We've all heard stories of 'disruptive growth hackers' transforming tiny SaaS start-ups into multi-billion dollar businesses.
This type of SaaS growth hacking has allowed creative founders, developers and marketers to achieve incredible growth through the sheer virtue of experimentation - trying any and all tools, techniques and strategies at their disposal to grow their business.
To help you achieve the same stellar growth, we've scoured the web's best SaaS, startup, conversion optimisation, sales and marketing blogs to pull together an epic list of actionable, effective SaaS growth hacking ideas.
We've chosen the most unique, inventive and cost-effective ideas, with the goal of providing you with all the information you need to use these strategies to grow your own SaaS business.
To make the list a bit easier to navigate, we've broken it down into the four crucial components of SaaS growth hacking: attracting new visitors, converting them into identifiable leads, closing sales and delighting your users.
P.S. This isn't an exhaustive list, because it's impossible to exhaust creative, inventive ideas - and after all, that's all SaaS growth hacking is. If you've got a killer growth hacking strategy to share, tweet at myself or Will - we'd love to hear it!
SaaS growth hacking strategies to attract new visitors to your website.
1) Create a Viral Signup Process
Most SaaS signup forms require user information like name and email address - but why stop there? You can experiment with viral signup forms, and instead of asking for standard contact information, ask your new signees to share the signup form with a couple of friends.
As long as you make it easy to make the referrals (adding social media integration, and only asking for 2-3 shares), there's a good chance you'll see a big net gain in signups.
2) Discounts for Shares
Social proof can be hard to come by - unless you incentivise it.
To grow your social media following, and attract new visitors to your website, try offering a 5% or 10% discount for users that share your landing page on Twitter, or Like your Facebook page.
3) Targeted Press Releases
Press coverage may seem old fashioned, but getting your story published in TechCrunch or Venture Beat could have a huge impact on your growth. Be smart about your outreach, and you stand a decent chance of success:
- Write a short and sweet press release.
- Focus on the story of your brand.
- Personally reach out to a small number of relevant journalists.
4) Free User Accounts for Bloggers
Popular bloggers can be just as influential as press coverage - and their audiences represent an untapped resource of potential users.
Reach out to the biggest bloggers in your industry, and offer them a free paid account in exchange for a review. They'll share the review with their own audience, and likely funnel a whole ton of new traffic towards your product.
Learn more: HitTail.com
5) Build an Influencer List
If you want to grow your audience quickly, network with people with established audiences.
Create a list of influential figureheads in your industry, and start engaging with their content, commenting on their ideas, and when you've established a rapport, sharing your own content with them.
Your chosen influencers need to:
- Have an audience that matches your buyer persona.
- Be able to benefit from your content.
6) Influencer Outreach Emails
A personalised email is the best way to engage with your influencers. When you have a blog post, infographic, eBook or free trial you want to promote, send each person on your list a tailor-made email.
Influencers are busy people, so you'll need an intriguing subject line to stand-out in a crowded inbox. From there, make your email concise, demonstrate your knowledge of the influencer ('I was reading your latest blog post...') and explain why your product/offer/resource is relevant to their audience.
7) Get Listed on a Startup Directory
Whilst the days of web directories are long behind us, you still can increase the reach of your business by listing yourself on some of the SaaS industry's biggest and best startup directories.
Choose directories that are big, popular and industry relevant. Though niche directories will expose your brand to fewer people, they'll increase your chances of attracting interested people (be it new visitors or even potential investors) to your business.
8) Easter Egg Marketing
Easter eggs are fun little secrets, tucked-away in games, websites and... SaaS products.
Companies like Snapchat have developed a reputation for including hidden features and jokes in their products. These fun little extras encourage people to discuss and share their product, and serve to create a sense of community around your brand - helping you to stand-out in an increasingly crowded industry.
If you want to attract more people to your product, make it fun to use.
Gamification is the inclusion of enjoyment-focused design elements into a product or service. These are features that exist purely for the fun of using them, and many SaaS businesses have used them to great effect: like Treehouse's game design classes, and Mint's target-setting, goal-tracking finance app.
Learn more: Octalysis: Complete Gamification Framework
10) Bundled App Packs
Nothing brings the crowds running like a massive discount. By teaming-up with other SaaS businesses, you can pool your promotional efforts together, and create an attractive bundle of discounted services.
By partnering with related (but not competitive businesses), you can attract masses of targeted traffic to your business - and best of all, give them a great reason to signup with you.
For an example of this in action, you can take out the joint venture Pocket, Evernote, Wunderlist and LastPass embarked upon below.
11) Create Your Own Social Network
Free tools like Spot.IM make it easy to build engaged, passionate communities around your products.
By building on the existing framework of forums and blog comments, you can create your own branded social media network. You'll be able to continually engage your users, boost SEO with user generated content, and learn from user feedback.
If you take a leaf out of HubSpot's book (and their Inbound.org network), you can even create a space renowned for industry innovation and thought-leadership - and use it to attract targeted leads to your website.
Learn more: The Importance of Online Communities
12) Leverage Q&A Sites
Question and Answer sites have quickly become some of the largest online networks at our disposal. With an estimated monthly userbase in excess of 9 million people, Quora is one of the largest - and you can use it to generate a ton of engaged, relevant traffic for your business.
- When used cautiously, Quora can be a powerful tool for improving SEO.
- It offers a soapbox for developing thought-leadership.
- It lets you engage potential customers in discussion, and discover what they want from your product.
- It lets you raise awareness for your product, and drive targeted traffic back to your website.
13) Industry-Specific Q&A Sites
In addition to sites like Quora and Reddit, it's relatively easy to find a handful of specialised, industry-specific Q&A sites in virtually any niche.
Whilst actively engaging people on these sites is unlikely to generate an abundance of new customers (after all, they're likely to be people in the same line of business as yourself), they're fantastic for securing new links, and raising awareness for your company.
In terms of SaaS growth hacking, there are a few of particular significance:
- Inbound.org - HubSpot's inbound marketing-focused platform.
- GrowthHackers.com - a Q&A site dedicated entirely to the noble art of growthhacking.
- Stackoverflow - a world renowned Q&A site for developers.
14) Build Your Own Q&A Site
Given the obvious benefits of Q&A engagement, why not develop your own site? There are a multitude of platforms available for developing your own Q&A site in a cost-effective way. OSQA and Askbot offer open source tools for developers to build-upon; and SaaS companies like Answerbase and Qhub offer a good-to-go cloud-based platform.
To get your site up-and-running, it's essential to:
- Boost visibility by making your site as search friendly as possible.
- Use existing Q&A sites to promote your new one.
- Incentivise user contributions with rewards and increased recognition.
- Start with 'editorial seeding' - using your own team to ask, answer and share questions.
- Specialise, and focus your site around a niche industry.
Learn more: Growth Hacks of Q&A Startups
15) Create an FAQ Section
Everyday you're asked questions about your start-up, its software, and how to get the most from it. One growth hack you can implement to leverage this data is building an FAQ section into your website.
Ensure that the entire team is taking note of all the questions they get asked by customers and prospects throughout the day, and keep a tally of how often they're mentioned. The most frequent questions can then be published to your FAQ section.
With each FAQ given its own page, this offers an additional opportunity to highly rank pages in organic search listings like Google's. It also reduces the time your sales/customer service time spend answering the same questions, and promotes trust, increasing conversions.
16) Acquire Early Adopters With Hacker News
Hacker News is a breeding ground for tech enthusiasts and early adopters. You probably even check it out yourself.
It's a thriving community of entrepreneurs who can provide you with valuable feedback on your product. They're usually not afraid to be brutally honest, but make great early adopters that can help you shape your product.
The best way to leverage Hacker News for early publicity is actually quite simple. Just post "Ask HN: Review my startup, xyz.com". After you've posted, engage with the feedback you receive and get a discussion going without being defensive.
Learn more: How to Get Your Startup on Hacker News
17) The 2,000 Follower Hack [Manual]
If you want to build a big social media following, as quickly as possible, Twitter is the place to do it.
A new account is allowed to follow up to 2,000 users. Start by following relevant users from accounts similar to your own (competitors, partners, industry news outlets etc.), until you hit your limit. Then, periodically unfollow users that haven't followed you back - and follow new, relevant users in their place.
As long as you do this gradually, you won't fall foul of Twitter's fair usage rules. You'll earn follow backs, and even find your account recommended by Twitter - and you'll be able to grow your account to 2,000 relevant followers extremely quickly.
18) The 2,000 Follower Hack [Automated]
SaaS growth hacking is about growing your business in the smartest, most efficient way. Instead of slogging away at monotonous, time-consuming growth strategies, we'll look to the fastest ways to get things done - and that usually means marketing automation.
Instead of growing your Twitter following one user at a time, you can use ManageFlitter to automate the whole process.
- Create a list of users to follow. You can filter users by bio, Tweet content, name, hashtag usage and more - so pick a keyword that relates to your product, and search for users that regularly use it.
- Create a list of users to unfollow. You can set custom rules to determine which users will be unfollowed, so choose those that haven't followed you back within a suitable time frame.
- Automate! ManageFlitter can remotely manage your account, allowing you to set-and-forget your growth strategy.
19) Use Your Email List to Grow Social Media
A big, active and engaged social media following can work wonders for reach and visibility. The more followers you have, the more likely you are to create viral content, boost search rankings and attract new users through referrals.
To give your social media a boost, you can put your existing email list to good use. Whether built or bought, you can use a couple of tools to find connected accounts, connect to them, and automatically grow your network.
- Export your current mailing list from your chosen CRM/mailing software.
- Find any social accounts connected to your email contacts, by uploading your list into a tool like HubSpot or FullContact.
- Use a Twitter tool like ManageFlitter to follow your users.
- Use targeted ads to promote your social networks to Facebook users.
Learn more: Growth Hacking Your SaaS Startup - a Guide
20) The Skyscraper Technique
Linkbuilding is hard, but it's an important part of optimising your website for search engines. Without links, quite simply, your web pages aren't going to be showing up in Google's more competitive search results.
One tactic to attract links to your website is what's known as the Skyscraper technique, and it's amazingly simple:
- Find a piece of content on another website relevant to yours which has been shared and linked to a lot.
- Publish a piece of content to your own website that is much better (longer, more detailed, better presented)
- Reach out to all the people that linked to and shared that content, telling them about your piece
It's amazingly effective, and an excellent way to win the links you need to grow your search traffic.
21) Integrate Your Product with Social Media APIs
All of the major social media sites have APIs designed for third-party integration. With a little bit of thought, it's actually relatively easy to integrate your product with your users' most popular social media sites.
At its most basic level, you can make it super quick and easy for users to refer their friends to your service - but with a bit of imagination, you can create user communities with your app, share user-generated content and awards (like Spotify's playlists or HubSpot's inbound certifications), and even streamline the signup process by importing social media data.
Learn more: 8 Lead Gen Tactics You Might Be Missing
22) Integrate with Popular Apps
Whilst we're on the topic of integration, you can make efforts to integrate your SaaS product with other popular applications. Intermediaries like Zapier make this process relatively painless, allowng you to integrate and promote your product to the users of established SaaS giants like MailChimp, Trello and DropBox.
In doing so, you can harness the massive user bases of existing businesses to grow your own users. You'll make your existing users' lives even easier, and even be able to promote your product on the Zapier application directory.
23) Publish Your Product on the Chrome Store
If you look up at the top of your browser, you'll likely see a good handful of browser extensions from some of the SaaS sector's biggest names.
Companies like Buffer, Pocket, LastPass and HubSpot have used the Chrome app store to promote their products to huge audiences. Better yet, it's easy to follow in their footsteps. When publishing your app:
- Spend time on an aesthetically pleasing design
- Create a short elevator-pitch for your product.
- Add a download link to your website.
- Be smart about categorisation, and choose high download and low competition categories.
- Ask for reviews, ratings and social media endorsements.
24) Repurpose Your Content
Content assets (like guides, whitepapers and eBooks) offer a ton of lead-generating potential - but they can be costly and time-consuming to produce. With that in mind, it makes sense to squeeze every last drop of marketing benefit from each piece of content you create,
That's where repurposing comes in - using your existing content to create tons of brand new content, in a cost-effective way. A single eBook can easily become:
- A dozen blog posts
- An epic infographic
- A webinar
- A series of YouTube videos
- A SlideShare
- A series of markeitng emails
Learn more: How to Repurpose Content - A Complete Guide
25) Startup Transparency
Startup software businesses (and brand new SaaS products) have a unique edge over established corporate giants: it's much easier to be transparent about their business practices.
Being honest about your company culture, business model and personal beliefs makes it far easier to attract the right types of visitors, customers and employees.
Each of these crucial shareholders is, to some extent, invested in your business. Transparency is a way of acknowledging that relationship, and highlighting the core morals and beliefs that drive your company. It attracts people that share the same mindset; and creates a life-long loyal relationship in the process.
Learn more: A Practical Guide to Transparency for Startups
26) Transparent Blogging
Your company's blog is your greatest tool in achieving transparency. As well as taking a buyer persona-orientated, problem-solving approach to blogging, you can regularly blog around developments and events in your own business.
Crucially, you need to avoid the 'me me me' attitude endemic to most business blogs. Potential customers are unlikely to care about your latest intern, or the small-time award you were almost a runner-up for; but they will care about your culture, values and beliefs.
For a great example of a transparent blog in action (and a hugely successful one at that), we need look no further than SaaS darlings Buffer. Their awesome Open blog covers their experiences and beliefs towards hiring, growth and personal development; without once sounding arrogant or self-aggrandising.
Learn more: Buffer Open
27) Transparent Finances
When I hear the term 'startup transparency', it's financial transparency that springs immediately to mind. Recent years have seen a deluge of SaaS companies adopt the ethos of open, honest and publically available financial records. Typically, these take the form of monthly revenue streams - charting the company's month-on-month progress.
This type of financial honesty can be a powerful tool for attracting people to your business:
- It's a powerful form of social proof, demonstrating the health, growth and confidence of your business.
- It creates urgency, encouraging potential customers to get in on the 'ground floor' of your journey.
- It fosters genuine trust between your business and your customers.
28) The Skype Interview Technique
There are tons of popular, respected and downright awesome figureheads in the SaaS space - from Box's Aaron Levie to Buffer's Joel Gascoigne. Even better, many of these industry experts take the time to engage with their followers, and share their advice. In many instances, they'll even agree to an interview with you.
Thanks to the miracle of Skype, interviewing these experts is now as simple as scheduling a call and clicking a button. In one fell swoop, you'll learn a ton from an industry veteran, create unique content for your visitors to enjoy (think blog posts, podcasts and YouTube videos), and offer your expert a soapbox to demonstrate their own expertise.
Learn more: 39 Actionable Growth Hacking Tactics
29) Referral Optimisation
User referrals can be a hugely powerful tool for growing your user base. By optimising your referral process, you can increase your viral coefficient, and work towards a tipping-point of exponential growth:
- Explicitly ask for referrals
- Offer referral incentives to existing users and new signups
- Tell your users who to invite (colleagues, their boss etc.)
- Ask for a referral after a positive user experience
- Ask again!
Learn more: 9 Customer Referral Hacks to Grow Your User Base
30) In-App Referrals
The key to increasing referrals is to reduce friction - the barriers and obstacles that stand between a user and a successful referral. The easiest way to achieve this is to ask for user referrals in the parts of your business your users most frequently engage with - your app.
By building a simple and easy referral process directly into the UI of your app, you can maximise referrals and drive growth.
31) LinkedIn InMail Outreach
If your target audience regularly use LinkedIn, it's time to explore the world of InMails. LinkedIn's paid accounts offers its users a limited number of direct messages to other LinkedIn members, even if you aren't connected to them. Best of all, these InMails, guarantee you a response - and if you don't hear back, your credit is refunded to try again.
To get the most of this private introduction service, try creating a short and sweet InMail template. To stand out in a crowded inbox, keep it concise, honest, and to-the-point. Don't jump straight to a sales-focused pitch, and instead, try and offer your prospect some form of benefit: a free consultation, eBook or bit of personalised advice.
SaaS growth hacking strategies to turn anonymous visitors into identifiable leads.
32) The Hail Mary Offer
If some of your pages suffer from a big bounce rate (a high number of people immediately exiting the page), enlist the help of an exit intent popup.
When your visitor goes to click the back button, hit them with a message promoting a free guide or resource. If it's got broad appeal, there's a chance they might just engage with it, and give you their email address.
33) The Signup Form Homepage
The quicker you can get a visitor to start using your product, the quicker you'll be able to demonstrate your value. With that in mind, it makes sense to optimise your website for quick, efficient signups - and that means redesigning your homepage to promote a single signup form.
Use your homepage as a landing page: explain the unique value proposition of your product, include a hero shot and a testimonial, and channel your anonymous visitors towards a short but sweet signup form.
Learn more: 10 Must-Try Startup Growth Hacks for 2015
34) Content Upgrade Pop-Ups
If you want people to signup to your mailing list, you need to give them a compelling reason to part with their email address.
Access to your blog content is a good reason, but your visitors could earn the same benefit by simply visiting your blog once a week. To boost conversions, we need to give them an exclusive offer. That's where the content upgrade popup comes in.
Instead of promoting your everyday blog content, use blog subscription pop-ups to promote exclusive content. Create guides and resources that only blog subscribers can gain access to - and watch your conversion rates shoot up.
35) The 'Feel Bad' Pop-Up
On the other end of the spectrum are 'feel bad' pop-ups - big, bold pop-ups that offer visitors two options, along the lines of:
- Yes! I want to save time and money today!
- No, I enjoy wasting my money!
No-one in their right mind would agree with the latter statement - and it's that emotional manipulation that's used to drive visitors towards a conversion. It's a pretty underhand tactic, but crucially, it's proven surprisingly effective.
(Spend some time on the Copyhackers page below and you'll notice that even they've succumbed to the allure of 'feel bad' pop-ups - on a page entitled 'Have You Fallen For This Scuzzy Design Trend In Pop-Ups? Ironic? Maybe. Effective? Definitely.)
36) Use Micro Conversions to Drive Macro Conversions
Most conversion goals (downloading an eBook, subscribing to the blog) are actual macro conversions - big milestones that represent an important part of the lead nurturing process.
To reach a macro conversion, our visitors have to complete a series of micro conversions - things like visiting sales-focused webpages, or interacting with other users. By monitoring micro conversions, you'll have a much better idea of the sales-readiness of your leads - and you'll find it much easier to engage them with an offer or demo.
37) User Customised Social Sharing Icons
Social share bars (like Buffer's awesome Digg Digg) make it quick and easy for visitors to share your content, promote it to their networks, and attract new visitors.
Whilst it's always good to include the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, you can lose out on precious shares by failing to include some of the more obscure social networks - or by overcrowding your share bar with dozens of icons.
Learn more: Master Class: Growth Hacking - with Dan McGaw
Retargeting is a relatively new form of advertising, that makes it possible to show ads to people who have performed a specific action on your website, as they browse other websites. You've probably noticed this whenever you've gone to make a purchase online, and gone back to e.g. Facebook. Notice how you suddenly see the product all over the Facebook sidebars? That's retargeting in action.
If not used properly, it's an easy way to blow through thousands in your marketing budget, without a customer shown for it. However, when setup correctly and optimised for conversions, it can deliver a fantastic ROI. BareMetrics generate $650 in lifetime value for every $6 they spend on retargeting.
The key thing to bare in mind when considering a retargeting campaign is "do we have an easily understood value proposition?". If the answer is yes, retargeting will work well given time. If your value proposition is complex, and takes a lot of explanation, it's probably not going to work.Learn more: How Retargeting Gets Our SaaS $650 for $6
39) Email Pretargeting
Cold lists can be extremely hard to work with. If you're lucky enough to avoid being reported for spam, you still have to contend with high rates of opt-out attrition, and low rates of click-throughs and engagement. So, before you reach out to your cold list, warm them up.
Pretargeting uses ad retargeting to introduce your brand to your mailing list before embarking on a costly email campaign. Use your contacts email addresses to find them on social media; and enlist the help of paid LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook ads to raise their awareness of your brand and business.
40) Social Email Pretargeting
Whilst you're seeking out your mailing list members on their favoured social media sites, spend some time following them and engaging with them through your own branded account.
Liking their content and sharing their Tweets can be a great way to begin fostering a relationship - and when your email arrives in their inbox, they won't treat you as a total stranger.
41) Bribe Email Subscribers
If you want to turn anonymous visitors into identifiable leads, a blog subscription is a great place to start. Exchanging an email address for weekly content updates is a decent trade; and you can sweeten the deal by offering a free gift as an added incentive.
Whilst you may be reluctant to part with a valuable eBook for something as lowly as a name and email address, creating a blog mailing list is a hugely powerful tool for lead nurturing. The more valuable (and thus desirable) your offer, the more engaged, grateful and receptive your new contacts will be.
42) The Commitment Checkbox
The humble checkbox can be a powerful tool for driving conversions. By adding a checkbox to a landing page, or even a homepage signup form, you're asking your visitor to make a small and simple commitment to your brand.
Once they've ticked next to a benefit-focused button (something along the lines of 'Yes! I'm ready to start saving time today!'), they've enlisted the psychological power of comittment and consistency - making them much more likely to successfully continue with their form submission.
43) The Added Extra Checkbox
There's no guarantee that visitor that downloads a free eBook will successfully become an engaged email subscriber. Thankfully, you can improve your chances by adding a checkbox to your existing landing pages - offering 'Free monthly advice' to your visitor.
This simple act of opting-in to your email updates means visitors will be more likely to engage and respond with your lead nurturing emails. After all, they've chosen to receive your advice!
44) Historical Optimisation
As your older blog posts accumulate links, shares and social media traffic, they'll grow in visibility and traffic. With that in mind, it makes sense to periodically re-evaluate your older posts, and optimise them for maximum conversions.
The more congruent your offer is with your content, the better your conversion rate will be. If you've written a new whitepaper, or created a new resource, link it to existing relevant posts. When HubSpot did this, they doubled the lead generation of their old posts.
45) Use Your Competitor's Best Tools
There are a plethora of software tools available for conversion rate optimisation, each competing for your limited marketing budget. To get the most out of your investment, you need to choose the tools that have a real impact on lead generation.
Thankfully, there's any easy way to do that. BuiltWith is a free service that analyses the tools and plugins used by virtually any website. By analysing your most successful competitors, you can quickly get a feel for the tools and strategies they're using to generate their leads - and identify the software investments your business needs to make.
Learn more: BuiltWith.com
46) The Serial Position Effect
If you want your visitor to take a particular course of action, or learn a particular lesson, make sure it's the last and first thing they read.
Whenever we read a list, our brain subconsciously prioritises the first and last items on it - often relegating the middle items to relative obscurity. If you're trying to encourage your visitors to download an eBook, capitalise on this by using a bullet point list, and reinforcing your strongest benefits in first and last position.
47) The Illusion of Truth Effect
Another simple way to reinforce a message is to repeat it. The more we find ourselves exposed to a message, the more familiar it becomes. This triggers a heuristic known as the Illusion of truth - where we find ourselves more likely to trust and believe the message through sheer virtue of its familiarity.
This is hugely useful in all manner of marketing contexts - allowing your business to reinforce its value proposition. and those of its free resources and downloads, by simply repeating a core message.
Learn more: The Illusion of Truth
48) Qualaroo Subscriber Building
Qualaroo is a piece of software that lets you ask simple questions in a form that slides out from the bottom right of the screen. After they answer, you then have the option to re-direct visitors based on their response.
By using Qualaroo to asks readers if they want to subscribe to your SaaS company's blog, you can quickly increase email subscribers. Vero increase blog subscriptions by 25% when they implemented this simple growth hack.
49) Removing Landing Page Navigation
A landing page is designed to channel all of your visitor's energy and focus towards a single call-to-action - be it a whitepaper download or a free trial signup.
Unfortunately, every link in your navigation bar represents a way for your visitor to exit away from your landing page. Your About, Blog and Contact pages present potential distractions which can prevent conversion, so it's important to minimise the number of navigation elements visible. Crucially though, always leave one, making it easy to return to the previous page - allowing visitors that aren't ready for the landing page to hit Back, instead of closing the browser tab.
Learn more: 5 Places You Lose People on Your Landing Pages
50) AdWords Dynamic Keyword Insertion
Consistency is the key to a successful landing page conversion, and the more relevant a landing page is to the link or keywords that sent a user to it, the better your chances of a successful submission.
AdWords offers a nice little hack for achieving it, in the form of dynamic keywords. Instead of filling your adverts with specific keywords, you can choose keyword groups. When a user is shown your advert, a keyword is chosen from that group that matches the keyword they used for their search - often resulting in a vastly improved clickthrough rate.
51) Micro Conversions
Free trials, signups and sales are the crucial conversions at their heart of your business. Unfortunately, they also require the biggest commitment from your users, and the greatest level of trust. Thankfully, you can earn that trust in gradual stages - driving visitors towards a major conversion with a series of smaller 'micro' conversions.
Instead of diving straight in to a sales offer, start by encouraging your user to signup to your mailing list, or download a free guide. Make their experience as rewarding and beneficial as possible, and when the time comes to promote a trial offer or demo, they'll already have a ton of great experiences with your brand.
Learn more: 19 Techniques to Push Users Through Your Funnel
52) Sales Funnel Sensitive Landing Pages
This is a small tip with huge implications for your conversion rates. In simple terms, your landing pages shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all offer. Visitors will come to your website through all manner of different channels, looking for all different types of information. In order to maximise the chances of securing a conversion, you need to tailor your offers to their individual needs, and create multiple landing pages.
Your landing pages should consider:
- Buyer persona. What are their basic needs and pain points?
- Channel. Where did your visitors come from?
- Sales Funnel Stage. Are they looking to buy, or in need of some basic information?
- Past Engagement. Have they downloaded other offers before?
53) Fewer Contact Form Fields
Form fields are the areas of a contact form that collect visitor information, like name, business and job role. They provide a vital role in identifying anonymous users, and allowing you to tailor your marketing activities to their individual needs.
Crucially though, there's a negative correlation between the number of form fields, and the conversion rate. In order to maximise form submissions, it's important to balance your need for visitor insight with the negative effect of multiple form fields. The lower your information requirement, the greater the submission rates of your landing pages.
54) Smart Contact Form Fields
One of the easiest ways to make your landing pages more responsive (and minimise the number of form fields) is to include smart contact forms. These are dynamic contact forms that change their form fields according to the information visitors have previously submitted.
Instead of asking visitors to resubmit the same information over and over again, or bombarding them with huge amounts of form fields to submit, smart contact forms can collect new visitor information with each and every submission.
SaaS growth hacking strategies for establishing trust and turning leads into sales.
55) Sales Funnel Social Proof
Social proof is an essential part of fostering the trust of consumers; allowing people to see how your products and services are being used by happy, satisfied people, to solve the same types of problems they have.
However, the efficacy of social proof lies in its use. Instead of creating a dedicated 'testimonials' page, it's a much better idea to incorporate social proof into your sales funnel. By including testimonials, reviews and quotes on your landing pages, product and pricing pages, you encourage potential customers to trust your brand at the one point it really matters - just before a sales decision.
Learn more: How We Increased Our Conversion Rate By 311%
56) Anchored Pricing
Our attitudes towards prices can be influenced by a myriad of different factors - most notable being the context in which we engage with prices.
For example, a £100 shirt seems expensive compared to a £50 shirt; but place that same shirt next to a £2000 suit, and suddenly, it doesn't seem so costly.
You can easily leverage this by opening your pricing page with your most expensive option; making all your other packages seem more affordable in comparison, and driving up the average spend.
57) Left Digit Anchoring
Prices ending in 9 sell, on average, 24% better than the nearest rounded price point. This is usually attributed to the way our brains subconsciously understand numbers, using the left-hand digit to set the reference for the rest of the number.
By ending a number in 9, instead of 0 (say £39 instead of £40), we're encouraging the brain to subconsciously associate the price with the lower reference point (£30, instead of £40) - and making the decision to buy a little bit easier.
58) Decoy Price Points
By introducing seemingly useless price points into your pricing structure, it's possible to frame your highest price points in a more desirable way.
The classic example is The Economist's pricing strategy, where the introduction of an undesirable price point actually drove an increase in revenue of 30%. If you're operating a tiered SaaS pricing strategy, it's extremely easy to incorporate this practice into your own pricing.
Learn more: SaaS Pricing Strategy: The Decoy Effect
59) Shorten Free Trial Length
One way to increase your close rates is to experiment with reducing the length of your free trial. Most SaaS companies run free trials which are too long (14+ days).
This practice negatively impacts conversion rates because 1) people will rarely extensively try your software for weeks at a time, 2) long trials let customers think they have plenty of time, putting off usage and 3) long trials increase the length of the sales process, decreasing sales efficiency.
If you're currently running a free trial that's longer than 14 days, consider reducing it. The only exception to the short trial rule is if your software really locks people in. For example, Dropbox. It's a whole load of hassle to move all your files to another storage company, so it benefits Dropbox to have a long free trial that locks people in as much as possible.
60) The Less is More Product Page
The more products you offer, the harder it is to choose between them. With too many products and options to choose between, there even comes a point where decision making can grind to a halt.
This is known as 'option paralysis', a state where consumers will become overwhelmed by choice, and quit out of the buying process. To avoid this, and optimise your product page to increase sales, focus all of your energies on promoting a handful of key product types.
61) Setup Automated Email Workflows
Once you have a lead in your contact database, it's important to focus on moving them through the buying process. An excellent way to do this is with automated email workflows, using inbound marketing software like HubSpot.
Unfortunately it's also easy to do workflows incorrectly, which is why it's important you go in with a strategy. Before you create any automated workflow, always think: what is the goal of my workflow? How will this workflow move the lead further through the buying process?
A good example of a workflow: a series of emails sent out to a prospect after they download your free eGuide, "How to Increase Estate Agent Revenue With CRM". The emails each hit on further issues professional service companies should consider when implementing CRM, with the ultimate goal of encouraging the lead to download your middle of the funnel eGuide: "How to Choose a CRM for Estate Agents"
A bad example of a workflow: a series of random blog posts sent out to a prospect after they fill out your contact us form requesting a conversation with sales.Learn more: How to Use Workflows to Set Up a Lead Nurturing Campaign
62) Sales Abandon Offers
Sometimes potential customers can make it all the way through your sales process, only to fall at the last hurdle. Instead of abandoning these losses, and writing it up to fate, you can use an exit intent pop-up to launch a last ditch attempt to earn their custom.
When a would-be customer goes to quit the checkout process, hit them with a pop-up offering a discount code. At this stage, your lead is verging on the point-of-sale - and an additional 10% discount code can be enough to tip many would-be customers over the edge (in a good way!).
Learn more: 10% Conversion Increase with 1 Line of Code
63) Retargeting to Increase Activation Rates
So we've explained how retargeting can work to generate new leads for your SaaS solution, but have you thought about its potential to get trial users to log back in and use their free trials?
By setting up retargeting campaigns that target people who are already running a free trial of your solution, you can promote webinars, eGuides, special offers and reminders (X days left). These can help encourage your trial users to extract as much value as possible, increasing trial close rates.
64) The Enclosed Checkout Process
An enclosed checkout process takes users away from the distractions of your regular website. By removing navigation elements, and extraneous headers and footers, you can create a focused, stripped-down checkout process that forces your visitor to focus on the task at hand - buying your product.
Crucially though, don't go too far with this tactic. It's important to keep your checkout process as a recognisable part of your website, and offer visitors a way to go back a step. Sending a user to a seperate domain can also cause serious trust issues, and lead visitors to worry their browser session has been hijacked.
Learn more: Five Tips for Optimising Your Checkout Process
65) The Competitor Comparison Page
Direct comparisons between rival products is a crucial part of the buying process. Whilst many businesses choose to pretend these comparisons don't happen, and tout themselves as the only viable solution, it's far more productive to actually facilitate these comparisons.
By making direct comparisons between your software and your competitor's (like HubSpot do with rivals Marketo), you can highlight your own strengths, their weaknesses, and take control of a crucial part of the buying process.
66) Use Mention to Identify References to Your Brand
Increasing amounts of the software buying process are taking place in public forums, like social media. Using tools like Mention allows you to pick up on any public references to your brand or business, and jump into the conversation in the most helpful way possible.
If a potential customer is weighing-up the pros and cons of your service, chiming in with a helpful blog post or competitor comparison chart can make the difference between sale and no sale.
Learn more: A Field Guide: Sales Strategies from SaaS Pros
67) No 'Touchless' Signups
It's easier to attract the right buyers, convince them of your product's value and develop a long-term relationship with them if your sales team make direct contact with them prior to signup.
Instead of assuming that all users should be able to subscribe to your service completely autonomously, it may be worth including a chat with a sales rep as a necessary pre-sale step. This is especially true if you're targeting bigger businesses and the enterprise, as a sales rep will be able to ensure that each user is signed-up for the right service and right subscription. This way, you avoid users signing up to the wrong package, or for the wrong reasons, and help to minimise churn.
68) Use Discount Data to Improve Your Pricing Strategy
Most SaaS businesses will incorporate discounting into their pricing structure, using it as an extra tool for closing crucial sales. Crucially, you can use information about the number and type of discounts you give to refine and improve your pricing strategy.
By analysing which of your pricing tiers generates the greatest number of discounts, and the fewest, you can work out how effective your current price is. If one of your pricing tiers generates 0 discounts, you can stand to raise the price without objection (or loss of sales); and if another generates a hundred discounts, you'd be best served by reducing the price.
Learn more: 9 SaaS Discounting Strategies For Sales
69) Ditch Time As Your Free Trial Criteria
As well as shortening the length of your trial, you can experiment with trials that aren't constrained by time. Many SaaS platforms limit their trials to a certain number of sales transactions, email contacts, users or reports.
This type of trial has the benefit of encouraging a user onto a paid subscription only once they've seen results from the free version.
Last, but by no means least: SaaS growth hacking strategies to delight your users.
70) Send Behaviour-Based Emails
There's lots of ways to contact existing customers, and keep them in the loop. Many SaaS companies get this wrong, however, choosing to send generic emails out to all subscribers, rather than tailoring content and notifications based on behaviour.
Behaviour-based emails are a great SaaS growth hack that can help you to retain more revenue and customers, and it's pretty simple. First, you want to get setup with a piece of software like Intercom or Autosend. These pieces of software track how your users are using your application, and give you the ability to send out custom messages based on their behaviour.
For example, you could send an email out to someone who hasn't logged in after a month, asking if they need help. For someone that's using the software frequently, and taking lots of "manual" steps, you might email them to let you know there's a premium feature that could reduce their time spent in the software, and help them to get work done faster if they upgraded.
71) Incentivise Referrals
Happy customers are the best possible advertisement for your busines. Unsurprisingly, one of the easiest ways to earn happy customers is by giving away free stuff.
Companies like Dropbox and Uber regularly give away free file storage and journey credits, creating evangelical customers in the process. These free gifts are offered as referral incentives: in exchange for an awesome freebie, your users simply need to invite a couple of their friends to your service. As well as creating a feel-good dynamic between business and users, you can use referrals as a serious source of growth.
Learn more: Key Ingredients to Make Your App Go Viral
72) Track Your Users' Success Milestones
A 'success milestone' is any form of positive interaction between your business and your users. We've talked earlier about the example of a CRM user closing a deal, but milestones come in all shapes and sizes: from someone using your accounting platform to successfully create and submit a tax return, through to a user selling one of their products thanks to your eCommerce software.
By tracking these milestones, you can engage with your users when they're most grateful to your brand, and help reinforce a positive relationship. You prove that you care about the success of individual users, and you take the time to recognise their success (and if you're not sure what constitutes a success milestone, simply ask your users!).
Learn more: The Secret to Successful Customer Onboarding
73) Send Physical Gifts to Users
It's a universal truth that people love free stuff. When you have particularly evangelical fans and especially dedicated users, it makes sense to reward their hard work, and reinforce their helpful behaviour. To do that., it's as simple as sending them something free, personal and awesome.
I've been on the receiving end of a handful of free gifts, and they never cease to make me feel recognised and grateful. You can experiment with:
- Branded postcards with space for a handwritten note
- Vinyl stickers to decorate laptops/folders/guitars/anything
- Specially branded beers
Learn more: Growth Hacking Your SaaS Startup - a Guide
74) Hire a VP of Customer Success
As your SaaS business grows, you start generating more leads, and your sales team starts closing them, you put increasing pressure on the customer success team to keep churn rates down.
One easy way to decrease churn rates and ensure that customer success is treated seriously within your growing company is to hire a VP of Customer Success.
Without one, you don't have someone to fight solely for the customer, and user retention. This results in key issues that could reduce churn being surfaced too late, leading to large numbers of lost customers.
75) Manual Outreach to Your First Customers
Your first ~100 customers are hugely important. They provide the first tentative signs that your product has decent market fit, and their early involvement helps refine the future direction of the business. With that importance in mind, it's a great idea to personally reach out to your first users, and get to know them a little bit better.
This can be as simple as setting up a quick call, or exchanging a few personal emails. Talking about their needs, progress with the product and general thoughts around your business and service can be hugely beneficial, both to the growth of your company and the happiness of your users:
- Learn more about the needs of your users, and shape the future development of your product.
- Refine and improve your buyer personas.
- Create a personal dynamic between your business and your users.
76) Follow-Up Every Customer Interaction
Customer service is a staple part of running a SaaS solution; but that doesn't mean your job should stop after the customer has hung-up the phone. Even with a perfect resolution to their problem, you can still go a step further to delight your customer, by following up every customer interaction you have.
A simple email or in-app message is enough; and by checking-in on your customers, and seeing if their problems are still resolved, you can work wonders for the business-user dynamic.
77) Create a Customer Interaction Schedule
Instead of waiting for a problem to appear, you can develop a truly proactive support to customer service, and reach out to users on a regular basis.
Periodically call up your users when you have a new product, or you've added new functionality to your app, or simply to say Hi. Treat your users as partners, not just customers, and you'll develop a long-term relationship with each and every person.
78) Be Proactive With Problems
In any growing business, problems happen. Servers go down, payments get taken early, and new features go live with bugs and glitches. To help your customers weather the storm of these problems, it's crucial to be proactive whenever an issue appears.
Instead of hiding behind a customer support number, reach out to all of your affected users as soon as a problem appears. Let them know what's happened, how it'll affect them, and most importantly of all, what you're doing to solve it. This way, problems don't have to be disastrous for customer-business relations.
Learn more: 9 Customer Retention Strategies for Companies
79) Involve Users in Product Development
The most common reason cited for a customer ceasing to use a product or service isn't that they have a major problem. In 70% of cases they leave due to receiving poor quality of service.
Involving users in product development isn't just a great way to build an exceptional product that your users need, but it also makes them feel more involved. Long term that's only good for business, both in terms of retaining more customers and increasing their average spend.
Tools like UserVoice are great for encouraging customers to contribute to customer development, just make sure you respond to requests and engage with anyone that comments.
80) Regular Analytics Emails
Most SaaS products generate a lot of data throughout their usage. Whether you've built a CRM system that helps sales teams to be more efficient, or a monitoring tool that tells developers when new bugs are found.
A monthly, weekly or daily analytics email can be a great way to keep customers engaged, and using your software. Just try to keep it short and sweet, focusing in on the key numbers they're trying to improve by using your software.
81) Help Users Use Your App
Not all users are created equal. Some will stumble blindly though your product, using its barest features and canceling their subscription at the first possible moment. Others will explore every nook and cranny, delve into each area of functionality, and even promote your product to their friends and family.
Those second types of user are, obviously, the key to growing your business. With that in mind, it makes sense to guide your new users through your product's key features. This process of detailed onboarding could take the form of a series of in-app notifications, daily emails or even a 0-100% setup completion bar.
82) Daily/Weekly/Monthly Analytics Emails
Help your users use your app by sending automated analytics emails detailing changes in a handful of key performance metrics. Whether it's 50 new Twitter followers gained, 2,000 new website visitors or 18 new payments received, regular emails will help them get the most from your product.
As well as guiding your users, these emails will also serve to demonstrate the value of your product, as it helps them to achieve their goals.
83) How-To Webinars
If your app has some pretty advanced functionality, a how-to email or blog post might not be enough to help your users understand it. In these instances, it's a great idea to regularly host webinars to walk them through these features.
It doesn't need to be complex, or expensive - and often a simple screenshare can be enough to dramatically improve the user experience.
84) App Interface Gamification
As I mentioned earlier, gamification is the process of building game elements into other areas of life - including your SaaS product.
If your users engage with your product through an application, you can try adding tracked scores, competition between users and success/loss feedback . Doing so can work wonders for improving user engagement, and helping your users to actively enjoy every second they spend with your product. As well as attracting new people to your product, this also serves the crucial role of keeping your existing users happy.
85) Transactional Activity Emails
One of the core principles of gamification is feedback, where user actions and decisions are rewarded by a positive response. This principle can be implemented in your product quickly and efficiently, with a transactional email sent whenever a user performs a certain action, or achieves a certain goal.
This simple action of sending a 'Well done!', 'You generated X leads this month!' or 'You ran X miles today!' message can help users to feel engaged with your product, appreciated by your company, and motivated to continue using your product in the future.
86) Drip Email Campaign for Inactive Users
All apps have a portion of inactive users. In order to win them back, and get them using the application again, it's a great idea to use a drip email campaign to attract them back. By sending a series of emails to each of your inactive users, you can reintroduce your brand, remind them of the benefits of using your product, and help them enjoy your service again.
You can further incentivise re-engagement with your product by offering some form of bonus for doing so: be it a discount code or a free add-on.
87) Educate Your Users
The best SaaS products are those which make their users' lives better - whether they streamline complex processes or make it easier to achieve their goals.
Education plays a big part in achieving that. By providing your users with the knowledge and expertise they need to improve their day-to-day life, through recommended blog posts, books or useful email tips, you position your business as a helpful ally, and help them to get more from your product.
Congratulations! You made it!
As these 87 awesome SaaS growth hacking ideas attest to, in the quest for rapid, sustainable growth, it pays to experiment. As long as a technique or tool has a proven return, it’s worth being as creative and inventive as possible with your marketing strategy.
From our experience building and growing SaaS businesses, we’ve found that inbound marketing offers one of the most effective ways to scale-up users and revenue.
If you want to build on your SaaS growth hacking knowledge, you can learn about the inbound approach to generating SaaS leads in the free eBook below.