You may have had the “if we build it, they will come” mindset if you ever developed a SaaS product. And while a well-developed, innovative product will attract and retain customers, spreading your brand around the world will not happen instantaneously. There are countless methods to draw in new leads, and don't worry — you don’t necessarily need a full sales or marketing team in place to do it. Many bootstrapped Founders have grown their businesses to $1M ARR without either of those, and we've met many of them.
We've acquired over 40 businesses over the years, and spoken with thousands of bootstrappers, so we have a good grasp on how to establish an efficient lead generation strategy. To assist Founders and their teams, we've created this guide on B2B SaaS lead generation.
The different types of lead generation
Lead generation is a broad term, so there's no need to panic if you don’t know where to begin. In the SaaS world, lead generation might mean:
- Using different marketing tactics to persuade people to sign up for a free trial or freemium plan
- Hosting a free webinar to educate your target audience and capture their contact information
- Giving away a free template or spreadsheet in exchange for an email address
- Adding a live chatbot and/or a contact form on your website
- Publishing valuable, search-engine-optimized content on your site with a call to action to sign up for your product
We’ll cover all of those and more in this article, but the most important thing to keep in mind is this: figuring out which channels and strategies to use will take time and experimentation. Failing fast is key. In fact, many of our Founders built their businesses from the ground up in this manner, and SureSwift relies on it to keep growing our SaaS businesses after acquisition.
It is imperative to experiment with different strategies consistently, and when one fails, seize the chance to try another until you locate one that truly makes a difference.
Let's begin with a look at some of the most reliable lead generation methods:
It can be tough to crack the social media nut in the SaaS industry, particularly because the platforms you must invest in depend on your target audience and where they spend their time. If you operate an ed-tech SaaS and your customers are teachers, you may see more success on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. On the other hand, if your product serves professional traders, you may see greater opportunities on Twitter and Reddit.
The nature of social media makes it an outstanding lead generation tool regardless of where you invest your time. You may engage with prospective clients in several ways, including direct messages, commenting on relevant posts, hosting a giveaway, running a survey or for your audience, or hosting a live Ask Me Anything session. You may even utilize paid advertising on most platforms to reach your ideal consumer (more on that in a bit).
We are attending Ecom World this year and have 5 tickets to give away to our followers!
All you have to do is:
- Follow @GrowthHeroApp
- Reply to this thread with your name
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Winners will be selected/contacted on Tuesday next week. pic.twitter.com/HmpybbXizW
— GrowthHero (@GrowthHeroApp) November 4, 2021
Another social media strategy to consider for your SaaS is affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is the process of hiring affiliate marketers to market your product or service and it is one of the best ways to earn a passive income.
It works like this:
- You provide a code or link to your affiliate marketers.
- They post that code on their social media account to their followers.
- Their followers click the link or use the code upon checkout and as a result, your affiliate earns a commission and you not only earn the sale, but you build your customer base.
The more users who visit your site, the more traffic you receive which also generates more leads for your business.
To get started with affiliate marketing, you need an application like LeadDyno, an affiliate software that works with SaaS companies. It features an intuitive dashboard with great information on leads like geographic information. LeadDyno offers seamless integration with over 25+ platforms and you can get up and running in minutes to start tracking your efforts immediately so you’ll know what hurts and what converts.
Focus on the one or two social media sites your audience frequents rather than trying to master them all.
Pro tip: No one likes seeing promotional content on their feeds, but they like seeing valuable, educational, and even entertaining content from the brands they love. You shouldn't share your product with your followers unless you first deliver value to them.
Working on your content marketing and SEO can help your product's website become your biggest source of leads. You'll attract the right leads by publishing high-quality, educational content that your target audience can utilize to solve their problems, learn, and grow their own businesses.
You can reach customers at any point in the purchasing process with a mixture of the bottom, middle, and top of the funnel content. A top-of-the-funnel post, for example, might include an industry trend blog post. While these posts may not directly convert visitors into clients, they position you as a subject-matter expert. You might also offer free downloads to gather email addresses, or you might advertise to those who visit these pages in the future through paid promotion.
At the bottom of the funnel, you will attract customers who have been searching for a product for some time and are ready to buy. You should provide value to your product, educate your clients, and provide ample opportunities for them to sign up for a free account or trial through enticing CTAs.
Regardless of what content you publish, always follow SEO best practices.
Have existing content on your site, but it’s not bringing in new leads? Check out our post about content maximizing, a strategy to help give your existing posts a boost.
Webinars & Demos
Not only are webinars a cost-effective way to reach a large audience, but they can also be highly effective in generating leads. Here are three pointers to help you increase the effectiveness of your lead generation webinars:
- Promote the event through your existing marketing channels. Advertise the event through email lists, social media, and paid advertising. If your customers don’t know, they can’t go!
- Provide value during the webinar. Your goal is to educate and inform your audience, not sell them on your product or service. If you deliver value, you’ll build trust and credibility with potential leads.
- Follow up with participants after the webinar. This is critical to converting leads into customers. Send participants a thank-you email and provide additional information about your product or service. You can also offer exclusive discounts or free trials to encourage people to take the next step.
Demos are also another effective method. You can quickly peak their attention and trust by providing customers with demonstrations of your product or service.
In addition, free demos offer an excellent opportunity to collect contact information from interested parties. Once you collect this information, you can follow up with leads through email marketing or other means.
It’s important to remember that not all leads will be interested in your product or service, so you must carefully target your lead generation efforts.
Demos can generate high-quality leads but should be a part of your broader strategy.
SaaS businesses can boost interest and awareness in their products by providing potential customers with a free trial. Individuals who take advantage of a free trial can explore the advantages and abilities of a SaaS product before committing to a purchase. In addition, businesses can use customer free trial data to improve their products and marketing strategies. By understanding how users engage with the product during the free trial period, businesses can improve their products and marketing strategies to increase conversions and customer retention over time.
However, free trials do come with risks. To begin with, ensure your free trial is sufficiently enticing, or else you may lose leads who do not convert. Secondly, be cautious not to offer too much during the free trial period, lest you devalue your product. When used properly, free trials can generate leads and expand your enterprise.
Free tools/content upgrades
The internet has an abundance of free tools and resources to support your business. The trick is to know where to look.
A well-written eBook or white paper is the best lead generation tool. They provide value to your audience, one of the top reasons people decide to sign up for it. With a little effort and time, you can create content that can help you generate leads for your business. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when making an ebook or white paper.
- Focus on the problem you’re trying to solve for your audience.
- Make sure you include a call to action at the end of the eBook or white paper, so leads can quickly sign up and learn more about your business.
- Run that eBook through a grammar checker like Grammarly and Hemingway App to ensure your ebook or white paper is free of errors.
For example, our company, Jell, is an online standup tool for employers and employees to stay apprised of projects within the company and improve company productivity.
We created an eBook about daily standups where users can learn why they are essential, how to avoid common mistakes, and how to set up successful ones.
Our eBook serves two purposes:
- It educates and informs about daily standup best practices.
- It captures leads. Readers must enter their email to receive a free copy of the eBook.
Templates are another great way to capture leads. First, find a subject related to your industry and one you’re knowledgeable about. Then, create a template based on that subject.
For example, we created a template for another company of ours, BackinStock. BackinStock does what its name suggests; it alerts customers when a Shopify store’s item is back in stock.
Like the eBook, the template educates and informs leads on how to write Shopify product descriptions, and it captures leads by having them enter their Shopify store’s URL to access our free resource center.
Once you have key lead information like an email address, you can set up an email marketing campaign to stay in touch with those customers and continue showing them the value of your product until they convert into paying customers.
Partner Integrations and Promotions
SaaS lead generation cross-promotion partnerships and integrations provide several advantages. First, it expands your reach by tapping into your partner's audience and exposes more people to your brand. It can also bolster trust and credibility. When two organizations endorse each other's products, it signifies that both companies are worthy of doing business with. Finally, cross-promotion partnerships may yield higher-quality leads that are more likely to convert into paying customers. People who learn about your company from a reputable source are more likely to try your product than those who find out about it from other sources. Here are some common methods to partner with complementary products:
- Co-host a webinar or podcast
- Send out a cross-promotional email campaign
- Publish guest post on each others’ websites
- Develop a product integration
A SaaS business's success depends on recurring revenue, and email marketing is an effective method of capturing leads and keeping clients engaged. To accomplish this, SaaS lead generation email marketing campaigns offer value. For example, companies might send updates about new features or case studies showing how other businesses utilize the software. By providing value-packed content, companies can establish trust and loyalty with their customers, setting the stage for long-term success.
SaaS businesses can benefit significantly from paid advertising. Placing ads in suitable locations and using terms that appeal to your target clientele can quickly bring potential leads to your website or signup page. In addition, you can track how many leads are generated from each campaign with paid advertising. While paid ads are often expensive, they can be an excellent way to expand your SaaS company.
Contact Forms & Live Chat Bots
There’s growing interest in live chatbot technology because it can be used to engage with visitors instantly and generate leads in real-time. What's more, chatbots are highly adaptable, so you can tailor them to fit your company's needs.If you want to generate leads fast and efficiently, chatbots are a good option.
In addition, a contact form is a critical element of a lead generation strategy. By allowing visitors to contact your company, you increase the chances of a conversion. Furthermore, you can use key lead data like their name, email address, and phone number to create target marketing campaigns and to track the success of your lead generation marketing efforts.
How to determine which lead generation tactics are best for your company
Understand your target market
In my view, pinpointing where you should concentrate on generating leads depends heavily on your target audience. To identify them, you must determine where they spend their time.
For example, if you're targeting young professionals, tactics like LinkedIn Advertising or Sponsored InMail might be more effective than traditional methods like print advertising.
However, if you're targeting a more general audience, a mix of tactics may be necessary to reach your goals.
You can also learn by asking your customers directly. You can do this through email surveys, customer interviews, and using polls on social media.
Continually refine your approach by experimenting and tracking your results. By taking the time to understand your target market, you'll be in a much better position to generate the leads that will help grow your business.
Experiment, experiment, experiment
What works for one Saas probably won’t work for another. The best lead generation tactics for your SaaS business will depend on factors including your:
- Target market
Blogging, social media marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and email marketing are common lead generation methods.
You can use A/B testing to determine the success of your lead generation campaigns. For example, you might create two versions of a Google ad and test which one works best with your target audience.
Another approach is to track the quantity of leads generated by each channel over time. In the long run, this method is most successful.
Additionally, you can assess the quality of leads generated by evaluating conversion rates and customer lifetime value.
By testing the effectiveness of different strategies, you can determine the most effective tactics for your business.
5 Tips to Optimize Your Lead Generation Efforts (That You Aren’t Doing)
Do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t. While it may seem obvious, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to check all the boxes. But if you let the data do the talking, you’ll know what’s worth your time.
1. Define your ideal lead and segment your data by it
The first step to optimizing your lead generation efforts is determining what characteristics define your ideal lead.
Use tools like HubSpot’s lead scoring system or Salesforce’s lead scoring system to help you determine where leads are along the sales cycle (more on that later).
By segmenting your data based on where leads are, you can optimize your efforts.
Create segments including the following information:
- Where the lead came from (i.e. social media, search engines, etc)
- The lead’s company size (if they have one)
- The lead’s job title
- The lead’s location
- The lead’s contact information
2. Use lead scoring to identify the best leads
Once you identify the leads most worth your time, focus your marketing efforts on those leads.
Identify your best leads by running a lead scoring analysis that tells you where each lead is along the sales cycle. Focus on the leads most worth your time.
Remember that a low score doesn’t mean a lead is unqualified. Instead, it can mean you need to nurture that lead longer before you try to close the deal.
3. Measure everything you can
Measuring your lead generation efforts is crucial to understanding what works and what doesn’t.
There are two wants to measure your lead generation efforts from each channel:
- You can measure how many leads are coming in and where they’re coming from.
- You can measure how long each lead takes to go to the next stage in the sales cycle.
If you’re using more than one marketing channel, you can use Hubspot to track where your leads come from, when a lead is created, when a sales rep contacts the lead, and when the lead converts.
4. Create a path of least resistance for leads.
Salespeople aren’t the only ones who need to follow up with leads. Whether you’re a SaaS marketer, owner, or acquirer, you must nurture leads so sales can close them.
On your website, create a path of least resistance for leads to quickly move through the sales funnel.
For example, have prominent “Contact Us” buttons so visitors can contact you.
Find out where your leads come from and what they’re doing on your website.
If they’re not moving through your funnel, maybe they’re stuck on a page that doesn’t have ideal lead generation content.
Remove obstacles to forge a pathway for leads to follow.
5. Only pay for quality traffic with ROI (return on investment)
Lastly, only pay for quality traffic. You can do this by ensuring the right people see your ads, choosing the right partners for your paid campaigns, and finding the proper channels for your budget.
By following these five tips, you can optimize your lead generation efforts. Then you’ll be on your way to growing your business.
Examples of Successful SaaS Lead Generation Campaigns
SEO & CRO Lead Generation - Docparser
If your SaaS website has been around for a while, you’ve probably been able to identify the top few posts that produce the most traffic and conversions. In fact, according to many SEO experts, 80% of your website traffic likely comes from 20% of your posts. In most cases, these are blogs or landing pages that have been on your site since you launched your SaaS. But did you know, there’s a simple and effective way to boost those pages and get even more leads from them?
Here’s how to maximize the top posts on your site:
- Identify your top performing blog content in Google Analytics.
- Figure out which keyword(s) the post is ranking for.
- Perform SEO updates, like increasing your word count and finding ways to earn backlinks.
- Optimize the page for conversions by adding engaging CTA boxes, free downloads, or pop-ups.
This strategy is one of the biggest growth levers at SureSwift, and we’ve seen traffic and conversion rates double and even triple from simple SEO and CRO updates. Recently, our SEO team optimized a high-converting post on Docparser’s blog, which was originally published in 2017. The updates boosted conversions by 72%!
Our SEO Manager for Docparser and Mailparser, Nico LaCorcia, says "small SEO and CRO changes can make a big impact. By optimizing our on-page content on Docparser across 10 of our highest converting pages we were able to increase organic new users by 18% and organic free trial sign-ups by 19% across the site. Some individual pages saw 100%+ increases in both of these metrics."
From a few optimizations, you can see many results.
Paid Advertising Lead Generation - LeadDyno
When it comes to paid advertising, testing and optimizing is key. Experimenting with different ad platforms will quickly give you data on what’s working and what’s not. If you notice a cost per acquisition (CPA) is not where you want it to be, don’t be afraid to stop sending ads to certain geographies, devices, or demographics with a higher CPA. If all your leads are coming from mobile and not desktop - listen to the data!
When our Paid Media team launched LeadDyno Facebook ads targeting Shopify store owners, they were seeing a CPA around $120. But with a little bit of adjusting on the target audience, testing new ad creative and copy, and improving CTAs, the CPA dropped down to $12.39 per new trial, and they are seeing consistent leads come in from the ads.
Free Trial Lead Generation - Docparser
Like we discussed earlier in the article, offering a free trial is one of the most impactful ways to get new leads. When you let potential customers try your product for free, it gives them a chance to fully immerse themselves in your app, ask questions, and determine whether or not it’s the right product for them. However, it’s fairly common for SaaS companies to give too much away for free. This often happens with freemium plans, where customers are able to use a limited version of the app indefinitely, at no cost. The goal would be for the freemium user to eventually realize that they need full access to the product, but if the free plan offers too many of the product’s features and benefits, this strategy can fall flat.
Recently, Docparser did a deep dive into their pricing plans and realized some of the same premium features that were offered to their enterprise customers were also being offered to free and lower tier plans. Their solution? Eliminating the freemium plan altogether. Instead, users can now try Docparser free for 21 days.
Kevin Strasser, our Product Manager for Docparser, says to not be afraid of experimenting to find the best solution for your business. He goes on to say,
“While the 14 day free trial is fairly standard, there may be situations where an alternative improves your bottom line. For example, why not try a two-month money-back guarantee instead? That would function like a trial because customers feel a sense of safety in case the application doesn’t work for them. Additionally, the customer proves they are willing and able to pay up front.
Another concern is whether to ask for a credit card immediately or not. This usually reduces the number of free trials gathered, but for some businesses that may be a burden. Does the business require manual labor to onboard new customers? If so, it may be smart to require credit cards on free trials to reduce wasted efforts on customers unable to pay.”
While changing or eliminating an entire pricing plan can be nerve-wrecking, doing so can have a massive impact on your bottom line long term. For Docparser, eliminating the freemium plan not only made their marketing efforts easier and more effective (they now know within 21 days if their leads were solid or not), but they also experienced a significant increase in sign ups for the product.
Regular Health Checks - Back in Stock
Just because you’ve got a new product, service, or feature out in the world, doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Once in a while, there will be bugs or some other software issue that can potentially affect your users. By keeping an eye on the health of your app, you can catch any problems before they become major issues.
That’s what our company, Back in Stock, does now for all new installs. Back in Stock’s Product Manager, João Moreira, says doing this has decreased the amount of customer problems with their Back in Stock button which has not only increased their satisfaction but has led to an increase in converting free trial customers to paid ones.
So, consider running basic diagnostics on new installs. This helps ensure everything is working properly before a user downloads the application. It also helps spot problems earlier, and fixes them before they affect users dramatically.
How to measure the success of your lead gen efforts
Any good business knows that generating leads is essential to success. However, only generating leads is not enough - you should make sure that those leads are high quality and likely to convert into customers. So, how can you measure the success of your b2b saas lead generation efforts? There are a few key indicators to look at.
First, track the number of leads you generate over time to see whether your lead generation efforts are increasing or decreasing in effectiveness. Secondly, track the conversion rate of your leads—the percentage of leads that turn into paying customers—to assess the quality of the leads you generate. Finally, keep track of the lifetime value of your customers. This will tell you how much each customer on average contributes to revenue. By monitoring these indicators, you will be able to gauge the effectiveness of your B2B SaaS lead generation efforts.
Review and Improve your strategy continuously
A strong lead generation strategy helps you find potential customers and convince them to buy your product or use your service. However, lead generation strategies aren’t static; you must continuously improve your strategy to be most effective.
Otherwise, you risk falling behind the competition and losing your precious leads.
You should adjust your lead generation strategy regularly for many reasons.
- Consumer behavior is in flux: what worked last year might not work this year.
- Competition is dynamic, constantly changing, and evolving: you must keep up.
- The world around you is in flux: even if your business isn’t changing, it’s important to watch trends and technological advancements that can impact your lead generation strategy.
By regularly reviewing and adjusting your lead generation strategy, your strategy can stay effective and help you achieve your business goals. Have any questions about B2B SaaS lead generation or selling your bootstrapped business? Feel free to reach out via email or contact us on Twitter. We’re always happy to chat with Founders and answer questions.
SureSwift Impact: How LeadDyno Thrived Post-Acquisition 
Join us for an interview with LeadDyno CEO Brooke Hahn, where she discusses how the SaaS business has grown in the affiliate marketing space since its acquisition, with support from SureSwift Capital's network of exceptional operators.