Product marketing for SaaS businesses

The most Comprehensive Guide of Product Marketing for SaaS businesses

This product marketing guide helps CMOs, customer success managers, product-, email and content marketers at SaaS companies design their products for growth. How to choose a marketing model, how to design your product to convert more users and clients, and how to scale your business when needed.

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Fixing leaking conversion funnel

How to fix a leaking conversion funnel to decrease saas churn utilizing email automation

Fixing leaking conversion funnel

The phrase of conversion funnel normally used when you generate new leads. But – as Venturebeat explained it very well “SaaS companies are literally always selling, because they have to keep the customer from hitting the cancel button each month.” So the time has come to reframe the notion and start use it for existing customers as well! I’m about to show you an automated solution to fix a saas conversion funnel that’s leaking. But before that I want you to shout this loudly in an empty room (if possible)…

You’re crazy! Conversion funnel and churn rate are not connected at all

Firstly: I’m not crazy. (Well, according to my psychiatrist.)
Secondly: You’re wrong. And not because of that “everything is connected someway” bullshit. And not because I know these things better.
Just because Lincoln Murphy knows better. (By the way I think he is the person who is really insane. Insanely good.)

He said this:

“Your Ideal Customer Profile – ICP – dictates (or should dictate) everything from the features and functionality of the SaaS product you build, to the words you use and the emotion you invoke or tap into in your marketing.”

Bang – the gordian knot is cut!

So it is very important for every SaaS business owners, marketers and growth hackers to understand that from the first to the last touch, your conversion funnel influences churn rate.

  • If you generate low amount of leads – you won’t have enough data (well, if you sell high-ticket offers, it is not really true)
  • If you generate low quality leads – you’ll convert much less people and the converted people will have higher tendency to leave you
  • If you don’t nurture your leads – you’ll convert much less people and the converted people won’t be as loyal as if they would have been nurtured
  • If you don’t set up a good onboarding process – you’ll convert much less people
  • If you don’t have a good solution that fits your prospects’ needs – your churn rate will be high as hell
  • If you don’t upsell your clients – you won’t be able to convert promoters for your business

See? Your conversion funnel is a unified journey that covers everything from the visitors to your most loyal customers. Marketing doesn’t end when you convert your leads to clients (many people handles it separately – success managers are those who tries to reduce churn rate).
Saas conversion funnel stages

In addition, you can read about the essential steps and tools for creating the journey in an article posted by Nudgespot (an effective in-app messaging platform).

Identifying leaks on the first section of the conversion funnel

I hope your offer, your core product is great. It’s your job to learn to utilize lean customer development, data analysis, and interpretation and fulfill your promises. So learning from the market is the best thing you can do – marketing without a good product and USP is nothing.

Let’s assume you have that. If not, stop reading this article because it’s really for companies that are at the stage to grow rapidly. Sorry guys – you should read Cindy Alvarez (Lean Customer Development), Lincoln Murphy, Neil Patel and lots of wise guys that have a lot of knowledge on the topic.

Now You, who stayed – check our example schematic conversion funnel below:

Conversion funnel example

As you can see in this example you distribute free giveaways, bonus and gated contents boosted with blog contents that could be interesting for your buyer personas.

The prospect clicks on a banner, ad, text link and goes to a landing page. He gives his email, downloads the hook then gets to a thank you page. Where he is offered to start a trial that is connected.  If he accepts the offer, he starts the trial and then he can upgrade and pay for the service.

Now let’s stop here. Do you see where this funnel is leaking? Check again the two pictures on a merged illustration:

Leaking saas conversion funnel stages

As you can see this funnel completely misses the nurturing and qualifying process! What will this cause? High churn rate! You probably know that according to Marketingsherpa 25% of the leads buy immediately, 25% buys but 50% would buy just later!

Leaking saas conversion-funnel

So that’s one thing that you can convert 25% of your leads to paying customers (if you are fortunate) but you leave big money on the table by not trying to convert the rest 50% too.

And it is also important that simply selling even your trial to these big percent of leads is simply not a solution. Maybe they will start it and interact with it but they are not at the right decision stage or/and not educated well enough to be converted. Stats support this too: 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance. (Stats by Marketingsherpa again.)

So if you ask me what will decrease your churn rate, one of the most important component stems in the early stages, BEFORE your users or clients are even converted! This is why lead nurturing is one of the most important part of your marketing efforts: not only will convert more leads but will decrease your churn rate later on. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

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Fixing leaks in the first section of the conversion funnel

Now that you see the leaking points in your upper part of your conversion funnel and also understand the real value of lead nurturing, the time has come to take the right steps and fix the bugs.

How can you do that?

Fixing leaking conversion funnel

Just by adding lead nurturing workflows that try to help leads who are bouncing off your landing pages move down your funnel. Email sending is a very cost effective solution but you can think of social media messages, calls, personal communication too.

The secret sauce is not very suprising: give them a loveable brand and marketing, gifts, articles, education to the challenges they face, the solution you offer them. Be benefit focused. This is where personalization comes in.

I’m not talking about that type of personalization when you send them an email with their name, industry or any similar information in it. That is important to but please, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can do much better than this.

Real personalization is based on data: the more you know about your leads the more you can craft your messages. This is why big data is so trendy these days. But you don’t have to hire a data scientist to start this process. You can start collecting data just by tagging your leads and following their interests (what type of hooks did they download, what type of emails did they open or clicked, what type of articles do they read, what type of buyer persona are they).

The real personalization is when you offer these contents according to the lead’s behavior, actions. Nothing new. And the real value comes out of personalization is when you can automate all these processes. Because until that you can collect data and send personalized messages but not at the riight time – especially when you are handling high volume of leads.

Therefore automation will help you a lot not just collecting data and sending out emails according to it automatically but it will send the messages at the right time. Naturally only if you write your automated workflows the right way!

Introducing the automatic nurturing system through your whole conversion funnel

I know it will be a little bit complex but don’t be afraid, you just need to put a little effort in it to understand it. Not rocket science. The deeper you understand the process the more you will be able to use to your own solution.

The whole automated workflow system of the conversion funnel looks like this:

Automizy saas conversion funnel automation

Here are the steps:

  1. Connect welcome message to every free content (ebook for example) you offer and say that you will send articles and other free contents that are realted to the downloaded hook
  2. Send the related articles and build up your brand in your emails (3 gifts are just example, you have to test how many information you need to provide in your specific industry)
  3. Qualify your leads and choose the ones who are ready (based on their engagement level), you can also try to convert lower engaged leads but only if they are new leads (so they haven’t recieved any offer from you yet to start trial – later on I will give you an explanation why)
  4. Offer leads your trial – not converted leads go to a segmentation process
  5. Give user onboarding to trial users, success milestones are important and use API calls for onboarding emails as much as you can
  6. Convert trial users to paying customers – those who are don’t convert go to the segmentation process
  7. Give upsell opportunities to the clients (using API calls mainly – Buffer for example use client successes as an upselling opportunity – I highly recommend this approach)
  8. By continuosly satisfying your clients and make them  really feel the benefit and value of your product you create loyal clients
  9. Promoters are your diamond users, they will be the result of your attention, good contents, personalized messages and friendly brand

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Segmentation – the soul of your nurturing system

So you can see that there are 3 ways a lead can go in to a segmentation process (later on I will explain what it is exactly):

  • those who are “nurtured leads” but not qualified leads and already recieved the trial offer from you but haven’t accepted it
  • those who are firstly got the offer from your to be trial users but haven’t accepted it
  • those who were trial users but didn’t give you their card number

These people show interest in free contents but they are not in the right decision stage or just didn’t recieve the right message (because they might be another buyer persona). Therefore you need to segment these people and split them according to their real interest.

So here is how you can do that: just by giving them different free, gated contents. Yes, you make them opt-in again for another hook and you send them back to the beginning, entry point of your system.

Because content consumption can indicate the interests of a lead – therefore he will sort himself in to the right buyer persona. It may happen that he opts in for a content that doesn’t fit his persona, but by offering him more, free contents, he’ll find his place eventually.

But only if you offer your contents to your leads like this:

  • First hook (that is relevant to buyer persona 1)
  • Second hook (that is relevant to buyer personas 2)
  • and so on.

Do you see now? Every micro-funnel focuses on different buyer personas – because every buyer persona has different needs, interests, behaviour, etc. Let them choose the most interesting hooks falone and sort themselves in to different buyer personas.

And now I give you an answer to the question: why would you offer your trial to not qualified leads if they opted-in firstly: you don’t want to miss your opportunity therefore you offer it. But if they leaves or doesn’t accept the trial, it means that they are not in the right decision stage or were not  sorted in to the right buyer persona – therefore you give them the opportunity to do that.

You don’t loose your churned leads and trial users you just act according to their behaviour. This is behaviour based segmentation that is automatic.

Reactivation – trying to win back interest

Reactivation for a  trial user who is slipping away is a little bit different than a not interested lead. But they have one thing in common: You want to grab their attention and win back their interest.

In case of leads you’ll see that certain percentage of people don’t open your mails. If we speak about trial users, a certain amount of users log in but never log in again.

So hit them with short, strong messages (subject lines). Make them open an email. Then try to make them act on a link (that is an interesting article for example). Use logic: if they is on your list they should be interested in the thing you are speaking about. Use scarcity: you will delete them and never email again if they don’t act.

The goal of reactivation is to bring them back to the segmentation part. You can try to win back churned trial users to your software but to be honest, they are probably not in the right decision stage, probably not in the right buyer persona’s journey, and lot of other reasons may arise. Therefore I really suggest to convince them to segment themselves according to their interests.

Naturally there will be leads who can’t be reactivated – delete them for your list (or export their contact information to an excel file and send them a flash sale half or 1 one year later). It will increase deliverability and maintain the health of your email list.

Leaking conversion funnel is fixed theoretically

So this is what I call a conversion funnel that is not leaking.

But please, be honest to yourself. It takes time to do all of this. In addition, every business is different. Every industry is different. The things I shared with you is a framework that can help you build your lead generation funnel the right way. It’s your job to use it wisely.
You need to take into account your business model, your marketing tactics, and what type of marketing tools you use. And lots of other stuff… So I know from Guy Kawasaki that  “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” but it worths the effort.

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bad customer acquisition process

5 tips to screw up your whole customer acquisition process

Lead generation can be challenging but converting trial users into paying clients is even more challenging! According to MarketingSherpa, 7% conversion rate is avarage in SaaS businesses. But what are the key influencers of that specific number? What are the key parts of a good customer acquisition process? Here are the 4 parts where you can screw up your whole customer acquisition process.

bad customer acquisition process

Tip 1: Never target your buyer personas with your ads

You have to know that a good customer acquisition process starts when you gather the contact information of a visitor the first time. When you generate leads.

If your ads don’t target your buyer personas (you have at least one, don’t you?), you will pay for leads that are not interested in your product. How could you increase your trial onboarding process’s conversion rates if the leads that are pouring don’t care at all?

Yes, if you don’t advertise to the right people, you will convert low-quality leads and you’ll never convert them into paying customers.

HELP: Read this article on buyer personas

Tip 2: Don’t do lead nurturing!

According to Marketing Sherpa, “79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance.”Tweet: “79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance.”

Yes, you generate highly targeted leads but you don’t do automated lead nurturing. Therefore you will never know which leads are ready to buy and which aren’t. (This is why you should read this article on lead generation funnel.)

It means that you will offer your trial to those leads who are not in the right decision stage yet – so why would you think that you will be able to have a good customer acquisition process? Why would you think you can beat the 7% avarage conversion rate of your trial?

HELP: Read this article to write better welcome and brand introduction emails

Tip 3: Give terrible free trial experience

Oh yeah, now we arrived to this point. Let’s say that you attract the right visitors and convert the right leads and you started to use automated lead nurturing workflows for your customer acquisition process.

Now the time has come to give your leads a good experience with your trial. It means that your product has to be really valuable AND understandable. If you find that your leads don’t understand your product and – what’s even worse – they don’t understand the benefits you offer, you failed. You will lose a big percentage of your leads. And you will lose all the investments you made in your marketing funnel.

The desired outcome is a notion which is the most important part of your product. It consists of 2 parts: required outcome and appropriate experience.

The required outcome is nothing more than the thing your client wants to do. If your trial can’t show the leads that they can achieve their desired outcome if they pay for your service, you loose.

In addition, if you can’t give your leads appropriate experience, you will also loose! This differentiates your service from other services. There are lots of similar solutions out there and these offers solve just the same thing you solve. Why would anyone choose you if you don’t differ?

So always track your leads activities when they are in your product. UX is one of the most important things after you validated your product and it solves a real problem. So please understand what Lincoln Murphy (the god of SaaS trials) says: “When it comes to your SaaS free trial, complicated isn’t cool…it kills conversions!”

Lead Generation Funnel Cheat Sheet

Tip 4: Take your own success definition into account

And last but not least: your onboarding will have a big effect on your customer acquisition process. If you screw this up you will lose lots of valuable customers.

No, it’s not a technical onboarding. It’s not just you show your prospects your product. Not at all. It’s more than that! You provide value to them as fast as you can!

First of all, you should ask yourself: what do I need to tell the leads to give “initial success”? Not from your point of view. What is considered as success for your lead? If you can give them proper onboarding and make them reach their initial success, you won, because the next logical step will be to pay for your service!

You have to offer your users to pay for your service as they reach their success milestones. Therefore automation plays a big part here again! You can send in-app messages, emails at the right time to the right person with the right offer.

Tip 5: Never automate your customer acquisition process

As Lincoln Murphy said: “The Seeds of Churn are Planted Early”. It means that you have to have a holistic approach to your leads and clients in order to create the better performing onboarding process.

And if you can see the whole customer acquisition process, you will know which and where you should automate to be more efficient. But just for the sake of marketing automation, here are examples which should be automated:

  • Lead nurturing – behaviour based email communication is indispensable part of your activities
  • Onboarding – trigger based email communication and inapp messaging

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what is saas marketing

What is saas marketing?

I know that SaaS marketing is challenging… Why? Because it is pretty difficult to sell something that can’t be seen, that is continuously changing day-by-day, that is interesting only for people (or companies) with specific knowledge. This is why I try to clarify in this article what is saas marketing.

what is saas marketing

Well then, what is saas marketing?

As Neil Patel stated (an awesome guy at Kissmetrics) you should have only two things at your disposal:

  1. Awesome products
  2. Killer support

Well, I agree completely – if you don’t have great stuff, nobody will buy from you. And if you don’t help them use it, they will leave you. Sounds logical. Although it is a little bit superficial and I really don’t agree with the statement: if you have these two elements, you will succeed. There is NO product that sells itself.

You may disagree, but before I tell you my arguments, I will explain what is saas marketing.

The sales cycle is relatively short

As you may experience, the sales cycles are very short – compared to an average, 12 months long selling procedure that is usual for example in B2B.  You do almost everything online, even you bind your contracts there. There are exceptions of course but the real advantage of a SaaS business is this. Because your software is cloud-based, so you everyone can reach it and pay for it monthly or annually automatically.

I really don’t want to go into the details of SaaS business models (you can read it in this article if you are interested in it). But you should know that there are 3 working models that really works:

  • Self-Service
  • Transactional
  • Enterprise

The more your SaaS company goes toward self-service, the sales velocity will be higher, the more you go toward transactional, the more the profit will increase per client and the more you go toward enterprise, the higher the value of each sale will become.

content for saas marketing

SaaS companies’ information is their weapon

I’m surprised that lots of companies don’t care about the information they own. As you are a marketer or business owner, you gather your knowledge from different blog pages. Don’t be surprised that these blog contents are usually crafted by other marketers. So if you ask me “what is SaaS marketing content creation”, I will answer that it’s part of it.

There are lots of companies out there who firstly want you to try their product, secondly, want you to read their contents that are written based on the topics you prefer. It’s naturaly that they do this: if you are waiting to their next article – even if you haven’t been converted yet – you will much likely to become a client when you reach the next decision stage.

A great example is HubSpot:

hubspot - what is saas marketing

Saas businesses have long-term clients

Most of your profit comes from the clients you actually own – that means you can reach a stage when you don’t have to focus much on lead generation.

This is why client retention metrics are one of the most important rates you have to track. (I really suggest you to read Lincoln Murphy’s insanely good article about the Dollar Revenue Retention that gives you a very good overview about the calculations for the 3 working business model for SaaS companies).

But all in all, it’s true that there will be a (or you already reached that) stage when you’ll focus on retention and not acquisition.

Lead Generation Funnel Cheat Sheet

Giving services for free

Only SaaS companies are choosing the marketing strategy when you give your product for free. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an X-day free trial, a freemium model, limited version free, etc. What matters: it’s free.

So this is the process you make your prospects go through:

  1. You attract them
  2. Nurture them
  3. Lead them to your trial
  4. Give them onboarding
  5. Make them pay
  6. Increase their value by upselling, cross-selling
  7. Make them suggest you to others

But as you can see, giving away free trials are part of a strategy, not standalone things.

trial buffer

So is that all?

No. And this is where I disagree with Neil Patel fir example. Because he thinks only about running businesses that proved and reached product/market fit and acquired enough customers.

But what about the companies who are at the stage of acquiring new leads, new trial users and new clients? What is SaaS marketing for them? Well, as you may know, growing rapidly is very important! 

At this stage retention is not as important as lead generation. How could you get statistical data on your trial users if you don’t have enough? How could you develope your product if you don’t have enough feedback?

Now. What is SaaS marketing then?

SaaS marketing has different stages. And I’m sure you will agree that acquiring new clients IS very important and if you don’t have enough promoters and you couldn’t start your viral growing engine, you have to go with a well working marketing strategy!

So here are the steps you should follow if you are a SaaS marketer:

  1. Create specific contents (articles, ebooks, infographics, videos, etc.) related to the pain points your product intents to solve
  2. Put your ebooks, case studies (etc.) on landing pages
  3. Advertise these landing pages on social media, on adwords, on your (or influencers’) blog page
  4. Ask for the contact information of your visitors if they want your free content
  5. Nurture them with well-established lead nurturing campaigns that can consist of automated email workflows, email marketing, social media communication, phone call
  6. If a lead knows enough about you, you can offer him to register to your trial
  7. Convert them to paying customers with onboarding (automated emails, in-app messages, etc.)

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marketing segmentation strategy

Copy&paste this marketing segmentation strategy we use at Automizy

As a marketer or growth hacker you are responsible for attracting more and more companies, generate more leads and clients. I know it’s a difficult task… althought you can increase your efficiency by utlizing a marketing segmentation strategy to segment the traffic you generated the right way. Here is our solution, this is how we started and do today. Copy & paste, it’s working for every type of SaaS companies. Or just grab the pieces that can be useful to you. Your call!

marketing segmentation strategy

Keep. It. Simple.

When you set up your marketing segmentation strategy, keep in mind that you will learn and know more about your prospects and customers as your business grows. So keep it simple, don’t over complicate at the first time.

Let’s take our basic approach as an example – how we started it at Automizy (yes, we are a SaaS startup too).

So as you may know, we offer an email marketing automation solution for SaaS startups. We have different buyer personas, like growth hackers/marketers, business owners, marketing consultants, etc.

We don’t do any sales, so we don’t have a team for that purpose. We believe in inbound marketing – educate, help, educate, help, educate, help… So what we mainly do is maintaining conversations with our clients and possible companies to find real pain points – therefore we can give good service that really helps and solves real pain. Hell, I just shared with you our marketing and product development strategy…

But enough of self-congratulation, let’s move on with our offers that are very important for our marketing segemntation strategy: We have a training course and 3 packages of our marketing automation software for SaaS companies.

First step of marketing segmentation strategy: 5 basic segments

So it’s simple: we segmented our prospects and clients according to our offers.

marketing segmentation strategy

So we created an e-mail list for leads, for those who started our training course, for those, who started our 99 USD/month offer (package 1), who started our 199 USD/month offer (package 2) and who asked for customized offer (package 3).

Yes, this is how we launched. Super simple, understandable. The problem of it: does not allow us send personalized messages.

Ultimate Guide to Marketing Automation

Second step of marketing segmentation strategy: 5 segments for every buyer personas

Then we started to segment our leads and prospects according to their persona profile too.

marketing segmentation strategy 2

As you can see it created 15 segments for us.

You may ask, how can we define who belongs to which persona type? The answer is relatively easy. If you are a marketer, growthhacker, you probably will consume more content on this topic (persona 1). A business owner probably will read articles on business development and startup growth topics (persona 2).

But if the history of a lead is not very clear, you can still use a “splitting email series” that’s goal is to make people opt-in again with more detailed information about them using forms or just make them opt-in for the topics that are more relevant to them. Easy-peasy.

Problem: still not very detailed and doesn’t take into account the cold leads or clients with low engagement.

Third step of marketing segmentation strategy: Micro lists based on “hooks”

As Automizy is a big fan of inbound marketing, we create lots of – hopefully – valuable contents. One part of these contents are the hooks. Valuable information for SaaS companies on a 5-step hack for generating more leads.

But we have a lot of hooks. And every hook shares different insights. Therefore we have to personalize our contents according to our leads’ and prospects’ needs – this way we don’t spam them but send only information related to the topic they are interested in. So we created a micro list for every hook.

marketing segmentation strategy 3

As you can see, from now on we started to know who downloaded which hook. Why is it important? Because we could give them the right content that is relevant to their interest. I personally would be angry if I would receive burger ads or recipes when I’m trying to loose weight… or I would like to generate more leads but somebody wants me to read articles on customer retention… You know how disturbing it can be.

Everybody who joined a microlist gets it as a “tag” which follows him all the way the funnel. This way we will have knowledge about these (a positive side for measuring the effectiveness of our marketing funnels):

  • which hooks convert more leads into actual clients (just because your landing converts a lot of leads that doesn’t mean you will be able to convert them into buyers as well),
  • which are the most interesting topics among our clients,
  • which are the bigger pain points of our clients,
  • what can we offer as an upsell for our clients (by offering hooks that they haven’t downloaded yet.)

Sounds great, doesn’t, it? But it still misses things later on…

Lead Generation Funnel Cheat Sheet

Fourth step of marketing segmentation strategy: Cold, warm and hot leads

Just because someone started our digital marketing training course, it doesn’t mean he will finish it. So we still need to segment leads at this stage according to their engagement phase. This is the next part how we segment our leads:

marketing segmentation strategy 4

Now you can ask: how we determine which lead is cold, warm or hot? The answer is easy again althought it can be specific in your case beacuse you not necessarily use online training courses. But in Automizy’s case here are the definitions:

  • Cold leads: haven’t logged in 2 weeks ago and before that logged in only 2 times (or less)
  • Warm leads: logged in 3 days ago and watched videos, before that logged in 3-5 times after subscription
  • Hot leads: logged in 1 days ago and watched videos, before that logged in 6-7 times after subscription

Fifth step of marketing segmentation strategy: Slipping away, user, prepared to upgrade

And we continued to develope our segmentation. We started to track our clients in package 1. Client retention is a number 1 challenge in a SaaS company’s life: but instead of blindly tracking only metrics month by month we started to segment our clients into three sets.

marketing segmentation strategy 5

  • User is the segment of companies who just started to use our service and keeps on using it weekly (not necessarily logging in but using at least 1 automation workflow).
  • “Slipping away” is the category for the companies who stopped to use our service. For example who doesn’t have any active automated workflows and hasn’t logged in for 2 weeks.
  • “Prepared to upgrade” is the class of companies who are probably growing, have more and more leads and almost reached their package’ limits.

Sixth step of marketing segmentation strategy: Slipping away, ready to downgrade, user, promoter

Our second package is for companies that are growing fast and want to raid over a market. This is what usually startups do, right?

So we created 4 classes for them.

marketing segmentation strategy 5

  • Those companies, who don’t use our service, so don’t have an active behaviour-based email workflow and haven’t logged in for 2 weeks are in the “Slipping away” category.
  • Next is the “Ready to downgrade” category. Well, you know, it may happen that a startup needs pivoting or some kind of change that doesn’t let it grow for a few months. Why should a company pay for a service that doesn’t fit his goals? Therefore we actively ask companies to tell wether they want to downgrade if we see that they suddenly stopped sending out emails in high volume.
  • The third one is the “user” segment. The same as in package 1 segment.
  • The last segment of our clients are the promoters. These companies usually help us to grow and we help them to grow faster in return. (It’s possible that a specific percent of your customers are those companies who are really satisfied with you, pays you the most and are not simply customers but more of partners instead.)

Key takeaways, sum up

So all in all, you need is to create your marketing segmentation strategy according to your SaaS company’s stage. As you scale up you will need more and more sophisticated segmentation strategy. The basic segmentation approaches are:

  • Interest based segmentation (according to hooks)
  • Behaviour based segmentation (open rate, click rate)
  • Subscription history based segmentation (when did the lead subscribed)

So go, think about your own business now, copy what you like and start growing your marketing funnel right now!

>>Click here if you want to download our excel template for free (no opt-in)!<<

Marketing segmentation strategy template

lead generation funnel

Lead generation funnel hack: the buyer converter concept for SaaS!

You check your metrics and you see that your stats are around the benchmarks. But you are a startup, aren’t you? You should have much higher stats, shouldn’t you?! Here is an approach for funnel optimization that can produce crazy numbers. Introducing the lead generation funnel concept.

lead generation funnel

Optimization starts after big traffic is generated, doesn’t it?

To put it in a nutshell: Yes.
To go in details: No.

The question is, what do you mean by “optimization”? When you measure and measure and test and test? Yes, basically yes. But please, think about it: if you don’t have a well-designed lead generation funnel you can optimize for your metrics you won’t see crazy growth continuously.

Therefore I think the optimization process starts with designing your marketing and sales – lets call it a lead generation funnel. A funnel that is good for later optimization. Because if you don’t have an optimal pipeline that is able to serve your goals, you will never succeed.

So you can be a startup in the early or in later stage this is a very important article for you.

startup stages

The lead generation funnel concept

You have a concept, an MVP, a working product. It’s very important to understand and start creating your product along this lead generation funnel concept because it’s not only important for your marketing strategy but it can highly affect your product development.

Why? Because as a startup you should have flexibility and you should be able to adapt your business concept, your actual product according to your market from the beginning. It gives you a big head start.

So you have a Main Product. Your main product is your core offer, the service your SaaS business rely on mainly. You can solve problems or ease the pains of your target audience. Hopefully, you know all of these or at least you have assumptions and you use lean customer development to validate your hypothesises. (I suggest you to read Cindy Alvarez’s book on Lean Customer Development if you haven’t done it yet.)

The next logical step is to think from your customers’ perspective. You have to start to build up your buyer personas if you haven’t done this yet. And with this knowledge, you create your first “Buyer Converter Product”.

lead generation funnel

What is a “Buyer Converter Product”?

It’s a piece of your product that gives a specific answer to your prospects’ specific problem. It can be a feature of your product or something that is related to your product.

We here at Automizy know that marketers and business owners at SaaS startups usually struggle with marketing, especially with lead generation and nurturing. Let me advertise a little bit our service (but not to sell you just to give you our example of a buyer converter product): One of our strongest features  in our software that it has built-in knowledge, workflow and email templates that help you get the most out of your own business, lead nurturing and lead generation processes.

But as I mentioned you can use one of your features for this purpose. For example, you create a very specific “product” from your core SaaS offer.

A good buyer converter product has a surprisingly low price with high perceived value. Yes, the low price doesn’t mean you should give your customers lower value. The higher the value you provide, the better the relationship will be! But never give a complete solution, if they need that, they have to upgrade to your core product.

But to give you another good example: Hubspot’s Buyer Converter product. Their lead generation funnel looks like this:

  1. Hook: Free CRM like system (we know that it’s not a complete CRM system but can help a lot)
  2. Hook: Free sales software (misses lots of features)
  3. Buyer Converter: Upgraded sales software with incredibly low price (50 USD)
  4. Main Product: Their marketing software that is insanely expensive

So they give, give, make you accept an irrecusable offer that helps you on a specific topic (so you become a client) then you get their main offer, the marketing software itself.

Maybe you still think it’s crazy and you want me to answer your question: why should you do all of this. I will give you a very logical and understandable answer a little bit later but before that…

It’s time to create your hook

Now think about your buyer converter product. You need to create hooks that are related to it. The more specific your hook the better results you will get.

A hook, in this case, is related or piece of your buyer converter product. In our case, for example, it’s our “lead generation funnel cheat sheet”. Why? Because we explain this approach in details in our online course. And also it’s important for SaaS startup business owners and marketers to have an easy-to-use framework that will help them learn, grow and close more deals.

But you can create as many types of hooks as you want. You can have case studies, infographics, video, anything, really. The format is not important (later on you can experiment with the formats but firstly you should have something – that’s the only goal).

But the most important in your hook is that it gives high perceived value for free and your prospects can get much more out of it if they buy your boyer converter product.

So, here were are…

Lead Generation Funnel Cheat Sheet

Now you can ask: why should I do all of this in my lead generation funnel?

As I promised before I give you a logical and understandable answer. Here you are:

Firstly, if you sell to companies with complex decision-making processes (it’s usually more complex than an individual’s decision-making process or at least have more influencers in the process), it’s good to create ambassadors in your target company who affects the buying process and actually sells your product!

Yes. That’s the first and most logical answer. When you have a buyer persona and you give that person an irrecusable, LOW TICKET offer with HIGH PERCIEVED and ACTUAL value, you convert a lead into an ambassador in your target company.
At the first stage, you reduce the complex buying process into an individual buying process! And you will have a friend in the company who will affect the buying process about the core product. Great, isn’t it?

If you sell to individuals, well… What would you do if you could find search trends related to keywords just in few clicks for only 7 USD? Would it be a very good deal, wouldn’t it? (It’s the example of Freshkey…) And then, what would you do if this software would really easily worked with a more complex advertising tool? You would have higher intention to buy it, wouldn’t you?

Secondly, it’s difficult to sell a high-value offer to a lead. He just gave you his contact information. It is a commitment although it’s not big enough – he is not in the right decision-making stage yet. But it’s also known that it is much easier to sell to a buyer than a lead.
Therefore you create this irresistible low ticket offer with high perceived and actual value. And you offer this on the thank you page after they downloaded your hook. So it will be an impulse buy for them!

They will more likely to pay for a low ticket offer. But what you achieved by making them pay: you converted them into paying customers already! So the relationship fundamentally changed forever.

Thirdly, your buyer converter product is part of your core product or somehow connected to it. So what you can do now that you successfully converted a lead into a buyer? You offer them to upgrade! Not selling another stuff. Upgrade. You make a simple upsell!

Do you see the difference? Selling again or making them upgrade. It is a huge difference! And from now on you can start upselling over and over and over again to increase the value of your each customer and earn a lot of money.

Is this lead generation funnel hack really optimization?

As I started this article, shortly: no.
In details: yes.

You have to learn how to optimize in the right system that is able to create the highest possible value. And after you have high traffic, you can optimize on each stages:

  • Advertisement to Hook conversion rate
  • Hook to Buyer Converter Product conversion rate
  • Buyer Converter Product to Free trial conversion rate
  • Free trial to Paid customer conversion rate

And you will see much higher ROI for your campaigns and you will optimize for the people who really counts.

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Fast growing SaaS company

Saas startup growth: Break your product in to pieces to grow as fast as never before!

saas startup growth

A few weeks ago I spoke to a SaaS company that offered a CRM system. They had a problem: it was very difficult to convert their leads in to paying customers. I’m sure you have similar difficulties therefore I share a solution with you  that helps sell complex or/and highly priced solutions and creates more satisfied customers… not to mention its good effect on your saas startup growth.

Go home SaaS, you’re too complex!

Lots of companies have complex services which makes difficult for them to create and maintain fast saas startup growth. Complexity means that it requires big effort from the prospects to start using it because the lack of knowledge or the integration is difficult. Just imagine: your company has a problem (for example you need a CRM system) but when you are searching for different products you realize that implementing a system requires big changes in your processes. Scary, eh?

It is a barrier that needs to be moved away to maintain saas startup growth.

The second difficulty is when your offer is highly priced. You give your clients a huge value, I understand at but this value can be percieved only after you converted your leads… Let’s say you need a marketing software for your SaaS. But you need an 1500 USD solution per month. Would you spend this money without knowing the value it will provide? NOT AT ALL.

It is another barrier that needs to be moved away.

I’m not telling you that you should give up your dream about your saas startup growth or the whole business. Why would you read this article if you would do that?

I’m not telling you that you should lower your prices. Competing on prices is also a very bad solution (not always but usually).

So what do I suggest then?

Think from the buyer’s perspective!

Think from the buyer's perspective

In both cases your prospects think: does it worth the effort to implement such a complex system? Does it worth to pay so much money?

I know that for example in B2B it’s not always that simple but if you can ease this pain for them, it will convert for you much more prospects I promise. I even dare to say that it is the holy grail of the lead nurturing processes you do.

So it means that your buyers want to know what they will experience before they decide to climb the barrier of complexity or/and price.

For example you want to buy a training program because you invest in educating your employees. You check training program offers, read the descriptions and the referrals, you can even ask friends, colleagues. Althought you choose one but it would much better if you could see one session for yourself, wouldn’t it?

What would you do if you could download the first part of he training for free? You would download.

What would you do if you could check one part of the training session for a very little money? You would participate.

With all this knowledge, you could decide whether you think this training course would be good for your employees and your investment would return. And all in all it would help in your Saas startup growth eventually.

Lead Generation Funnel Cheat Sheet

Now think about your business with this approach!

saas startup growth

So back to you again. You have a complex SaaS offer. What can you do? Just think about it: how would you buy a similar service? What would help your decision? If you could experience the value before you make big commitments like changing your internal processes or investing high amount of money.

This is why lots of companies use trial versions of their product. Well, that’s great. But marketing is a little bit complicated than that – you need to sell to the right person at the right time with the right message. If you have a trial, you make people subscribe when you think they are about to buy. If you don’t wait for the right moment it will be much more difficult to convert them into a paying customer.

So please cut your service in to pieces as you would do to an apple. (I remember eating an apple was always better when my mother cut it into pieces for me, although I would never do it for myself.)

You probably have features that are standalone solutions for a more specific problem of your prospects. Break down that part, that specific feature which can be standalone, still provides real value and relatively easy to implement because it’s a focused tool.

If you think that you can’t do this, try to think about it. Try to develope it from your current feature set. The goal: create a product, that doesn’t solve everything but one little painful piece.

This will be your Buyer Converter Product.

What the heck is a Buyer Converter Product?

saas startup growth

Well, believe it or not, selling to current clients is much much easier then selling to leads, in SaaS especially. Why? Because companies don’t change day by day, If they trust your company, you will have higher chances to sell again. And this is one of the key parts of saas startup growth.

So what is a Buyer Converter Product? It’s a standalone feature of your product that is sellable but not complete. It solves a specific problem but it’s not enough to solve the whole problem.

And you sell this “product” for a very low price. Why? Because you successfully removed 2 barriers by this time:

  • You have low complexity
  • and low price!

And now the trick comes in again. You have a valuable, standalone tool which is a very low ticket offer. So what you should do: you put this offer on “Thank you pages”. These pages are visited by the customers after they download your “hook” from a landing page.

Yes. This is impulse buy. In B2B too!

Pay attention: you need to give them high percieved value. So please don’t try to sell them something that nobody wants. That’s just not working. Because if you pay only 1 USD for a piece of crab, you won’t buy more from that company. Don’t expect different behaviour from your clients.

So they started to use your Buyer Converter Product. So from now on they are not your leads, they are your customers! So what can you do now to create fast saas startup growth?

No, you don’t sell your “core product” to them. You ask them to UPGRADE to the core product. Why?

Because they’ve just bought a service from you. Why would you ask them to buy another thing? But if you ask them to upgrade the feature set in order to have the best experience with your service, that’s totally different!

So this is one way to create high growth. Because if you are smart you can put viral growth engine into your low-cost buyer converter product and your delighted customers will start to pour in.

Lead Generation Funnel Cheat Sheet