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SaaS Companies, You Should Treat Your Leads Like Meat



I’ve worked with many SaaS businesses during my employment at 97th Floor. Most of them could use a tune up when dealing with their leads. Let me explain with an analogy.

Fans of 97th Floor know our dedication to health and wellness. We look at analytics and metric markers for our clients and then make decisions for their business. It seems fair that we take that same approach for our bodies. CEO and Founder Chris Bennett certainly has a lot to say on the matter, and I personally have a lot to thank 97th Floor for in my own physical transformation. Especially to Chris himself.

In 2015 Chris spent some time with me and recommended The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. The book clicked with me and helped me understand the importance of nutrition. Since then, I’ve given proper attention to the source and quality of food I eat. I’ve lost more than 70 pounds and have run a marathon and even a 50k (don’t be too impressed, I’m about as fast as a turtle).

In my effort to eat better, I subscribed to one of those farm-to-door, grass-fed meat delivery services. It seemed like every other month the food would get to me late, resulting in rotten meat on my doorstep. Their customer service was exceptional; they’d always send me a new box, no questions asked. But it left me feeling bad for all the spoiled meat.

Despite the customer service being aimable each time there was a fumble, I decided to cancel the subscription. I felt too bad about all the waste.

At 97th Floor, we know SaaS. We love the vast and quickly changing landscape that SaaS companies play in, not to mention the hyper-competitive market that requires dynamic and elegant campaigns. Despite being a quick market, the big names are ones everyone recognizes. Recent figures suggest that the top three players in the SaaS space are Microsoft, Salesforce, and Adobe with 18%, 11.5% and 6.7% market share respectively.

And we know how precious even a single lead can be. In fact, according to a recent study from KeyBanc, a SaaS business needs to spend $1.32 to make $1 back from the user’s first year. Or in other words, SaaS companies are not bringing in a positive return on a customer until their second year (assuming they are retained). For a SaaS business, leads are life-giving nourishment to the business's overall health, don’t let them rot on your doorstep.

Meal Planning Your Leads

Just like meal planning, where you know what you’re doing with your meat before you bring it home, you should know what you’re going to be doing with your leads before you collect them.

SaaS businesses rely on lead capture and subsequent funnels that nurture leads into customers, and eventually into fans of the product. According to MarketsandMarkets, the SaaS market is expected to compound at an annual growth rate of 18% each year. SaaS product marketers understand this hypercompetitive landscape.

Just like meat will rot when left out, your leads will go stale if you leave them in your CRM for weeks without a touchpoint. Win customers and keep users engaged by planning for them with appropriate funnels.

Have you ever found a pocket of leads in your system that were captured from a promotion from long ago only to find that they only were sent a single confirmation email and nothing else? It’s frustrating and a little sad. That’s lost business.

To make sure your leads aren’t rotting on your front porch (so to speak), create a “meal plan” for your leads by assigning a drip campaign or funnel for each access point on your site. If you have the resources and demand for it, create multiple funnels that cater to different audiences you capture.


When To Salt and When To Store

When you have a meal plan, unpacking your groceries and storing them in the appropriate places is easy. Let’s say you’ve made your meal plan: chicken thighs tomorrow, lamb chops on Friday, and steak tonight. So as you’re unpacking, you throw the chicken into a marinade, the lamb into the freezer, and you get some salt on that steak so it’s tender when it hits the grill in a few hours.

See where I’m going here? Leads are going to come into the funnel at different stages of the buyer’s journey. We often see this laid out as awareness, consideration, or decision stages. If your leads are going to move down the funnel at an appropriate cadence, they each need stage-appropriate pieces of content.

For example, if someone downloads a case study, then watches a webinar, and has spent a couple minutes on your pricing page, they are an advanced prospect: start salting that lead. Get them deeper funnel content with an email. Send them to a deep pillar page that houses the ins and outs of your SaaS product. Or better yet, give the prospect the ability to schedule a time with your sales team directly from your website.

When someone trickles in from a top of funnel ebook, they’re like the chicken thighs that will spend some time in the fridge. Be prepared to let them take their time down the funnel. Give them time and space, but don’t forget about them. You should have specific funnels set up for just such a lead.


When To Put Your Leads On Ice

Back to my analogy about meat for a minute.

Instead of a delivery service I found a local butcher that sells grass-fed local beef, lamb, and heritage-breed pork raised within 20 miles of my home. Single cuts are pricey, so I’m often buying in bulk. Like a quarter of a cow, or half a lamb cut up into familiar cuts I use in regular meals. These cuts go straight into my freezer until I’m ready to use them.

I’m buying meat in bulk, let’s say you’re capturing leads in bulk too.

If you don’t already, you should have a call to action on your blog. Shockingly it’s estimated that over ⅓ of SaaS blogs don’t have any CTAs. Now assuming you do have a CTA, make sure those leads are actually going to a funnel, they have to go somewhere. Maybe that means your metaphorical freezer, that is, your newsletter, just make sure they don’t rot.

A newsletter can yield a positive return, so make sure that there’s value in it. For example, your newsletter could contain your best performing blog posts from the month. Or perhaps quotes or tutorials from your product developers.

I’ve worked with enough SaaS businesses to understand that the buyer's journey can be quite long. From my experience, the greater the investment and gap to adoption, the longer the sales cycle. 97th Floor has worked with SaaS companies with buyer’s cycles exceeding a year. If that’s your case, make sure you have regular touch points during the buyer’s journey so you remain top of mind for the prospective customer.

And don’t forget to have some kind of CTA in there, so when your reader is ready to talk about your product, it’s as easy as a click in the email.

Let that steak sizzle! If there’s any takeaway here it’s to make sure that your leads are hearing appropriate messaging at the appropriate time.



PJ Howland

PJ is the VP of Industry Insights at 97th Floor. He coordinates insights with others at 97th Floor to ensure we're all elevating each other through good content.

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