Article

Vishwendra Verma
Vishwendra Verma 28 May 2021

10 Tactics for SaaS Companies to Achieve Inbound Business

Founders, entrepreneurs and business owners prefer to have an engine of inbound business. Why? It reduces the cost of sales, optimizes marketing investment and enhances chances of getting quality customer inquiries or business opportunities.

20% effort on digital channel enhancement can result in 80% business outcomes.

As Hubspot put it rightly "Inbound is a fundamental shift in the way you do business. Instead of an interruption-based message where the marketer or salesperson had all the control, inbound is about empowering potential customers."

Is the Evolving Human Behaviour on Digital the Key to Unlock Inbound Business?

There is no doubt that most of the buyers - Baby Boomers, Millennial, Gen Z are connected 24/7 to the Internet today. They prefer digital self-service, present on social media, sharing lot of insights; reading, listening and viewing content of products and services; going through peer and experts reviews. 

Accenture’s State of B2B Procurement Study finds that 94% of B2B buyers conduct some degree of research online before making a business purchase, with 55% conducting online research for at least half of their purchases.

Gartner in a study acknowledge that “A low-effort, digital buying experience is the key to accelerating revenue growth for B2B sales organisations in Covid. Many organisations that fail to adapt to this change, leading to lost and stalled deals.”

How Ready is your Business in Providing a Low Effort Digital Buying Experience?

Today, most of the organizations have at least a website and a social media handle, but is that sufficient to get inbound business?

What are the tactics that can help businesses to drive inbound business and design a low effort buying experience on digital media?

In PR, 20% of the effort gives you 80% of the results. Likewise, 20% effort in enhancing buying experience on digital channels can get your business 80% results.

Following are the 10 tactics that software as a service (SaaS) firms can adopt:

1. Self Service Digital Tools to Address Need for Speed

99% of B2B buyers in US claim they will make a purchase in an end-to-end digital self-serve model, with the vast majority very comfortable spending $50K or more online -Mckinsey.

The most important attribute of a good customer experience is a fast response time, according to the customers themselves as per CMO council study. Digital Self service tools are great way to meet the customer expectations with speed.

For digital buyers, suppliers' mobile app importance has more than doubled since 2019. Product demo is another example which can help a buyer to evaluate SaaS products without any human intervention.

Moreover, online tools for business process assessment, tools with advanced technologies like augmented reality(AR)/virtual reality (VR), conversational AI, chatbots can provide enhanced engagement experience with speed to the digital-savvy buyers.

2. Content that Resonates with your Customer

41% of B2B buyers consume three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep - DemandGen.

While developing content strategy for digital channels, one must be mindful of consistency across channels and clear consistent messaging as these are other important attributes for the customer experience as per the CMO council study.

Reuben from Rato communications in his blog article has discussed how content marketing can help increase sales by enhancing the engagement during each of 5 steps of buying process (Discovery > Consideration > Decision > Implementation > Advocacy) of the prospect/customer.

Videos, blogs, ebooks, infographics are top content media as per Hubspot. Almost half of the B2B buyers consume white papers when evaluating a technology purchase. Good quality content must not only establish SaaS firm's thought leadership, but should help in customer education (for example through FAQs) or provide solutions to customer pain areas.

To establish authority through content - proof points, use cases, customer stories are key. However, many also leverage the subject matter authority of industry experts, analysts, partners and influencers.

For example co-authoring innovation paper with customer or commissioning whitepapers with IDC, Gartner, dbInsights, McKinsey, KPMG, Deloitte etc are best practices followed by many global IT organisations.

ROI conscious teams normally have a question - Is there a way to assess content performance? Yes. In a blog post, Larry Kim has done interesting analysis on content unicorns with content donkeys based on higher CTR's, conversion rates, google rank, social media engagements and omni channel performance.

3. Having a Performing Website 

Potential buyers depend most on software companies' websites for researching (57%), evaluating (50%), and comparing prices of (48%) software - Clutch.

GrowthSutra Advisor Haroon Bijli suggests that "Internet has become primary human behaviour. As private individuals, we habitually search for people and products. For business, we spend more time and effort in researching an offering before short-listing. The website, therefore, is critical in creating a positive and sustainable impression."

How can a performing website be built? Haroon further adds that a website needs to have business goals. Design, content, user interaction, and technology should achieve measurable business goals.

Without such orientation, investments in brand, marketing, and communication may not have an anchor. The right analytics must ensure these goals are quantifiable. These goals may include:

  • Inbound marketing goals: SEO, content strategy to attract audiences
  • Brand marketing goals: Create positive impressions, aid memorability and add value to a visit
  • Campaign goals: Perform as a destination for marketing, communication and media campaigns

Industry experts opine that those websites that can have target visitors engaged for 15 seconds or more are likely to result in positive business outcomes.

4. Building Brand Advocates 

12% increase in brand advocacy leads to a 200% increase in revenue growth.

Building a network of brand advocates is important to help amplify brand outreach and establish the brand credo. These advocates are the ones who have experienced a positive engagement with your brand and have the potential to influence your business.

These brand advocates when provide positive mentions about your business, products, services can help to build brand mindshare from a neutral perspective and likely to drive organic business. Some examples are:

  • Industry experts/bloggers publishing blog articles/interview on your brand
  • Journalists attributing industry voice, opinion pieces in online, print and broadcast media to company's subject matter experts
  • Customers giving positive brand reference to the peers
  • Financial/Technology analyst features your brand, product or solution as part of their industry report and analysis
  • Industry associations providing your brand access to their community
  • Employees sharing or mentioning your brand on their social media network

5. Strengthen Social Media Play 

78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media. Moreover they are likely to get 45% more sales opportunities - LinkedIn.

In a research on Social Buying Meets Social Selling, IDC has found that;

  • 91% of B2B buyers are now active and involved in social media
  • 84% of senior executives (C-level/VP) use social media to support purchase decisions
  • 75% of B2B buyers are significantly influenced by social media

While only 5% turn to social media to ask commercial question, the platforms must be used to create human touchpoints and that's where the concept of social selling begins. 

Dr. Robert Cialdini, a marketing and psychology professor, introduced 6 principles of persuasion in his 1984 book Influence. These are- Reciprocity, Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, Scarcity. These principles can be applied in building an engaging network on social media.

6. Speaking Engagement on Digital Media

More than half (53%) of marketers say webinars are the top-of-the-funnel format that generates the most high-quality leads. (Demand Gen Report, 2021)

The unprecedented Covid situation has forced remote collaboration that led webinars or digital conferences to replace physical events. While the number of webinars have increased and there is a discussion on webinar fatigue, digital events are turning into a must have strategy for inbound business.

A very cost-effective traditional PR strategy has been to look for speaking opportunities with industry forums that can provide a platform to share insights and domain perspectives along with brand messaging in a subtle manner (no sales pitches). Same can be followed for digital forums.

With digital economy in place, businesses have a flexibility to plan and run a webinar series in a very cost effective manner depending on where their target buyers are. For example: Linkedin Live, Youtube Live, Facebook Live etc. Such digital events not only help to create awareness but also drive traffic and registrations that may result in business opportunities.

7. CEO and Leadership Team on Digital Communities

The CEO and the company's leadership team are the chief brand ambassadors.

CEO's and senior leaders are seen as an authority on the brand's industry domain. Strengthening their profile and digital presence can help to grow brand mindshare and inbound business. Moreover, C-suite partnership between buyer and seller firms enhance the win probability.

As the role of digital communities like Facebook groups, Linkedin groups and more recently Clubhouse increasing, these communities can be leveraged effectively by leadership team in building network and sharing bytes about the brand in subtle manner that can help in a long way.

8. Online B2B Tech Marketplace/Reviews platform

48% of purchasing managers review the content on B2B technology review platforms before making or influencing a buying decision - G2

Whether it is online B2B Tech Marketplace or Technology review platforms, these platforms are disrupting the traditional B2B sales processes and becoming a one-stop-shop for research, contracting, purchasing, and even interacting with peers.

The B2B tech marketplace or review platform provides a B2B tech seller opportunity to share content on their brand, create a digital shelf or catalogue of products or services and also let customers provide reviews.

This digital shelf and user-generated content on review platform helps a potential buyer to review product features, pricing, customer experience/feedback and even allow comparison with similar products from competition thus providing a 360 degrees view before making a purchase decision.

9. SEO to Drive Inbound Traffic 

SEO-generated inbound leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads have a 1.7% close rate - Doyen Digital.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is critical for conducting digital commerce. In a survey conducted by Databox, 70% of respondents said that SEO is better than PPC for generating sales. Some of the key SEO tactics are

  • Keywords strategy
  • Google search comfort Geo-Targeting
  • Web hosting server location
  • Backlinks and internal links
  • Submit website to local search engines and directories
  • Neighbourhood SEO using Google my business

10. Automation That can also Enable Data Driven Strategy

68% of businesses use automation in some way - Hubspot.

There are a galore of inbound marketing automation tools that can help manage repetitive tasks, value through integration and enable data driven decisions.

Some examples where automation is enabling inbound business are repurposing and sharing content on multiple social media platforms, creating landing pages and contact forms, lead nurturing, website/Linkedin newsletter subscription, gathering customer feedback post service or even lead scoring/qualification.

The automation tool has to be assessed basis business need and budget. Besides the talent managing the tools may need up skilling so that these tools can deliver the intended value and help business realize the investment.

Conclusion

70% of purchase decisions are made before a buyer contacts the supplier. Its judicious balance of various tactics with clear inbound objective of Attract, Engage and Delight can enable a digital buyer to make a purchase decision before even having human intervention.

What are other inbound marketing tactics that might have worked for you? Share your comments with team@growthsutras.com or visit www.growthsutras.com.

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