareness and generate leads.
● The middle of the funnel is where lead nurturing occurs. This involves sending emails and/or texts to leads based on their activity level, location, and other factors, such as which content they've engaged with. Nurturing helps you get a better understanding of what interests each lead, so that when they are ready to move forward in their buying process, you can communicate with them in a way that inspires action.
● At the bottom of the funnel is where qualified leads move into the sales process. If you’ve properly segmented your lists as noted in step #3, then you’ll know which tier a lead falls into and how to communicate with them in order to close on the account.
6. Find Your Channels
Now that you know who your ideal customer is, how they will use your product or service, and what they are looking for when they buy, you can figure out which channels will be most effective at bringing in leads and getting them to convert into sales. You’ll want to identify two or three channels that are effective at generating opportunities and SaaS pipeline. Test multiple channels with a small budget to find the best ones, and if you see results, scale it.
For example, if you're using social media to generate leads, try Facebook ads or LinkedIn ads to test whether they're working better than organic posts. If you're using outbound emails, test email marketing automation platforms and see which one drives more engagement.
At SaaSMQL, we work to engage our SaaS startup clients’ target accounts and convert them into qualified opportunities, leveraging intent data and marketing automation to launch and scale targeted campaigns through digital ads and direct mail. It’s all about finding the right channels, and you might find one channel to be more effective than the other — that’s where your time and money should go.
7. Create a Lead Nurturing Strategy
In B2B, most leads aren't ready to buy today. You have to remain top of mind for many months, so you have to create a process for nurturing leads through your funnel.
In the world of B2B SaaS marketing, lead nurturing is the process of moving prospective buyers through the stages of the sales cycle from awareness to purchase by communicating with them at each stage with personalized content. How do you do that? The key is to keep in contact with them and provide useful information related to their business. You can do this through multiple channels, including email and the web.
For example, create an email drip campaign that offers free content and a free trial offer. If people opt in for more information or the trial offer, send them additional emails with more details about your product or service. The key is to always provide value and avoid getting salesy so people don’t opt out before they’ve moved all the way into the sales process.
While the specifics of your SaaS demand generation machine will likely vary from another organization's, the end result remains the same: a well-oiled machine that delivers consistent, relevant content to your prospects, engages with them at the right time and place, and drives them to take action. Achieving that kind of machine takes time — perhaps years even — but it's worth it in the end. If you’re looking to speed up the process, get in touch with us at SaaSMQL.