SaaS Sales Funnel Stages: From Awareness To Advocacy
According to some statistics from Pardot, 68% of businesses have not identified a sales funnel, much less measure it. Consequently, they failed to convert 79% of their marketing leads into sales.
What a waste, right?
These statistics just point out the importance of having a sales funnel. After all, it is the visualization of your sales process.
So if you really want to optimize your sales efforts and win more customers, mapping out your entire sales funnel is a must.
Traditional Sales Funnels VS SaaS Sales Funnels
Now, the SaaS sales funnel looks different from that of a traditional business. The sales process for usual companies starts from the first encounter with the customer and ends when the purchase is done.
SaaS sales funnels don’t work like that. The SaaS business model gets recurring revenues from subscriptions instead of one-time transactions. The customer journey goes on and on after the deal is closed.
That means that there are additional SaaS funnel stages that follow after the purchase stage.
If you’ve seen an actual funnel with a long nose, that’s probably what a SaaS sales funnel looks like if you visualize it.
However, it’s not just the stages after the purchase that set the SaaS sales funnel apart. It’s also the way the pre-purchase stages are handled.
You see, SaaS products are very complex and technical. So one of the most useful ways to promote them is through content marketing.
Content marketing is all about creating and sharing valuable content with your target audience. That way, you can educate them about your product and different concepts related to it.
So content marketing doesn’t only help you get new customers. It’s also your main tool in making them stay with you for as long as possible.
In other words, content marketing is the key to success in the SaaS funnel stages before and after the purchase stage.
In this article, we will talk about each of the SaaS funnel stages and what you can do to maximize each of them.
These stages include:
Let’s dive right in.
Stage #1: Awareness
In the awareness stage, your prospective customers may not even know about your SaaS product yet. They may not even be aware that there are actual SaaS solutions that could solve their pain points.
But they have burning questions about a certain area in their lives or in their businesses. They are looking for information.
So your main goal at this stage is to provide that information, build trust with them, and make your brand known.
Here are some things you can do to reach that goal:
- Content Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization
- Social Media Marketing
- Paid Ads
Let’s talk about them one by one.
As we mentioned earlier, content is king when it comes to SaaS marketing. And one of the main purposes of content marketing is to educate your prospects and customers.
That’s why the main thing you can do for this stage is to produce top-of-funnel (TOFU) content and get it all over the internet.
This TOFU content can be in the form of blog posts, e-books, infographics, podcasts, and even videos.
At this stage, your content doesn’t even have to mention your product yet. Doing so just might drive your prospective customer away.
Instead, focus on providing reliable and relevant information. Doing so would build trust with them and establish you as an authority in your niche.
If you do it right, your content would be the go-to when they need to learn more.
And once you’ve built trust and authority with your audience, they will be more likely to consider your SaaS product when the time comes.
Search Engine Optimization
In order for your content to reach your target audience, you need to make sure it ranks high on search engine results pages (SERPs). After all, you won’t get a lot of customers if your blog posts are on page 10 of the Google search results.
That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. With the right techniques, you can make sure your content appears at the top of the SERPs for relevant keywords.
I won’t go into detail about SEO. We already did that in this blog post dedicated to discussing SEO for SaaS businesses. And besides, there are A LOT of things that concern SEO.
So I’ll just say this: make sure that your on-page and off-page SEO practices are on-point.
And don’t keyword stuff. That will only get you in trouble with Google.
Social Media Marketing
You need to be where your potential customers are at. And nowadays, they are almost always on one social network or another.
That’s why you should be actively present on the major social media platforms today.
You should have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you’re selling a B2B SaaS solution, you can also add LinkedIn to the list.
And recently, TikTok has been proving itself to be an effective platform for sharing SaaS-related content.
When you’re posting or sharing content on social media, don’t just post about your product all the time. That would get really boring (and possibly annoying) for your followers.
Instead, mix up your content by posting about relevant news, SaaS lifehacks, and even funny things. After all, that’s how you can get viral on social media.
And make sure that you’re using hashtags so that people can find your content more easily.
If you have the budget for it, paid ads can be a very effective way to reach your target audience.
With these paid advertisements, you can target your audience based on their interests, demographics, and even their past behavior.
You can also track how well your ads are performing so that you can make necessary adjustments.
But paid ads aren’t a silver bullet. It’s important to remember that you need to have a good product and a well-optimized sales funnel before you start investing in paid ads.
Otherwise, you’re just throwing your money away.
Stage #2: Interest
You could consider this stage as the second part of the top of the funnel.
At some point in the buyer’s journey, your potential customer starts to get more informed about their pain points. They regularly view content about them and are aware that they can use SaaS solutions to address them.
If your content pieces have successfully made an impression on these potential customers, they may even be aware of your brand by this time.
However, they may not show any interest in your SaaS product yet.
That’s where you come in on this stage. Your goal is to spark that interest.
And how do you do that? You need to create content pieces that focus on SaaS solutions and direct your new readers towards them.
More Content Focused On SaaS Solutions
Since this is still one of the earliest stages of the SaaS sales funnel, content marketing still plays a huge role in getting potential customers.
But this time, your focus shouldn’t just be educating them about their problems. You also need content that shows them the potential SaaS solutions that can solve these problems.
One of the types of content for this purpose is listicle blog posts. Many SaaS companies publish articles about the best SaaS solutions for this niche or that niche. And you can do that too.
For example, let’s say you’re selling a SaaS solution for business accounting. You can write a blog post about the top 10 accounting software this year. In it, you can highlight each solution’s strengths and weaknesses.
Of course, it’s natural to put your SaaS product on top of that list in order to show your confidence in it. But you have to back it up with strong reasons why your product deserves that place.
Remember that your content needs to be reliable. So you have to be fair and objective in judging your competitors’ products and your own. If your readers get even a whiff of bias in your tone, you might lose their trust.
But how do you actually get your prospective customers to see these content pieces?
Directing Your Potential Customers To More Content
One of the things you can do is to link your Interest-stage content to your Awareness-stage content.
Towards the end of your educational blog posts, you can casually mention SaaS solutions for their pain point and add a hyperlink leading to your listicle blog post.
This way, your potential customers won’t have to leave your website or perform another Google search.
Another way to direct people to more of your content is by sharing these blog posts on your social media profile. Make sure to use engaging visuals and tag the right people so that more people can see your post.
Stage #3: Consideration
Once a prospective customer views your content more than once, interacts with your social media post, or clicks on your ad, you can consider them as leads. They are now in the middle of the funnel (MOFU).
Now, it’s time to start nurturing your newly generated leads and turning them into paying customers.
This is where the Consideration stage of the SaaS funnel comes in.
Now, the fact that they interacted with your TOFU content means that they are interested in getting a SaaS solution to solve their problem.
It may not necessarily mean that they are looking at your SaaS product already. But it may also be on the list of options.
Your goal at this stage is to make a full introduction to your SaaS product.
This is where you can be more aggressive in promoting your brand. You can also keep providing your newly generated leads with even more valuable content.
But this time, the content won’t just be for educating them or suggesting SaaS solutions generally. You also need to create content pieces for lead nurturing purposes.
A few of the things you can do at this stage of the SaaS sales funnel include email marketing and targeted content.
Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience.
In fact, the return-on-investment (ROI) for email marketing can go as high as 4,200%.
That’s because email marketing allows you to personalize your message to each recipient. You can even target them based on their interests and behavior.
And with the help of segmentation and automation, you can make sure that your recipients only get the content that they’re interested in.
There are two types of email marketing automation that you can apply: drip campaigns and triggered automation.
Drip email campaigns: With drip email campaigns, you send a series of pre-written emails over a certain period of time.
This is a great way to keep in touch with your leads.
You can set up a drip campaign to send out a series of messages over a period of days, weeks, or even months. What’s more, you can personalize each message based on the recipient’s interests and past behavior.
So does that mean you have to write each of the emails yourself just to personalize it?
Most of the popular email marketing SaaS solutions today can do it for you.
Triggered automation: Trigger-based automation is when an event or action triggers an automated email marketing message.
For example, you can set up an automation rule that will send out a “thank you” or “welcome” email to people who just opted into your emails.
Or you can set up an automation rule that will send out a “product announcement” email to people who have been inactive for a certain period of time.
As we’ve mentioned before, creating targeted content is one of the most effective ways to nurture your leads and turn them into paying customers.
That’s because you are directing specific content pieces to their respective target buyer personas. This is opposed to blasting the same content to your entire audience.
To get started with this, you need to do two things: lead segmentation and buyer persona development.
Lead Segmentation: Segmenting your audience into different groups helps you cater your content specifically to their needs.
You can segment your audience based on their demographic factors like location, age, and gender. You can also do it based on psychographic factors, such as interests, hobbies, and beliefs.
If you’re reaching a B2B audience, you may segment your contacts based on company size, location, industry, and more.
Breaking down your leads into segments will help you personalize emails and target your content.
Buyer Persona Development: Once you’ve segmented your audience, the next step is to develop buyer personas for each group.
A buyer persona is an imaginary character that represents each of your target customers.
You create a buyer persona by gathering data about your real customers and then synthesizing it into one or more profiles.
Once you have your buyer personas in place, you can start creating content pieces specifically for them.
This content will be more relevant to them and they are more likely to engage with it.
Content pieces that are specifically targeted towards a certain lead segment or buyer persona will be more attractive to your leads.
Not only will this result in a higher conversion rate. But you’ll also be able to save time and money on content creation.
Stage #5: Evaluation
Now that your lead has seen the value of your SaaS product, it’s time for them to start evaluating it.
This stage is all about comparing different SaaS products and deciding which one is the best fit for their needs.
There are various factors that your lead will consider when making this decision.
Price is usually one of those factors. They’ll want to find a SaaS product that’s affordable for their business.
Another is the features of your SaaS solution. They want to find a product that has all the features they need.
The size of the company is also an important factor. Your lead will want to find a SaaS solution that’s suitable for their company size.
So how do you help them decide whether or not your SaaS product is the best fit for them?
You need to show them how it compares to the other products out there.
You can do this by publishing case studies, doing a feature showdown, or creating comparison charts.
Case studies are a great way to show your leads how your SaaS product has helped other people in the real world.
They’ll be able to see the results that you were able to achieve for other businesses and they’ll be more likely to trust you.
What’s more, if the customers in your case studies have the exact same problems as your customers do, it can serve as social proof. It may help them feel more confident about buying your product.
A feature showdown is a great way to help your leads decide which SaaS product is the best fit for them.
In a feature showdown, you’ll compare and contrast the features of two different SaaS products. This will help your leads see which one has the features that best fit with their pain points.
Comparison charts are a great way to show your leads how your SaaS product compares to the competition.
You can list the features of each SaaS product and then compare them side-by-side. This will help your leads see which product is the best fit for their needs.
I know that sounds a lot like a feature showdown, but comparison charts are more extensive.
A comparison chart may compare your SaaS solution to more than one competitor. What’s more, it can also consider aspects of SaaS products other than features.
These include pricing, access to customer support, integrations, and data security.
Stage #6: Purchase
Now, this is the moment you’ve been working and waiting for. Your lead is now ready to buy your product.
At this stage, you need to make sure that you have a smooth purchase transaction and onboarding process.
A Seamless Purchase Transaction
Your purchase transaction should be smooth and easy to complete. The last thing you want is for your lead to abandon the purchase process.
Make sure that you have a clear and concise checkout system and that all the information your lead needs is readily available.
Also, see to it that your sales team is ready to respond just in case your new customer hits a snag in completing the purchase.
A Smooth Onboarding Process
Your onboarding process is also an important part of the purchase stage. It should cover everything that your new customer needs to know in order to get started with your SaaS solution.
Make sure that your onboarding process is easy to follow and that your customer support team is always ready to assist your new user.
Another way to make your onboarding process easier is to provide on-demand tutorial articles or videos. That way, your customer can get the help they need without having to wait for support.
Providing your new customers with an intuitive onboarding process will give you a good start with them. It’s a huge factor that determines whether or not they stay with you for a long time.
Speaking of keeping your customers for a long time…
Stage #7: Retention
For traditional businesses, the sales funnel may end at the Purchase stage. But not for SaaS. Once your lead becomes a customer, you need to work hard to keep them for as long as possible.
This is where the Retention stage comes in.
At this stage, you need to make sure that you’re providing enough value to your customer so they don’t feel the need to switch to another SaaS product.
How can you do that?
By providing continuous value through your content marketing strategy, customer support, and product updates.
Even More Content
Yes, content is still one of the keys to keeping your customers and lowering your churn.
This time, your content marketing strategy should be geared towards helping them make the most out of your SaaS product.
You can do this by creating tutorial articles, how-to guides, and case studies
Make sure that your content is helpful and relevant to your customer’s needs. That way, they’ll keep experiencing more value out of their subscription to your SaaS product.
Your customer support team should be equipped to handle customer inquiries and provide solutions to their problems.
Make sure that they’re always available to help and that they have the necessary resources to do so.
The Right Product Updates
You should also provide regular product updates to your customers. This will show them that you’re committed to making your SaaS solution the best it can be.
It will also give them a reason to stick with you for the long haul.
What’s more, technology is at the heart and soul of SaaS. That means trends change easily and quickly. AI and mobility have been the trend for a while now. Who knows what would be next?
You need to keep up with the trends and changes if you want to retain your customers in the long run.
Stage #8: Advocacy
Finally, we reach the Advocacy stage. At this point, your customers have become so happy with your SaaS product that they’re not just using it, but also promoting it to their friends and colleagues.
This is the ultimate goal of any SaaS company.
So how can you achieve this?
Three things: a high-quality product, a rockstar customer success team, and a supportive SaaS community.
A High-Quality Product
Have you ever seen a movie that you enjoyed so much that you can’t stop telling your friends about it?
That’s what you want your customers to feel about your SaaS product. You want them to be so happy with it that they can’t stop talking about it.
And the way to do that is by providing a high-quality product. One that’s easy to use and meets the needs of your target market.
What’s more, you need to listen to your customers’ feedback and incorporate it into your product roadmap. That way, you can show them that you care about their opinion and their needs.
Your product is the main key to achieving customer advocacy. So make sure that you’re putting in the effort to create a high-quality product that addresses your customer’s exact needs.
A Rockstar Customer Success Team
Your customer success team is another key to achieving this Advocacy stage. They’re the ones who will make sure that your customers are getting the most value out of your SaaS product.
They need to be knowledgeable about your SaaS solution and be able to solve any problem that your customer may have.
Plus, they need to be responsive and always available to help in as many channels as possible. They shouldn’t just be available through email. Your customers should also be able to reach them through phone or live chat.
The more customer success channels that you have, the better.
A Supportive SaaS Community
Last but not least, you need to have a supportive SaaS community. This is one of the most powerful tools in fostering brand loyalty and advocacy among SaaS businesses right now.
In fact, one of the current trends in SaaS involves leveraging SaaS communities both to acquire customers and boost loyalty. It’s called the community-led growth model.
Anyway, your SaaS community is where your users can go to ask for help and advice from other users who are using the same SaaS product as them.
It’s also a great place for them to learn about new features and trends in the SaaS industry.
The more active and engaged your SaaS community is, the better. You want your customers to feel like they’re part of a community that’s helping them get the most out of your product.
Final Thoughts About The SaaS Sales Funnel Stages
Knowing your different SaaS sales funnel stages is essential for any SaaS company.
By understanding the concepts and goals for each stage, you would know what to do in it. You would also know which metrics you can use to measure your performance.
We also talked about some of the best practices for each stage. But keep in mind that these are just general guidelines. You should always tailor your approach to fit the unique needs of your business and your target market.
You never know. You could even be a pioneer for a future SaaS trend.
For more guides and strategies on growing your SaaS company, check out our blog here.