What We’ve Learned from Our SaaS Lead Generation Experiments
[Editor’s note] Today, we get to see first hand how Chanty handles SaaS lead generation. Enjoy.
When we started Chanty, we set an ambitious goal for our marketing team — to get 100 emails of early adopters in one month.
Now, as there is no magic spell we could use to summon new users, we had to employ all means possible (and do it on a budget).
How did we do that? And did it actually work for us?
Here are the strategies we’ve tried (and some lessons we learned along the way).
SaaS Lead Generation: Attracting Leads via Beta Testing Platforms
First, we’ve turned to beta testing platforms. It is a quite obvious place to start when you are looking for early adopters to test your product.
There are hundreds of dedicated resources for startups and tech products to get publicity. That’s why we’ve decided to close in on several of the most promising resources instead of trying to cover all at once.
Furthermore, having a limited budget, we’ve decided to focus on the platforms that offer free submission first of all.
Here are some of the dedicated beta testing platforms we have shortlisted for our experiment.
- Beta Family (With a free plan you can only test your app with your own testers or use unrated testers registered on the platform.)
- Beta Testers Hub
There is also a great potential in popular community platforms, such as Hacker News, Quora, or Reddit. The latter has a number of dedicated subreddits helping startups get users to test their products and collect feedback.
The first experiment turned out to be quite successful. No, we didn’t get our first 100 leads. Yet, taking into account the lack of a good landing page, let alone the product itself, the results were still good.
Most of the leads who signed up at this stage came from BetaList (actually, it brought us more signups than the rest of resources combined).
So one thing that we learned is for sure: It makes more sense to focus on one platform that can bring you 100 leads instead of wasting your time on 100 different resources that can only get you 1 email each.
SaaS Lead Generation: Finding Leads on LinkedIn
As a startup targeting small and medium businesses, we’ve decided to turn to LinkedIn as a source of potential leads as well as valuable market insights.
Our strategy was pretty straightforward. We connect with potential users, chat with them to build credibility, and ask to fill out a short survey (and get them to sign up for our beta test).
It is worth mentioning that the number of invitations you can send is limited. LinkedIn Premium basically removes this restriction. However, you should still be very careful: in case very few of your invitations are accepted, you can get banned for spamming.
We were sending out dozens of invitations every day. About 20% of them were accepted (which is a pretty decent result).
Furthermore, 20% of those who connected took our survey. Another 20% of survey participants agreed to beta test our product.
As a result, to get the required 100 emails, we had to reach out to a few thousands of people on LinkedIn.To get the required 100 emails, we had to reach out to a few thousands of people on LinkedIn. Click To Tweet
There are several things that we’ve learned trying to find leads on LinkedIn:
- Target people who are most likely to use your product (or, in our case, initiate using it in the company).
- Add a short personalized note to each invitation to improve your chances for success (we saw 30% better response rate with such invitations).
- Ask for a permission to send a link to the survey (or any other favor you want them to do) before you actually do it.
- Be ready to do your leads a favor in return (be it testing their product or helping them connect with some of your valuable contacts).
- Don’t forget about your existing connections. Start with your established network on LinkedIn before you go looking for new contacts — it usually requires less effort, yet results in a much higher conversion rate.
All in all, LinkedIn has been a very valuable resource in terms of lead generation. Moreover, connecting and communicating with people on LinkedIn not only expands your network and provides you with quite a few leads, but it also gives you priceless feedback that is crucial at the beta stage.
SaaS Lead Generation: Sourcing Leads via Quora
Our experience with Quora has been quite successful. We posted informative answers to relevant questions like “What’s the best team communication tool?”. We also included a short CTA to come and try Chanty at the end of each post.
And it worked pretty well at first: Conversion rate was about 5% of the referral traffic from Quora.
Unfortunately, our account with all the answers, followers, etc. was permanently blocked without any explanation.
Takeaway: We weren’t overly promotional on Quora. Definitely not more than other users who are still safe and sound Quora members. As a result, we can’t recommend Quora as a reliable source of leads.
However, there are many different strategies working with Quora. Maybe, you’ll find the one that works for you without getting banned.
SaaS Lead Generation: Connecting with Leads in Facebook Communities
I’ve been an active member of the SaaS Growth Hacks community for a while. The community currently has over 7,000 members and is pretty active with 100 daily posts on average. Its members are also the audience we wanted to target: CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs, so it worked pretty well for us.
For some time Facebook communities brought us a handful of leads. Not too many. Yet, they were mostly curious about the product rather than people in need of a team communication tool.
Nevertheless, it brought us a lot of networking opportunities letting us publish our articles to third-party websites owned by people I met in this community.
Takeaway: You should definitely give Facebook communities a try. Even if they don’t bring you many leads, you’ll get to know many great people that will definitely benefit you in the long run. However, make sure to choose active communities that are relevant to your product.
SaaS Lead Generation: Generating Leads via Content Marketing
Finally, we’ve come to content marketing. To tell the truth, this isn’t the easiest lead generation strategy, but definitely worth investing into.
Our first content marketing efforts were centered around our blog. Writing content for our readers was the highest priority.
Luckily, the approach worked well for us. We received positive feedback from our readers.
An example of a thankful reader’s response
Motivated and excited, we started supporting our blog content with guest posts, sharing our expertise (SaaS journey, etc) on well-known websites.
Finally, we were able to see some traction: our traffic started growing organically. To translate this growth into leads, we’ve added the call to action forms to the blog.
Takeaway: One thing that we’ve learned at this stage is that high-quality, valuable content that helps your potential customers is the key.High-quality, valuable content that helps your potential customers is the key. Click To Tweet
Every piece of content you share should help your customers solve a certain problem they face. It is important to come up with engaging, attractive content that is head and shoulders above what everyone else is writing on the same topic.
SaaS Lead Generation: Product Comparison and ‘Alternative’ Articles
While looking for some quality keywords to target in our articles, we came across a group of search queries related to some of our major competitors. Namely, it turned out that many people were actually looking for Slack alternatives online.
So, we figured, this was our chance to shine.
To test this assumption, we wrote a bunch of Slack alternatives, Slack vs Discord, etc. articles sharing our review of the team communication tools that are actually our rivals. Of course, each article featured a visible CTA form explaining that we are building Chanty guided by our own experience using other tools.
And it was a good call. Product comparison and alternative articles brought a fair amount of traffic and converted extremely well, thanks to the high intent of the keywords we used.
Takeaway: Comparison and alternative articles help your users understand how your product differs from the available options and why it is better. To start with, define your major competitors and get to know them really well. Try to stay fair-minded and don’t oversell your product.
SaaS Lead Generation: Conversion Rate Optimization
Once you are good at attracting visitors, it’s time to think of converting them on the website.
We’ve tried many strategies, from experimenting with pop-ups to making our signup form dead simple and adding animations to make our CTA more visible. (We’ve shared some insights about our CRO experiments here.)
Paired with proper content marketing, all of the strategies turned out to be quite successful for us. Yet, it is difficult to tell which one is the most effective or important.
Takeaway: There are dozens of ways to boost your conversion. Yet, you never know which one would work best in your case. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try something new.
Promising Channels We Haven’t Tried Yet
Of course, the listed channels are only the tip of the iceberg. There’s more to try. We are planning to explore opportunities with digital ads and Reddit in the near future.
Product Hunt is another milestone, but we will get to that only after the public launch.
Getting our first 100 beta testers was quite a journey. We’ve sent thousands of LinkedIn invitations, answered hundreds of questions on Quora, written dozens of articles. Yet, there’s more to come.
The only thing that I am certain about right now is that content marketing if done right can be a real lead generation machine.
In our case, it turned out to be the most reliable channel with a great potential which is still to be unlocked. So for now, we will continue working in that direction, experimenting with other strategies along the way.