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The B2B Lead Generation Channels That Get Results for SaaS

June 06, 2024
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Generating leads as a software company requires a multichannel approach to nurture leads at every touchpoint in the buying journey.

Ads, social media marketing, email campaigns, and organic search all play a role in bringing qualified leads into the sales funnel.

And traditional outlets like PR, partnerships, and word-of-mouth are still alive and well, if not more important than ever.

In today’s article, we’ll show you which channels B2B SaaS companies focus on for successful lead generation campaigns.

B2B lead generation at a glance:

Broadly speaking, there are three pillars that define which lead generation channels you should use and how you should approach them.

  • Your ideal customer(s)
  • Your product and value prop
  • Your pricing strategy

Let’s dive in.

Your product and value prop

Lead generation campaigns are aimed at convincing potential customers your product is interesting enough for them to start a conversation. But your business’s driving purpose, first and foremost, is to solve a problem.

While you probably have dozens of different types of businesses using your product and multiple valuable features, there are likely one or two primary use cases that make the product worthwhile.

  • ClickUp helps businesses organize all their work.
  • Stripe makes it easy to accept payments quickly.
  • Shopify simplifies online selling and makes it accessible to everyone.

What your product helps businesses do should be the driving force behind your marketing messages. For instance, we’re a SaaS SEO agency, so a lot of our content revolves around helping software companies grow with SEO and content marketing.

Do the same with your customers — create valuable and relevant content that helps them grow their business, and introduce your product as a central part of that.

Your ideal customer(s)

This goes beyond buyer personas. It’s good to have a character in mind when crafting your marketing campaigns. But you need to dig deeper, because your ICP is defined by whether your product can solve a customer’s unique pain points. Not necessarily by what industry they’re in or their company size (though that usually does play a role).

When it comes to developing a lead generation strategy, consider the following about your target audience:

  • Their pain points
  • The purchase journey
  • Where they discover and research solutions
  • How they make decisions (and who’s involved)

Once you outline this, you have structure. You know which lead generation channels to target, the pain points to address, how to nurture leads through the sales process, and the type of content to produce for each member of the buying committee.

Your pricing strategy

The structure you use to price your product plays an immense role in how you execute your multi-channel lead generation campaign. It affects your priorities and the way you approach each channel.

For example:

  • A freemium model focuses on awareness and trial sign-ups.
  • Enterprise (custom) pricing necessitates an emphasis on lead nurturing and relationship building.
  • Tiered pricing models require you to reach multiple audience personas with different sales cycles and decision-making processes.

Digital channels for B2B SaaS lead generation

For B2B lead generation, a few channels stick out as the most effective:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
  • Social media
  • Display ads
  • Email
  • Influencer marketing
  • Affiliate programs
  • Live chat
  • Media buys
  • SMS
  • Podcasts

Of these, SEO, PPC, social media, email, and live chat work the best for SaaS companies.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

At every stage of the funnel, web content makes up most of their digital touchpoints. SEO guarantees your web content is visible.

In 2023, growth marketing firm OGM studied B2B buying behavior. In the company’s B2B Content + SEO Survey, researchers found that Google was the #1 source of information for people who make buying decisions.

When you target top-of-funnel keywords (e.g., “what is CRM”), SaaS SEO can be a demand generation channel. You have a chance to reel in customers who weren’t thinking about you to begin with.

These bring high traffic, but they won’t book many meetings. For lead generation, focus on ranking for high-intent keywords and topics like:

  • Product comparisons (“your product vs. product X”)
  • Best of {category} listicles (“best project management software for startups”)
  • Specific pain points and goals (“how to increase website traffic with SEO” or “X creative ways to do Y”)
  • Interactive tools (keywords for product-specific lead magnets like HubSpot’s website grader and marketing ROI calculator)
  • Keyword + pricing (“CRM software pricing”)
  • Branded keywords (“Linkflow SEO services” or “Linkflow pricing”)

Almost every SaaS business should invest in SEO. The rare exception is a company that is very niche, has an exclusive audience (e.g., a few thousand potential customers worldwide), and already has a well-known brand name.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

PPC includes Google Ads, social media ads, and sponsored content on B2B networks like G2 Crowd. It’s one of the best ways to generate leads if you can pinpoint the exact touchpoints in the buyer’s journey where potential customers need a nudge.

SaaS companies can use PPC to…

  • Target keywords with explicit buying intent (e.g., “buy CRM software”) or many of the abovementioned keywords (“CRM software pricing”)
  • Steal competitors’ SEO traffic (by taking the ad slots above organic rankings)
  • Lead social media users to a lead magnet, like a free trial, newsletter signup, interactive tool, whitepaper, or webinar
  • Promote your assets like blogs and videos to increase their exposure
  • Validate your offering before investing in SEO (by running experiments and seeing what converts)

Paid ads offer more control and faster results compared to organic traffic, albeit at a considerably higher cost. In the B2B SaaS industry, the average paid lead costs $310, while organic ones cost just $165.

So, you should only use them when they aren’t insanely expensive and dominated by major enterprises. If you’re a new company, you can also avoid it if there aren’t a lot of purchase-intent keywords in your space.

Social media

For lead generation, social media is both a marketing channel and a tool for your sales team.

  • Sales uses it for prospecting and outreach.
  • Marketing uses it to generate demand, promote content, engage with potential customers, and show off expertise.

LinkedIn is the dominant social media platform for B2B SaaS, but Twitter (X) and short-form video platforms like TikTok are sometimes useful, depending on the product and ICP.

There are lots of ways it comes in handy for lead gen:

  • Founders’ and team members’ personal brands increase company credibility and drive organic leads over time.
  • Blog posts can be repurposed and distributed to maximize their reach.
  • Snippets from webinars and podcasts engage potential customers.
  • Demos, how-tos, and user-generated content show users what your product looks like in action.

Social media marketing is a bit more complicated in the B2B space because the brand itself doesn’t usually go viral. Instead, you use it to reach individual decision-makers with high buying power.

For that reason, it only makes sense to incorporate it into your strategy if you have the time and resources to dedicate to replying to messages, participating in relevant discussions, and consistently posting useful content.

Email

Email marketing is one of the best marketing channels for lead nurturing and building relationships with potential customers, especially if you’re a SaaS company with tiered pricing plans and different customer segments. An estimated 93% of B2B marketers use email to distribute their content, making it a top form of B2B content marketing.

With email, you can:

  • Send personalized messages to segmented audiences based on their behavior and interests
  • Share valuable content like new blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, and webinars to educate potential customers and showcase your expertise
  • Promote and upsell your product or services through targeted campaigns
  • Keep in touch with potential customers who may not be ready to buy yet, but are interested in your product

The key to success with email marketing is to consistently provide value. Instead of bombarding subscribers with too many promotional offers, help them improve their business through the content you share.

Live chat

When new leads make it to your site, having a chatbot to help them navigate will significantly reduce the time it takes for them to find the info they’re looking for. And it’ll boost your conversion rate.

A chatbot can prompt users to book a demo or speak with a sales rep, answer common questions, and even provide resources through links. If you have a solid script and sequence, you can use it to qualify and segment new leads, too.

When setting it up, use triggers — event-based rules that send targeted messages to different users based on their behavior. For example, when someone visits your pricing page, your chatbot can ask what specific functions they need, the size of their business, and other qualifiers that help them find the right package.

Traditional lead generation channels for B2B SaaS

Even in the digital age, there are plenty of lead generation channels that are still useful:

  • Radio
  • TV
  • Public relations (PR)
  • Word-of-mouth
  • Events
  • Telemarketing
  • Billboards and signage
  • Loyalty programs
  • Partner marketing
  • Printed media

For B2B SaaS, PR, word-of-mouth, events, and partnerships are the best marketing channels for generating leads and building brand awareness.

Public relations (PR)

PR works well in the B2B space because you can use it across all your other marketing channels — social media, email, and content marketing. It also plays a significant role in building brand credibility and trust, which is a crucial factor B2B buyers consider when making purchase decisions.

There are a few different ways to approach PR for B2B SaaS:

  • Get featured in industry publications and blog posts.
  • Secure speaking engagements at relevant conferences and events.
  • Share your company’s milestones, like funding round announcements or product launches.
  • Participate in media interviews and guest posts to showcase your expertise.

The one caveat here: you should prioritize other channels if you don’t have anything truly interesting or impressive to report on. You won’t get many leads from a press release with no newsworthy angle.

Customer advocacy

If you want to generate quality leads, word-of-mouth is and will always be the most powerful source. People trust recommendations from their friends, colleagues, and other users more than any lead generation marketing campaign.

Leads from referral marketing are aware of their problem and ready to make a change. They also already trust you. That’s why they convert at a 30% higher rate and have a 37% higher CLV than leads from other marketing channels.

There are plenty of ways to leverage your existing customers to generate leads:

  • Create a referral program.
  • Publish case studies with your most successful users.
  • Encourage reviews on G2 Crowd, Capterra, and other review sites.
  • Use customer quotes and statistics in your website content.

Doing this can even improve your other channels’ performance. Websites with testimonials get 45% more organic traffic. And replacing clickbait headlines with stats, testimonials, and other forms of social proof can 4X your CTR and reduce your costs per click and acquisition by 50%.

Events

Event marketing comprises some of the lead and demand generation channels with the highest conversion rates. The average webinar conversion rate, for example, is around 55%.

The reason is simple: events are interactive, personalized, and focused on education. They can help you:

  • Attract leads with informative content.
  • Use polls and Q&A sessions to gather more information about your audience (for future lead gen initiatives).
  • Engage attendees by highlighting their pain points and showing them how your product solves them.
  • Follow up with registrants who didn’t attend or attendees who didn’t convert.

While it’s a great channel for B2B businesses with limited opportunities for SEO, event marketing works best for those with longer sales cycles. If you’re selling enterprise SaaS products with complex pricing models, the relationship-building and potential deal size from a single sale are enough to offset the high costs of purchasing a booth or hosting a large-scale event.

Partner marketing

Through partnerships, you can leverage other companies’ networks, resources, and expertise to generate leads and build brand awareness. You’re also adding tremendous value to your users, who can now optimize their workflow using both of your tools.

There are a few ways to partner with other SaaS vendors:

  • System integrators. Integrate with another company’s software to create a more valuable product for your shared users.
  • Co-marketing partnerships. Collaborate with a non-competitive vendor on a webinar, ebook, or other content piece that solves a common problem or reveals interesting insights for both your customers.
  • Affiliate programs. Have other businesses, content creators, and influencers generate leads for you in exchange for a commission when they close.
  • Referral agreements. Agree to refer customers to each other if you can’t provide a specific feature or service they need (this works best with system integrators).

It’s also part of a solid B2B link building strategy — you’ll be featured all over your partners’ websites and earn mentions across the web highlighting what your two products can accomplish together.

Building your B2B lead generation strategy

Lead generation marketing is complicated because it (a) has to connect with the right target audience and (b) be good enough to actually convert leads out of that audience.

And for B2B SaaS, lead gen is just the tip of the iceberg — the rest of your content has to nurture leads, build trust and credibility, and ultimately help them make an expensive purchase decision for their business.

A few best practices to keep in mind:

  • Don’t start with too many channels at once. If you’re new to marketing, stick with one or two and figure out how to make them work before adding more.
  • Give channels time to work. SEO, for example, is a long game and will take time to generate significant organic traffic.
  • Connect leads generated to middle- and bottom-of-funnel conversions. While it’s easy to see the number of leads generated as a positive outcome, it’s more important to know if they’re actually converting into paying customers. Track MQL:SQL conversions, lead velocity rate, and other SaaS KPIs that measure how well your leads are converting into customers.
  • Test everything, one at a time. Test as many different marketing channels and elements as possible — everything from ad copy and landing page design to email subject lines. Make sure to use A/B testing, to isolate the one variable as the cause of success or failure.

Of course, the fastest way to get the work done is to partner with an agency that specializes in B2B SaaS marketing. Book a call to learn how we can help with SaaS SEO and content marketing.

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