By Bill Mann | 7/10/2016 | General

Five Things You Need to Know About SaaS Lead Nurturing

Five Things You Need to Know About SaaS Lead Nurturing

Five Things You Need to Know About SaaS Lead Nurturing

Modern SaaS marketing approaches rely heavily on lead nurturing. For the purposes of this article, we will use Marketo's definition of lead nurturing:

"Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel, and through every step of the buyer’s journey. It focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects, and providing the information and answers they need."

Developing a relationship with potential SaaS product buyers is similar to other marketing approaches. But as SaaS marketers we rely on free trials and lead nurturing to get people into our sales pipeline.

That being the case, here are five things you need to know about SaaS lead nurturing:

  1. Many Never Return to Your Free Trial
  2. Email is Not the Only Possibility
  3. Re-Targeting is a Possibility
  4. Testing is Vital
  5. Marketing Automation Software Can Help

It's time to look at each of these in more detail.

1. Many Never Return to Your Free Trial

According to, "40-60% of users who sign up for a free trial of your software or SaaS application will use it once and never come back." Your own results may of course vary. But given this general result, it seems that we as an industry have our work cut out for us. It also argues for strong lead nurturing from the moment someone signs up for a trial.

By getting the visitors email address when they sign up for your trial, you can start a drip email marketing campaign immediately. Getting those emails flowing immediately increases the chances that the visitor's first use of your trial is not their last.

2. Email is Not the Only Answer

While email drip campaigns are the easiest lead nurturing approach, they aren't the only way to do it. Social media and telephone are two additional ways to nurture your leads. Each has pros and cons, so we need to talk more about each.

Social Media

Social media like Twitter and LinkedIn are new ways to nurture leads. Connecting with someone on one of these services allows you to interact with them at a relatively low cost. You can keep the lines of communication open and personal. Depending on your audience, this might be an even better way to nurture them than drip emails.

The downside to using social media in this manner is that it is harder to automate. People expect interaction through these channels. You have to be willing to have conversations with users to get the most benefit from social media nurturing.


Lead nurturing by telephone is more of a traditional approach. Talking directly to a prospect can be very powerful. At the same time, connecting by telephone is harder than email or social media. Details like the best time of day to call and dealing with gatekeepers like receptionists make this a tough way to go. For more details on how to nurture by telephone, see the References.

3. Re-Targeting is a Possibility

Ad re-targeting is another way to nurture your leads. But it is a very different approach. Re-targeting works by placing ads for your product on web pages that your visitors views. These ads are personalized for your visitor. They start appearing after the person visits your website or signs up for your free trial.

Curious about how this works? I was too. Here's a short explanation based on what I learned at the website (see References for more information).

  1. When a person visits your site, the site adds an anonymous retargeting cookie to the person's web browser. This cookie contains information that tells the retargeting company that the person has visited your site.
  2. The person visits another website that is working with a retargeting company like AdRoll. The website reads the cookie and passes the relevant information along to the retargeting company.
  3. The retargeting company serves your ad on the web page the person is viewing.


AdRoll explains how ad Re-targeting works.

As a result, the person is reminded about your product and hopefully takes the next step in their journey toward a purchase.

This method of reaching your potential users is more indirect than other nurturing approaches. That said, it can be an effective approach, particularly in combination with other lead nurturing approaches.

4. Testing is Vital

Lead nurturing, like every other aspect of marketing, combines elements of art and science. It is science in that:

  • You can analyze results precisely
  • There are specific methods and techniques for processes like ad re-targeting

But lead nurturing is an art in that:

  • Your creative makes a huge difference
  • Tiny changes can generate vastly different results
  • Results vary wildly for different markets
  • There is no guarantee that something which works today will work next month

Testing is the way to deal with this situation. Split testing (A/B testing) allows you to compare the results of different approaches. With it, you can see exactly what is working with your specific audience and market right now.

The best way to start is to measure the results you are getting from your current SaaS lead nurturing  program. Determine things like:

  • Conversion rate from lead to desired final result
  • Deal size (# of users or dollar amount)
  • Response rates for your drip emails, social media contacts, or other lead nurturing activities

Once you have this information, you can analyze it to get an idea of which part of your process to target first. You will want to come up with testable hypotheses that explain why you are getting results you don't like.

Now you are ready to design tests that will let you confirm or deny each of your hypotheses. By repeating this process across different aspects of your lead nurturing, you will gradually improve performance.

Continual testing is also the way to deal with change. Tastes change over time. So does the competitive environment. And so does your product and offer. The only way to keep your lead nurturing process working well is to keep testing. For this kind of testing, you will want to revisit tests you have done in the past.

For example, let's say you discovered that a Call To Action #1 gets better results than Call to Action #2. Next year you might want to run another test of Call To Action #1 vs #2. That way you can confirm that this aspect of your lead SaaS lead generation program is still working as you think it should.

5. Marketing Automation Software Can Help

It is clear that lead nurturing is important. It is also clear that it can be a lot of work. But marketing automation software can do much of that work for you. How can software do SaaS lead nurturing, you ask? Here are some examples of what marketing automation software can do for you:

  • It can send out personalized drip email campaigns for you.
  • It can automatically send emails based on triggers like entering a new section of the demo or elapsed time since their last login to the demo.
  • It can execute A/B tests that you have designed.
  • It can track and analyze the results off your lead nurturing campaigns.

An Act-On Lead Nurturing Report.

Incorporating marketing automation software like Act-On into your lead nurturing campaigns will greatly increase your productivity and accuracy.


Since most SaaS companies market through free trials, we must do lead nurturing. In this article we discussed five topics that you need to know about. Each has the potential to boost the performance of your SaaS lead nurturing campaigns.

Remember that many people never return to your free trial after their first visit. This highlights how important lead nurturing is from the very first.

We saw that email-based programs are not the only way to do lead nurturing. Social media and telephone programs are also possible. For certain products and markets, they may even be your most effective approach.

Ad re-targeting is another approach that lets you keep in contact with prospects in a more subtle way. Testing often shows that this is an effective way to go.

Speaking of testing...

We saw that testing your lead nurturing is just as important as testing other parts of your marketing. Over time, testing is virtually guaranteed to boost your SaaS lead nurturing results.

Finally, we talked about how marketing automation software. It can handle much of the work necessary to do large-scale lead nurturing.

By taking these five things into account you'll enjoy ever better lead nurturing results.

By Bill Mann | 7/10/2016 | General

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