The following article was prepared by Sebastian Lambert, CEO of FinancesOnline and an expert in the field of SaaS & B2B lead generation and growth hacking. All strategies are based on Sebastian’s personal experience at the SaaStock 2018 conference in Dublin.
The 2018 SaaStock conference hosted in Dublin has just ended and, in addition to an unexpectedly sunny Irish weather, it gathered a premium bunch of SaaS founders and market experts eager to share the strategies that allowed them to grow their products into success. If you didn’t have the chance to be in Dublin this year, don’t worry. In this article I’ll share with you some of the most interesting B2B strategies that we learned at SaaStock. Read on, to find more about the innovative ideas that will let your SaaS grow in the right direction.
The first marketing idea comes from Eric Siu, founder of Single Grain, a popular marketing services agency. He suggested a simple trick that allowed him to significantly increase conversion from his signup form. It’s a neat tool called Privy, designed for ecommerce conversion optimization. Among its features you’ll find a spinning wheel that Eric used on one of his forms to engage users more and encourage them to share their email address. It’s a simple popup that gives your users some free prize in exchange for their email, e.g. access to a premium guide, or some training with your product, or a limited trial of your premium features. At first, it might seem like something not fitting the B2B market. In fact, Eric himself was sceptical at the beginning, but he decided to try it out, and after implementing it he was positively surprised at the increase in the number of signups he got from the form.
You can also try out a similar tool called Wheelio, which works in basically the same way.
This tip comes from Eric Siu as well and it’s something that will allow you to attract more visitors to your online webinars. If you run webinar content for your product you might not be satisfied with the number of participants you get. Creating a webinar requires significant effort from your team, but once the live webinar is done, you can easily reuse it to get more value out of it.
Create a landing page with information about the webinar, add a registration form that will gather all the info you need from a potential participant and then direct them to a page with the webinar video you’ve recorded a while back. The trick is to email your users with a message that a new webinar is just about to be available, in let’s say 15 minutes, to create a sense of urgency to participate in an event they’re about to miss. Sure, the webinar might not be live anymore, but if you direct your users to a valuable video, they’ll be grateful for it in the end, and you’ll get some useful info about them from the registration form that you can then pass on to your sales team.
Kieran Flanagan, VP of marketing at HubSpot, shared some interesting insights on approaching new ideas for scaling up your business. He stressed the importance of not jumping at every SaaS growth idea that has potential, as it may easily lead to overextension of your resources. Instead, he suggested honing the ideas in the same way an tech incubator works. If someone in your company has a potentially good growth idea make him a co-founder for that idea and give them enough initial resources to test it at the incubation stage.
Kieran likes to use a 2×2 matrix to segment potential ideas based on the effort required in their implementation (horizontal axis) and potential ROI (vertical axis). This gives you four basic types of ideas:
In the end, your objective should be to start with your ideas in the Incubator box and attempt to move them to the Scalable Growth box. For each idea make sure you evaluate:
April Dunford, an expert in startup marketing and positioning, shared some of her early experience with how important is to realize which market category your SaaS fits best. The basic idea you started with may have been improved and changed over time in a dramatic way, and quite often you may end up with a product that belongs to a completely different market. She offered an example of a database startup that couldn’t get a proper investor, because everybody was already using some database solution and Oracle dominated that market. However, when she refocused the product on a different market, and framed it as a business intelligence solution and a data warehouse, it allowed their unique features to shine.
Start with an open mind and don’t assume automatically that your product belongs to a specific SaaS market. Instead, ask yourself, what is the key differentiator of your product? Then, see what’s the market where key features of your product are expected and most valuable. The answer might surprise you.
This creates and opportunity to enter a completely new market where you may be more competitive than before, either because the leader on this new market sucks and you can already to things better than them, or because there isn’t a clear leader on this market yet and you can easily disrupt it with your ideas. The other idea, though a time-consuming one, is to put your effort into creating a completely new market that didn’t exist before, where you can obviously be the leader from the get go.
Dave Gerhardt, VP of Marketing at Drift, an awesome live chat solution, stressed the importance of being authentic and human in your relations with customers. In addition to completely getting rid of stock images on his website he offered a great suggestion for automating your email marketing. Just be honest, admit that it’s an automated email, most of your clients will have recognized that anyway. However, this will allow them to see an actual, human person behind the message and connect with them more. Dave had some pretty spectacular results with this automated email:
Steli Efti, CEO and co-founder of Close.io, gave some great advice on how to improve the efficiency of your email marketing. While many of it may seem obvious at first many SaaS sales and marketing teams still forget about using those tips in their emails:
Fraser Stark, VP EMEA at Influitive gave a great presentation on the importance of user reviews in the SaaS buyer journey. Here are the key takeaways from him:
Ryan Bonnici, CMO at G2Crowd, offered a lot of interesting ideas on how to push your SaaS even further. He explained that because user reviews and peer experience are the most popular types of B2B content, reading user reviews of your product on various review platforms can actually be a great source of inspiration for new content topics that will attract more traffic to your website. Just spend some time exploring what your users are curious about or what problems they’re facing and write about it to offer them some solutions and answers.
What is more, negative reviews can actually boost your credibility, but you have to make sure you respond to them. Luckily, FinancesOnline allows all registered vendors to post a reply to every user review on your product page, so it’s a great way to touch base with your clients and address any issues they may have. Even if you don’t convince that particular client, other potential ones visiting your review page will see that you reply to such concerns and treat your users seriously.
In general, it’s always a great idea to ask your users for reviews in your customer care process.
This one comes from Kieran Flanagan from HubSpot. In his marketing growth bootcamp training during the SaaS.City event he stressed the importance of onboarding your users as early as possible. Ideally, you should offer them clear and focused onboarding in the very first email they get after signup. What is more, make sure the orientation gives them the right AHA moment when they realize the key benefit of your product. If you don’t show them that benefit from the get go you risk they will not discover it on their own and will lose interest before they truly start to appreciate your product.
When you do that keep in mind that your onboarding should lead your fresh user straight to the most unique and beneficial function of your SaaS. It might be tempting to show them how many exciting new features you have for them to try out, but the truth is you want to direct their attention to that very special one that will turn them from free trial signups into loyal customers.
In a really interesting discussion titled “The role of the CMO in the fourth industrial revolution: Tech, trends & transitions” a panel of four CMOs of big SaaS companies: Eileen O’Mara from Salesforce, Heather Zynczak from Pluralsight, Meagen Eisenberg from MongoDB and Ryan Carlson from Okta; discussed how difficult it is in the current SaaS landscape to find the right team for your company.
When asked about the qualities a great CMO for a SaaS company should have they gave several interesting points of insight:
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