Here’s your challenge. You’ve got this sweet SaaS. It’s powerful, feature-rich, benefit high, and primed for a raving and fanatical customer base.
But how do you make it sound as awesome as it is?
From your homepage to your content marketing efforts, what are the characteristics that make your SaaS sound sizzling hot?
Let me set the stage for this article. You’ve got to sell your SaaS, somehow, someway. You need to be using content, because content marketing works. You also need to integrate your entire marketing efforts into a cohesive and compelling whole.
The question is how do you do this in such a way that users will be interested, engaged, and ready to convert.
1. Focus on the benefits, not the solution.
First off, keep in mind that users already know the solution to their problem. You don’t need to sell them on that point.
The idea of “solution sales” came about in the days of the person-to-person sales rep days. A customer needed to feel their pain, hear about the solution, and then be compelled to buy the product.
In the content-driven world of online information, that game is over. This led HBR columnists Adamson, et al., to call for “the end of solution sales” in 2012. They explain that “customers don’t need you the way they used to.”
If you should avoid selling the solution or your product’s features, then what should you sell? Benefits.
Customers know their need. They know what they need. It’s up to you to extol the benefits of your SaaS for them.
This is all part of building value for your customer. Features and functions are the “what is it?” of your SaaS. As you discuss benefits, impact, bottom line, etc. (discussed below), you’ll get to the pinnacle of what it is that a customer really wants.
Here are those Maslow-like hierarchy of values that a customer is seeking. Selling benefits in your content and copy will get the customer in the door.
Is this to say that features are completely dead? Not exactly. There’s still a “crucial link” between features and benefits. After all, the only reason why a customer is still interested in your product is because it meets a need.
Your content is responsible for connecting the dots — features meet benefits.
Benefits look and sound a lot different from features. Benefits are rooted in emotions, but somehow still connected with the features of the product.
Microsoft provides a good example of the feature → benefit model of content. In the section below, they provide a quick three paragraphs of explanation (features), and then they drive straight to the benefits (productivity, customer experience, etc.)
Your content needs to discuss features in some way. But every feature has benefits. And that’s what you spend time talking about.
2. Apply the tool to the bottom line.
Whatever your SaaS does, apply it to a business’s bottom line — revenue.
The person who’s going to eventually pull the trigger on your product and approve the funds for purchase is not messing around. He or she wants ROI, nothing less. If you can’t connect your SaaS tool to brass tacks, you’re going to lose.
One of the easy-to-overlook things you need to understand is who is going to make the decision to buy?
If you want to sell the customer on benefits, you need to know what drives the customer. Who approves the funds, signs on the dotted line, and actually fills out the credit card information?
Whoever it is, that’s who you need to focus on in your content efforts. Sell your benefits to that person.
Here’s an example from IBM. This landing page is bare-bones simple, but it communicates the idea I’m trying to focus on.
Their top headline declares what it is (SaaS analytics), the sub headline declares what it does — “faster ROI.” The key man who is going to “download the analyst report” (not a good CTA, by the way), cares about ROI.
Your bottom-line focus may need to come in alternative ways. For example, the idea of “revenue” might be too generic. Instead, you can nail it with softer methods. A good approach is Freshdesk, whose system “allows you to promise, deliver and wow.”
Even terms like “solve” and “inform” can be revenue-related, especially when they are coupled with nice images.
Issues like “tickets” and “uptime” translate directly into revenue lost or gained for people in some jobs. If that’s your target persona, and that’s the revenue-based benefit of your SaaS, then go for it.
Rise up from the technical weeds, and show how your software can change revenue, change an industry, change a life, change the world.
3. Unleash massive amounts of content.
It’s crucial that you use content to market your product. Let me tell you a genius way to leverage massive amounts of content to do just that.
The more high quality content you can publish, the better your brand reputation. Plus, you’ll gain torrents of high-value organic traffic.
But what kind of content? And who produces all this content?
Create content that solves industry problems.
Don’t just create content around your specific little B2B SaaS. Instead, create content that deals with issues in your entire niche.
Let me share a couple examples.
CrazyEgg is a SaaS that I’m familiar with. The software itself is a heatmap, showing how users click and scroll through a website. That’s it.
But the content side of CrazyEgg is huge. The blog has content about split testing, conversion rate optimization, marketing, social media, web design, and more. It’s a blog for marketers.
Marketers love, share, and engage with the content.
Crazy Egg’s content, in turn, fuels its massive social media output. Crazy Egg’s social media is not all about heatmapping. It’s all about marketers and their needs.
Another example of a SaaS with a side dish of content is Help Scout. It’s a great SaaS. The growth of the SaaS is due, in part, to the successful blog.
They call it the “customer loyalty blog.” It features articles on “applicable ideas for how you can delight customers and build/measure true customer loyalty.” With that kind of breadth, Help Scout can attract customers from a wide variety of sources.
Here’s a sample of some of their blog articles.
Identify your niche, write to your audience, and solve their problems.
Create user-generated content.
And where does all this content come from? It takes a lot of effort to produce longform content and detailed articles.
With CrazyEgg, the solution has been user generated content. Because CrazyEgg is a well-known content platform, many users are eager to contribute their unique content, and CrazyEgg is happy to accept it, provided the content is high-quality, relevant, and focused.
4. Make web design count.
Why should blog and B2C sites have all the design panache?
Web design is just as important for B2B SaaS as it is in any other industry. The age of dry-as-dust forms, stock photography, and flat landing pages is on its way out.
This kind of page is not compelling, period.
But something like this is more appealing:
What makes the difference? Basically it’s images. The images you choose for your web design are a critical part of its appeal.
Often, a screenshot is the only image that a B2B SaaS will show. Think about this. Is this what potential customers want to see?
You’re proud of your SaaS and its great interface, but showing a screenshot of its operation is simply not compelling, at least not for the first image you show.
You should show some images. Black text on white screen is a bit boring. Show some people.
eMagine uses a powerful and immersive homepage to sell their SaaS. Just the design of the website makes it incredibly compelling.
Honey Is also uses a video backdrop.
The designers at Kin make heavy use of images to make the website pop.
Do they show screenshots? Sure, but not until you’ve been drawn in by the magnetic appeal of pictures of people.
A sizzling hot SaaS has a lot to do with how your website looks. Make it matter.
SaaS sales is like no other form of sales.
However, one of the challenges for B2B sales is the fact that the software itself just sounds plain boring. There are ways to change that, and now you know how.
What are some examples of “boring” B2B SaaS that sound hot? How did they do it?