SaaS Demand Generation Explained

Generating leads and traffic is the biggest challenge for 61% of marketers. The reason for that is they don’t use the correct strategies to get people interested in their new features or products, and this is exactly where demand generation comes into play.

If you’re looking for a way to get more leads to your sales team or to get your old customers excited about your services again, keep reading.

What is SaaS Demand Generation?

Demand generation is getting prospects or existing customers interested in your services and products. In its essence, SaaS demand generation is the same: its goal is to create demand from customers that fit your Ideal Customer Profile.

Note that demand generation is different from lead generation: Lead generation is getting the information of those who are interested so that you can interact with them until they are ready to make a purchase. Demand generation comes before this step.

The demand generation techniques and processes can be better understood by looking at the SaaS marketing funnel. The SaaS marketing funnel tells you about each stage of a customer’s journey. In order to get people interested in your product, you need them to first enter this funnel. Demand is generated at its top, where brand awareness is created.

SaaS companies have to have a good demand generation strategy as their sales are heavily reliant on getting people aware and interested in the product they are selling. Below are the steps you should take and the strategies you should follow to create demand for your brand.

Top of the funnel:

Inbound marketing

The must-have marketing strategy for all SaaS companies, inbound marketing is all about attracting customers to your brand by having a strong presence on various platforms and establishing a good name and reputation in your industry. The most important inbound marketing techniques include:

  1. Content Marketing

In order to be visible on the internet and to be seen as a leader in the industry, you need to consistently create content. People who are searching for a service similar to yours have specific questions. Your content should be addressing their inquiries, and if you’re able to be the first brand to answer them, they’ll remember you. That is why 70% of marketers are highly involved in content marketing.

There’s a whole step-by-step guide to content marketing on our blog, but to summarize quickly, you have to:

  • Define your ideal customer profile to locate the needs you’ll address,
  • Analyze your competition to make sure you don’t miss out on important subjects or keywords,
  • After creating a timeline for your content, you should find the right distribution channels,
  • And measure the performance of your content and make adjustments according to the key content marketing metrics.

Once you have followed these steps, your content will be easily available to the right people. This creates band awareness, pulling people to the top of your funnel.

2. Landing Pages

There are three likely scenarios when it comes to landing pages: the visitor may just not go on your page, they may skim/go through the page, or they may leave as soon as they enter. If your landing pages are created in a way to show your features’ exciting and interesting sides, or in a way that catches the eye, then you’ll be able to get searchers to interact with them. And if your landing page is created specifically for your buyer personas with their needs and pain points in mind, you’ll be able to get them to read at least the headline–and most of the time, that’s enough. 90% of visitors who read your headline will read your call-to-action (CTA) too.

This means that an effective landing page, by just attracting a reader’s attention to its headline, is able to leave an impression on the visitor, getting them interested in your offers.

3. Email Marketing

Email marketing is effective for both demand and lead generation. It’s quite intuitive: when you address the reader directly by sending out personalized emails, and when you have clear headlines and CTAs, the receiver clicks on whatever link you’ve sent them because they’re intrigued.

The hard part is perfecting your email marketing strategy so that your emails do all the things I’ve mentioned above. I have compiled a list of engaging emails sent by SaaS companies and why they’re effective on a previous article to get you some inspiration for your own emails.

SEO

Another aspect that defines the success of your demand generation strategy is SEO. 94% of organizations investing heavily in demand generation agree or strongly agree that their online presence and organic reach are vital to their demand generation’s success. It’s true: your content and site should be optimized in such a way that it’s impossible to miss your brand’s name when making a search related to your niche.

So how can you make sure that your sites are preferred by search engines? By following the correct SEO methods. There are a few benchmarks to keep track of:

  1. Make sure that your website is free of crawl error or errors in general. Decrease response time and make sure that your site is user-friendly.
  2. Create relevant content: this is not the same as creating engaging content for your customers, this time, you’re creating content that’ll be favored by the search engine, and that’s done by targeting specific keywords and subjects.
  3. Create in depth and up-to-date posts. Both search engines and visitors prefer content that is up-to-date and detailed.
  4. Make use of backlinking. Ensure that your content is worth mentioning, and when you do get mentioned on a guest site, check to see if your site is linked. Backlinks are crucial to SEO.

But how do you make sure that these methods are working? Using the right SEO tool is vital. A good SEO tool will tell you how much traffic you’re getting and where it is from, how you’re ranking your page speed insights and backlinks. By using your SEO reports, you’ll know which step to work on.

Once you’ve worked on SEO, your posts and pages will be the first to show up on a Google search, leading to brand awareness and more clicks.

PPC traffic

PPC ads are digital ads that run on platforms such as popular search engines, social media, or e-commerce platforms to drive high-quality traffic to your site. In fact, they’re so effective that they are able to improve brand awareness by 140%. By catching the eye of a scroller on Instagram, you’re able to get them to take a glimpse at your ad and to acknowledge your brand’s name. This is a big win for demand generation.

So how can you make sure that your ads are performing to their fullest potential?

  • Don’t have the same aim for all of your PPC ads.

When it comes to demand generation specifically, it’s important to understand that the first step isn’t to make sales. A big portion of your ads should be focusing on just driving traffic or creating brand awareness rather than generating leads.

  • Make them targeted.

This applies especially to Facebook and Google Ads. It’s harder to reach the right people on Facebook, so you want to direct your ads to a specific list of accounts that fit in with your buyer personas. For Google Ads, you’re able to show your ads to people who had been searching for terms that would indicate an inclination towards being interested in your product. Make use of this Custom Intent segment. Other platforms, such as LinkedIn, have various targeting options, and you should be selecting the option with your specific objective in mind.

  • Make use of negative keywords.

While creating a PPC ad, you tell Google (or whichever platform you’re using) what your ad is about. But it’s as important, if not more, to tell Google what your ad isn’t about so that it drives traffic from the right sources. For instance, if you’re selling second-hand controlled toy cars, you have to make sure that Google doesn’t show your ad to people searching for second-hand cars. This simple example applies to SaaS companies, because services are interconnected contextually, but what they’re offering and who they’re offering to differs significantly.

  • Check all the metrics while measuring their performance.

The conversion rate is important, but it shouldn’t be the sole metric you’re tracking. Some ads will result in sales, though not all of them. But that doesn’t mean that your ads are necessarily unsuccessful. The impression rate, the click-through rate, and demographic scores are the metrics that really show you whether your ads are driving traffic or not.

Demo Request / Free Trial

Once you’ve established your position as a brand and got your name heard, it’s time to get people to consider your product. However, it’s much harder for a visitor to consider paying for your service if they’re not sure about it. The best way to get them really interested in your product is to let them use it for a while, and this is what free trials are for.

There are a few reasons why free trials are so effective in generating high-quality demand:

  • They show your prospective customers that your brand is not making up all those features you’ve talked about in your PPC ads or landing pages: by establishing trust, you’re more likely to build long-term sales relationships.
  • When people start using free trials, they begin to integrate your service into their business routine. If your service is fit for their needs, they’re likely to become accustomed to, and may even start depending on, your tool.
  • People can compare your product with others, and even if they don’t directly by your product in the end, you’ll remain in their minds as a possibility.

However, offering free trials and demo requests aren’t always the most profitable. If not planned according to your budget, these trials may cost more than they bring back. Make sure that the free trials are offered a limited amount of time, and choose how long that will be. If the trial is too short, users won’t make a habit out of using it and they won’t need to buy your product later on. If it’s too long, the cost will increase accordingly, creating a burden on your profit.

Customer Marketing

You may think that customer marketing is all about getting new people to notice your brand. However, this technique is also about re-engaging your old customers. It’s not enough to only get them interested in your product before you make a sale: as a SaaS company, you want to keep their subscriptions. Thus, you need to generate demand again and again from existing customers as well. Customer marketing makes sure that your base feels important, which keeps them connected with your brand. However, this is not the only place where customer marketing is used. This marketing strategy is also used to generate “word of mouth,” which heavily influences buying decisions according to 91% of B2B buyers. The reason is simple: you trust a brand more if someone you know has trusted them.

This marketing technique, as the name suggests, focuses on your existing customers instead of prospects. Other than improving your relationships with your customer base to keep them interested, customer marketing is also a great way to create brand advocates who will generate demand for you. If you show your customers that you care about their needs and opinions, they’ll trust you and tell others that they trust you, which is exactly what we want.

There’s a more detailed customer marketing guide on our blog. But the most fundamental and basic customer marketing strategies can be listed as:

  1. Giving them private treatment as soon as they become your customer: these are what welcome emails are for.
  2. Hosting customer events: these can be as simple as monthly meeting with customers to get their feedback, or a webinar to educate them on a specific usage of your tool.
  3. Highlighting customer success stories: if your product helped a customer to a great extent, give them the mic and let them tell others how.
  4. Being open to feedback: this means generating online reviews, using surveys and actually improving according to your customers’ wants and needs. Understand why churn is happening and make adjustments (Hockeystack is here to help with churn optimization!)
  5. Rewarding your customer base: giveaways, discounts or freebies are always nice to show your customers you care.

In the end, you know your customer base the best (hopefully.) Don’t forget to cater to them just because you’ve already sold your product.

Referrals

In the headline below, I talked about the importance of the word of mouth. This term “word of mouth” can actually be summarized in a more formal word: referrals. Customer marketing is a great way to generate referrals organically, and the advice above increases your chances of creating organic referrals. However, organic referrals are often not enough on their own. You need to give customers an incentive (other than I love this product so much I felt the need to talk about it.)

These incentives are referral programs, and they’re especially effective for SaaS. Since customers and services operate online for SaaS, it makes sense to send out referral links via email or social media. However, as with every other marketing technique, referral programs have a few points you should be careful about.

  1. Make your programs simple. Tell your customers that they’ll get a 10% discount code if they send the link to their friend, and if their friend clicks on the link, send them the discount code. Don’t have them dig through your website to find the referral link, make it accessible. Don’t have themm fill out long forms, have as little steps as possible. This way, people won’t be discouraged from joining in on your referral campaign, and you’ll reach a larger number of people.
  2. Ask at an appropriate time. You should’ve cared for your customer, provided good customer service and a working product before asking them to refer to a collegue.
  3. Know what motivates your customers. Maybe a discount code isn’t what they need, but what they really want is a mention on your blog to get some attention to their business. You already know why your customer bought your service, so you have an idea about their business goals and incentives. Create referral campaigns with incentives that serve to their goals.
  4. Make the process transparent. Don’t tell your customers that you’ll mention their brand on a post and forget all about it, just to dedicate a post to them two months later. Similarly, don’t make their discount code hardly accessible. These will make your brand less trustable and decrease the possibility of getting referrals in the long run.

Once you’ve started your referral campaign, measure its success using the right tools. Some software brands to consider are Tapfiliate and Affise, which allow you to create, track, and optimize your referral programs.

Conclusion

In its essence, demand generation is all about pulling people into your sales funnel and to the awareness stage. You do this by getting your name in their minds and building a good reputation. The points above thus have common effects: they all build trust, accustom people to your brand name, and get people interested by word of mouth.

Before trying to optimize the lower stages of your marketing funnel, which is a mistake most businesses make, be sure to establish and use a good demand generation strategy. This way, generating long-term leads and advocates for your brand will be much easier.

FAQ

What are demand gen tactics?

Demand generation tactics are inbound marketing, using SEO and PPC ads to drive traffic, free trials/demo requests, customer marketing, and referrals.

What is demand gen software?

Demand gen software is a tool that’s used to engage with prospects until they become long-term customers. This tool helps promote products and increase consumer interest in services.

Why is demand generation important?

Demand generation is essential for engaging prospects and re-engaging existing customers.