When It Comes to SaaS Lead Nurturing, Take the Inbound Approach
Inbound marketing is an innovative approach to growing a company through SaaS lead nurturing. It can be combined with more traditional — and often expensive — efforts such as outbound marketing (think paid ads, cold calling, direct mail, trade shows, etc.), but the philosophy behind these two models is fundamentally different. With inbound marketing, the goal is to attract, engage, and delight prospects, thereby turning them into customers and then turning customers into advocates.
What’s interesting about inbound marketing is that it’s not just a marketing strategy — it’s a way of thinking that can apply to sales and many other departments. But when it comes to lead nurturing for SaaS, inbound marketing puts your contacts’ experiences and results with your company at the forefront of the relationship. If both are successful, that lead becomes a customer who continues to succeed with you, helping your business to grow faster.
Again, the inbound methodology consists of three stages: attract, engage, and delight. These are often represented in a flywheel, which symbolizes motion and the interconnectedness of the three stages. It is your goal as a SaaS company to make people’s journey through these stages as positive as possible. Let’s explore these stages, how you can use them to nurture SaaS leads, and how certain types of funding can help expedite the process.
Stage 1: Attract
The attract stage is exactly what it sounds like — you’re trying to draw people who are looking for a solution to your company. You can do this through a variety and combination of efforts: content marketing, search engine optimization, opt-in email marketing, targeted advertising, and more. The goal is to position yourself in prospects’ digital lives, provide them with useful solutions, and remove barriers to them learning more and converting with your company.
For SaaS lead nurturing, contacts in this stage are starting to look for a solution. They will be searching for these solutions online, which is where the dominant portion of the inbound strategy takes place. Here, you have an opportunity to provide answers to commonly sought answers. Using a proper keyword strategy, your organization can position these answers as content assets like white papers, eBooks, blogs, site pages, and more. Remember, the goal is to help your audience find answers to problems — you shouldn’t be overly selling your solution at this point. You want to be the resource they turn to for information and guidance. Along the way, you should make it easy and simple for them to get in touch with you.
Remember, eliminating barriers to working with you is a key part of this phase. With your audience and personas in mind, consider what will open the door for a conversation or demo. If a large investment isn’t in their books just yet, a trial or entry-level version of your platform might be appropriate so you’re already in a strong position when they’re ready to scale. Always take their pain points into consideration as you navigate this phase in SaaS lead nurturing.
How venture debt supports this phase: Venture debt is one of the best ways to accelerate sales and marketing efforts. For this phase, venture debt provides the funding needed to invest in content marketing and other inbound strategies beyond what your existing marketing team may be capable of. This might include building up a marketing team, investing in a content marketing or advertising solution, or retaining an agency to extend your current team’s capabilities. You get funding how and when you need it, without the heavy restrictions or time delays that come with other forms of funding, such as outside equity investors or bank loans.
Stage 2: Engage
In the engage phase, you’ll begin to further explore the needs that your prospects have. These individuals have already converted but haven’t yet subscribed to your platform. They will have more knowledge about your company and solution but may still have concerns or questions that haven’t yet been answered. In this phase, the focus centers more on the relationship rather than the educational content, though that can still help to drive the relationship forward.
Remember, this is a flywheel construct — the phase before helps to push and accelerate the phase after it. The better the content and strategy from the attract phase, the more successful the engage phase will be. That said, your sales team shouldn’t be pushing hard. They should stay in touch and offer to answer questions, provide insights, etc. These conversations should happen on their terms, too. While you can help to spur them, it’s OK to let the prospect do some of the driving. Automated workflows, lead scoring frameworks, and content that answers very specific questions or demonstrates success stories will be useful in this effort.
How venture debt supports this phase: Depending on the size of your company and sales team, it may become difficult to keep up with all of the conversations and engagements, even if you’re using Salesforce, HubSpot, etc. You may also have significant growth goals that can only be achieved by expanding your sales team. In this situation, venture debt can help you increase the size of your sales team or bring a sales leader into your organization to drive efficiency, better tracking, etc. This funding can also help expand your marketing efforts, perhaps by investing in targeted ad campaigns that address key objections that your salespeople report encountering.
Stage 3: Delight
In the delight phase, the prospect has become a paying subscriber. This doesn’t mean that the SaaS lead nurturing process is done, however. It’s now up to your entire organization to delight that customer. This is not a responsibility for your customer service or customer success team. It’s a responsibility for everyone. Only by aligning all departments and teams around the customer experience will the customer succeed. And it’s only when each of your customers succeeds that your business in turn succeeds.
Remember, the customer experience is no longer a linear marketing-to-sales-to-service process. People trust businesses less than they ever have before, and instead are relying on their personal networks to find solutions to their challenges. As a SaaS company, it can be easy to nurture a prospect into a customer and then hand them off to your customer success team. This team plays an important role, but the burden isn’t theirs alone. Remember that great marketing creates a better sales opportunity, a better sales experience creates happier customers faster, and your customer success team will impact whether those customers become promoters.
How venture debt supports this phase: In addition to helping you expand your marketing efforts and perhaps build out your sales team, venture debt supports the delight phase of SaaS lead nurturing by providing resources for a stronger customer success team, more opportunities to keep in contact with customers, resources to build out new solutions, and more. Use the funds however you choose, but remember that the best investment is one you make in creating a positive experience for every person that interacts and buys from your organization.
Put Venture Debt to Work for Your SaaS Company
Venture debt financing is the ideal solution for SaaS companies that are looking to take their growth to the next level. As we’ve outlined here, venture debt is incredibly flexible. Use it to accelerate and expand your strategic marketing efforts to reach more customers or use it to build out a more experienced and attuned sales team to build those successful relationships. This funding option makes sense for SaaS, as it doesn’t require collateral that your company may not have, nor does it require you to give up equity or a board seat.
That said, equity funding does provide options for companies looking to achieve certain goals. For example, equity funding is an ideal solution for infrastructure and operational needs, such as building out your platform, preparing the company for the next stage of its evolution, and so on.
River SaaS Capital is proud to offer both venture debt financing and equity financing for SaaS companies. If your organization has been looking for funding, whether for SaaS lead nurturing needs or for other strategic goals, our investment team is here to assist you. Contact us today to learn more about our offerings and how we can help you succeed.