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Being a brand publisher is different than promoting products on your blog. It’s about leading those who might do business with you to believe in your strategic thinking on a wide range of topics. The Brand Publisher looks at what it takes to succeed as a ROI-focused publisher of content that will have value to your customers and prospects.

SaaS Lead Nurturing Tips to Accelerate Low-Price Software Sales

Small ticket SaaS lead generation and lead nurturing has to drive to the sale ASAP. Here’s how to do it.

For the purpose of discussing lead nurturing, I’ve divided B2B SaaS companies into three unit-of-sale categories: under $3000 per year, $3,000 to $25,000 per year and the larger enterprise-like sale of greater than $25k These distinctions matter as they impact an organization’s ability to invest in lead generation, qualification, nurturing and closing. This blog post focuses on small ticket sales under $3,000 per year. The next installment offers advice on lead nurturing for larger units of sale.

SaaS companies that sell at the bottom-most price points need to generate a lot of leads at the bottom of the funnel (aka BoFu) to meet revenue objectives. These leads are typically for a demo, free trial or activating a freemium version of the software. In the case of a freemium business model, you should not expect much conversion to revenue unless the prospect has actually used the software. Likewise, free trial offers should offer enough functionality to really exercise the software yet be kept short (like a week or two), whereas the most successful freemium offers never expire.

The Freemium model requires prospects to use the software and sell themselves, and implies that all (or most) lead nurture must drive toward it. A freemium offer that is perpetually free and highly valuable (like that offered by MailChimp) makes it possible for your solution to become much more widely adopted. Untold thousands of non-profit organizations use MailChimp to communicate with donors and volunteers, and my bet is that most of the volunteers driving these efforts are marketing people… creating a perfect sales opportunity for MailChimp. Yet, in my experience many SaaS CEOs are reluctant to create freemium versions of their products, even after exploring the success of MailChimp and deep research on Freemium pricing like that put out by firms like OpenView (a VC that focuses on SaaS). Perplexing. But that’s for another post.

For freemium models, focusing lead nurture outreach on activations, and then active freemium users would make the most sense. For advanced organizations, mapping usage sensing within the application to close rates and then driving freemium users to those functions could juice conversion to revenue (sensing data also might lead you to having sales people proactively call) .

Free trial and demo leads should be qualified by a sales development representative (SDR) before being turned over to closers. This stratification of effort uses a lower cost resource at the point where the request is made (BoFu) but doesn’t take up the more valuable time of the closers until it’s clear that the lead can convert to a sale. The SDR role also is a good training ground for new sales reps, reducing your long-term cost of fielding a great team while also engendering loyalty as you move people up in their careers.

You may want to experiment with giving all requesters a free trial without qualification to test ROI, and I’d also recommend a test of automated demo tools like Consensus. Automating free trial provisioning can wait until you see the conversion rate from trial to close. Providing free trial users with on boarding content and access to training should be expected to increase conversion rates, as does diligent sales rep follow-up to get the deals done (diligence here is highly correlated to rep compensation, though reps can also be made more productive by providing contemporary CRM tools that improve productivity. Lastly all these techniques benefit from the ability to subscribe online in a self-serve manner vs requiring a call to sales (the less friction, and the closer to the user experience of the software, the better).

SaaS companies with a small unit of sale need to drive a lot of traffic to generate their BoFu leads, and content marketing will do a lot of the lifting here. Strong keyword research and contemporary SEO strategy and tactics (based on persona research and incorporating concepts like the pillar page to add authority will help you to compete effectively for traffic. But in today’s world of content overload, you’ll likely have to use some advertising on social media and search to achieve your traffic and lead conversion goals. Perhaps that’s the biggest revelation over the last couple of years (though many of us saw it coming): Organic traffic alone is unlikely to arrive at high enough rates to meet your goals. In the short term, you may not have enough traffic to convert upon even with prodigious month-over-month growth rates, and longer-term your need for traffic and leads to keep growth apace could outstrip organic growth. Where you make your advertising investments should, like the content itself, be based insights as to where your ideal customers hang out and are most responsive.

Depending on the nature of the business, you may be able to go from first blog to freemium conversion without an intervening journey. But that’s not always the case. Solutions with smaller purchase prices are often bought by owners of very small businesses, so they might need convincing before taking the plunge with you. Depending on what you’ve learned in persona research, you might want to offer case studies, canned demos (again reducing salesperson investment) or webinars as CTAs at bottom of your blogs, with an ever-present CTA for the most BoFu offer. And test, test, test to see what offer/combination closes best, which is where marketing automation can really help. It also pays to test chat and robots here for (near-) touchless sales.

Want to talk about lead nurturing or how different lead acquisition strategies could accelerate growth at your business?  Feel free to reach out for a complimentary 30-minute consultation on the lead management topic of your choice.

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