Filling the Sales Pipeline with Leads
Contrary to popular belief, the key to growing revenues is not hiring more sales people! The key to growing revenues is getting more leads. Sales representatives aren’t going to hit their quotas unless they have enough deals to work. In the old days, sales reps were responsible for generating their own opportunites. But in the modern, 21st century sales organization, reps are focused on managing opportunities through the sales cycle. The job of filling the pipeline falls on BDRs and marketing.
The best marketing organizations are building marketing machines that deliver and predictable and consistent flow of new opportunities into the sales pipeline with factory-like precision. Best-in-class companies reach a point where they know for every dollar invested into marketing, N dollars of sales bookings are generated. For each type of campaign, there is an expected number of leads generated as a result.
Search Engine Optimization
Ranking prominently on search engines for keywords your target audience is researching is one of the best strategies to generate inbound leads. Prospects search not only for web pages, but for images, video, news, reviews, and apps on a number of different platforms. However, most marketers focus their energy on Google’s universal/web search with activities such as:
- Keyword Research – Analyzing search query trends to identify short head and long tail topics. Conducting competitor gap analysis to discover new keywords and linking strategies.
- On/Off Page SEO – Ensuring the right keyword density as well as optimizing titles, alt text, meta-descriptions, and other tags. Establishing internal and external links.
- Technical SEO – Optimizing the mobile user experience, ensuring secure connections (https), accelerating page load speed, and minimizing errors such as broken links or 404s.
- Measurement – Monitoring actual results against targeted keyword positions, SERP feature placement, and backlink counts. Tracking gains and losses in ranking relative to competitors.
Virtual Events and Webinars
Webinars are one of the most cost-effective ways to reach a large virtual audience. The content can range from 30-minute product demonstration sessions to multi-day virtual events with a mix of formal presentations, fireside chats, and multi-person panels. Webinars require a lot of preparation. For each live event SaaS organizations will need to:
- Pre-production – After identifying a topic, target audience, and recruiting speakers, the marketing organization will need to develop a website registration page, distribute email invitations, and create presentation materials.
- Live event – The hosts and speakers will present, discuss, and debate the topic. Behind the scenes marketing will help drive audience engagement with polling questions, real-time Q+A, and group discussion chat.
- Post-production – After the event, marketers will need to edit the webinar recording and email the replay link. The registration list will also be distributed to the BDR team for follow up prospecting activities.
Lead Generation Target
How many leads do we need? It is a question that every marketing organization needs to answer at the start of every year (if not every quarter). Determining the answer is not straightforward. There are many different inputs needed to perform the calculation.
Marketers need to understand the corporate growth targets, historical conversion rates, and changing market dynamics to arrive at the right number.
SaaS marketers supplement SEO with digital advertising strategies, using text, image, and video formats to attract eyeballs on search engines, social media, and high-traffic websites. Digital ad networks are rapidly expanding to streaming media and out-of-home locations enabling marketers to displays on Hulu, Spotify, and Decentraland as well as ride-sharing vehicles such as Uber and Lyft. Modern adtech platforms offer powerful, account-based marketing capabilities that allow SaaS marketers to upload a list of specific names of prospective buyers to exclusively target the ads. Retargeting, which engages recent website visitors with ads encouraging them to return to the site, is another popular strategy. The focus of most SaaS demand generation teams currently is on:
- Paid Social – Account-based marketing campaigns to a designated list of users in Facebook leveraging custom audiences or lookalike audiences with similar demographics. Serving sponsored content ads and message ads in LinkedIn targeting decision makers with the job titles, companies, and industries matching your ideal customer profile.
- Paid Search – Serving ads to users on Google, Bing, or Yahoo when they search on a list of keywords related to brands, competitors, or the product category. Marketers want to rank first not just for high-volume “short head” keywords, but also the billions of different “long-tail” search phrases and questions users enter.
- Display Ads – Other options include working with website owners to run native ads or buying in bulk through Google and Facebook’s networks which reach to millions of websites. Display ads can be contextual, programmed to appear only on pages with related content, or highly targeted, served only to visitors matching your ideal customer profile and buyer persona.
Email marketing is one of the most popular strategies used by SaaS organizations to share new content, send webinar invitations, and publish company newsletters. SaaS marketing organizations strive to build a large database of contacts that opt-in to regular email communications enables to remain top-of-mind. Demand generation teams at SaaS organizations focus on optimizing email:
- Production – Each send requires a multi-step workflow that includes creation of the distribution list, optimization of the subject line, design of the message layout, and writing of the copy.
- Compatibility – To ensure a good user experience marketers will test to confirm the message will render on different email clients Apple Mail, Gmail, Outlook 365 in both light and dark mode.
- Deliverability – A strong email sender reptuation is needed to avoid ending up in the junk mail or “other” tabs. Marketers must keep a clean email list free of hard bounces, opt outs, and unsubscribes.
- Performance – Marketers review metrics to understand what works and improve future campaign effectiveness. Examples include email opens and clickthroughs as well as the results of A/B tests.
SaaS Demand Generation
Sales teams don’t just want any leads! They want leads with the highest potential – from the accounts that are likely to spend the biggest bucks. To land and expand these “dream” accounts, demand gen teams must orchestrate a series of carefully choreographed plays between BDRs, partners, account execs, and customer success managers. Welcome to account-based marketing!