On this episode of the podcast I spoke with Garrett Mehrguth about the six data validated tactics to increase qualified lead volume to your SaaS. Garrett is the CEO and co-founder of Directive, a performance marketing agency for SaaS companies. He is also thought leader and a speaker.
He shares six battle tested tactics across 60 plus accounts over the last 12 months that have been statistically proven to increase his SaaS clients qualified lead volume.
How did you get started working with SaaS founders?
About six years ago Garrett was selling social media calendars on fiverr and he bet with a buddy that he can make $1000 bucks working for less than an hour a day and he did really well on Fiverr. He later went into consulting and applied to Boston, Bain McKinsey where he did his degree in economics in three years and his masters in a year.
He later decided to start his own agency and while exploring the different facets of internet marketing he decided to settle for SEO and PPC as these were the two major areas he felt he could charge the most for and drive the most value.
The agency used to have around 70 people but they downsized their headcount to about 40 but grew revenue. They work mostly with mid-market and enterprise.
Where do we start with the growing SaaS companies?
Most solo teams or small funded startups are trying to get traction, one of the first things he has discovered is that perception is reality.
Most SaaS companies need to first make sure that their website looks better than their product because every user in the world assumes the quality of your product based on the quality of your website.
In other words, if you’re a SaaS company and you’re doing self like self-onboarding, and you’re doing free trials, they’re going to assume that your product is as good as your website. If you have a crappy website that looks old and dated or is not well organized, they’re going to think your product is kind of crappy. One of the first things you need to focus on is making sure you know that we have a great web presence and a strong website.
A strong website is nothing without getting traffic through, right?
One of the most important things you need to consider when you acquiring customers especially for SAS organizations is the LTV-CAC ratio and every channel of acquisition has different ratios. For example paid search will have an higher implied cost than SEO and then social is going to have a lower implied cost than paid search.
We want to have future investments that will theoretically drive increasing marginal returns like SEO.
SEO from an ROI standpoint is it’s an initial sunk cost, you create one piece of content and then every net new lead trial, customer demo or whatever it I you’re targeting, that occurs after that hits against the initial investment of the labor to create the content so we have increasing marginal returns from SEO.
Simultaneously, you actually have added per unit level diminishing marginal returns from paid search because right every time a new competitor enters an auction, they rise up on the CPC by usually a greater margin, then you can at the same time, increase your conversion rate wide by driving decreasing marginal returns. so we want to create this marketing mix where we have our advertising efforts, and then we have our organic efforts, and both are theoretically driving new trials or leads.
What are some other tips you can share for SaaS founders?
A lot of SaaS founders are struggling with how to go to market. The marketing strategy for a lot of SaaS founders is get on product hunt and there is more to it than that. A lot of people don’t invest in third party review sites such as capterra, g2, finances online.
If you are trying to drive users for your SaaS organization try and get as many reviews as possible from your trial signups from your users.
Those reviews would allow you create a perception that your startup is more trustworthy, validated and larger than maybe some legacy players who haven’t invested in the space.
If someone is looking for the best sales forecasting software and they search capterra or g2, you want to make sure that you are showing up in the top five on that site and you have got great reviews. These will give you a go to market strategy that allows you to satisfy purchase intent for the problem or pain point your product solves.
Are there any tactics that would better apply for smaller SaaS companies?
You don’t have to be a big company for these tactics to work. The big company might be able to spend more but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
He has his own product that teaches people how to do SEO or PPC, complete SaaS model for $99 a month. They try to get to the list of for example an article that says top 15 digital marketing courses, they will reach out to the editor, they will send them a gift box and make sure that they have free access to the product and they will get on the list, this is done with a very low cost per acquisition and no ongoing cost for driving new users.
Their SaaS product has a free trial where you get four free lessons before paying $99 a month and they have increased their activation rate from 2% to 18% in two months by asking one question. That they use to create activation sequences.
The question is what is your role presently? The available options are owner, student, in-house marketer, agency marketer etc. The answer they give triggers the email sequence they get. If they say they are a student then it says finally the digital marketing course you never got in college.
If you are an in-house market it is wonder what your agency is always doing. Their pain points is addressed in the activation and that has had the greatest effect on our LTV-CAC ratio.
What are some other growth tactics that you would like to share with SaaS founders?
One of the other things early stage organizations can do really well that most don’t do well in is PR. Usually when people want to do PR, their PR is funding PR and there is no customer in the world who cares about your funding.
He recommends guest posting as a way of creating your expertise or trustworthiness in the space. Let us assume you are a security product, who at CIO can you build a relationship with so that you can get published at CIO. If you are in the marketing software space who do you know at Adweek or Moz or Semrush or Ahrefs that can get you published.
If you do that consistently you will rank high for your keywords because they will link back to your product or service page.
Guest posting or guest podcasting is important because you can control the destination URL of the page it points back to. If you don’t try to actively build your links and do your PR you will end up getting links to random blog posts about 20 social media statistics and trends to be aware of which won’t give you money.
The key is to guest post somewhere and then link back to your product pages, or your feature pages that you’re trying to rank for bottom of funnel purchase intent and that allows you to do a lot better.
Give us a couple more?
Your call to action is critically important for SaaS companies. The requested demo is the primary call to action in computer software in SaaS and it sucks.
The reason it stinks so bad is due to a concept called psychological friction. There’s a ton of psychological implied friction, when you ask the consumer to give you all their personal information and in return, you give them nothing immediately.
When you request a demo, some of the implied things that your customer brings into the idea of a demo are it’s going to take an hour, this code sucks. I’ve been on some bad ones, all I really want to know is price. I’m probably going to talk to a junior level person that still can’t answer my questions.
They do it differently by changing that request a demo video to watch a demo video. They get their videography team to create a really good motion graphic animation type video or have an actual account executive deliver a demo of the product and then you can still gate that.
You can then say below is a five minute demo video, you are going to learn about all its features, you’re learning about use cases, we’re going to essentially solve all the information you want immediately.
Give us your information in return, you’ll immediately solve your problem, then sales development or account executive or the founder, can follow up immediately, and have an exponentially better conversation, where now the customer is saying, cool, I want you to demo video, I had a question about feature x. That is a 10 times better place to be than you trying to convince somebody who’s never seen your product, that it’s valuable to them. We see incredible returns or I’m talking conversion rates go from 2% to 15%, by just changing the call to action.
Are there any other questions that I didn’t ask you but I should have?
One of the things that a lot of SaaS companies don’t value enough is content. They all kind of try to follow this kind of content thing that HubSpot does where they have content pillars, and they have a couple of good pieces and then clusters around it. That is okay but HubSpot can do that because they’re HubSpot.
There’s a better version of doing the same thing now.
He recommends that early stage SaaS companies should think about content clusters around their products and its features and its use cases.
For their product they have 40 lessons and this quarter they created 200 pieces of content around the 40 lessons which is essentially five pieces of content for each lesson.
They put the lesson which is maybe how to do keyword research for PPC, we put PPC keyword research in SEMrush or Ahref tool, then we take the top five questions people ask, we write five amazing articles about that. Then we put a call to action each those five articles, we link back to that lesson page. And we essentially create a content cluster around all our lessons since we make money on lessons, not people reading our How to do XY guide.
One of the problems with the HubSpot pillar concepts is that you’re trying to rank around a cornerstone piece of content, that’s a lead gen engine that still actually isn’t intrinsically associated with your product.
The last thing people should think about is their total addressable market. Many people put vanity metrics especially around volume on their goals without actually understanding their total addressable market and create massive amounts of waste in their spending, because they’re trying to grow their ego more than the revenue because they haven’t based their actual campaign to their total addressable market and then understand their reality.
What book was impactful for you?
He recommends Principles by Ray Dalio and The Great CEO Within.
Ahrefs – SEO tools & resources to grow your search traffic
SEMrush – Online visibility management platform
Moz – SEO Software for Smarter Marketing
Capterra – Find better software now
G2 – Where you go to buy software
Finances Online – Join the leading business software discovery & research platform
Hubspot – Inbound Marketing, Sales and Service Software
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