Want to pick-up some marketing tactics and tips from a battle-tested pro?
Pekka Koskinen is a serial software entrepreneur in B2B SaaS space who calls Helsinki, Finland home. His latest venture, Leadfeeder, is Pekka’s fourth.
Since so many of my clients are forever in search of the most effective tactics for marketing and selling SaaS platforms, I asked Pekka to do an interview for this blog. I wanted I’d ask Pekka about the various strategies he believes can accelerate the success of startup SaaS companies and share them with you.
Barry: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about Leadfeeder to get started?
Pekka: Leadfeeder is an online tool, which helps generate leads for your sales team. We offer B2B companies knowledge about which companies have visited their website and what they’ve done there.
The problem we’re solving: only 2% of the website visitors leave their contact details. But based on their IP address we can tell which companies the rest of the visitors are from.
By connecting that information with your CRM information you’re able to see how your existing customers, your ongoing deals, and new prospects visit your website and what they do there. You generate more intelligence and effectiveness to the sales team.
Barry: You still are invested in and advise other software companies, so tell our viewers a little bit about some of these other initiatives.
Pekka: This is in fact my second startup in the web analytics space. I founded my first startup in 2004. It was a web analytics company called Snoobi. At the time, there wasn’t yet Google Analytics. That tool just told you how many people you have on your website, what do they do there, where do they come from, and typical web analytics stuff.
I ran that company for eight years. We became one of the fastest growing tech companies in Europe. In 2012, I ended up selling that company and by then it was around 60 people working there. Since I knew the web analytics space and I knew what was missing, I found this opportunity with Leadfeeder to build a sales tool on top of Google Analytics.
Barry: In your bio it says you are a Startup Sauna coach. That’s an interesting description of whatever it actually is. What is it?
Pekka: In Finland, all of the big business deals are made inside saunas.
Pekka: Yeah, I was just kidding… Startup Sauna is a startup acceleration program in Helsinki. It’s a six-week program for 15 teams selected from 1,000 applicants all around Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. They come to Finland and we coach them for six weeks. So I’m very involved with helping them with everything related to building a business from scratch: marketing, sales, business model, pricing, and product.
Analytics are all-important
Barry: You’re a mentor and you’ve got yourself quite a bit of momentum with Leadfeeder, so you must be doing something right. If you look back or even if you look at other companies, are they doing something wrong? Do B2B SaaS companies often make the same mistakes?
Pekka: I try to do things in a really pragmatic order. So in the beginning, when you don’t have anything, the only way you can drive traffic to your website is basically to buy AdWords or Facebook marketing.
What I see many times is that people are not putting enough effort in analytics. So how we did it is that we started from the beginning to really track what is the cost for conversion that we are getting and then when we were adding other traffic sources we already had the tracking in place.
I would say that putting the tracking in place in the early phase and then making sure that all the traffic sources are tagged (with UTM tags, for example) so you can identify the sources, it’s really important.
For me, this is the only way to do this, but I still see many B2B companies not using analytics when they are doing marketing and I cannot understand how you can manage your Internet marketing without knowing what’s happening.
Barry: Right. And Leadfeeder itself is a tool for that, helping you understand who came to your website.
Pekka: Kind of, yeah, but Leadfeeder is for sales guys. It’s for identifying who was there. But then if we talk about how to drive greater traffic to the website, then Google Analytics probably is the most important tool there.
But what I see many times is that companies have installed Google Analytics on their website, but it’s not configured well. You need to have goals and funnels in place. We’re using a lot of custom segments in Google Analytics to analyze how our existing customers are using our website compared to the new people that we are getting to the website.
Generating traffic with partner programs
Barry: So it all starts with traffic and you talked about paying for it with AdWords and Facebook—obviously two places with massive audiences and well-known advertising programs. But those cost money, and so you want to do something organically to keep the budget in check. So what could you do to create organic traffic as a B2B SaaS startup?
Pekka: That’s true, when you go forward with the paid advertising it’s going to be really costly. What we wanted to do is to have others market us.
So we generated this partner program, for example, that enables digital marketing agencies to recommend us to their clients. If we can get traffic and trials through those channels then we give kickback commissions to the agency. And what that has done is that the agencies are speaking about us quite a lot to their customers. Some of creates direct traffic from their website.
But most people just Google “Leadfeeder” and come to our website, so we’ve been seeing quite a big increase in organic traffic in those areas where we have most active partners.
Then there’s search engine optimization—definitely a really important thing for how we can get traffic affordably from Google. What that in in practice means is generating good quality content on our blog and getting links from other websites to our website, and that way increase the domain authority.
Generating traffic with quality blog content
Barry: Now you’re talking my business here, content marketing. We’re talking about blogging. Have you been a proponent for using a blog to generate search-based traffic for a while now and for your various companies?
Pekka: In Leadfeeder we’ve been doing this now for a year more actively. In my other companies we haven’t been doing that so much. I think the whole content marketing tactics became important in the last maybe three years. Definitely, at Leadfeeder, that’s our most important way to do marketing.
Generating traffic with digital PR
Barry: I see on your homepage, and I’ve scrolled partially down, social proof, which is testimonials and client logos. So let’s assume that’s a tactic everybody wants and should have.
But then I see the probably not-so-easy-to-achieve “As seen in.” These are big media brands. Here it says Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fox, Mashable, and Social Media Examiner, and I’m sure there’s more. Those are definitely highly coveted websites. How did that happen? That sounds like an unpaid promotional plan.
Pekka: Yeah. It’s kind of like a combination of unpaid and paid. We are a using a PR agency to hook us up with journalists from these media and that’s how these have happened. We haven’t had the connections, so that’s where the PR agency helped us the most. But then the content is partly done by us and then partly done with the assistance of the PR agency.
Barry: Obviously you’re a proponent of knowing where your traffic comes from. Is appearing on websites like Mashable one of the better traffic generators?
Pekka: It really depends on the article. For example, in Social Media Examiner, there was a really great article about us that got shared 2,000 times, or something like that. That really generated a lot of quality traffic for us and lots of people signed up for Leadfeeder from that traffic.
But it really depends. Now we’ve been getting really good traffic from Entrepreneur.com. But from analytics we can only the fraction of the benefits. So we can see the direct traffic, but then we’re also seeing that once there is a big PR piece, there is also an increase in organic traffic from Google.
Barry: That’s the idea. I certainly advise my clients to play the guest blogging game, because when you put a website together very few people are on it, whether you have a blog or not.
Leadfeeder partners with Google
I was reading just this morning, and I guess this is relatively new news, your product works with Google Analytics. Sounds like you have some pretty exciting announcement about a partnership with Google.
Pekka: Our product is built on top of Google Analytics API, so we are a pretty heavy user of their API. We have a really good relationship with their marketing team and their product team and last month we were in their headquarters recording a video about how to generate leads using Google Analytics and Leadfeeder. You can see that on Google Analytics YouTube channel. It was a pretty good place to be, to be promoted by Google.
Barry: I would think so. Is there more to come or is that a one-off?
Pekka: There is more to come. We are also doing a cooperation with MailChimp and Pipedrive and these other players, but of course Google is the biggest of our partners.
Google Analytics is a great tool for marketing people, but then if sales people want to know what’s happening on the website, then Leadfeeder makes the Google Analytics information valuable for the sales guys. So that’s how we are complementing each other.
Leadfeeder’s conversion strategies
Barry: We’ve talked quite a bit about partnerships, public relations, paid advertising, things that bring people to your website.
This little formula is almost “no duh” it’s so obvious, but I’ve heard it from my friend Andy Crestodina who says…
Traffic x Conversion = Results (or outcomes)
So let’s talk about conversion. How do you get people to do what you want them to do, and what is that thing that you want them to do when they’re on the Leadfeeder website?
Pekka: The first thing is the landing page. Most of the people come to our front page, so we want to make sure that the message comes fast. There is also a video to explain what Leadfeeder is about. So that’s the most typical way people come to our website.
But then if there are some special channels—for example, Pipedrive’s blo—they’re linking to our blog post about how we integrate with them. So we have created source-specific landing pages that kind of tie together our message and the message of the site where the traffic comes from.
So if you come from Salesforce’s website, you land to our Salesforce page, which explains what this is. That has been really important in order to engage people further, because if you just push everybody to the front page they are not going to convert.
Barry: I’ve read a lot about that, the source-specific landing page. Great idea… great tactic… What’s next? What’s offered to them when they land on a source-specific landing page?
Pekka: The first thing is to try to give them value. So we understand that they are the users of some other tool or they just read some other article. So first we need to connect with that. So we create some value and explain how we could help them.
We’ve seen that if we try too much to push people from the blog post to our signup, that doesn’t really work. For example, if we write about “best tools for social media marketing,” people come to our website, but they are not necessarily yet ready to sign up for our tool.
So what we try to have them do is to go to our product page. We’ll offer some video and we are tracking that as a conversion for that traffic. I was telling you about the importance of tracking, but you need to track the right things. So if you always track everything based on how many signup conversions you are having, you might go wrong. So you need to have the micro-conversations also set up in the analytics.
Leadfeeder’s conversion strategies
Barry: Are you also trying to capture their email address?
Pekka: We decided not to do that actively. On the blog we have a place where you can subscribe to our blog posts, but we‘ve tried to encourage people to sign up for the tool, because it’s so easy to try. You just need to connect your Google Analytics and that’s it.
Barry: I suppose in the B2B SaaS business it’s more important to get them to touch and feel the product and you said there is no steep slope to get there with Leadfeeder, so they can do it quickly.
So even though you’re talking about soft selling, or not coming on too strong, when they get to a landing page that’s specific to something they just read, you are indeed giving them a button to push if they want to try the product or see a demo, right?
Pekka: Yeah, exactly. We have this product videos for demos on the website, that’s one thing. We also have a chat on the website so people can engage through that, but really we’ve tried to make signing up for the actual product as easy as possible. No credit card is needed. You have a 30 day free trial. It’s a one-minute signup process. So that’s what we want them to do.
Barry: That’s good stuff. Marketers call that reducing friction. Well, that’s Pekka Koskinen coming to us from Helsinki where he helps people in the sauna.
Pekka: Yeah, it’s so cold here, so you need to be in the sauna all the time.