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The B2B SaaS Marketing Funnel, Explained

SEO Blog
B2b Saas Marketing Funnel

The B2B SaaS marketing funnel is a framework that conceptualizes the journey your prospective customers take before converting into qualified leads for your sales team. This funnel is the first half of an overall customer acquisition funnel, beginning when a customer first learns about your SaaS company or product, and ending when they take an active conversion action. It consists of 5 stages:

This guide will break down all five stages of the B2B SaaS marketing funnel, and discuss how SaaS companies can optimize each stage of their own funnel.

Discovery

During the Discovery stage, potential clients come across your company name or software for the first time. Most B2B SaaS firms will target decision-makers at businesses with a need that their software solution can satisfy (though for highly technical software, SaaS businesses are often better served by targeting the engineers or developers who will best understand it). One of the most common ways that leads discover a new business is through Google search, as shown below:

B2b Saas Funnel 1
A searcher enters the discovery phase by searching a keyword on Google Search.

The most common ways that prospective clients find B2B SaaS companies are shown in the table below, along with the expected ROI and time to break even when each is used as a lead generation channel:

Channels Average 3-Year ROI Time to Break Even Notes
SEM (PPC)  36% 6 months
  • Short-term results help take advantage of busier seasons
  • Guaranteed exposure on the most searched subjects in your industry
  • Simple and rapid deployment
  • Pay-for-performance structure scales well with varied budgets
SEO 748% 9 months
  • Long-term exposure and lead flow that stays constant throughout multiple business cycles
  • Exceptional ROI
  • Establishes the business or platform as an authority or thought leader in-industry
Trade Shows 85% 8 months
  • Develops face-to-face relationships with business leaders
  • Better targeted to decision-makers looking for new solutions
LinkedIn Ads 229% 10 months
  • Competitive ROI
  • Simple and rapid deployment similar to PPC
  • Easier to target business leaders in specific industries/markets
Public Speaking 856% 6 months
  • Establishes the speaker as an authority or thought leader in-industry
  • Develops relationships with business leaders
  • Exceptional ROI

The best way to optimize your discovery stage is to combine multiple channels, using paid strategies like PPC and LinkedIn ads for short-term growth while your team develops longer lead time but higher ROI strategies like SEO and public speaking. Choosing only one can leave you more vulnerable to seasonality and shifts in customer preference.

Interest

After discovering your business or software platform through an ad, a Google search, or hearing a speaker at an event, prospects will enter the Interest stage. This most often takes place on informational pages on your website, such as on the blog article shown below:

B2b Saas Funnel 2
A blog article provides answers to the problems of business leaders, capturing interest.

The best way to optimize the Interest stage is to ensure that your website’s landing pages and blog pages are easy to navigate, deliver pertinent information efficiently, and if a visitor wants to convert immediately, makes it simple to set up a demo or a sales call. This can be done by taking the following steps:

  • Use visual elements like tables and graphics that improve skimmability and capture interest quickly
  • Ensure that every page has clear pathways for visitors who want to find more information, both through internal linking and by having clear menu and UX design
  • Track your visitors’ click paths through your website, to find which pages are most and least successful at encouraging them to read more
  • Incorporate the most successful page strategies on lower-performing blogs and landing pages

At this point, some visitors will be ready to convert, skipping the appraisal and confirmation steps entirely. Most, however, will leave your website in order to do their own, independent research in the appraisal stage.

Appraisal

When savvy decision-makers find your SaaS product compelling during the Interest stage, they will then begin researching your company independently to ensure that you seem like the right fit before reaching out. This will take place on social media, in discussions with their peers in the industry, and review sites like the one shown below:

B2b Saas Funnel 3
Prospects will attempt appraise the quality of a SaaS product on external review sites.

This stage of the funnel is least within your control, but you can still influence the process. Asking satisfied customers and employees to leave reviews will greatly improve your overall ratings. In addition, you can invest in channels that improve your overall industry reputation. The three best marketing channels to accomplish this are though leadership content, webinars, and public speaking. Each of these will increase your company’s exposure and associate you with high quality information business leaders find when searching for solutions in your industry.

Confirmation

The Confirmation stage occurs when a visitor returns to your site after concluding their research. At this point, they just need a small final push to convert, and as a result the confirmation stage tends to have a high success rate in moving prospects toward the final stage of Conversion.

B2b Saas Funnel 4
A visitor returns to the homepage of their preferred software platform provider.

To maximize your chances of success, offer case studies to give readers real-world examples of your software platform improving outcomes for businesses. As with the Appraisal stage, showing testimonials from satisfied clients on your own pages can also help increase your success at this stage. B2B SaaS companies also have a unique opportunity to provide a sample page where users can navigate an interactive demo version of your software on your website. 

As with the other B2B SaaS marketing funnel stages, transparency and honesty is crucial. Be honest about your platform, timelines for deployment, unique functionality, and what’s expected from the client. Most importantly, ensure that you’ve taken steps to conversion optimize your confirmation pages, making it as easy as possible for visitors to convert into leads.

Conversion

At the Conversion stage, the visitor is finally ready to reach out to your company. This is the shortest stage of the B2B SaaS funnel, and takes place primarily on your website’s contact page:

B2b Saas Funnel 5
The visitor reaches out to the sales team, converting into a lead.

To optimize the conversion stage, ensure that your contact page is linked to clearly from your site’s main menu, at the bottom of landing pages and blog articles, and when appropriate, through popovers or other interstitials. Your goal in this stage is to make it as easy as possible for an interested prospect to contact your sales team.

Optimizing Your B2B SaaS Marketing Funnel

Optimizing your B2B SaaS marketing funnel requires a team with diverse skillset. They’ll need to audit create a comprehensive marketing strategy, build out multiple channels, and conversion-optimize your website.

Because many companies lack the expertise or in-house resources to do all of the above, they instead choose to work with an experienced marketing agency. We have over 12 years of experience helping SaaS companies to get the most out of their marketing funnel and securing a steady stream of leads for their sales teams. If you’d like to discuss a partnership, reach out here to book a call.

Evan Bailyn

Evan Bailyn is a best-selling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership. Contact Evan here.

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