Mahmud Ahmed
Jul 18 · 17 min read
Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Not a marketer, but as somebody who’s worked in the animation field (i.e. explainer videos) for the last few years…

I’ve had the chance to see how this works from a unique angle.

Guess I could explain this in a few different ways, and for the most part — everybody has their own unique challenges…

Like:

  • Pricing
  • Competition
  • Educating your market
  • Etc…

But after working with a lot of SaaS companies over the years, I’d say the biggest challenge most new founders face with customer acquisition — is simply realizing that:

Marketing isn’t a one-step process, it’s an entire journey

Now in all honesty, I can’t even take credit for this “discovery” either — because it didn’t happen until I’d been in business for a solid year or so…

And up until this time, I really couldn’t understand why some companies succeeded — while most others failed.

From what I could tell, most of the SaaS companies who didn’t make it — had great products and all that…

So that wasn’t their problem, but at the same time — no matter what they did…

Whether it was:

  • Attracting clients with content marketing
  • Promoting free trials with paid advertising
  • Or contacting clients with cold email…

They could never get the traction they needed, and that never made sense to me — until a year later…

When I partnered up with a marketer who appeared to know what he was doing

Now “partnered” might be a little exaggerated as well, because I didn’t really reach out to him or anything — but instead…

We were hired by the same client, who was looking to promote his new SaaS product.

With that said, he hired me because he needed an explainer video — and he hired this other guy because he was going to put the entire system in place…

But even though I didn’t really care about the marketing side of things too much in the beginning, after being on a few email threads — this guy started to catch my attention right off the bat…

And I guess I’m not sure why, but if I had to guess — I’d say it’s because he was different.

Say that, because in the past — most marketers would always talk about these “vague” setups…

Where they wanted to setup a Facebook Ad that promoted a free trial, and hopefully get business out of that — which kind of worked…

But never got the full results clients were looking for.

On the other hand, even though this guy was saying a lot of the same lingo — he seemed to be elaborating on it a little more as well…

So it was an interesting project right off the bat, and even though I’m not going to bore you with all the details now — as it’ll all make sense in a second…

Let’s just say that after getting everything in place, and launching the campaign — within 67 days…

We’d officially gotten the first 100 customers for this new SaaS product (accounting software).

Now this might not sound that crazy to most entrepreneurs, because 100 customers in 67 days isn’t “too” extreme …

But by this point I don’t think I’d ever seen a marketer get 100 paying customers within the first 6 months, so after seeing these results and loving this guy’s work — I reached out to him…

Mentioning how it was a pleasure to work with him.

Really just did this so I could hopefully keep in touch with him for future work, as I knew his marketing could help my business grow as well (people are more apt to keep paying for videos, when they’re getting results) — and wasn’t expecting a response or anything…

But to my surprise, the guy emailed back a couple days later — thanking me for my comments…

And mentioning how he was a fan of my videos as well.

From there, one thing lead to another — and after a few more back and forths…

I asked the guy if I could pay him for a phone call, mainly to see the strategy he used for this campaign — so I could have a decent understanding of how it works…

And at least know what to look for in the future, which:

Ended up being a very profitable request

Again, not going to go into too much detail now — as I’ll show you the exact steps in a second…

But for now, let’s just say that after sending this email — the guy gladly agreed…

And 3 days after that, we jumped on our call.

Like most phone calls, we started off with the typical small talk — where we talked about the weather and all that…

But after getting through this, we jumped into business — and that’s when he started off by telling me about the “process” I mentioned earlier.

Now he actually kept referring to it as a “customer journey” as well, so I don’t know if that makes a difference or not — but needless to say…

After telling me about this process, then going through 4 simple steps he uses for every campaign — I started to see exactly what he did…

And after working with him on other projects after that, only to see consistent results every time — I’ve come to realize this is something every SaaS entrepreneur should know about…

Which is why I wanted to show you this today, starting with:

Step #1 — Create a vehicle that explains how you can help

Okay, so as I mentioned earlier — if there’s one thing I’ve learned about marketing over the years…

It’s that it’s a series of steps, not just one silver bullet — and with that…

I can’t say one step is more important than the other, but I will say — this is (hands down) the biggest concept most SaaS entrepreneurs overlook.

Why this is, I don’t know…

But it just seems like most founders have worked with their product so much, that they understand the ins and outs of it — or better yet…

How it can help people, which is great — but here’s the thing…

Nobody else understands it like you do.

In other words, even though you might have the best software in the world — and it could be something that’ll greatly disrupt your market…

If your potential clients don’t understand “exactly” how it’ll help them, then they’ll never think twice about it — and that’s why it’s so important to do this upfront.

With that said, that’s really the gist of it — and as for how you can do this…

So there’s a lot of different ways, but for the most part — from what I’ve noticed, explainer videos tend to work best.

If you’re not familiar with explainer videos, then here’s a brief overview of what they look like:

And yes, I do have a biased opinion — as I do create these videos…

So please keep that in mind, but at the same time — numbers don’t lie…

And as I’m sure you’ve noticed with your own personal experience, people are a lot more likely to watch videos — so that alone will help you grab the attention of your potential customers.

Anyway, that’s just the “medium” as well- and it’s important to have this in place…

As it’ll help you stand out, but at the same time — if you don’t have the right “foundation”…

Then none of that matters, and by foundation — I really mean the “message” you’ll send to your ideal market.

Said differently, if you just create a video — then it won’t do anything…

As that’s just the medium that delivers the message, but at the same time — the message doesn’t have to be complicated either…

Because for the most part, from what I’ve noticed — if you follow the format of:

  • Acknowledge problem
  • Provide solution
  • Call-to-action

Then that alone will help you get the results you’re looking for.

With that said, I also know it helps to have an example of this — so before we move forward, let’s run through one of those quick…

And for this example, let’s assume you’re the owner of an email marketing software — and your main specialty…

Is how you help people get past the spam folder and into the inbox (i.e. increased deliverability).

With this, you could have a few different target markets — but we’ll assume you’re going to target creators (i.e. solopreneurs, primarily infopreneurs)…

And due to that, you could create a few different messages — but to give you one example of this…

I’d start by creating an outline that went something along the lines of:

  • Max spent months building his email list, and even though he sends out valuable content every week
  • He only gets open rates of 20%
  • This has always bothered him, as he feels like he’s doing too much work for too little reward — but no matter what he does
  • Whether it’s changing up his subject lines, emailing more, emailing less, etc…
  • He can’t improve his open rate, so he thought it’s how things have to be — and figured he could just hustle his way through…
  • Until one day when he came across a software that focuses on deliverability, and gets more messages into his customer’s inbox
  • Naturally, Max was skeptical — as he didn’t think it was “that” big of a deal
  • But by this point he’d tried everything else, so he figured he’d give it a shot — and after sending his first campaign
  • He noticed that his open rates had increased from a 20% to a 40%
  • After that, he continued to send valuable content — followed up by a sales email every 5th email
  • And in the first 3 months alone, he noticed a 287% increase in his business — even though he was working less…all because more customers were receiving his emails
  • Thanks to <whatever the product name is>, an email marketing provider that guarantees higher deliverability rates — and in turn…more money for your business
  • Start a free trial today, click on the link below

Okay, so if this was an actual script — you’d obviously want to spice it up a bit…

But at the same time, this is enough to convey the general message — and as you can see here…

The main goal of this is to really acknowledge a problem your market is having, then show them how you can solve it.

This is one of those deals where it’s a little easier said than done, but when done correctly — it’s the only vehicle you need to start the process…

Because everybody will gladly try something that solves their problem, it’s just human nature.

Anyway, that’s the first step — and again…

I mentioned how explainer videos are the best vehicle for this, and they always provide the greatest results — but at the same time…

It’s not necessary either, as you could easily take other options — such as:

  • Long-form copy (the “sales letters” you see on Facebook Ads)
  • Whitepapers (just costs a lot more, as nobody wants to opt-in for these anymore)
  • Blogs
  • Etc…

Any medium will “work”, as long as you have the right message in place.

Alright, that’s it for this step — and now that we have this out of the way…

It’s time to move onto:

Step #2 — Promote that vehicle

So now that we’ve created an asset we can use to spread our message, the next step in the journey…

Is naturally, getting this vehicle in front of your market.

Now this is one of those steps where it’s really not too hard, but at the same time — without the right direction…

It’s easy to overcomplicate, and I’m not going to get into too much detail on this now — as it’ll all make sense here at the end…

When we tie everything together, but for now — let’s just say…

The “best” way of doing this, is usually by using a form of paid advertising — on a platform where your audience hangs out.

This works best as it’s the best of both worlds, especially if you’re using an explainer video — because with this setup…

A lot of people will watch the video, and in turn — click on the next step…

Which then creates a low CPC.

At the same time, I know a lot of people hesitate to use paid advertising — and if that’s the case, I completely understand…

But from my experience, if you want to get any traction within your first year — then this is usually an option you’ll want to look into…

Because if you use “free” methods right away, like:

  • Cold email
  • Content marketing
  • Etc.

Then those take a while to manifest, and you’ll end up losing a lot of money (i.e. lose revenue) because of it.

With that said, that’s really the gist of it — and as I mentioned a second ago…

If you do use paid advertising, the only other thing you need to consider — is what platform you use.

For the most part, when in doubt — Facebook Ads work best…

As they have a great video ad setup:

But at the same time, they’re really good about helping you get in front of a large market that you could help.

Going back to our email marketing example, in this case — you could target a lot of different interests that your ideal market would have…

Such as:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • ConvertKit
  • ClickFunnels
  • Etc…

And if you put the right video in front of these markets, then you’ll easily get conversions right away.

Anyway, again — when in doubt…

That tends to be the best option, but 2 other methods I wanted to mention quick were the “niche” method — and the “active” method.

In other words, if you decided to create a niche product — where you were targeting one specific industry…

Like email marketing for accountants, then in this case — I’d advise looking into LinkedIn.

That works great as LinkedIn is really helpful when it comes to targeting specific niches like this:

And in that case, all you’d do — is create a vehicle that’s tailored specifically to accountants…

Then after that, you’d simply target a specific section of this market — which would likely be the owner of accounting firms.

Alright, that’s it for the niche method — and the other thing I wanted to mention…

Was the “active method”.

With this, I really mean putting your vehicle in front of people who are actively looking for something — and I’ve seen this done in a few different ways…

But to give you a quick example of this, one successful way somebody has done this…

Happened with a commercial loan brokerage firm.

If you’re not familiar with this industry, Commercial Loan Brokers are really people who help small business owners get the funding they need — and with that…

What they did was first, create a video that shows how they could help them accomplish their goal.

After this, they jumped on Google Display Network — which is the segment of Google Ads where you put ads on various pages of the internet, looking something like this:

And from there, what they did — was put the video in front of people who were actively looking for business loans.

This worked great as this was obviously a hot market, and when done correctly — you can get these type of clicks for 30 cents or less:

Which generally ends up being a very profitable campaign.

Anyway, again — there’s a few different ways to do this…

And the most important part is just getting your vehicle in front of the right market, but after that’s done — you’ll just want to leave a call-to-action that sends them to:

Step #3 — A landing page (that promotes a free trial)

Alright, so this is one part of the process that most SaaS entrepreneurs seem to understand — but just to make sure we’re on the same page before moving forward…

One thing you always want to keep in mind with SaaS marketing, is that you NEVER want to go for the sale right away.

Doing this is harmful for many reasons, but in the simplest terms — humans are very risk-averse..

So before we ever pay for something, we always want to try it out first.

That’s the same reason why you see every successful SaaS product offer a free trial, as it allows users to test it out — before actually paying for it…

And there’s a few different ways you could do this, but for the most part — it usually boils down to the 2 main options of:

  • Free version
  • Free trial

For option #1 — the free version method…

This is actually the approach that works best, so if your current setup allows for it — then I’d highly advise looking into this…

And what I mean by that, is that you’re really just offering a free version of your product — that gets new customers in the door.

There’s a few companies who do very well with this setup, but one of the biggest names is Mailchimp — and if you’re not familiar with Mailchimp…

They’re an email marketing software, that gives a free version away to people — until they hit their first 1,000 subscribers:

This works great as that’s a perfect setup for every new entrepreneur looking to get started with email marketing, because nobody wants to pay for something they won’t use — and since it usually takes a little bit before you get your first 1,000 subscribers…

Everybody is going to want the free version, but once they finally hit 1,000 subscribers — they’ll be happy with the results…

And after that, they’ll have no problem paying for the next tier/version.

Anyway, this will all make sense in the next step — when I show you how to convert free users to paying customers (or in this case, how to accelerate the process)…

But before reaching that point, let’s mention the second option quick — and that’s:

Option #2 — The “free trial” version

This version is just like it sounds, where you offer a free trial upfront — that way customers can try it for 14–30 days before paying for it…

And even though this method obviously works, it’s also important to have a strong “conversion” system in place afterwards.

Said differently, everybody will sign-up for a free trial -but if they’re not getting the results they’re looking for…

Then they’ll never turn into a paying customer, and that’s why the next step is so important — which is:

Step #4 — Have a system in place that converts free users into paying customers (on autopilot)

Okay, so this will obviously depend a little bit on what “free version” you use — as it’s a little different when you’re converting free users to paying customers, then it is when you’re converting free trials to paying customers…

But even though the approach is slightly different, the main logic always remains the same:

With this step, you ALWAYS want to show your customers how to get the most out of your product

This is hands down the biggest problem for most people, because even though they might like your product — and see how it can help them…

If they don’t know how to use it 100%, then they’ll never pay for it — and here’s the thing…

For the most part, it doesn’t necessarily have to do with your product — but instead, it usually has to do with the execution of a certain task.

For example, let’s go back to our email marketing example — and in this case…

You could easily put together a big manual that shows people how to use your product, and navigate everything that way — but at the same time…

That’ll only help out a small segment of your customer base, because for the most part — the biggest problem for this field…

Is just not understanding HOW to actually do email marketing.

Whether it’s figuring out how to get opt-ins, or whether it’s figuring out how to get sales with it — there’s a lot of problems people have with this…

So even if you have the best product at the lowest price, if your customers don’t understand how to use email marketing — then they’ll never pay for your product…

And that’s why it’s so important to help them with this.

As with everything, there’s a lot of different ways you could accomplish this — but just to give you one quick example…

One way that tends to work best, is when you pair your free trial — with a free course.

In other words, if you were giving away your email marketing software for 30 days (free trial) — then what I’d advise…

Is offering a free course that shows people how to do email marketing, and on the first day of that course — I’d ask them to sign-up for a free trial of your software (so they can use it during the exercises).

After that, you’d walk them through everything step-by-step — that way they’re able to understand exactly what’s going on…

And once they’re done with the course, they should (ideally) have some results by this point — and since they’re seeing results…

Then they’ll gladly convert to a paying customer, so everybody wins that way.

Alright, that’s really about it for this step — so just remember, the biggest problem for most SaaS conversions…

Is that people will never pay for something that’s not benefiting them, and oddly enough — with SaaS…

This usually never has to do with the product, but instead — it’s the “external execution”

That’s why it’s so important to have some resource in place, because if you can show people everything they need to know in order to succeed — and do so in a way that you can create once, then use forever (i.e. a free course)…

Then that’s a bulletproof formula for success.

Okay, that’s it for real now — so let’s move onto the:

Recap

Long story short, even though there’s a lot of moving parts that happens with marketing — or more important, getting SaaS customers…

From what I’ve noticed over the years, 99.999999999% of the time — it’s usually just a lack of communication.

In other words, if people don’t understand how you can help them — then they’ll never even look at your software…

And that’s the same reason why it’s so important to start off with a vehicle that explains all this.

With that said, that’s just the first part of the process as well — because even though this is a “foot in the door”…

You still have to get over the next hurdle, which is converting them into a paying customer — and in that case…

The important thing to do, is show them how to get the most out of their free trial.

Whether it’s a free course they can access on Kajabi, or whether it’s an automated email sequence that gives them a lesson a day — whatever it may be…

Even though it does require a little bit of work upfront, once you’re done with it — you can use it for years to come…

And if done correctly, I guarantee it’ll put a lot of money back in your pocket.

With that said, that’s really all I wanted to mention for this article — but if you’re a visual learner, then here’s a diagram of how all this works:

And thanks for reading everything this far.

Hope it gives you a solid game plan you can use to grow your SaaS business, and good luck with your future ventures.

-Moe

P.S. Also, if you’re interested in having somebody create an explainer video for you — or better yet…

Helping you get the right message in place, then check this out.

Bottom Line Grind

Helping each other navigate the world of online entrepreneurship.

Mahmud Ahmed

Written by

Founder/CEO of Purple Fox Animation. Interested in an explainer video that’ll grow your business? If so, check this out: http://bit.ly/2XKEhmC

Bottom Line Grind

Helping each other navigate the world of online entrepreneurship.

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