Conversion Rate Optimization for SaaS: The Complete Guide

conversion rate optimization for saas

Conversions are the holy grail for any business. After all, business success is defined by happy, paying customers. Optimizing conversion rates, then, is a top priority for companies in just about every industry — SaaS included. But conversion rate optimization for SaaS isn’t quite the same as it is for B2C brands or traditional B2B sellers.

Rather than driving customers toward a single purchase, SaaS companies ask buyers to invest in the ongoing use of the service and software they provide — and to integrate them into their own organizations. It’s a process that requires a path of much smaller conversions on the way to final purchase.

In this article, we’ll cover the need-to-knows about conversion rate optimization for SaaS, plus 7 actionable steps you can take to accomplish it.

Quick Takeaways

  • Conversion rate optimization for SaaS requires a more customer-focused, decentralized approach than traditional B2C ecommerce.
  • SaaS conversions occur on digital channels, namely websites, landing pages, social media, and email.
  • Knowing your sales process and mapping your funnel are key to creating successful conversion rate optimization strategies.
  • Conversion data contributes to more accurate ideal customer profiles and buyer personas.
  • Conversion rate optimization for SaaS is an ongoing process that requires continual testing, measuring, and improvement.

Conversion rate optimization for SaaS: a quick intro

Conversion rate optimization had its beginnings as an e-commerce strategy. While it has grown more sophisticated over time — think abandoned cart tactics and product-specific marketing — product purchase remains the primary conversion event for e-commerce brands.

For SaaS companies, conversion is equally important but also more complicated. Specifically, it is customer-centric rather than product focused. SaaS companies depend on relationships built over time, and conversion events exist at every point along the buyer journey.

Conversion rate optimization for SaaS, then, is not a single tactic but rather a strategy threaded throughout the entire sales cycle.

The 7 phases of the SaaS sales cycle.

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At each of these 7 phases, conversion means something different. Specific conversion events will vary by company as well. That said, there are some consistent strategies that every SaaS company should know and use — and that you can implement right away. Let’s dive in.

7 steps to successful conversion rate optimization for SaaS

Know where conversions occur

SaaS companies operate almost exclusively online. As such, SaaS conversions happen through digital marketing and sales channels, including websites, landing pages, social media, and email. At the root of these conversion channels are search engines, the starting point for 90% of B2B buyer research on potential providers.

To optimize conversions, you must recognize each of these channels as a conversion opportunity. Prominent value propositions, clear CTAs, and high-value lead magnets drive action from potential buyers across channels and at different stages of purchase readiness.

Throughout the process, your marketing and sales teams can leverage these tactics to collect prospect data and drive action toward the ultimate conversion — a final purchase.

Define your conversion events

What defines a conversion for your SaaS company? We know it differs for every company, and defining yours is the first step toward conversion rate optimization. Keep in mind that there are both lead and customer conversions. The two should be defined differently.

For example, an initial lead conversion may be defined as an email subscription. A free trial signup may define conversion to a more high-potential or sales qualified lead. Customer conversion is defined as making a purchase. After purchase, a subscription renewal or upsell purchase may be defined as a conversion, too.

The key is this: know what your company defines as a conversion, and align your strategies toward driving those actions.

Map your funnel

Unlike in the B2C ecommerce world (where conversion is owned primarily by marketing), more decentralized efforts are required to reach conversion rate optimization for SaaS. To keep these efforts aligned, map your funnel and define responsibilities.

Here’s an example:

The B2B marketing and sales funnel.

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Clearly define where marketing and sales each have responsibility along your funnel (it may vary from the graphic above) and where customer support may also play a role (especially in retention efforts). Then, map each of your conversion events to the appropriate stage of your funnel to know where responsibility for it lies.

This prevents accountability questions or issues from arising later down the road. It also empowers your internal teams to take ownership for their responsibilities relating to overall conversion rate optimization.

Let’s walk through it using our example from the last section. If an email subscription is your initial lead conversion event, it would fall under marketing’s responsibility according to this funnel. Since a free trial signup defines sales qualification (likely among other factors) it would signify the pass-off to sales. Customer conversion is the responsibility of your sales team, but subscription renewals and upselling may also require collaboration with your customer success team.

There’s no avoiding the shared nature of conversion rate optimization for SaaS. Mapping your funnel creates accountability and  prevents this shared responsibility from ever hindering your conversion efforts.

Drill down and analyze

Once you’ve defined conversion events and mapped your funnel, it’s time to track and analyze buyer behavior. Look for the channels driving the most conversions. What are you doing right? Can it be replicated in other places?

Conversely, find the dropoff points where leads are losing interest and failing to convert further. What’s going wrong? What can be changed to improve results?

Analyzing buyer behavior and conversion trends across your channels and funnel is critical to continual improvement and conversion rate optimization.

Here are some examples:

  • Is downloading a particular lead magnet (like an ebook) indicating likelihood of further conversion (like signing up for a free trial)? If so, make that lead magnet more prominent on blog posts, social media, and email.
  • Are free trial users not converting at a high enough rate? If so, it might be time to look at your sales communication strategy and/or ask for feedback to learn about the free trial experience and find ways to improve it.

This analysis typically requires a good CRM or lead management software system to automate the collection and analysis of this data at scale.

Understand your buyer personas

Smart SaaS companies create ideal customer profiles and buyer personas to ensure accurately targeted marketing efforts. Your conversion data can give you further insights to help you create accurate profiles and personas, then continually refine them.

A simple example: do prospects with VP and C-level position titles convert at a higher rate than managers or other mid-level contributors? It’s an indicator that you should be targeting your conversion efforts to decision makers at this level (and adjust your buyer personas accordingly).

Measure and refine

Conversion rate optimization for SaaS is an ongoing process. Continual testing, learning, and improvement is the hallmark of strong, data-driven conversion strategy. Even as you reach goals and see results, never stop asking questions, analyzing data, and looking for new opportunities.

In a world where technology and buyer behavior are continually evolving, there’s no doubt the right recipe for conversion rate optimization will evolve along with it.

Our outbound email software and lead generation services are custom-built for startups, consultancies, marketing agencies, and other B2B organizations. Schedule a quick call with us and find out how we can help you win more clients.