How to Generate Leads for SaaS Companies

For new SaaS companies, generating leads can be challenging. This article provides actionable tips to help you grow your business online and attract potential customers. 

Starting your own SaaS company means you have already jumped through quite a few hoops to get where you are now. 

It means that you researched the market, created a product that people were interested in, doubled down on your coding efforts, and took countless months to perfect something you are now proud to call your own.

Very often people perceive that is the point when the money starts rolling in. You think to yourself, “Hey, I have got an awesome product. Anyone in my industry would benefit from using this. I am going to get people who find me.” 

Unfortunately, this is normally when SaaS founders figure out that they did not factor in the scary world of lead generation. 

Lead generation answers the question, “How do clients find me?”

The answer is not as simple as most founders believe when they first create their product. The internet has become a crowded space and everyone is fighting for their spot, elbowing their competitors out of the way.

This is why taking the time to learn about marketing your product is not just valuable but essential. This guide will walk you through what you need to know to market your SaaS product and seven powerful tips to help you land your first few clients. 

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What makes SaaS SEO different from conventional SEO?

The main difference between SaaS SEO and traditional SEO comes down to the objectives behind content creation. With traditional SEO, it is often a matter of creating content that takes the user to the landing page to make a purchase. The content is good but not great. 

On the other hand, when it comes to SaaS SEO, everything has to be taken a step further. SaaS is often a subscription-based service since you are selling access to the software. This means you are not just convincing someone to buy a $10 product but a monthly subscription that recurrently takes out a chunk of change from their bank account.

This needs more than good articles. It needs content that will help your reader build a relationship with the brand. Ahrefs is a great example of this in action. 

Additional reading, ‘7 SaaS Marketing Strategies to Attract Customers Online.

SaaS Company, Ahrefs Creates Informative Content

If you look at Ahref’s blog, each piece of content dives deep into the topic and uses research, graphics, screenshots, quotes, and step-by-step walkthroughs to supplement brilliantly written content. It gives the word ‘helpful’ extra meaning.

Here is an example of Ahrefs content:

Ahrefs content example

This is important for two main reasons:

  • It creates a relationship with your readers that goes beyond them appreciating your content. It keeps them coming back for more. This is necessary for SaaS businesses because very often SaaS products have longer sales cycles.
  • When you take deep dives into a topic, you can use your product as a solution in the article. This is exactly what Ahrefs does. 

In their article above, Ahrefs references itself throughout the content, and it doesn’t give a traditional CTA. It is mentioned as part of the solution the article is giving the reader.

First, the article mentions the Ahrefs’ Site Explorer as a tool that can be used to find pages that have a lot of backlinks but not much organic traffic coming in for them.  The mention feels organic and as a reader, you are left wanting to try the software just so you can try their suggestion as well.

Ahrefs highlights their own tool in their web content

In the second example, they don't even mention Ahrefs by name. They simply add a screenshot of their tool to show a site’s ranking.

Ahrefs screenshot

Educational content that dives deep allows SaaS companies to incorporate their software into solutions and win over readers for life. 

Other differences between SaaS SEO and traditional SEO

With the SaaS business model focused on user subscriptions, rather than selling a single-use product, it changes the way you need to think about SEO.

  • Keywords. When creating SaaS content, keyword research is a lot more specific than traditional SEO. Traditional SEO keywords are more general and can be related to a broader range of products or services. This is because you know your audience and you know what they are looking for. You are not trying to win everyone over but rather create a community of like-minded people.
  • Conversions. SaaS SEO tends to focus on nurturing leads and converting them to trial users. Traditional SEO focuses on converting visitors to customers. Since you want users to subscribe to a service, conversion becomes a longer process.
  • Channels. Traditional SEO focuses on organic search or paid advertising. For SaaS, you take your technical content (see the previous section) and market it on social media and in an email newsletter. Social media and email are two channels that help facilitate relationships. Remember as a SaaS company, you’ll manage customer accounts with support and customer service. Building relationships up front will be vital.
  • Metrics. This point has less to do with SEO strategy and more with what to look for in measuring your SEO success. Because your business model is different, you can’t approach metrics like you’re doing traditional SEO. Focuses on metrics such as free trial sign-ups, traffic by channel/source, user engagement, and retention, rather than website traffic, leads, and sales. Do this and you’ll have a good idea if you’re starting to make progress.

Keyword Research for SaaS Companies

You must decide what keywords you want to go after in your SEO strategy. The first step is to research keywords worth targeting for your brand. Start by brainstorming a list of keywords that are relevant to your SaaS product. Think about the problems your product solves and the features that make it unique.

Use your keywords in a search engine and then check the “related searches” section (usually at the bottom of the page) to see what other phrases are used. 

You could also take advantage of tools that can help you to identify relevant keywords. 

The Ahrefs Keyword Explorer shows you the exact Keyword Difficulty of a given keyword, traffic potential of the keyword, multiple relevant keywords, and more.

Ahrefs keyword explorer

The Ahrefs ‘organic competitors’ feature and ‘Top Pages’ feature are also incredibly helpful tools.

Ahrefs organic competitors feature

Here is how I normally use these two features hand-in-hand:

  • Step 1: I take a website I am writing content for and plug it into Ahrefs.
  • Step 2: I go to the ‘organic competitors’ tab and make a list of some of their competitors while paying special attention to the percentage of common keywords.  I aim for about 20% since that shows me they have a lot of cross over in niche and industry with a lot of potential ideas I could take a look at (that remaining 80% that is not common).
  • Step 3: Now I take one of the sites from my new list of competitors, put it in to Ahrefs, and go to the ‘top pages’ tab. 

This gives me a bird’s eye view of the content that the website is bringing in the most traffic for in an organized list. It looks something like this:

Ahrefs traffic page

Sometimes I will find a piece of content that is bringing in tons of traffic that has not been covered yet. If I don't find a suitable idea by going through the ‘top pages’ of a certain site, I move to the ‘organic keywords’ tab to take a deeper dive into what they are ranking for and how I can use that to create a topic idea of my own.

Either way, I normally walk away with a few good ideas to pass on to my writers.

The reason I like this method is because if my competitors are ranking for a certain term, it shows me that with better content and better backlinks, I could potentially rank higher for that term.

Search Intent and Sales Funnels: Why do they matter?

Always remember to consider the search intent of your target audience. Are they looking for information or are they ready to make a purchase?  Another way to look at this is to place each piece of content into a step of your funnel.

This normally goes into one of these three categories:

SaaS Sales Funnel Graphic

Top of the Funnel (TOFU): 

TOFU content is created for the stage during which your potential customers have identified a problem they are facing and are now searching for a solution to that problem. This is otherwise known as the awareness stage and is when your business is first introduced to a potential customer.

Your potential customer is probably looking for new information and researching a lot of different brands trying to find a solution. This content that you create should be focused on providing solutions to the reader’s problems. Instead of pitching your service and trying to sell it, this type of content would only mention your service as a potential solution to their problem.

This is the content that is used to introduce your company or service to a new or  potential customer. Not sell your service — not yet anyway.

Since we have used Ahrefs as an example so far, let us continue with that example. The article I cited above is a perfect example of TOFU content. It is a helpful article that presents solutions and does not try to sell Ahrefs as a service but rather mentions it as a solution.

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU):

Middle of the funnel content is created for readers that know of your brand and are now researching multiple solutions to find the one that is right for them. So, ideal MOFU content would be product comparisons and listicles of tools.

ClickUp has a great example of product comparisons. 

ClickUp Product comparisons

They dedicate an entire page to house all of their different product comparisons and all of the information is succinctly displayed in a table that people can click through for more information.

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU): 

Bottom of the Funnel content is for customers who are in the purchase stage. This is the stage during which they are making their final decision. They have finished researching and now have their credit card information ready to go.

BOFU content normally includes use cases like this one my team and I created at SERPManiac:

SERP Maniac Case Study

Case studies like these serve as concrete examples of how your service can help the business in question. Other examples of BOFU content would be video testimonials or testimonials of any kind that show you have customers that believe in your product or service.

A second example would be tutorials that walk your audience through certain product features or demos that walk your audience through the entire product and how to use it. 

These piece of content (that is to say- all BOFU content) should normally be followed by a contact form or a free consultation form since your audience is now reaching their purchase decision.

Tactics To Supplement Your New Lead Generation Strategy

1. Establish Your Goal

This step should go without saying. But I’ll say it anyway: set a goal! If you don’t set a goal, you won’t know what you’re shooting for.  Your goal is normally one key metric that you are tracking to measure your success.

You could make this really complicated or very simple. I recommend simple. Your goal could be something like, “We want to increase our active users by 40% in the next 12 months.” 

That’s a SMART goal. It’s simple, measurable, relevant, and time-bound.

2.  Attract personas, not customers

Focus on personas, not just customers, because personas represent segments of the target audience. Personas have unique needs, preferences, and pain points. 

Creating a persona is a “pre-funnel” activity. This persona is the group you want to reach. They may not be ready to buy. That’s okay because buying is not the goal. The goal is to find this segment that will be ready to buy in the future. For now, you need to attract and build rapport with this segment.

By understanding the needs and preferences of different personas, you’ll tailor your marketing and product offerings to better meet their needs. This ultimately leads to increased customer acquisition, retention, and satisfaction.

3. Clean up your on and off-page SEO

We talked about SaaS SEO a lot earlier. But let’s talk about the specifics of what you should improve.

For on-page SEO, engaging content and keyword research are your top priorities. We’ve already covered these. Next, you want to focus on three areas:

  • Optimize technical SEO. Elements like page titles, meta descriptions, title tags (h1, h2, etc.), and sitemaps are all vital factors to reexamine.
  • Improve loading speed. Website speed is an important Google ranking factor. Optimize your website for speed by compressing images, minifying code, and using a content delivery network (CDN).
  • Mobile responsive. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices, as more and more people are accessing the internet through their smartphones and tablets.

These are simple off-page SEO areas that you should take care of.

4. Prioritize link building

Building backlinks is an important part of off-page SEO. But it’s such a huge endeavor it needs its own category. It all starts with creating detailed, high-quality content. Once you’ve done that, here are some suggestions for building backlinks.

  • Guest blogging. Guest blogging on other industry-related blogs or publications can help you build backlinks to your website. When you contribute guest posts, include relevant links back to your content.
  • Leverage existing partnerships. Have a partnership with someone in your industry (see the next tip)? Ask them to link to your website
  • Find where you’re mentioned but not linked. Sometimes a website may refer to you without giving you a link. You can set up Google Alerts to find the websites that reference your business.
  • Broken link building. Find broken links on other websites and offer to provide new, updated content to replace the broken link. This does not always work but you may get a few quick wins from this strategy.
  • Immerse yourself in your industry community. Collaborating with industry influencers and participating in online communities can help you build backlinks and reach a wider audience. Consider partnering with influencers for guest blogging, webinars, podcasts, or other content collaborations.

It's important to note that building backlinks takes time and effort. It's also important to focus on quality over quantity and avoid any black hat SEO tactics that can result in penalties from search engines (especially Google). 

5. Form strategic partnerships

Strategic partnerships can take different forms for SaaS companies, depending on the goals and objectives of the partnership. Here are a few types of strategic partnerships that you can pursue

  • Technology partnerships. This involves integrating your SaaS product with other complementary technologies to provide a more comprehensive solution for customers.
  • Sales partnerships. Sales partnerships involve working with other companies to co-sell or cross-sell each other's products. 
  • Channel partnerships. Channel partnerships involve working with other companies to distribute your SaaS product through their sales channels. 
  • Marketing partnerships. Generate new leads by collaborating with other companies to create joint marketing campaigns or content that promote each other's products.
  • Research and development partnerships. Research and development partnerships involve working with other companies to co-develop new products or features. 

Strategic partnerships can help you expand your reach, improve your products, and provide more value to your customers. Before jumping into any partnership, you need to carefully evaluate potential partners and establish clear goals and expectations to make sure the relationship is mutually beneficial.

6. Build your brand

Yes, the internet is a cramped place. It seems there isn’t room for anything new. What could you possibly have to offer? But guess what? There is no other you out there. And that’s worth sharing with the world.  

Branding cartoon

Building a personal brand has been made to be something very complicated. In reality, it’s about telling people who you are and why you’re credible and trustworthy. Again, it’s just you being you. Here are some steps to creating your brand:

  • Define your brand. Start by defining your brand's values, vision, and mission. Identify what makes your SaaS company unique and how you want to be perceived by your target audience.
  • Create content. I can’t say this enough. This can include blog posts, case studies, whitepapers, videos, and infographics. (Remember to make it detailed!)
  • Identify ideal platforms. Where is your audience most active? Use those platforms to build your brand's presence.
  • Get connected. Attend industry events, conferences, and webinars to network with other professionals and showcase your expertise. 

This can take a lot of time. But the result is a loyal community. Statamic is a SaaS company whose main competitor is WordPress. They launched in 2012 and have steadily built a cult-like following. Eleven years in, they’ll host their first developer conference this summer.

Digital Marketing Is A Great Way to Generate Leads for SaaS Companies

When you’re trying to land your first few clients as a SaaS, it might seem like the market is completely saturated. Especially if you’re struggling to land clients. You may even doubt going into business was a good idea. 

But there’s no reason to be defeated. What you offer is needed. And if you understand how SaaS lead generation works and activate key marketing strategies, you’ll have exactly what you need to get back on track and land some clients.

Need help generating leads? Search for top digital marketing companies on Top Design Firms. 

Need help selecting a company?

Based on your budget, timeline, and specifications we can help you build a shortlist of companies that perfectly matches your project needs. Get started by submitting your project details.

Get Started