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Hackernoon logoA Step-by-Step SaaS Marketing Roadmap by@royharmon

A Step-by-Step SaaS Marketing Roadmap

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@royharmonRoy

I'm a lead generation expert with over 10 years of experience in customer acquisition.

This article is meant to serve as a step-by-step SaaS marketing workbook that will walk you through the entire process of building a full-funnel lead generation platform to enhance your marketing campaigns.

At Fusion Web Clinic (a healthcare SaaS company), I used the SaaS Marketing Funnel to increase leads by 500%, increase demo sign-ups by 44%, and increase new customers by 20%.

An In-Depth Explanation

I’ve shared versions of this marketing funnel template elsewhere, but this my most in-depth look at the funnel and how you can make it work for you. I’ve also included printable worksheets at the end of the guide.

I'll explain how to build:

  • Qualification Funnels that draw qualified traffic into your website
  • Awareness Funnels that identify people with a problem you can solve​
  • Consideration Funnels that pinpoint leads who are in the market to buy
  • Decision Funnels that close leads who are ready to make a purchase

As your leads make their way through your funnels, you will come to be seen as a trusted authority. By providing valuable information at each stage of the buyer's journey you'll build brand awareness and trust with the people who matter most: potential customers.

As such, you won’t have to rely on cold calling and email blasts. This SaaS marketing strategy will have customers coming to you!

That’s because instead of focusing on interruption-based advertising, you’ll be serving

highly relevant ads

with useful content

at just the right time.

More Benefits of the SaaS Marketing Funnel

In addition to the advantages listed above, successful implementation of the SaaS Marketing Funnel will deliver these benefits:

  • You will see results faster. Who has the time to wait around for SEO? The SaaS Marketing Funnel speeds up the lead generation process with digital advertising.
  • You will build your credibility. By providing value through each stage of the buyer’s journey, you’ll win your prospects’ trust.
  • You will increase your sales velocity.​ Through remarketing and behavioral targeting you’ll work leads through the sales process faster.What You’ll Learn in the SaaS Marketing Funnel Guide

How it Works

The Saas Marketing Funnel is a combination of inbound methodology and funnel marketing. When most people think of inbound they’re thinking SEO and content marketing, but this funnel supercharges your SaaS marketing efforts with targeted advertising.

This is how it works:

Step 1: Build Your Audience

First, you’ll build a qualified audience through the use of third party data and advertising. This will build your audience at every stage of the buyer’s journey much faster than SEO alone.

Step 2: Fill Your Funnel​

You’ll develop contextually relevant information to build your credibility with potential customers and keep them coming back for more.

Step 3: Guide Your Customers

By advertising the right content to targeted audiences, you’ll help your leads navigate the buyer’s journey faster than they could on their own.

Step 4: Close Deals Faster

You’ll deliver progressive messaging that educates your leads so that they’re ready to close faster when they get to the Decision stage.

Preliminary Questions​

It’s important to make sure you understand your business in terms of the solutions you provide. To get the most out of this guide, answer these questions before you continue.

  1. What problem(s) do you solve?
  2. What’s unique about your solution?
  3. What are the strengths of your solution?
  4. What are the weaknesses of your solution?
  5. Who are your top competitors?
  6. What do they do better than you do?
  7. What do you do better?
  8. What does your ideal customer look like?​

If you take the time to answer the questions above, you’ll get a 360-degree perspective on

  • What your company has to offer, and
  • To whom you should be offering it.

In the following exercises, you’ll be taking the answers to those questions and using them to decide:

  • what content you should develop for each stage of the buyer’s journey to help your potential customers
  • how to position your product or service in your copy so that potential customers understand if you’re the perfect choice
  • who to target with your advertising in the Qualification stage to build up your initial audience

And notice that in that second bullet point I said ​IF ​you’re the perfect choice.

As you’re working through the rest of these exercises, remember:

No product or service is right for everyone.

Be laser-focused in your pursuit of the people who are the perfect fit for what you have to offer.

People who aren’t a good fit should know within three seconds of landing on your landing page that they should look elsewhere.

You’ll do that by avoiding what I call “sloppy copy.”

Sloppy copy is copy that wins the contact information of someone who isn’t a good fit for your offering. It’s a detriment to your lead generation efforts.

If you don’t nip it in the bud?

Its negative effects will echo throughout your entire sales process. ​It will cost you time and money.

​Time that you could be spending on people who are likely to buy.

And money you could spend on ads to move those people down the funnel.

So don’t write sloppy copy!

​Audience Segmentation

Audience segmentation is a crucial aspect of the SaaS Marketing Funnel. Let’s talk about how to segment your audience according to the stage in the buyer’s journey they’re in.

To make the SaaS Marketing Funnel work, you need to segment your visitors into buckets based on where they’re at in your sales cycle so that you can target them with contextually relevant information.

Examples

The best way to segment your audience is to determine what behaviors visitors will exhibit in certain stages of the buyer’s journey and what pages they’ll be on. For example, if a lead visits your sales page, that’s one indicator that they might be in the Decision stage.

The more traffic you have, the more specific you can be.

Getting More Specific

For instance, you might only put someone in your Decision audience if they’ve done multiple things that indicate that they’re towards the bottom of the funnel.

But don’t be any more specific than you need to be. You don’t want to slow-roll your sales.

(By the way, the reason the amount of traffic you get matters is because if you don’t have enough traffic in each audience you won’t be able to serve ads to them.)

One way you’ll deal with this problem is by generating a lot of top of funnel traffic from your Qualification audience.

Your qualification audience is a broad audience made up of traffic generated from third-party data and any traffic that doesn’t fit into one of your other audiences.

Tools

A lot of audience segmentation can be done without any special tools. You can set up remarketing audiences in Google Ads, AdRoll, Facebook Ads, etc. without having to use any third-party tools.

If you want to go a little deeper, you can use Google Analytics to analyze segments of your audience based on new and returning users, traffic source, demographics, geography, device, and behavior.

You can use that information to determine what you should prioritize when building your remarketing audiences. This also plays a role in how you nurture your leads.

How to Grow Your Audience

​So I’m sure all of this sounds great, but what if you don’t have an audience yet? That’s where digital advertising comes to the rescue.

As you’ve noticed, the SaaS Marketing Funnel relies heavily on the inbound methodology. Although inbound marketing is usually considered to be almost synonymous with content marketing, the SaaS Marketing Funnel relies heavily on what I call “inbound advertising”.

Advertising is inbound when its focus is on developing valuable content to educate potential customers, with audiences segmented based on the buyer’s journey.

The strategy allows you to nurture your leads through ads, while simultaneously nurturing them through traditional methods (e.g., email marketing).

For display advertising, paid social, and any other ad channels you choose to use you’ll create four campaigns:

  • Qualification: This campaign targets a broad group of people who might be interested in your product or service (using interest targeting on Facebook, third party data through a demand-side platform, etc.)
  • Awareness: Your Awareness campaign identifies people who are becoming aware that they have a problem by remarketing to anyone who has been anywhere on your website in the past 180 days (but excluding people further down the funnel, i.e., in the Consideration and Decision stage campaigns below).
  • Consideration: This campaign targets people whose website activity over the last 90 days indicates that they’re considering solutions to their problem (e.g., if they visited your “Features” page or an article comparing different solutions).
  • Decision: This campaign targets people whose website activity over the last 30 days indicates that they’re ready to make a purchase (e.g., if they visited your “Pricing” page).

Note: You should tweak the membership duration of the list based on the length of your sales cycle.

​Next, we’ll cover the sort of content you’ll need to create for each campaign.

4 Stages of Content for the SaaS Marketing Funnel

Do you know how many companies have developed a content marketing strategy?

According to these statistics from The Content Marketing Institute, developing a content marketing strategy will put you ahead of more than 60% of your competition!

That’s a nice advantage! So let’s talk about each stage of content and how you can get the most bang for your content marketing buck.

Qualification

Should ​appeal as specifically as possible to the ideal customer you identified earlier in the workbook. This content exists to get likely customers onto your remarketing list, so more specific you are, the less money you’ll spend on wasted clicks further down the funnel.​​

Awareness

Identifies potential customers who are at the beginning of the buyer’s journey. They’re just starting to become familiar with their problem, so use this content to help them understand it better.

Consideration

Provides value for your audience with information on possible solutions. It’s OK to mention your product or service at this point, but it shouldn’t be salesy. Instead, subtly focus on why the areas you’re strong are more important than the areas where you’re weak (without mentioning your company or your competitors).

Decision

​Here’s where you make your pitch. Why are you the best choice?

SaaS Marketing Funnel Content Map

You’ll need a strong foundation of valuable content to fuel your funnel. Based on your understanding of the buyer’s journey, develop content ideas based on their wants, needs, questions, and concerns.

Below is a template to facilitate the process. And if you struggle to come up with ideas I’ve written on an article on how to develop blog post ideas.

Example Content Map

Here’s a brief example of a content map for an imaginary SaaS company that sells a productivity app called Producktive. Put a map like this together​ upfront, then continue to add onto it as your business grows and you learn more about your target market.

Pulling Leads Down The SaaS Marketing Funnel

It’s not enough to create your content, build your ads, and wait for things to happen. You have to design your funnel in a way that pulls people through the process.

To do that, the SaaS Marketing Funnel segments your visitors into buckets based on where they’re at in your sales cycle so that you can target them with contextually relevant information that holds their hands throughout the buyer’s journey.

Behavioral Targeting

Behavioral targeting helps segment your audience based on the buyer’s journey. Based on the pages they’ve been to on your website, how frequently they’ve visited, when they listed visited, etc., you can get a good idea of whether they’re at the top, bottom, or middle of the funnel.

Trapdoors

Trapdoor offers are offers that you promote to an audience that’s earlier in the buyer’s journey. For example, you might have a Decision offer (e.g., an offer for a free demo), for your Consideration stage audience. That way you can nudge them along the funnel.

Software

As I mentioned earlier when I was talking about audience segmentation, a lot of audience segmentation can be done without any special software. You can set up remarketing audiences in Google Ads, AdRoll, Facebook Ads, etc. without having to use any third-party tools.

But to build really sophisticated funnels, you will need a software solution like Drip or Zapier (both have free options) to set up behavioral targeting, trigger emails, and run workflows.

Almost everything you’ll need can be found for free, so don’t let money get in the way. You can wait to invest in software until you begin to see consistent revenue.

Essential SaaS Marketing Funnel Components

First, let’s discuss the key components of any funnel.

Traffic Source

This is how you fill your funnel. It includes paid traffic (e.g., Google search ads or Facebook ads) and organic (e.g, social media or blog posts).

Call-to-Action

This is the copy you’ll use to entice people to take advantage of your offer.​ It should be very ​ ​ clear about what you’re looking for them to do.

Landing Page

This is where you persuade prospects to download your offer (and give you their contact information). It will include a form through which you’ll collect your prospects’ contact information.​

Offer

Also known as a “lead magnet,” this is the reason your prospects will hand over their information. It can be anything your potential customers will find valuable.​

Thank You Page

Here’s where you say thanks and provide the download. You can also use the thank you page to drive them deeper into the buyer’s journey by serving up another offer for a later stage of the buyer’s journey here.​​​

Confirmation Email

Provide the download via email as well. Like the Thank You Page, you can use this email to drive your leads deeper into the buyer’s journey or get more information with another offer.​​​

Follow-Up Email

Send emails to see where your prospect is in the buyer’s journey. You can send offers from the current stage of the buyer’s journey and later stages.

Remarketing

Remarketing ads allow you to advertise to website visitors who didn’t convert, and you can promote offers from later stages of the funnel.

SaaS Marketing Funnel Template

Here’s a visual aid that you can print out. You can print as many as you need and fill in the boxes for each stage of the buyer’s journey.

Qualification Stage Content

Your Qualification content exists for one reason and one reason only: to identify people who might be a good fit for your product or service. You want to get these people on your remarketing list. (Bonus points if you get their first name and email address!)

  1. Who is a good fit for your product or service?
  2. What separates them from the rest of the population?
  3. Who is not a good fit?
  4. What information can you provide that will be compelling to the first group, while the second group scrolls by without a second thought?

Qualification Funnel

Based on your answers to the preceding questions, answer the following questions.

Where you’ll get your traffic (organic search, paid social, etc.)Where you’ll send that traffic (blog posts, landing pages, etc.)How you’ll get their contact information (e.g., downloadable content behind a form)Traffic Sources

With every funnel that makes up the SaaS Marketing Funnel, you can use any traffic source you want as long as they make sense when considering your objective. For example, if you use Facebook Ads, you could use broad interest-based targeting.

In the Qualification stage, make sure your ad copy, where you’re sending the traffic, and any content offers would only appeal to people who might be a good fit for your product or service.

Blog Posts​

Blog posts in this stage will be more general interest, but they will only be of interest to people who you want in your funnel.

Content Offers

Simple offers like checklists and top 10 tips are effective at this stage of the game.

Qualification Diagram​

Drawing a simple diagram can help get everything straight in your head so you know what you need to get started.

Here’s an example of what your diagram might look like if you were a mechanic who specialized in foreign cars.

Since this is the top of the funnel, he’s going to focus on content that is specific enough to only appeal to people who’d be a good fit for his shop.

But he’s also going to make sure it’s broad enough not to exclude anyone who might be interested.

If he’s able to get their contact information at this point, he’s going to follow up with a coupon for an oil change to see if he can’t get them into the shop. If that doesn’t work, he’ll follow-up a few weeks later offering a free inspection.

It’s important to set up marketing automation so that you move people out of your funnels when it’s time (for example, once someone takes advantage of your oil change coupon, you wouldn’t want to send that to them again until they’d actually need another oil change).

Your diagram doesn’t have to look exactly like the one above, but you should sketch something out to make sure you’re covering all your bases.

Awareness Stage Content

In the Awareness stage, your potential customers have a problem. It’s your job to help them understand that problem, its ramifications and possible solutions.​​

  1. ​What problems does your target audience have that are relevant to your product or service?​
  2. Where can you find those people? (Examples: trade shows, Facebook, shopping malls, etc.)
  3. What compelling information can you provide about the problems you solve? (For example, the consequences of not dealing with the problem.)

Awareness Funnel

Based on your answers to the preceding questions, answer the following questions:

  • Where you’ll get your traffic (organic search, paid social, etc.)
  • Where you’ll send that traffic (blog posts, landing pages, etc.)
  • How you’ll get their contact information (e.g., downloadable content behind a form)

​Content Offers

Pretty much any format that works in the Qualification stage should work here, you’ll just want to make sure your content is focused on the problems your potential customers have.

Awareness Diagram​

Here’s an example of a funnel our European car mechanic might use to generate leads in the Awareness stage.

You can see that he’s focusing on a problem, and highlighting the consequences of ignoring that problem.

Then he’s offering some advice to help his readers take care of their Audis. If they take advantage of that, he’s sending them to a Thank You page offering a free inspection because that’s more relevant to the blog topic than an oil change.

Even if they don’t take advantage of the offer, if you’ve got their contact information and you know they’ve looked at relevant content, it’s good to have emails triggered with related offers from time to time.​

Consideration Stage Content

In the Consideration stage, your potential customers are exploring different solutions to their problem. Provide value by helping them better understand their options.

  1. What are some possible solutions to the problem(s) you solve?​
  2. How do the solutions compare to each other?
  3. What are the pros and cons of each?​
  4. What sort of information can you provide to help people choose the best option for their needs?​

Consideration Funnel

Based on your answers to the preceding questions, answer the following questions:

  • Where you’ll get your traffic (organic search, paid social, etc.)
  • Where you’ll send that traffic (blog posts, landing pages, etc.)
  • How you’ll get their contact information (e.g., downloadable content behind a form)

Content Offers

Whitepapers, tools, and resource guides are some of the best options for this stage of the buyer’s journey. But ideally your offers will educate your visitors about the solutions to their problem.

Consideration Diagram​

Is everything starting to make sense? Here’s an example of a Consideration stage funnel.

Decision Stage Content

In the Decision stage, your potential customer has chosen a solution category, and they’re looking for the best product or service within that category.

Provide honest educational information to help them determine whether or not your offering is a good fit.

  1. Why is your product or service better than competing products or services that solve the same problem in the same way?
  2. ​Why is your product or service better than competing products or services that solve the same problem in different ways?
  3. What information can you provide to help people determine whether or not your product or service is the right choice for them?

Decision Funnel

Based on your answers to the preceding questions, answer the following questions:

  • Where you’ll get your traffic (organic search, paid social, etc.)
  • Where you’ll send that traffic (blog posts, landing pages, etc.)
  • How you’ll get their contact information (downloadable content behind a form)

Here's an example.

Content Offers

This is a good time to offer a free trial, live demo or something else that will give them a closer look at your product or service to help them determine if it’s the best fit for them.

​SaaS Marketing Funnel Prioritization

Unless you have a specific reason not to, you should prioritize the Decision funnel above all else. It’s closest to the bottom of the funnel, which means it will almost always lead to revenue before the other funnels (unless you have less expensive offers along the way).

That means:

  • Build your Decision stage funnel first
  • If you only have the budget to send ad traffic to one funnel, it should be your Decision funnel
  • Don’t start building other funnels until you’ve completed your Decision funnel
  • Invest most of your resources in your Decision funnel until you begin to reach a point of diminishing returns ​

Once you’ve got your Decision funnel firing on all cylinders, you should move on to the other funnels in reverse order (i.e., Consideration, Awareness, Qualification).

Originally published at https://advertoscope.com on October 22, 2019.

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