Top 10 Best Practices For SaaS Lead Generation In 2023
Did you know that 61% of all marketers say that lead generation is their biggest challenge?
Especially if you’re in the business-to-business (B2B) SaaS industry, generating leads can be a pretty huge hurdle. Your target market is made up of businessmen and professionals who may be extremely nitpicky about the SaaS products they purchase.
Not to mention the fierce competition in most B2B SaaS markets today. Sure, there are huge opportunities you can seize in the fast-growing SaaS market. But others also recognize these opportunities and are also eager to take a piece of the pie.
So with these looming challenges, how can you stay one step ahead of the competition and keep the customers coming?
In this article, we are going to talk about the best practices for SaaS lead generation.
But first, let’s get on the same page about what lead generation is and why it is important for your B2B SaaS company.
What Is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is the process of—well—generating leads.
Seriously, though. That’s what it means. But more importantly, it takes us to another question: what is a lead?
A lead is a person or company that expresses interest in your SaaS product.
These are potential customers who usually fill out one of your contact forms, sign up for your email newsletter, or even click on ads related to your company and SaaS product.
The goal of lead generation is to identify these people and get their contact information so you can nurture them with highly targeted marketing or sales strategies, eventually turning them into customers.
With that being said, a lead generation strategy can involve any activity that works toward that goal.
Why Is Lead Generation Important For SaaS Businesses?
A solid lead generation strategy can be the difference between the success and collapse of a SaaS company. Some may say that leads are the “lifeblood” of a SaaS business.
Let’s talk about specific reasons why that is:
It Helps You Acquire More Customers
The most direct impact of lead generation on a SaaS business is a significant boost in customer acquisition.
With a well-crafted lead generation strategy, you can easily reach out to potential customers who show signs that they are interested in your SaaS product. This makes it much easier to convert them into actual paying customers.
It Can Help You Get Long-Term Customers
The success of a SaaS business isn’t just about acquiring new customers. It’s also about retaining your customers for as long as you can.
While there are a lot of customer retention strategies at play in that area, it could start with a solid lead generation strategy.
If done right, lead generation can help you identify and prioritize potential customers whose long-term needs are the best fit with the benefits that your SaaS solution provides.
This way, you can ensure that your customers are a good match for your product and will stick with it for the long haul.
It Can Help You Capture More Referrals
No matter how great your SaaS product is, its best form of advertisement is word-of-mouth marketing. That’s why referral marketing programs have been so successful for a lot of SaaS businesses.
Lead generation makes this possible too, even if it’s just on a smaller scale than most referral marketing efforts.
With lead generation, you can easily identify potential customers who are most likely to refer their contacts to you because they had an excellent experience using your software.
This helps create a snowball effect where those people pass on the word to more and more potential customers.
Hopefully, this has clarified to us all what lead generation means and why it should be a part of your overall business strategy.
But now, let’s move on to the main event — the best practices for SaaS lead generation.
1) Identify Your Target Audience
Whatever sales or marketing strategy you’re dealing with, the very first step is always to know your target audience.
Knowing who you are trying to reach (their preferences, interests, and motivations) will help you craft your messaging in a way that would best resonate with them. What’s more, it will also help you reach them more effectively by using the online platforms that they tend to use.
When it comes to identifying your target audience, you need two things: your ideal customer profile and buyer personas.
Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
Your ideal customer profile (ICP) is a comprehensive overview of the customers who would make the best fit for your SaaS product.
This would include the firmographic attributes that can set them apart from other companies in the market. These firmographic qualities could include their industry, company size, annual revenue, number of office locations, and more.
You might even want to add the ideal technographic data to your ICP.
Technographic information tells you about the technology that your ideal customer uses. This may include what type of IT infrastructure they have in place, what other SaaS products they currently use, how technologically dependent they are, and more.
With these firmographic and technographic attributes in mind, you can identify potential leads who best fit the bill.
Now, is it okay to have more than one ICP? Absolutely.
In fact, if you have a comprehensive SaaS product and are offering it through a tiered pricing model, you actually need to define multiple ICPs. That way, you can identify prospective customers who best fit each tier and target them accordingly.
A SaaS buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of the people you are targeting with your marketing and lead generation efforts. This is more specific than the ICP in that the buyer persona is a particular individual within the company you are targeting.
For instance, if your ICP is a small business with under 50 employees, your buyer persona could include anyone in the company who can make a buying decision.
Of course, these decision-makers would definitely include the CEO and managers of the company. But it could also include the employees themselves, especially if your SaaS product (or at least a version of it) is designed to meet their needs at a budget that they could afford.
A SaaS buyer persona typically includes key information about the individual you’re targeting, such as the following:
- Job Title
- Company Size
- Roles and Responsibilities
- Pain Points
- What They Need From A SaaS Product
- Preferred Communication Channels
Understanding all this data would give you a better understanding of each buyer persona’s needs and how your SaaS product can best help them.
As a result, it would help you find relevant topics and ways to craft your messaging in a way that would best resonate with them using the channels that would best reach them.
Some B2B SaaS businesses may even give each buyer persona a background story or a name. This can help you empathize with them, which helps you gain a better understanding of their perspective and create more meaningful engagement with them.
It goes without saying that creating your ICP and buyer personas would need a lot of market research.
You can’t just rely on guesswork or assume that this buyer persona has this goal or that preferred communication channel. You need to do your own research. Or even better, you can hear from your target audience themselves by launching surveys, conducting interviews, and holding focus groups.
This way, your ICP and buyer personas would best represent your actual target customers. As a result, you can best reach them with the right message and channel — and increase your chances of successfully generating SaaS leads.
2) Build Trust and Authority With High-Quality Content
Right off the bat, we would say that inbound lead generation is the way to go — if we’re talking about B2B SaaS lead generation. Sure, outbound lead generation still has its merits in some scenarios, but inbound is best for long-term success.
And if you want to thrive with inbound marketing and lead generation, then content marketing is going to be your best friend.
High-quality content can help you build trust and authority with your target audience. It also helps you nurture leads throughout their buyer’s journey until they are ready to convert into paying customers.
But what types of content can you create for SaaS lead generation? Let’s go through some of them:
Blog posts are the most common types of content that a B2B SaaS company can sustainably produce.
This is simply due to the fact that blog posts are versatile and you can use them to target a wide variety of topics related to your product and industry. You could produce listicles, or how-to guides, or other types of informative content.
What’s more, businessmen and professionals usually prefer reading when it comes to learning new things. This makes blog posts perfect for reaching and building relationships with your B2B audience.
Videos are also getting more and more popular as a way to reach and engage with customers. After all, YouTube is the second most popular search engine today, next to Google.
Producing informative videos can help you reach many people who don’t have time to read blog posts. And since videos are more engaging than text, you can better capture your viewers’ attention and make them stay longer on your content.
One way to maximize video content marketing is to repurpose some old blog content (preferably your best-performing ones) and turn them into videos.
This way, you don’t have to produce new content from scratch and at the same time, you can reach more people who prefer consuming information through video instead of text.
Podcasts can help you reach an entirely new audience that prefers to listen to content instead of reading or watching a video. Moreover, podcasts allow you to create more engaging conversations with your audience and establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry.
You could also invite other experts or influencers for interviews and let them share best practices, results-driven strategies, actionable advice, and success stories — all of which would be beneficial and interesting for your listeners.
3) Use Lead Magnets To Capture Leads
Helping people and building trust through your educational content is good and all. But they won’t be considered leads until you get their contact information, right?
This is where lead magnets come in.
Lead magnets are downloadable content pieces that you give away in exchange for your visitor’s email address or other contact info.
You could offer these lead magnets throughout your website or on your content piece itself.
Let’s look at a few types of possible lead magnets and how you can leverage them to generate leads:
One of the most common forms of lead magnets for SaaS businesses is eBooks. Different types of businesses and digital marketers usually offer them on their websites or content pieces.
To maximize an eBook as a lead magnet, you might want to offer it after you’ve provided some useful information that makes your audience want more.
For example, let’s say you have a blog post about the top 5 best sales strategies for real estate agents. At the end of your post, you could offer an eBook that lays out more of these best practices and more specific scenarios that they could learn from.
If you wrote your blog post well, they would be eager to know more and download the eBook in exchange for their contact information.
Webinars are also great lead magnets as they provide more in-depth information to a larger group of people at once. Through webinars, you can demonstrate your knowledge about a certain topic and establish yourself as an expert in your industry.
Of course, for a webinar to be enticing to potential leads, it should be informative and engaging rather than just a showcase of what your SaaS product can do.
When offering a webinar as a lead magnet, you should have an enticing title (such as “How To Increase Your Conversion Rates”) and include more information about the topics that will be discussed.
This way, people will get more curious and sign up for the webinar in exchange for their contact info.
Templates and Cheat Sheets
If your target audience would prefer something that is more concise and actionable, you could offer them templates or cheat sheets.
For instance, if you have a blog post about creating a content calendar for content marketing, you could offer them a template or cheat sheet that they can use as a basis while creating their own content calendar.
Templates and cheat sheets are great lead magnets to get people interested in your SaaS product since it shows how your business helps with their tasks even without the product.
4) Improve Visibility Through SEO
One of the most intense battles in the arena of digital marketing today is the battle for the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).
After all, if potential customers can’t find you online, then they won’t be able to convert into paying customers. No matter how good your content is.
This is why it’s best to invest time and effort in improving your SEO — or search engine optimization. This helps ensure that your content ranks higher in the SERPs when people look for topics related to your SaaS product.
There are three aspects of SEO that you need to work on: on-page SEO, technical SEO, and off-page SEO.
On-page SEO is all about optimizing your actual content to make it more search-engine friendly.
This includes the use of relevant keywords, adding meta descriptions and titles, creating informative page headers, and other best practices that would make your content easier for search engines to crawl.
Watch out not to fill your content with too many keywords, though. That’s actually called “keyword stuffing”, and search engines may penalize you for it.
Technical SEO, on the other hand, is all about improving your website’s architecture and performance so that search engines can easily crawl your website and index your content.
So, technical SEO covers everything from optimizing website performance and guiding the web crawlers’ journey throughout your entire site.
This would involve various highly technical efforts, such as adding a sitemap, creating 301 redirects for old or broken URLs, adding markup data, and more.
Off-Page SEO (Link-Building)
Another aspect of SEO you need to pay attention to is off-page SEO — also known as link-building.
Link-building is a process of building backlinks from other websites that points to yours. This helps search engines see your website as more authoritative and trustworthy, thus boosting your ranking in the SERPs.
Still, you need to make sure that your backlinks are coming from trustworthy and high-quality websites. This gives you more “SEO juice” or authority in the eyes of Google.
On the other hand, if your backlinks are coming from sketchy or spammy websites, that may actually hurt your SEO efforts.
There are various ways to get backlinks for your web pages, such as guest blogging, broken link building, finding unlinked mentions, and more.
5) Engage Your Target Audience Through Social Media
Another best practice for SaaS lead generation is to be active and engage with your target audience on social media.
This can help you get more attention from potential customers, build relationships with industry influencers, and build brand awareness.
For social media lead generation for SaaS, here are some things you need to keep in mind:
Pick The Right Social Media Platform
As we mentioned earlier, having distinct buyer personas would help you determine which marketing channels best suit your target customer.
But even if you’ve drilled down and found social media to be an excellent channel, there are still quite a few specific platforms to consider.
The safest choice so far would be Facebook. Almost everyone is on Facebook, nowadays. However, you may also find LinkedIn and Twitter to be effective platforms, especially for B2B lead generation.
Social media could also be an excellent platform to gain visibility for your content pieces. Whether it’s a blog post, a video, or just an infographic, you can easily share it on social media to reach a wider audience.
Not only that. Content pieces can also be used as conversation starters. When you share content on your social media timeline, make sure to ask your audience what they think about it.
This is a great way to build relationships with them, which will help you turn them into leads in the future.
Reach More People With Social Media Ads
Social media marketing isn’t just about organic reach anymore. With the help of social media ads, you can target specific prospects that check all the boxes in your ICP and buyer personas.
Whether it’s a promoted post or a sponsored ad, getting your content in front of the right people can help you generate more leads.
7) Boost Your Reach With Paid Ads
Since we’re already talking about paid ads, there are other effective forms of ads you can use to generate more leads.
Here are a few you may consider for your lead generation strategy:
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads
Aside from social media ads, one of the most popular types of online ads today is pay-per-click (PPC) ads, such as Google Ads or Microsoft Ads (formerly Bing Ads).
Using a PPC ad is like taking a shortcut to SEO. These ads appear on the top 3 to 5 spots on the search results when a user looks up a keyword related to your ad.
Like on-page SEO, using PPC ads involves targeting a keyword or a set of keywords to rank for.
Yes, you read that right. Running PPC ads sometimes includes some bidding. Although PPC works like a shortcut to SEO, it doesn’t mean you won’t have any competition running PPC ads.
And when you’re targeting a highly competitive keyword, chances are you will need to bid for the ad placement. The more competitive the keyword, the higher the amount you may need to bid.
And the higher your bid, the better the chances of getting your ad displayed on the SERPs.
The great thing about PPC ads is that it works just as its name suggests — you pay per click. In other words, you only pay for the ad whenever someone clicks on it.
Apart from text-based ads, you may also consider using display ads for lead-generation purposes. As the name implies, this type of ad “displays” on various websites that cater to your target audience.
This could be an excellent choice if you want more people to discover and get familiar with your brand.
Unlike PPC, display ads involve you paying an upfront fee for the ad placement. That can be a big plus if you’re the type that wants to plan out your budget and know exactly how much you’ll be spending on your ad campaigns.
Retargeting ads are another way to boost your lead generation, especially with potential customers who have interacted with your brand before.
And if you use retargeting features on paid ad platforms (such as social media and display ad platforms), you can show relevant ads to those who have previously interacted with your brand.
For example, let’s say a potential customer visited your website, viewed a specific subscription plan, but then left your site. A retargeting ad might show them the benefits they would get if they sign up for the plan they recently viewed.
So just in case the potential customer still has doubts about your SaaS product or just simply forgot to go back and sign up, a retargeting ad can give them a gentle reminder and even encourage them to take action.
8) Offer A Free Plan Or A Free Trial
Almost every B2B SaaS company is using at least a freemium model and/or offering a free plan.
These strategies work for lead generation because most companies want to make sure that their investment will be worth every penny. And if they’re really interested in your SaaS product, they will want to try it.
Now, let’s about how you can capture more leads using these two “try before you buy” strategies:
Highlight Your Value Proposition
Since you’re offering a free trial or plan, make sure that the potential customers have an idea of what they’ll get out of it.
So make sure to highlight the potential benefits they can get from your free plan or free trial.
For example, let’s say you’re offering a 14-day free trial for your customer relationship management (CRM) solution. Your ad or trial sign-up page could say something like “Make sure none of your leads fall through the cracks” or “Develop more meaningful relationships with your customers”.
This will give your potential customers an idea of what they’ll get out of your free trial, which in turn can help them decide whether or not they should sign up.
Write Compelling CTAs
Your call-to-action (CTA) buttons also have a huge impact on getting potential customers to sign up for a free trial or free plan.
Your CTA should be straightforward and easy to understand, with a hint of urgency. Your best bet here is to be absolutely clear on what they’ll get when they click that button.
For example, “Get Started For Free” or “Experience Better Results — For FREE” are great choices for a CTA button. If you’re using a freemium model, you can even use the phrase “Free Forever” to further convey that it really is a no-strings-attached free plan.
Remember that the “free” part is what makes freemium products and free trials attractive to potential customers.
So make sure you emphasize that they have an opportunity to get significant value from your SaaS product for free.
8) Use Social Proof
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people tend to copy (or do what others are doing, especially if it leads to good results).
It’s a very powerful marketing tool and can be a great way to generate leads.
You see, when potential customers see that other people are already using your product, it gives them an indication that it’s reliable and trustworthy — which is exactly what you want.
So how can you use social proof to generate more leads? Here are a few ideas:
Display Positive User Reviews
User reviews can make or break your brand.
Potential B2B SaaS buyers will do their own research before buying your SaaS product. And a part of that research will include browsing SaaS review sites and seeing what your current users have to say about your SaaS solution.
If you get some pretty nasty reviews (which you inevitably will), it’s best to diffuse the situation and turn it into a customer support conversation. Politely apologize for any inconvenience and offer help.
That way, any potential customer who may chance upon the negative review would at least see that you’re proactively responding to customer feedback and trying to make things right.
But if and when you get positive reviews, be sure to maximize them.
When potential customers hear from your existing customers themselves how your product has been beneficial to them, they will be more likely to trust it.
So, you need to get these positive reviews to as many ears (or eyes) as possible.
You can display them on your website’s homepage or product pages. You may also share them on social media once in a while.
This will go a long way in bringing more qualified leads to your sales pipeline.
Aside from waiting for happy customers to leave positive comments on review sites, you could just make the first move and outright ask them to give you a testimonial.
You could contact people who are already using your product and ask if they’d be willing to write a few lines about their experience with your SaaS product.
You may even offer incentives for them to do so (like temporary free upgrades on their plans or something similar).
You can use these testimonials to enhance your other lead generation efforts, such as social media posts, landing pages, and online ads.
9) Optimize Your Website For A Better User Experience
A well-optimized website is crucial for any successful lead generation effort.
Not only will it make a good first impression on visitors. Having a website with a clean and professional look can also build credibility and trust with your website visitors, making it easier to convert them into leads.
So how do you make sure your website’s user experience is conducive to lead generation? Here are a few pointers:
Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly
Based on a report by Statista, 59.72% of the total global online traffic comes from mobile devices. That means if your website isn’t optimized for mobile viewing, you could be missing out on a significant chunk of potential leads.
The best and fastest way to create a mobile-friendly website is to use a responsive web design template on your website builder. It makes your website display automatically adjust its layout based on the type and size of the device your website visitor is using.
Create Industry-Specific Pages
Have you ever visited a SaaS product’s website and seen different pages with content on how their software tool benefits different industries, such as manufacturing or education?
Having industry-specific pages like those can help your website visitors imagine how your SaaS product would be beneficial, specifically in their industry. This will ultimately increase their likelihood of signing up and becoming your lead.
What’s more, these pages can also be excellent platforms to display testimonials and positive reviews. If you have a testimonial that best highlights how your SaaS product has helped a customer in a particular industry, make sure to make it prominent on its corresponding page.
10) Invest In Lead Generation Tools
Lead generation is a process best powered by technology, especially if you’re targeting a lot of prospects through several lead generation channels.
That’s why it makes sense to invest in powerful and reliable lead generation tools that would help you generate more qualified leads.
Let’s go through some essential tools you need for your lead generation efforts:
Lead Generation Software
Lead generation software helps you create lead generation campaigns and manage your current leads. Some can also help you develop landing pages, sign-up forms, pop-ups, and other elements that you would need for your lead generation strategy.
Some great examples of lead generation solutions include OptinMonster and Leadfeeder.
Live Chat or Chat Bot Software
Live chat or chat bot software can help you capture leads straight from your website. You could use these tools to answer inquiries in real-time, directly on your website.
A lot of SaaS companies are using chatbots as a way to quickly qualify leads according to their interests and needs.
Some excellent live chat software options include Intercom and Drift.
A CRM solution isn’t really necessary for the lead generation process per se. But it’s a must-have tool for what comes after lead generation.
A CRM system can help you keep track of your leads, prioritize them according to their quality, and automate follow-up tasks.
This would help you build relationships with your leads and turn them into customers faster.
Some popular CRM systems include HubSpot, Salesforce, and Zoho CRM.
Final Thoughts: Focus On The Quality, Not Quantity Of Your Leads
Lead generation is one of the most important steps in the B2B SaaS customer acquisition process. And as you apply these best practices, keep in mind that the quality of the leads you’re generating — not the quantity — should be your main priority.
Remember, no matter how many leads you generate, it won’t do you any good if most of them are not even the slightest bit interested in your SaaS product.
That’s why most of the best practices for SaaS lead generation involve inbound marketing strategies, such as content marketing and SEO.
On top of that, make sure to score and qualify your leads even after you’ve generated them.
This will further filter out bad leads and help you identify those who are the best fit for your SaaS product (and will likely stick with it in the long run).
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