Lead Conversion for SaaS Marketers
Breaking through marketplace noise to attract leads is important to any SaaS marketer. Then comes the challenge of converting those leads into paying customers. There are many standard marketing techniques for doing this. But the SaaS market has its own unique needs too.
Today we cover lead conversion techniques that are specific to the SaaS business model. We're not trying to present an exhaustive analysis of every possible approach. The goal is to help you quickly gain traction with some key SaaS Lead Conversion factors.
We'll begin with probably the most common lead conversion tool in the SaaS space: free trials.
Lead Conversion with Free Trials
For many SaaS products, the free trial is the primary lead conversion tool. That makes it the #1 area to focus on when trying to convert the maximum percentage of leads. Because there is so much to it, a free trial gives you lots of things you can test to improve your conversion rate. The main things you will want to test are:
• Full featured or limited feature trial
• Length of trial
• Engagement during the trial
• Post-trial pricing
Let's look at each of these in more detail now.
Full Featured or Limited Feature Trial
Many SaaS products have full-featured free trials where users have access to everything. Others limit their trials in some way. This could involve only allowing the user to test a basic version of the product. Or it could involve disabling certain features during the trial period.
Limiting features makes it easier to test your product. But limiting features can annoy a user. It can seem you are afraid they will get too much benefit for free. Or that you are pressuring them to buy before they can test "the good stuff." If the user can't test a feature they need during the trial, they may well look elsewhere.
Full-featured trials let the user check out everything in the product. But trying to test everything during a limited-duration trial could prove more confusing than helpful.
The ideal way to find out which approach works better for your product is to test both.
Length of Trial
The length of your free trial can have a major impact on your conversion rate. Too short and users may just walk away. Even if they do sign up for a short trial, they won't have time to evaluate your product completely. Too long and the longer sales cycle will leave you bleeding money you don't have to.
There have been various studies to determine the best length for a SaaS product free trial. Unfortunately, the answer seems to be, "it depends." We have seen it written that 14 days is ideal, but it is hard to believe that there is one ideal length for every SaaS trial.
One thing you can do is check out what your competitors are doing. If they are all offering trials of the same length, that gives you a starting point. You can start by gathering conversion rate results for that length of trial. From there, try increasing or decreasing the length and compare the conversion rate.
Engagement During the Trial
Getting someone to sign up for your free trial is an important step. Getting them engaged once they do sign up is just as important. According to Crazy Egg, "If you can keep a user active within your SaaS for at least three days, they are four times more likely to convert."
One of the best ways to get a user active and keep them active is to interact with them. Many businesses don't bother to get in contact with people at this level of the sales funnel. Doing so will encourage them to work with your product instead of signing up and forgetting about it.
How you interact with these people is up to you. If you have the resources, a phone call could certainly do the trick. Likewise, a "Welcome to Product X" kind of email would work. As would follow-up emails, particularly in those crucial first three days. We've even heard that some companies send text messages on the theory that they are more likely to be read than emails.
While in the beginning you can certainly email users manually, this quickly becomes too much work. Marketing Automation tools can handle this job for you automatically.
As with any product, pricing always affects conversion rates. But here, we want to talk about an issue that is specific to SaaS products.
Most SaaS products offer multiple tiers of pricing and service. The tiers are differentiated by things like number of users, size of supported database, enhanced features, and so on. Some vendors also offer a free basic version of their product instead of a trial. For example, teams with up to 15 members can use Asana for free.
Asana is free to use for small teams.
The idea is presumably to get small organizations using the product, then upgrade to a paid version as they grow. This kind of approach could lead to more paying customers in the long term. Or it could result in many free users, with few ever moving on to the paid versions. This could be something to test in your own niche.
Your Blog and Resource Section Help Convert Leads
Your free trial shows people your product does what you say it can do. They also want to know how others in similar businesses use your product. And they want to know they can find additional resources or ask questions if they need help. Your blog and the Resources section of your website can address these concerns.
Elsewhere we've talked about your blog as the home of your content marketing strategy. It is also a great place to keep people informed about product updates and features. Rich blogs with a constant flow of new, useful content are characteristics of most successful SaaS companies. You would do well to emulate them.
Your blog will (hopefully) have a large and growing number of posts. But if there is no easy way to find specific information in it, it becomes an annoyance instead of a benefit. To make your blog an asset for users, it should be either categorized, or keyword searchable. Many SaaS product blogs are categorized and searchable to help the user find what they are looking for.
Your Resource Section
The Resource section of your website can hold a wide variety of content. This is usually the first place people will look for:
• Product use cases to help understand how your product is used in their industry.
• Product documentation. If you want people to invest large sums of money in your product, you should have quality documentation available. Having nothing more than notes from the engineers, or a forum to post questions, doesn't help you sell your service.
• Industry information. If your product serves a particular industry (health care, for example) posting industry news and analysis here shows that you are keeping up with the field.
• Integrations and APIs. If your product integrates with others, this is a good place to discuss that. API documentation and examples can appear here as well.
Note: There are no rigid rules for how things are divided up between blogs and Resource sections. The organization described here is fairly common, but certainly not mandatory.
Marketing Automation Helps Convert Leads
As we mentioned earlier, Marketing Automation tools can help you interact with leads. But it can do far more than just send out a predetermined list of emails or text messages. For example, your tool could watch for, and respond to, trigger events. Say the lead accesses a new section of your product. The tool could send them a helpful message, or alert a salesman to make contact.
Marketing Automation can also track the activities of your leads and analyze the results of all the testing we have been talking about. You will be able to score leads to generate customer profiles and deliver customized messaging. You'll also see what approaches are working best and generating the highest ROI.
As your business grows, an investment in Marketing Automation tools can pay huge dividends.
Converting leads into paying customers is vital to any business. There are standard lead conversion techniques (such as sales funnels and lead scoring) that work for any business. There are also lead conversion techniques that are specific to the SaaS marketing world.
In this article we looked at some of the things a SaaS marketer can do to improve lead conversion rates. From optimizing the results from free trials, to providing helpful resources, to using Marketing Automation tools, you have a range of tools at your disposal. With time, perseverance, and testing, you can surel increase your product's lead conversion rate.
Here are some additional resources for lead conversion:
• Inturact, 10 SaaS Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices – https://www.inturact.com/blog/topic/lead-conversion
• Crazy Egg, How to Quickly Convert Trial Users Into Paying Customers – https://blog.crazyegg.com/2014/09/19/convert-trial-users
• SaaS Growth Strategies, 3 Secrets of High-Converting SaaS Free Trials – http://sixteenventures.com/effective-free-trials