How to build SaaS websites that convert

Without a good website, you're growing your SaaS company on hard mode.

Your website plays a critical role in promoting the value of your product, helping to sell more software. When you combine sales strategy with a specific target market, you get clarity on what will perform best for your business.

How to Identify your Target Market

Your sales strategy will differ depending on who your core customer is. Whether you are targeting enterprises or selling directly to end-users will direct your decision making. Ultimately, you want buyers to engage with a demo, proving that your solution achieves the advertised results. When you’re dealing directly with users, this will most likely be a free trial. In every case, it’s about experimenting with how to place your product in the hands of the customer in the most suitable way, in order to boost conversion to sales.

We’ve all been there-you're designing your website, and you get carried away with choosing the perfect colours and layout, only to think about copy last minute. This is a big risk. By prioritising copy, you can ensure that you’re speaking to the customer in their own language. This targeted approach and focus on language-market-fit increases conversion. 

4 Steps to Optimise for Customer Conversion

  1. Discover your Value Proposition
  2. Frame your User as the Hero
  3. Experiment with Trial Alternatives to Increase Conversion {{Place Your Product Into the Customers’ Hands}}
  4. Embrace Testing and Experimentation

#1 Discover your Value Proposition

Your value proposition is the first impression you give of your company, so you need to ask yourself how it catches the eye of potential customers:  Is it inspiring? Specific? A clear call to action?

I know, we all want an easy answer, but there’s actually no one correct formula for a value proposition. The good news is that, with a bit of trial and error, you can work out what you want to focus on.

3 Value Proposition Formulas:

  • What your product is: Include a simple, snappy statement that describes what your product is
  • What your product does: Outline the intent of the product
  • What you can do with your product: Sum up the potential of the product and what the user can achieve through engagement

Generally, the best value propositions are:

  • Targeted - clearly state who the product is aimed at
  • Specific  - if it can be applied to another product, it’s not specific enough
  • Unique - set your product apart from competitors

Take a look at Uber’s a strong value proposition. They state clearly how the service works and how this is different from competing taxi services.

 Soundcloud has taken a different approach, choosing to focus on the potential of the product in their value proposition by highlighting what users can get out of it:

Ultimately, pick a value proposition that sticks in people’s minds for positive reasons. The best way to do that is to get to know your audience.

If you want to tackle the challenge of writing customer-optimized copy, you can start by asking your customers:

  • Why are you engaging with our brand?
  • What problems do you have?
  • What solutions are you looking for?

The great thing is, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can learn from what others have done to successfully increase conversions to their SaaS products. Neil Patel is one online influencer with lots of advice to offer about getting out of the office to speak directly with your customers.

Here are some top tips to get you started:

  • Ask open-ended questions (not multiple choice) - this helps you record a breadth of language that you can translate into effective messaging for customers. By hearing the types of phrasing used commonly by customers, you will be better informed about how to word your own content.
  •  Think about when is the best time to ask your customers some questions:
  • Questions when a user signs up
  • Polls on the website
  • Analysis of user behavior

Using customer feedback to prioritize certain features is so important. In fact, many areas of your business may already be doing this type of customer research, and so now it’s about identifying and utilizing it. Talk to your team and share insights. Do whatever it takes to get real user feedback.

#2 Frame your User as the Hero

We know you’ve got the message: speak to users. Your entire communication strategy should directly address users.

Despite the very nature of SaaS being virtual, it can be helpful to customers when they can visualise the benefits of your product. A great way to do this is a ‘before and after’ between the old way of doing something (before or without your product) and new way (how much easier the solution of your product makes the task in question). Make sure that the gap between before and after is very evident. Paint a vision in the customers’ mind of the perfection and ease that your product can bring to their job and daily tasks.

Take a look at this fabulous advertisement from Slack, which makes use of a catchy value proposition in the ‘before and after’ style:

This single sentence, accompanied by an eye-catching, almost dream-like image, summarises the benefit Slack is offering for your working life. It is clear that, before, work-life involved a lot of meetings but, after using the Slack software, this time can be better spent.

It’s important, however, that the picture you paint is very credible, very clear, and easy to grasp. Speak as a trusted friend would speak, and don’t fall into the trap of using vague language to draw people in, only for them to later be confused or disappointed.

This is exactly why asking lots of questions of your customers directly is useful - content based on customer research is most helpful to them. Your focus will likely be on encouraging users to sign up for a free trial, so consider keeping some content ungated - barriers can be off-putting.

Finally, your home page needs to have these five elements:

  • Overall Value Proposition
  • Before and After
  • Explain the Problem
  • Introduce your Solution
  • Close with a Call to Action

#3 Place Your Product Into the Customers’ Hands

We all love a free trial - getting to try something out before we part with our hard-earned cash is very appealing. When it comes to SaaS, offering a free trial can be beneficial. However, you should first consider why you are offering the trial, and decide if it is the best option for your SaaS product.

The most important thing is that the potential user feels like they’re getting to know what your product is about, without too much effort on their part. Even though free trials are often the go-to strategy, there are several other ways you can achieve the same goal:

  • Social proof - offer statistics, or place recognisable logos in your branding, to show customers that your product has received external validation from esteemed companies that they will have heard of and respect
  • Recap on the benefits - be clear and direct with your top-selling points
  • Just get started - a very brief introduction to your product, but not too much waffle
  • In-line signup - users don’t need to go to a separate page within your website to sign up, they can simply enter their email address on the homepage
  • Plain vanilla - You realise your customer doesn’t need you to ‘hard sell,’ because they are already on your site, so keep it simple

Here are 3 things to get right to maximise conversion:

  1. Design

It is said that beauty makes you trustworthy and your partner tolerant. With websites, it is exactly the same.  However, in this context, beauty means familiarity and simplicity. Following website conventions (e.g., search function on the top right-hand side) can be a good starting point for drawing people in. Simpler design tends to be seen as more beautiful; white space draws focus to where you want it to be, such as to the value proposition. As a general rule, the more ‘clutter’ your website, the lower the conversion rate.

  1. User Flow and Navigation

This is a series of steps that you want the user to follow once they land on your site. Keep the user focussed on the next step - it is important never to leave it to the user to decide what to do next. We like to be guided, and being left feeling clueless is a sure-fire way of someone abandoning the website.

  1. Show the Product

The STP principle is intended to give the user a ‘feel’ for the product. Demonstrate core functionality, potential and specific uses of the product. Social proof can also be helpful in this area. People like to buy on recommendation, so making clear any well-known clients or allies, or even outlining some customer success stories, can be a strong strategy.

#4 Embrace testing and experimentation

“If Edison had just focussed on continuous improvement, he would have just come up with a better candle.”

This quote is often thrown about as part of the radical vs. iterative debate. How should changes be made and introduced to customers?

Yes, Edison’s lightbulb was radical, but he tried more than 1000 iterations in the process. Radical has its value, but it’s one thing to find the mountain, and another to climb it.

Testing and experimentation is a culture, and the best teams embrace it to build the best possible website because success rarely comes at the first attempt.

Always monitor and test:

  1. Homepage value proposition
  2. Demo/Trial/signup points
  3. Call to action
  4. Homepage flow
  5. Product tour flows
  6. Pricing page
  7. High-traffic landing pages
  8. Email subject lines/body text

Everything, every variable, is constantly evolving and changing so, without a method to gather data and keep your website updated, you will fall behind. You can’t afford to have a shiny new website and then wait 2-5 years to come up with the next update, with nothing happening in between. Your website becomes obsolete very quickly -be reactive.

Recap

We’ve shared a few starting points that will help you build a SaaS website that converts.

Remember:

  • Get your value proposition right
  • Put your customers at the centre - if you don't know how they speak, ask them.
  • Your company’s purpose is to help users to do their job
  • Focus on getting the users’ hands on the product - eliminate friction points that might impede this
  • Embrace testing and experimentation as a culture

Continually monitor your site’s performance

Eduardo Esparza
Eduardo Esparza
Eduardo AKA EE, is the founder of Market 8. A true visionary with superpowers to gather the troops and inspire the team to move mountains.
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