If you can’t convert visitors into customers, it doesn’t matter how many people visit your website.
You may have chosen the right market and created a hub on the web. But your software company will grow only when you find efficient customer acquisition methods.
However, you must first make an uncomfortable shift in your thinking. Joel York says that software companies must shift their emphasis from push to pull in the demand generation methods they use.
Why the emphasis on pull marketing methods?
Your SaaS company financial model produces lower annual subscription revenue and less cash up front. This puts tremendous pressure on you to reduce the average customer acquisition cost. And despite the attraction of near term growth gains, it’s simply too expensive for most companies to use traditional outbound marketing and sales methods.
Is this model scary? Yes it is. You can no longer dictate the sales process. Buyers are in control of their journey.
Joel York: With the customer firmly in control, the role of sales and marketing switches from chemist to catalyst—from driving revenue to accelerating organic growth. Accelerating organic growth means stimulating demand and facilitating purchase by understanding and leveraging your prospect’s natural buying behavior. SaaS business managers should continually ask themselves the simple question: “How can I get more prospects to find my product, evaluate my product and buy my product over the Web even if no one shows up for work in the morning?”
How do you accelerate growth if you don’t control the process?
You can’t control your buyers’ process, but you can educate them and build trust that you know how to solve the buyer’s problem.
Begin by studying your buyers carefully. Learn more about the problems they face, the education they need, and the obstacles that prevent them from moving forward. You can develop an intimate understanding of the information they need from you and when they want to see it.
You can help buyers to move forward in their journey, step by step.
Successful companies find ways to remove purchase barriers and to respond on-demand with the information necessary to motivate the prospect to take the next step.” They find the right mix of lifecycle marketing tactics for their buyers — SEO, website content, email newsletters, and funnel optimization.
Here’s how you can use lifecycle marketing to accelerate organic growth
Traditional marketing and sales has lots of variable costs — outbound campaigns, sales calls, custom orders, and manual order processing.
You cannot afford these costs.
Every investment in customer acquisition must produce a re-usable asset.
When you answer a customer question in an email, post that advice on your blog. If one customer needs that question answered, probably many others have the same question.
Create evergreen content — material that will be as useful two years from now as it is today.
In the same way that developers write re-usable code to reduce the marginal cost of software development, you want to create re-usable marketing content.
As you bear more and more of your organic growth activities up-front, you will reduce your costs at the time of interaction with the buyer.
In fact, Joel York says the “economic definition of organic growth” is:
organic growth = revenue generated with (near) zero marginal acquisition cost
With this model you achieve significant operating leverage. The more you can use your existing customer acquisition assets to increase revenue, the more you can reduce your average cost per deal and increase your profitability.
What methods do companies use to achieve organic growth?
To answer this question, simply look at the sequence in the buyer’s journey and ask “How can I remove obstacles from the buying process? How can I make it easier, faster, and more compelling for the buyer to move forward?”
Here are six methods to improve organic growth on your site that align with your buyer’s process.
- Bring more qualified people to your site with links by creating a hub on the web.
- Use your core website to deepen their feeling of the problem and the urgency to solve it.
- Build out content that educates and builds trust.
- Create a clear and simple route for people to sign up for your email newsletter or other lifecycle email. Only if they are on your list can you send them additional useful information and offers.
- Make it easy for them to initiate a trial of your product and to make a purchase. Optmize your funnels. Use A/B testing.
Oops, that’s only five isn’t it? The last one is so important that it gets its own section.
The biggest single problem with your website — you treat it like a second-class citizen
Software companies will happily invest in small feature changes to their product that only a few people will ever use. Meanwhile they throw together a website right before the product launch. The site has few pages for search engines to spider and index. Other websites have no reason to link to it.
The consequence? The software company drives little traffic to the site. Or wastes funds on transient links through advertising.
Patrick McKenzie’s advice: “You have to treat your website like it was a shipping software product of your company.” Your website needs:
- Strategic thought into feature set
- Continuous improvement
- For loops – “For loops?” – Yes, for loops. Separate content from presentation. Re-use code just like you would in any software product.
If you invest in your website in the same way that you invest in your software product, you’ll be in a strong position to build out the content that will improve your rankings in Google and attract links to your site.
Accelerate organic growth
Your customers control their buying process. When you shift from a push to a pull marketing approach, you can align with your buyers and accelerate organic growth. You’ll drive down your marginal customer acquisition costs. You’ll create an ever-expanding body of content that attracts people to your site, engages them in the problem you know how to solve, and converts them into customers.