When it comes to your SaaS brand, you might have the best product in the market. But no matter how great your software is, you won’t grow if prospective customers don’t know where to go. That’s why lead gen is so critical to SaaS success. With the right lead generation strategy, you can bring new leads into your funnel, nurture them through the pipeline, and turn them into conversions.
29 SaaS Lead Generation Tactics to Adopt
Ready to get started? We’ve got all the details on 29 lead gen strategies designed just for SaaS brands like yours. You already know that SaaS products often have a lengthy buying cycle, and without a physical, tangible product, it’s sometimes a tough sell. But once you know how to get the right leads into your funnel, you’ll have an audience primed and ready to buy. Here’s how:
#1: Set goals for lead generation
Your goals for your lead gen plan will differ based on several factors, but the first step is figuring out what type of lead you’ll be going after. Once you know that, you’ll be on your way to setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based) for each.
Information Qualified Leads (IQLs)
IQLs are the coldest leads, so most of the time, your goals for reaching them will be more about brand awareness. Goals should be broad and center on the top of the funnel. Increased web traffic or ad impressions are examples of IQL goals.
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
MQLs are a little warmer, and they’ve expressed some interest in your brand and/or product. Your big goal here will be to move them into the middle of the funnel and get them on the hook for more information, typically through heavy nurturing campaigns.
Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)
SQLs are the hottest leads, as they are in the decision/purchase stage of the funnel and are ready to buy. They know your brand and they’re interested, but they’re evaluating you against all your competitors. The goal at this point is conversion.
#2: Focus on lead quality
When it comes to leads, the marketing industry has long taken the “more = better” approach. Now though, we know that’s not really true. Especially for SaaS leads, you really want to aim for quality over quantity.
Getting the most leads will bump up some of your metrics, like web traffic, but you’ll also likely see an increase in bounce rate and a decrease in conversions.
Instead, pay attention to metrics designed to show you lead quality. Use a lead scoring rubric to classify leads as IQLs, MQLs, or SQLs, and track their behaviors based on which segment they fall into. This way, you’ll know when the right type of lead is taking the right action to achieve your lead gen goals.
#3: Qualify leads
As we mentioned above, in order to get better quality leads, you’ll need to qualify them. Qualifying your leads will tell you exactly where they are in the funnel and what you need to do to move them further along toward conversion. How do you do that? You’ll need to lay out a step-by-step lead qualification process.
The way you qualify leads will depend on which type of leads you’re aiming for, what your goals are, and how you score the actions they take. One of the most critical first steps in qualifying leads is understanding your buyer persona(s).
#4: Create buyer personas for your audience
By now, you’ve probably already got a good sense of who’s buying your product, or at least, who you’ve intended the product for. But if you haven’t built your buyer persona yet, now is the time to do so.
Keep in mind that a buyer persona is not the same as your overall target audience. Instead, it’s a much narrower, more specific, drilled-down glimpse inside your customers’ minds.
Buyer personas should take into account much more than demographic information — it should also include psychographic details and behavioral attributes for the most authentic and in-depth insights.
#5: Map out the buyer’s journey
When talking about lead gen, there’s usually a lot of mention about funnels, pipelines, journeys, etc. That can get confusing, especially when there’s a lot of overlap between each. But it’s important to consider where your buyer persona is in their journey, so you can best target them and meet their needs.
Your buyer’s journey should align with your funnel — top of the funnel (TOFU) leads are in the awareness stage, middle of the funnel (MOFU) leads are near or at consideration, and bottom of the funnel (BOFU) leads are in the decision stage. This will guide all of the tactics you use to move leads through the funnel and get them closer to conversion.
#6: Improve personalization
It might seem like a small detail, but any amount of personalization makes a big impact on your lead gen strategy. Personalization (of emails, ads, and other messaging) is shown to be highly effective, not just at getting you more leads — but getting you better leads.
But what if you don’t yet have the info you need to get super personal? If you can’t customize for individual users, go back to your buyer persona, and make sure the messaging and content you’re creating is personalized to them.
#7: Optimize your website
Your website is likely the best lead gen tool you’ve got, but you need to continually optimize and improve it to maximize your results.
First, begin by making technical SEO improvements, so you know your site is loading quickly and functioning as it should. Check for issues like broken links and 404 errors. These small adjustments could be the key to keeping leads on your page long enough to become conversions.
Next, make sure all of the landing pages and content on your site are SEO friendly and align with your targeted keywords.
Also be sure all landing pages have just one clear and concise CTA so visitors know exactly what action they’re supposed to take. And make sure your offer (free trial, demo, freemium, etc.) is prominently displayed.
Consider adding an exit intent popup or a chatbot to keep them on the page longer and compel them to take the desired action.
#8: Invest in SaaS SEO
A lot of SaaS marketers just want to groan when we start talking about SaaS SEO, and TBH, we don’t blame them. SEO is already a long game and a pretty intense time investment. Add in the slow buying cycle of many SaaS products, and, well…get ready to hurry up and wait.
But SEO is so important to your lead gen efforts, and the juice is pretty much always worth the squeeze. To get started, you’ll need to understand the SEO funnel for SaaS brands.
We can’t promise you instant results, but we can say that the payoff is worth the time and effort.
#9: Optimize for mobile
A majority of Americans (some 85 percent) own a smartphone, and most of them use it to browse the internet, interact on social media, and conduct searches. It’s critical that your website, social platforms, and content are all optimized to look great on any device, especially on mobile. Be sure that however leads are getting to your site or lead gen form, it’s easy to see, easy to navigate, and easy to fill out from a mobile device.
You can also consider adding a “click to call” button on your site so that mobile users can connect with you instantly.
#10: Email is alive
Email has long been the go-to for lead nurturing, and over the years, it’s become a valuable tool for moving leads through the funnel. Some say that email marketing is dead, but we know better. Even today, click-through rates on nurture emails far outpace general marketing emails.
And as technology advances, marketing automation makes it possible to design and launch nurture campaigns that are personalized and extremely effective.
#11: Use case studies to show, not tell
If you’re a B2B SaaS brand, case studies are not an option — they’re a must. Case studies offer the data that B2B audiences want, compiled in a way that allows them to see the type of customer experience they can expect.
Case studies are your opportunity to show your ideal buyer that you’ve worked with customers just like them before, demonstrating that you understand their pain points and can provide a solution that meets their needs (better than your competition).
#12: Create explainer videos
Visual content like video is becoming a necessity for marketing SaaS brands. Explainer videos are especially effective and can take the place of a standard FAQ. In fact, video content is a fantastic way to get more leads and — most importantly — better quality leads.
There used to be a pretty big barrier when it came to creating video marketing content, but technological advances (and smartphones) have made it easier than ever. Slick, highly-produced commercials will always be pricey, but a quick TikTok or YouTube explainer costs little more than time. Your biggest challenge may be finding a brand representative who is well-spoken and comfortable in front of the lens.
#13: Conduct webinars
Like any B2B brand, SaaS marketers will want to include webinars in their lead gen strategy. Webinars appeal specifically to B2B buyers, who value educational content above all else. The same is likely true for your SaaS audience — which makes sense, as software and tech comprises the biggest industry for webinars.
Remember that while live interviews create a sense of urgency and FOMO, it’s always best to follow up with a recording to increase your chances of hooking more leads.
#14: Use numbers to demonstrate success
Data, data, data. It makes the world go ‘round. Or at least, it does for B2B and SaaS buyers. This crew loves numbers. And most SaaS companies have them in scads. Pull together your most meaningful data, and then compile those numbers into an engaging content piece that really speaks to your audience. Some ways to talk numbers include:
- Infographics: Scannable and shareable for at-a-glance info
- Research reports: In-depth presentation of first-party, primary research
- Whitepapers: Detailed but accessible data snippets
- Case studies: Real-world examples of how your product works and the results it delivers
Just one word of warning — too much data can be overwhelming and off-putting. Focus on highlighting only the most meaningful numbers, and make sure you aren’t displaying them out of context.
#15: Use content marketing to shape your brand identity
Content marketing is one of the most effective tools for lead generation. This form of inbound marketing draws your audience in and provides them with valuable information.
Among SaaS brands, a company blog is one of the most popular forms of content marketing.
But one of the best things about content marketing is that it provides seemingly endless options for creating assets your audience will want (and will be willing to trade their info for). Here’s how to get started with content marketing for lead generation:
Prioritize long-tail keywords during keyword research
Long-tail keywords are the lengthy, extremely specific phrases your ideal buyer might type into a search bar. For example, instead of searching “men’s shoes,” a potential customer might search, “What are the best running shoes for men?”
When you focus on long-tail keywords, you’re really focusing on search intent. Instead of providing general info on shoes, you’re going to fulfill their intent by providing a product they need.
Even better, long-tail keywords cut down on the competition. It might be nearly impossible to outrank competitors for a high-volume keyword like “men’s shoes,” but when you drill down to a super specific long-tail keyword, you’ll improve your odds of ranking much higher.
Plus, when you use your long-tail keywords within your content, your audience will know that you’re providing exactly the information they’re looking for and will feel confident they’ve come to the right place.
Write high-quality content for your blog
This seems like a no-brainer, right? And it should be. But when resources are short and so is time, you might think that any content is better than no content.
Not quite. Take the time to create quality blog content, and you’ll reap the rewards in the long run. Remember that longer blogs (typically 1,000 words+) perform better, as do blogs that feature snappy headers and short, scannable sections. Images, videos, bulleted lists, and infographics also help break up long blocks of text and make the reading experience more enjoyable.
And there’s another bonus to creating high-quality blogs: They’ll be primed and ready to be refreshed and repurposed, so you can use them again and again and maximize their impact.
Guest post on authority SaaS websites
Guest posting serves so many purposes, and all of them are valuable to your brand. Writing guest blogs will increase your backlink portfolio, which can help you rank better and perform better organically.
In addition, increasing backlinks and posting on reputable, trustworthy industry sites increases your own authority.
It also raises brand awareness and helps position you as a thought leader.
#16: Create lead magnets
Think of lead magnets as a marketing-style twist on the law of attraction. Instead of positive thoughts attracting positive outcomes, in this case, great content attracts great leads. Like a magnet, having the right assets will draw your leads to you and make your brand irresistible. Here are some common types of lead magnets:
Gated content is highly valuable and desirable content that leads can receive in exchange for their personal information. It’s extremely popular among SaaS brands.
Remember that, in order to be effective, gated content must provide something your audience can’t easily get elsewhere. But don’t make it too difficult to access — a simple form fill (email address) is usually sufficient.
Free trials and freemium
While some marketers still have a hard time wrapping their heads around the idea of giving away their product for free, it’s been a standard practice in the SaaS industry pretty much since its inception.
Free trials and freemiums are great for pulling in leads, but they’re also fantastic at retaining them.
This also paves the way for your sales enablement strategy to take effect so that you can ensure a seamless transition from marketing to sales. At this point, the leads are primed and ready so sales can take them the rest of the way to conversion.
Designing a microtool that helps leads use your product (or makes a case for them to) is a perfect choice for a lead magnet. Microtools can include calculators, templates, planners, and calendars as a downloadable asset that helps users take an action and makes that action easier for them.
Ebooks are a fantastic lead magnet, and these days, you don’t need to have an in with the publishing industry to produce them. You do need quite a bit of content, though. You’ll want it to be in-depth, interesting, and well-written, and you’ll want it to answer the questions that are most pressing to your audience.
If it feels too daunting to write an entire book, look into compiling (and updating) existing content, like blog posts, guides, reports, etc. Freshen them up with an original intro and transitions that link each section, and voila! you’ve got an instant best-seller (or at least, a great lead magnet).
Whitepapers aren’t as extensive as ebooks, but they do offer plenty of valuable information. Many may prefer them to ebooks, as they’re shorter and typically easier to read in a single sitting. Whitepapers should provide as much data and information as possible in a layout that flows well and is easy to follow.
Reports very often highlight your own original or primary research, detailing the results and drawing insights from the data you’ve uncovered. Reports like these are extremely valuable because they are proprietary — none of your competitors can supply this exact information. To conduct research, you may want to send polls or surveys to existing customers, hold focus groups, or conduct in-depth interviews one-on-one.
#17: Create a referral program
Referral marketing is necessary for any brand to grow, especially if the goal is long-term, sustainable growth. Referral marketing is also one of the best ways to get new leads into your funnel. And best of all, your existing customers do the legwork for you!
Here are a few fast stats on referral marketing:
A few things to keep in mind about referrals:
- Don’t ask for too much. Ask customers to give you one referral — not 100.
- Incentivize them. Offer a discount, upgrade, or other exclusive deal they can’t get any other way.
- Reward them for sharing. Use a contest to get them sharing on social — X amount of entries for every share, like, etc.
#18: Include chatbots and live chat on your website
Customer experience is a huge part of a SaaS brand’s success, but it’s also important to the lead gen process. You want to make sure prospective leads have a way of connecting with you on their terms, especially when they’ve finally made it to your website.
Today’s customers expect a lot from your brand, and that includes an immediate response.
As you can see, expectations are growing, particularly when it comes to chatbots and live chat. Customers want information, and they want it now. A chatbot can help you provide that without having a customer service team operating 24/7. Plus, most people today are more receptive to chatbots and find them just as valuable and informative as live chat.
#19: Get active on review sites
Most B2B buyers consult reviews before making a purchase decision, and the same is true for SaaS buyers. In fact, they’re likely to look at multiple reviews as they reach the decision stage of the funnel — this is one of the key steps they take just prior to conversion.
To maximize the impact of your SaaS brand’s reviews, get active on review sites and Google. These days, customers expect a response — and that includes responding to negative reviews. When prospects see there are real people behind your brand, it impacts their perception. So even a bad review can turn into sales if you handle it properly.
#20: Adopt social selling
Social selling is just what it sounds like — making sales (or at least, outreach) via social media. It happens on a smaller scale than most account-based marketing but is shown to be highly effective, especially among buyers who are pretty reluctant to take a cold call.
Effective social selling requires a lot of engagement, so make sure you’re ready to invest the time into building your social media presence, working on demand generation and interacting with followers and potential leads.
#21: Create an email marketing drip campaign
A drip campaign is what’s often referred to as a nurture campaign because the emails “drip” into their inbox on a regulated and predetermined schedule. It’s one of the best parts of email marketing, as automation now makes it easier than ever.
Drip campaigns are especially effective during the free trial/onboarding process. If you have a higher learning curve or difficult adoption process, a drip campaign can help smooth rough spots and keep users engaged.
#22: Use pipeline marketing to optimize the entire marketing funnel
What’s the difference between a funnel and a pipeline? Honestly, it really comes down to the shape of things. Overall though, your pipeline will have the same stages as your lead gen funnel.
The key difference is how they’re handled. While lead gen often focuses more attention on the very top of the funnel (the awareness stage), pipeline marketing looks at end-to-end funnel optimization.
Your lead gen pipeline engages all types of leads, no matter where they are in the funnel, and encompasses both the marketing and sales aspects of lead generation.
#23: Build relationships with complimentary SaaS products
You’d never give your best stuff away for free, would you? You would if you’re a SaaS brand. SaaS is built on freemiums and free trials, and users now expect that’s what they’re going to get when they’re in the consideration/decision stages with most SaaS products.
The way you do your freemiums will differ, but the goal is to give the user an authentic experience with the product and to make it so valuable to them that they want to subscribe or upgrade.
Depending on the type of SaaS product you offer, you might test out a free trial (just make sure the trial period is long enough to provide real value) or a forever-free model (but be sure premium upgrades are worth the cost).
If possible, offer trials and freemiums without asking for credit card information. This makes onboarding more seamless and gives users a truly risk-free experience. It also builds a relationship of trust and respect.
#24: Improve lead nurturing
Lead nurturing, as mentioned previously, most often takes the form of an automated email campaign. You might think this “set it and forget it” approach takes the pressure off, but don’t get lazy — you’ll need to constantly look for new and creative ways to nurture your leads through the funnel.
This is especially important when it comes to expired trials or those who drop off during the onboarding process. They’ll need extra engagement and reassurance to get them back in the fold.
#25: Add CTAs in your email signatures
You want to make it easy for leads to find what they’re looking for (your product!), and that includes in your emails. Make sure you create a CTA banner you can add to your email signature so they always know exactly where to click.
Just make sure your email CTA isn’t too busy or confusing. You might also want to consider changing it up based on the season or updating it around exclusive sales or deals.
#26: Use paid ads and landing pages to generate more leads
Paid ads are a great way to get more leads quickly. As opposed to SEO or other organic/inbound marketing practices, paid marketing delivers fast results so you can see what’s working and what isn’t.
For TOFU lead gen, you can focus your paid ads mainly on raising brand awareness and increasing traffic. If you’re targeting MOFU leads, you’ll need a fantastic offer (backed up on your landing page) that inspires them to click through. And for BOFU leads, you may want to try a retargeting campaign. Since you already know they’re interested in your brand/product, this might be the thing that keeps them on the hook and moves them down the funnel.
#27: List your SaaS company on industry-relevant sites
B2B and SaaS buyers are a pretty savvy bunch, and they often peruse industry directories looking for listings, reviews, and more. If your brand isn’t there, it’s not likely to be found by these extremely motivated buyers.
Fortunately, it’s fairly easy and cost-effective to get your brand listed in these SaaS business directories. Some of the top sites include:
- Capterra: Gets 1.4 million visitors a month and is free to users and brands.
- G2: Free to use and gets 3.5 million visitors each month.
- Product Hunt: Growing platform with 2.2 visitors a month and free to use.
There are many more, so start researching now and create a profile you can use across directories. Be sure you’re also keeping tabs on reviews left on these sites and responding whenever possible.
#28: Leverage influencer marketing for higher conversion rates
A lot of times we associate influencer marketing exclusively with B2C, and we tend to think of big, splashy celeb influencers. However, there’s a thriving influencer market in the B2B, tech, and SaaS arena as well.
Why look for SaaS influencers?
Influencers raise awareness for TOFU leads, but they also lead to increased sales among MOFU and BOFU leads.
Instead of aiming for a Kardashian-level influencer, go for micro-influencers in your particular niche. Not only are they often more affordable — they also have an audience that’s very interested in the type of product you’re selling.
#29: Create a social media strategy
You want to be where your audience is, so social media is a must when it comes to your lead gen strategy. But for SaaS buyers, you may not always find them on Facebook or Insta. Since SaaS buyers often fall into the B2B realm, you’ll often have better luck on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is particularly friendly to lead generation, especially after the development of the platform's lead gen forms.
LinkedIn isn’t always a silver bullet, though. You might find that your buyers are spending their time somewhere else. For instance, if you have a younger demographic, they might be on TikTok or Snapchat. And believe it or not, marketers are now making a case for B2B marketing on these platforms as well.
The bottom line here is to stay active on any platforms on which you have a presence. You need to engage with followers and leads, run paid campaigns when possible, and put some energy into interacting with your audience.
Conclusion: Diversify Your SaaS Lead Generation Strategy to Build a Multi-Channel Approach
Lead generation doesn’t exist in a vacuum, especially not for SaaS brands. You’ll want to ensure your lead gen strategy aligns with your other marketing channels and that they support one another in a symbiotic relationship.
If SaaS lead gen isn’t in your wheelhouse, it might be time to reach out for some help. At FPS, our lead gen experts are ready and waiting to build a strategy that works for your brand. We have years of experience in the SaaS industry and have delivered proven results in getting leads for tech brands (and we have the case studies to back it up!).