Why B2B SaaS Companies Should Stop Ignoring Lead Magnets

Why B2B SaaS Companies Should Stop Ignoring Lead Magnets
For prospects to convert into customers, they need to feel a sense of certainty that the monetary and time investments involved with adapting a new system into their business will be worth it. As such, B2B lead generation and nurturing takes time and many different touch points along the path to a sale.

This is what makes lead magnets such an essential part of the digital marketing tool belt for B2B marketers. But most of the time when we begin working with B2B SaaS companies, they either don’t have a lead magnet at all, or they have one that’s not particularly effective at generating leads from their target audience.

As a result, if website visitors don’t sign up for a trial or demo, the SaaS company has no way of:

  1. Knowing who specifically visited their website
  2. Communicating with those people after they leave
  3. Telling who was engaged versus who wasn’t

In this article, we’ll discuss the common mistakes we see being made in the marketplace when it comes to lead magnets — the ones B2B SaaS companies can learn from and avoid. And then we’ll walk through what makes an effective lead magnet, the specific types we’ve found work best for B2B SaaS, and a detailed example of a calculator we recently created for our client CartHook.

Want to learn more about the lead magnets we create for our B2B SaaS clients? Check out our Customer-Content Fit workshops. If you’d like to learn more about our services, schedule a Free SaaS Scale Session.

3 Mistakes to Avoid with Your B2B Lead Magnets

1. Not Having One At All

If we had to estimate, roughly 60% of the SaaS companies we speak with do not offer any kind of lead magnet. They’re focused on the awareness (top of funnel) and purchase (bottom of funnel) stages in their content and ads, but fail to dedicate resources to developing offers for people in the consideration (middle of funnel) stage.

And with no places on the key pages of their site to invite potential customers to learn more without signing up for a trial or demo, they miss the opportunity to formally connect with visitors who are in the consideration stage and are actually interested in what they have to offer.

2. Offering the Wrong Type of Lead Magnet

We think this mistake happens in part because the common types of lead magnets are often not that useful and don’t get consumed. For example, go-to lead magnets in B2B SaaS tend to be things like:

  • Newsletters: These are often general and uninteresting. Prospects know this and therefore subscription forms tend to see very low conversion rates.
  • Access to Webinar Recordings: These are often longer than the time prospects are willing to take to consume your content. Plus, there’s a perception (which is often true) that webinars are boring, so these also tend to yield low conversion rates.When was the last time you sat through a 90 minute webinar with rapt attention?
  • Downloadable White Papers: Again, these are often dry, not that useful, and take more time to consume than prospects have or are willing to give.

Free guides and research papers are also common, but tend to suffer from the same problems. There are four types of content in particular that we’ve found to perform better in the B2B SaaS space specifically — mistakes lists, cheat sheets, case studies, and calculators (more on this below).

3. Not Actively Promoting Your Lead Magnets

The last mistake we see is that SaaS companies don’t specifically promote their lead magnets. Rather, they put them up somewhere on their site with the hope or assumption that people will opt in for the newsletter, free download, recording, etc.

In some cases, they may send them out in their email marketing or social media posts, but rarely do they run any ads to them. And we see this as a missed opportunity.

In our experience, especially in remarketing ads, good lead magnets are valuable assets to drive ad traffic to. With a compelling piece of content and a properly designed landing page, we’ve found lead magnets to be an effective non-committal way to prompt an exchange of contact information with right-fit prospects.

What Makes an Effective Lead Magnet for B2B SaaS?

We’ve talked about this before, but the acronym we use as a guide is:

  • S – Simple
  • A – Actionable
  • G – Goal Oriented
  • E – Easy to Consume

Perhaps with the exception of case studies which are at times longer-form (but still have their place as we’ll describe below), mistakes lists, cheat sheets, and calculators all fit this criteria. And they can be actually useful for both you and your prospects.

For example, mistakes lists and cheat sheets can help prospects solve real problems in their businesses by creating awareness of things they’re getting wrong and providing them with actionable tactics or strategies to make improvements.

In addition, when thoughtfully crafted, these types of tools can also help teach prospects how to buy or show them the value of buying. For example, in the case of an ROI calculator, you can create a really simple way of demonstrating to prospects the tangible monetary outcomes that could come as a result of using your product — and do so based on each individual prospect’s own business metrics.

In the next section, we’ll discuss an example of this in detail, including how we decided on an ROI calculator for our client CartHook (as opposed to one of the other types of lead magnets), how we went about creating and promoting it, and the preliminary results we’ve seen.

B2B SaaS Lead Magnet Example: A Product ROI Calculator For CartHook

B2B lead magnet example: A calculator for CartHook

We developed the idea to create an ROI calculator during our two onboarding workshops with the CartHook team. CartHook’s software helps Shopify stores increase revenue via upsells by showing shoppers one-click additional offers once they’ve completed a purchase.

Note: Learn more about our onboarding workshops in our article on customer-content and journey-offer fit.

During our workshops, we asked their different departments questions about what keeps their customers up at night. The things that stood out were:

  • Recurring revenue
  • Costs of goods sold
  • Average order value
  • Rising CAC on Facebook Ads

CartHook’s product can’t do much to affect their costs of goods sold or rising CAC on Facebook, but it can make a direct positive impact on revenue and average order values — so these were the metrics we decided to focus on for our calculator.

So why did we choose a calculator instead of a case study or a cheat sheet?

Why We Chose an ROI Calculator

Let’s revisit our list of go-to lead magnet ideas for B2B SaaS:

  1. Case Studies
  2. Cheat Sheets
  3. Mistakes Lists
  4. Calculators

With great customers like Native (which sold to Proctor & Gamble for $100 million in late 2017), we certainly could have done a case study showing the lifts in revenue Native had from using CartHook. But the function of a case study is to prove legitimacy, and based on their feedback, CartHook typically already has a good reputation with their best-fit prospects. People know and trust their brand, so we decided that creating something interactive would be a better fit.

A mistakes oriented piece of content wouldn’t have made sense because the mistake that most Shopify merchants make is not considering upsells as a viable path for increasing average order value. So it would have been a very short piece of content. If it could be summarized in a tweet, why bother creating a PDF around it?

Lastly, because the only alternative that a Shopify merchant has is the custom coding process of building their own upsell tool, a cheat sheet around that wouldn’t have made sense either.

So the only logical choices were a case study or a calculator, and we chose the calculator because of the interactivity that allows a prospect to see their own situation within the business model and context of the SaaS tool. It also allows room for pessimistic, realistic, and optimistic outlooks (controlled by the prospect).

How We Created and Promoted It

CartHook is unique in that they use an application system to qualify prospects, rather than the traditional method of letting anyone sign up for a trial or demo. So the first thing we did was ask their sales development person—who actually does their demos—what qualification questions they ask and how they decide who they want to work with.

She said they ask how much their sales were last month and in general on a monthly basis, and follow up with what kind of product they’re selling to understand if it’s a sufficient average order value to where it would make sense to work together.

For context: CartHook’s business model is to take a small percentage of their upsell revenue, so if revenue or average order value don’t meet a certain threshold, it doesn’t make financial sense to work with them.

So we chose to go with “sales last month” and “AOV” (average order value) as the inputs for our calculator. This would serve multiple purposes, both qualifying prospects and showing prospects how much additional revenue they could be making with CartHook (based on the average results seen by their customers).

In addition, these are metrics that every eCommerce store owner either knows or can easily access, which were important criteria in choosing them as inputs. If we asked for more obscure information, the calculator would be much less useful and fewer people would end up using it.

Lastly, we decided to let prospects indicate their level of experience with upselling, because the CartHook team emphasized the varying levels of experience and perspectives that prospects have around upselling, and we wanted to take that into account.

As a result, we created this calculator where these inputs could be entered directly on the page.

B2B lead magnet example: A calculator for CartHook - How much more revenue could your Shopify store make?

For the headline, we did three specific things:

  1. Phrased it as a question (a practice we’ve seen the best results from — our brains have trouble ignoring questions)
  2. Focused on what they care about most (how much more revenue they could make)
  3. Called out specifically who it’s for (if you’re a Shopify store owner, this is for you)

Once prospects enter their numbers, they would simply submit their name and email in exchange for the results.

CartHook calculator form: What is my new post-purchase upsell revenue potential with CartHook?

Upon submitting the form, their results pop up on the page with the calculation of potential revenue gains if they were to use CartHook:

CartHook calculator results: Your New Revenue Potential and Pricing

From there, the same application form is used below with the prospects name and email automatically populated:

CartHook application form: Upsell Revenue Potential Consultation

Once this was created and live on their site, we started phase one of the promotion process, running ads to it through LinkedIn, Google, and Facebook to test for customer-channel fit. Then we deployed our Boomerang Method for remarketing to prospects who started the application process but didn’t convert.

Our next phase will be to start directing traffic to the calculator from the key pages of their site such as their pricing, features, and how it works pages, and we’ll add it to the sidebar of their blog as well.

Thus far, the calculator has received 80 results requests. That’s 80 new marketing qualified leads they wouldn’t have otherwise had.

Google Analytics screenshot showing preliminary results of CartHook’s calculator lead magnet.

Google Analytics screenshot showing preliminary results of CartHook’s calculator lead magnet.

Conclusion

When lead magnets are created thoughtfully, with empathy for those who they’re built for, understanding what is actually interesting and useful for prospects, they are one of the most effective ways we’ve found to connect with the prospects in the middle of your sales funnel.

To not have a lead magnet, or to have one that doesn’t generate leads or that you don’t actively promote, is a missed opportunity to engage with prospects who are interested but not yet ready to buy.

But if you choose the right type of content, and you actively promote it through your website and the places your prospects spend time online, you can steadily increase your pipeline by marketing to qualified leads.

Want to learn more about the lead magnets we create for our B2B SaaS clients? Check out our Customer-Content Fit workshops. If you’d like to learn more about our services, schedule a Free SaaS Scale Session.