5 Most Crucial SaaS Sales Top Of Funnel Marketing Programs
Most of the SaaS companies that ever existed have relied on their sales processes in order to grow. After all, that is the part of their business that is responsible for acquiring more customers.
Sure, some growth trends today, like the product-led growth model, don’t involve much of a sales process. But having a sales process is still crucial for a lot of SaaS companies.
If you’re curious, the product-led growth model focuses your resources on developing your product so well that people would talk about it even without you asking them to. It also banks on targeting end-users and designing your product around their needs.
While that may work for some SaaS companies like Calendly and Slack, it’s not really for everyone.
Especially for B2B SaaS businesses that target executives and decision-makers, sales-driven growth is still the way to go.
And one of the most important things for a sales team is to have a sales funnel. The SaaS sales funnel is the process that your company goes through in order to identify, qualify, and convert potential customers.
The SaaS sales funnel organizes your sales process, breaks it down into manageable stages, and makes it easier to track and improve sales performance.
In this blog post, we are going to talk about the things you can do to make your sales funnel at the very first stage. This is called the top of the funnel (TOFU).
Yes, I know that sounds a lot like a soy-based snack we know and love. But for now, let’s focus on the TOFU that will grow your customer base, not your belly.
What Is The Top Of The Funnel?
From the name itself, it is the very first stage in the SaaS sales funnel.
You see, most SaaS businesses have three stages in their sales funnels: the top, the middle, and the bottom of the funnels.
You could even add post-purchase stages like adoption, retention, and advocacy since they are also important parts of the SaaS buyer’s journey.
For a clearer context of what TOFU is, let’s compare it to the other SaaS sales funnel stages.
Top Of The Funnel (TOFU)
This stage of the SaaS sales funnel is also called the Awareness stage.
In this stage, your potential customer doesn’t even fully understand their pain points yet, much less know what SaaS solutions would address them.
That’s where you come in.
The awareness stage focuses on introducing your brand and educating your prospects about the problems they are experiencing.
You don’t have to talk about your product right away. In fact, being too aggressive might even put your potential customers off.
Middle Of The Funnel (MOFU)
Now that doesn’t sound as nice as the first stage.
But what is nice is getting your newly generated leads to the MOFU or the Consideration stage.
Once your potential customers have become more aware of their problem, they will start looking for a solution. However, they don’t know exactly what kind of SaaS product would best fit their needs.
This is where the MOFU comes in.
In this stage, you’ll need to talk about your product and how it can solve their problem. You’ll also need to start qualifying them as leads and see if they are a good fit for your solution.
You can do this by asking more detailed questions about their needs and what they are looking for in a product.
If they match your ideal customer profile (ICP), then you can proceed to the next stage.
But if they don’t, then you might want to consider disqualifying them.
Bottom Of The Funnel (BOFU)
This is the last stage of the sales funnel. It’s also called the Decision stage.
At this point, your lead is already convinced about what kind of SaaS solution would serve them best. But they are still deciding between competing brands.
So this is the stage where you try to prove that your SaaS product is the best in the business so that they would choose your SaaS product.
Top Of The Funnel Goals
To better understand the different TOFU marketing efforts that work best in the Awareness stage, we first need to understand its goals.
Some of these goals include the following:
- Build brand awareness
- Foster trust and establish authority
- Engage potential customers
Let’s talk about these goals in detail.
Build Brand Awareness
The first goal of the top of the funnel is to build brand awareness.
In this stage, you want to introduce your brand to your potential customers and make them familiar with it.
You can do this by creating helpful content pieces that are relevant to their needs.
For example, if you are a SaaS company that provides marketing automation tools, then you can create blog posts and articles about marketing tips and strategies.
This will help you reach out to your target audience and introduce them to your brand down the road.
Foster Trust and Establish Authority
The second goal of TOFU is to foster trust and establish topical authority.
In the Awareness stage, you want to make sure that your potential customers trust you and see you as an authority in your industry.
You can do this by creating content that is trustworthy and reliable.
For example, you can share data and statistics from credible sources, or write guest posts on credible websites. And make sure that your facts are accurate and that your recommendations are sound.
This will help you establish trust and topical authority with your target audience.
Engage Potential Customers
The third goal of TOFU is to engage potential customers.
You want to get them interested in what you have to offer and make them want more. You can do this by creating content that is interesting and valuable to them. Of course, your content has to be credible and authoritative. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun to read, right?
This will help you engage with your target audience and eventually get them interested in what you have to offer.
Now that we know the goals of TOFU, let’s take a look at some of the different marketing efforts you can do to achieve these goals.
TOFU Marketing Program #1: Content Marketing
While talking about the goals of the Awareness stage of the SaaS sales funnel, you may have noticed that the word “content” was mentioned several times.
That’s because content marketing is one of the most effective TOFU marketing programs or strategies for SaaS businesses.
You see, SaaS products and the problems they solve are very technical in nature. So when potential SaaS buyers encounter a pain point in their lives or their businesses, they turn to online content for help.
They look for blogs, videos, or any type of information that can help them make their lives better.
That’s where you come in.
As a SaaS business, you can provide that information to your potential customers. And you can do that through the following content types:
- Educational blog posts
Let’s talk about them one by one.
Educational Blog Posts
The most common type of content that you’ll find at the top of the funnel is educational blog posts.
Running a blog site is relatively sustainable since blog posts are easier to create and publish compared to other content types.
Blog posts are also a great way to introduce your brand to your potential customers and help them learn more about their pain points. Plus, they are an effective way to engage potential customers and get them interested in what you have to offer.
You can write blog posts about a variety of topics, but make sure that they are relevant to your target audience.
For example, if you are a SaaS company that provides SEO tools, then you can write blog posts about SEO tips and strategies.
Infographics are another great way to educate your potential customers about their pain points.
They are visually appealing and easy to understand, which makes them more likely to be shared on social media.
Like blog posts, your infographics have to be relevant to your potential customer’s pain points.
For example, let’s say you’re offering a customer relationship management (CRM) tool.
You could create an infographic or flowchart that explains the different stages of the sales pipeline. It can also show the different activities that you can do to nurture their leads in each of the pipeline stages.
What’s more, you can also add infographics to your blog posts. Not only will it make your articles more aesthetically pleasing. It can also simplify thoughts and concepts that words cannot explain concisely.
E-books are another great way to educate your potential customers about their pain points.
They are longer than blog posts and infographics, which means that you have more space to cover a topic in-depth.
E-books are also a great way to turn your prospects into actual leads. You can offer them for free in exchange for the customer’s contact information.
Once you have their contact information, you can add them to your email list and send them more content pieces that are relevant to their interests and pain points.
If you’re looking for a way to reach out to potential customers who are too busy to read blog posts or watch videos, then consider creating podcasts.
Podcasts are audio files that you can listen to while you’re driving, working out, or doing anything else that doesn’t require your full attention.
Since they are audio files, you can also easily create transcripts of them so that people who prefer to read can do so.
That way, you can reuse your podcast episodes as blog posts. You can also do the reverse and turn your blog posts into podcast episodes.
Another thing that makes podcasts extra engaging to potential customers is the possibility of inviting an industry expert or influencer.
Try to imagine getting a CEO or founder of a successful business to speak in your podcast. Imagine the brand awareness that you can build if that happens.
Like e-books, you can offer podcasts for free in exchange for the customer’s contact information. Once you have their contact information, you can add them to your email list and send them more content pieces that are relevant to their interests and pain points.
Videos are another great way to educate your potential customers about their pain points.
They are engaging and easy to consume, which makes them a great way to introduce potential customers to your brand and product.
You can create short videos that cover a topic in-depth or you can create long videos that act more like on-demand courses or webinars.
Just like other content formats, make sure that your videos are relevant to your target audience.
Like infographics, you can also add videos to your blog posts. That would give an even more engaging and dynamic feel to your articles.
What’s more, just like podcasts, you can repurpose your videos as blog posts and vice versa.
Another thing you can do with your videos is to upload them on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
That way, you can reach a wider audience and introduce them to your brand.
Webinars are live online presentations that you can give to potential customers.
They usually are a great way to show off your product and get potential customers’ questions answered.
But since we’re still on the top of the funnel, your webinars should not be product-focused.
Instead, use them to educate potential customers about their pain points.
Like in podcasts, you can do this by having a panel of industry experts or by inviting CEOs and founders of successful businesses to speak in your webinars.
TOFU Marketing Program #2: Search Engine Optimization
Even if you create the highest quality of content out there, there’s still the matter of actually getting people to see it.
When you publish a new blog post, people won’t magically know that it exists. You need to put it on their radar. And the best way to do that is by search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is the process of optimizing your website and content so that they rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). That way, more people will see them and you’ll get more leads.
So how do you optimize your website and content for SEO?
There are a lot of SEO strategies that you can implement.
Some of the most common ones include:
- Adding your target keywords to your content
- Having the right meta titles and descriptions
- Linking out to other pages
- Link building
Let’s talk about each of them.
Adding Target Keywords To Your Content
One of the most basic SEO strategies is to add your target keywords to your content. That way, Google will know what your page is about and it will rank it higher in SERPs.
But don’t just add them for the sake of adding them. Make sure that they actually make sense in the context of your content.
Remember that you’re still going after the quality of your content. You can’t compromise that quality just to fit a keyword in. Awkward-sounding phrases might just be off-putting to your readers. It would end up hurting your SEO efforts.
So make sure that your keyword placements sound smooth and organic.
Another important thing you need to know about keywords is that you can’t just spam your whole blog post with them. That’s called keyword stuffing and it’s a black hat SEO technique.
Google will penalize your website for doing that. So don’t do it.
Having The Right Meta Titles And Descriptions
Another important factor that affects your SEO ranking is your meta titles and descriptions.
These are the short snippets of text that appear in SERPs next to your link.
They are the first things about your page that people see when they search for something on Google. That’s why it’s important to make them as compelling as possible so that people will click through to your page.
You can improve your meta titles and descriptions by adding your target keywords and making them catchy. Don’t make them too long either. They should be clear and concise in order to attract potential customers.
For meta titles, 50-60 characters should do nicely. As for meta descriptions, you should keep them around 150-160 characters long.
Linking Out To Other Pages
Another thing you can do to improve your SEO ranking is by linking out to other pages, either in your own website or others’ websites.
Adding these links in your pages would tell Google that these linked content are related to each other. What’s more, it would also tell your readers that you have a lot of credible sources for your content and that you really know what you’re talking about.
But don’t just link out to any page. Only link out to those that are relevant to your content. That way, you’ll be providing valuable information to your readers.
Moreover, link out only to high-quality and reliable websites. That would improve your SEO performance. On the flipside, linking out to low-quality and spammy pages would hurt your rankings.
This SEO practice would also benefit your readers. It would enable them to view more information and content without having to leave your page.
Another common SEO strategy is called link building. Link building is the process of acquiring links (also called backlinks) from other websites back to your own website. You can do this through various strategies like guest posting, finding unlinked mentions, and building partnerships with other content sites.
When other websites link to yours, Google counts it as a vote of confidence from those websites. It recognizes that your website is an authority on the topic. As a result, your website will rank higher in SERPs.
But here’s the thing: not just any link will do. You need to get links from high-quality websites if you want to improve your SEO ranking.
That’s because Google takes the quality of a website into account when determining its ranking. So if you have links from low-quality and toxic websites, Google may even penalize you.
TOFU Marketing Program #3: Social Media Marketing
One of the most popular marketing channels that SaaS businesses can use for TOFU marketing is social media.
The great thing about social media marketing is that it’s a great way to build brand awareness and create relationships with potential customers.
You can do this by publishing content that is relevant to your target audience on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
But of course, you don’t just stop at posting your content. Social media marketing is also about interacting with your audience.
You also need to react and respond to their comments. That way, you can initiate conversations and start building relationships with them.
If you’re trying to reach a B2C market or a B2B end-user buyer persona, popular platforms like Facebook and Instagram might be more effective for you.
But if you’re targeting executives, decision-makers, and high-ranking roles, LinkedIn might be a better platform for you.
That’s because LinkedIn is known as a professional networking site.
Another great way to use social media for TOFU is by running ad campaigns on it.
Ad campaigns allow you to target specific demographics and interests with your ads. That way, you’re sure that you’re reaching out to people who are interested in what you have to offer.
TOFU Marketing Program #4: Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the most timeless ways to generate and nurture SaaS leads. Time and time again, it has proven itself to be an effective way to reach out to potential customers.
That’s because email marketing allows you to communicate with your audience on a one-to-one basis. You can also send them content that is relevant to their interests and pain points.
But of course, in order for email marketing to be work in the first place, you need to have a list of email subscribers.
As we mentioned earlier, you can get people to subscribe to your list by offering them free content pieces like e-books, podcasts, and videos. You can also offer them discounts or free trials for your product.
Once you have their contact information, you can add them to your email list and start sending them relevant content.
But here’s the thing: You can’t just send them the same old content over and over again. Nor can you send one email template to all of your newly generated leads.
If you want to effectively engage your leads, you need to add a personal touch to your emails. What’s more, your emails have to lead to the actual sale.
For those goals, let’s talk about three email marketing strategies you can try: email list segmentation, personalized emails, and drip email campaigns.
Email List Segmentation
Email list segmentation is the process of dividing your email list into smaller segments based on demographics or interests.
That way, you can send out content that is specifically relevant to each group.
For example, let’s say you’re a SaaS business that sells software to a wide range of other business types. You can create a segment for your email list that consists of startups.
Then another segment would comprise larger companies.
Once you have their contact information, you can add them to a separate email list and start sending them content that is specifically relevant to their interests and needs.
Speaking of making your emails relevant to each segment…
Personalized emails are emails that are specifically tailored to a particular email list segment or even an individual lead.
They usually contain information about the lead’s interests and pain points.
That way, you can ensure that your content is relevant to them and that they’ll actually read it.
But how do you create a personalized email?
One way is by using a CRM tool like Salesforce or HubSpot.
These tools allow you to track your leads’ behavior and preferences.
That way, you can get an idea of what content is most relevant to them.
Once you have that data, you can use it to personalize your email content.
You can also use email marketing automation software like Mailchimp and AWeber. With them, you don’t even have to personalize each email yourself. These platforms can automatically do that.
Drip Email Campaigns
Just to be clear, this email marketing strategy doesn’t just apply to TOFU, but even the MOFU and BOFU stages.
A drip email campaign is an email marketing strategy where you send a series of automated emails to leads over a period of time.
The goal of a drip email campaign is to gradually nurture leads until they’re ready to buy.
This is done by sending them content that slowly progresses from a more subte and informative tone to an aggressive and sales-y tone.
Drip email campaigns usually last for about two to four weeks. Or even longer depending on your typical sales cycle length.
You can create a drip email campaign in most CRM tools or email marketing platforms today.
But before you do that, you need to come up with a lead nurturing strategy.
That means coming up with the content that your drip email campaign would use to gradually progress your lead into a customer.
Once you have those content pieces, you can start drafting your drip email campaign.
TOFU Marketing Program #5: Paid Ads
While organic methods are always best, sometimes you need to supplement your efforts with paid ads.
Paid ads can be a great way to get in front of your target audience quickly and easily.
But not all paid ads are created equally.
There are two types of paid ads: search engine advertising and social media advertising.
Search Engine Advertising
Search engine advertising is the process of using paid ads to show up in the SERPs.
The most common type of search engine advertising is through Google Ads.
It’s like a paid shortcut to SEO. With Google Ads, you create an ad and choose keywords that you want it to show up for.
And when someone searches for one of those keywords, your ad will show up in the search results. These kinds of ads usually take up first three results in the SERPs.
Social Media Advertising
We’ve touched a bit on this earlier. But social media advertising is the process of using paid ads to show up in social media feeds.
The most common type of social media advertising is through Facebook Ads. Although you can also have paid ads on other platforms like Twitter and Instagram.
With Facebook Ads, you create an ad and choose a target audience based on location, demographics, and interests.
When someone in that target audience sees your ad, they’ll be able to click on it and learn more about your product or service.
The top of the funnel is a critical stage in the saas sales funnel. It’s the stage where you first introduce leads to your product or service.
And it’s important to have a robust marketing program for it.
That means using a mix of organic and paid methods to reach your target audience.
In this article, we’ve talked about the five most crucial saas sales top of funnel marketing programs. We’ve also given you some tips on how to create each one.
So if you’re looking to beef up your saas sales top of funnel marketing efforts, then these are the programs you need to start using.
For more guides on growing your SaaS business, check out our SaaS marketing blog here.