An optimized SaaS sales funnel includes funnel-stage content, pain points, link building, and meticulous topic cluster research, all of which we cover here.

How to optimize your SaaS sales funnel like the pros:

As a software-as-a-service (aka SaaS) brand, you have a lot at stake. 

Generally, customers pay for a monthly or annual subscription for your product. And you don’t just need to secure one payment; you need to ensure customer satisfaction and trust to keep the gravy train, aka subscription payments, rolling indefinitely. 

Step one? A deep understanding of the SaaS sales funnel and how to optimize it. 

The best way to optimize a SaaS sales funnel is to create content that reaches customers at every stage in their journey to a purchase. You’ll need to know their pain points, create topic clusters, and analyze key metrics.

We’ve got the lowdown from HawkSEM strategist Austin Lewis on how to nurture qualified leads and convert your target audience with an optimized SaaS sales funnel.

Let’s get started.

What is the SaaS sales funnel?

A sales funnel is a customer’s journey that ultimately leads to a desired action like a purchase or sign-up. You move them along the funnel with great content and touch points that speak to them exactly where they’re at. 

There are five key stages of the SaaS sales funnel: 

  1. Awareness: This is when your customer first hears about or becomes aware of your business and offerings. 
  2. Interest: A customer dives deeper to understand your product or service. 
  3. Consideration: They explore specific solutions and features of your product and compare it with competitor products.
  4. Intent: Your customer is ready to buy, but isn’t convinced just yet. They might review pricing or leave your product in the shopping cart as they consider whether it’s the best fit for their needs. 
  5. Purchase: Cha-ching! Congrats, a new customer just purchased your product.

You can also organize the sales funnel as top, middle, and bottom:

  • Top of the funnel: Generates awareness; interest
  • Middle of the funnel: A consideration phase; intent
  • Bottom of the funnel: Time to purchase; decision

But what makes the SaaS sales funnel unique from, say, an ecommerce funnel or any other type of product funnel? For starters, it’s a longer sales process

SaaS sales funnel vs. other business funnels

While most SaaS sales cycles last 84 days, more expensive SaaS products might require 170 days, or 5.5 months to take a prospect from ‘awareness’ to ‘customer.’ 

While you’re dealing with bigger budgets, you’re also dealing with businesses that have more at stake. They need to trust your brand completely to feel comfortable sharing their business information, customer data, and hardware details with you. Furthermore, they need to make sure your product is worth their often larger investment. 

Prime example? HubSpot. They’re one of the most successful CRM SaaS platforms out there, but it’s not easy to secure $3,600 in monthly recurring revenue (MRR) from multiple paying customers

Lewis’s first tip? Supplement your stellar sales reps with great content:

“Given the longer sales cycles, content marketing is often more important for SaaS companies.” 

HubSpot delivers with a flourishing blog, complete with whitepapers, articles, and ebooks: 

hubspot blog screenshot

(Image: HubSpot blog)

To kick things off, let’s take a page out of HubSpot’s playbook and learn…

How to create and optimize content for every stage of the SaaS marketing funnel

Your potential customers think of different ideas at each stage of the funnel. Someone in the awareness stage sees your brand on LinkedIn and wonders what you’re all about.

Someone in the consideration stage knows your product inside out, but wonders if your competitor offers a better deal. 

A well-structured content strategy serves up persuasive and informative content at every stage of the funnel to flex authority and, in turn, build trust that positions your SaaS business as their ideal solution. 

Bottom line: cash isn’t king in the online SaaS selling process, compelling content is. 

Step one?

 1. Attract top-of-the-funnel (ToFu) audiences with visuals and helpful content

Nobody likes a pushy sales team right when you walk into a store, right? The ambiance in ToFu content should be warm, inviting, and helpful above all else. This is how prospects first notice your brand. 

And if you want to take them on a first date? Lewis says you need to start with an awareness campaign on platforms like Google Ads, social media, and your website’s blog. 

This is your chance to woo them with educational content, warm messaging, concise ads, and a striking landing page that speaks directly to their pain points (more on that shortly). 

This isn’t the place to bombard them with deals or competitive comparisons. You want to attract them without looking like you just want their money. Cast a wide net with lead magnets like: 

  • High-res photos of your products
  • Broad match keywords that capture a wider audience.
  • Punchy social media posts and tips
  • Informational blog articles and email newsletters 
  • Inviting calls to action (CTAs) like “Learn more” or “Discover”

The goal? Make your target audience consider you as a solution to their pain points. But to do that, you need to tease out those pain points in your content. 

 2. Identify and understand customer pain points

We all have monthly subscriptions, each solving a pain point that justifies the ongoing investment. 

Netflix for entertainment. QuickBooks for bookkeeping. Spotify for gym-sesh jams.

But here’s the kicker: subscriptions streamline business operations, making them essential for SaaS businesses.

The pain points are abundant. Brands that know them intimately and create content around them will see the highest ROI. And if they provide an efficient solution alongside that pain point? Hello, conversions

Lewis says SaaS brands have an opportunity to market pain point solutions effectively, even with an expensive product: 

“We have a SaaS client that is not competitively priced, so we focus on marketing their customer service team, which is second to none,” says Lewis. “This solves a large pain point that was inferred from message mining feedback from users of their particular type of software.”

First, make sure you know what your audience’s pain points are. Here are some places to look:

  • Customer feedback surveys
  • Social media engagement and comments
  • Chats and phone calls with customer service reps
  • Keyword research

Once you have your pain points, you can tease them out in your awareness content like Nutrium (SaaS for nutritionists) does at the end of their blog article: 

nutrium screenshot

The pain point? Lengthy nutritionist consultations. The solution? Nutrium’s easy-access nutritional guides. 

Once you establish your brand as a solution to your audience’s pain points, your audience will advance to the middle funnel stages. 

Time to demonstrate some thought leadership.

 3. Offer middle-funnel (MoFu) audiences meaty, authority-building content

At this stage, your audience is intrigued and wants to learn more. Remember, this is often the longest stage for SaaS funnel audiences. 

You’ll need to nurture them with a robust online presence, which you can foster with remarketing campaigns, bi-weekly email updates, and value-offers like downloadable guides, webinars, or free trials. 

Ultimately, the goal here is to help them by sharing your expertise. This builds authority, and makes them take a closer look at your brand instead of your competitors.

The best channel for SaaS educational content? LinkedIn of course, the #1 platform for B2B SaaS sales lead gen

This is where your B2B client decision-makers hang out. But if you’re a B2C SaaS brand, you can leverage Instagram and Facebook for its wider reach. 

Middle-funnel content is more specific. 

Go on, indulge in that case study or product walkthrough; this audience has the time and interest to dive deep into it. 

But don’t slack on the details. They’ll look closely at how your product solves their problems, down to the last feature or integration. And they’ll want to see how it compares to your competitors’, so it’s a good idea to include product comparisons on your website. 

Do you have testimonials from happy customers? 

Middle-funnel audiences love seeing social proof that your solution is worth the investment. Notion does a great job pairing a software feature alongside a glowing customer review:

Never underestimate the power of remarketing at this stage. 

It’s a great way to remain relevant in your target audience’s mind with multiple touch points as they peruse through competitors fighting for that conversion. 

We used it as a prominent strategy to double lead volume for our SaaS client DataDog

Remind your clients why you’re the best in the business with personalized LinkedIn Ads campaigns and Instagram/Facebook remarketing if you’re a B2C SaaS. 

Even with a proactive consideration stage marketing approach, inbound leads could leave your product collecting dust in the cart for weeks on end. 

A few reminder emails are ideal here, but if you really want to convert them? Seal the deal at the bottom of the funnel.

 4. Foster urgency and conversions for bottom-of-the-funnel content (decision stages)

Your target audience has already spent weeks in the middle-funnel stage and they’re itching to put their money somewhere. Your value proposition is enticing, but they still haven’t made a purchase.

Dipping out on them now would make your lead-up efforts fruitless. You’ve already established yourself as a trustworthy brand, helped them through their biggest pain points, and positioned yourself as the ideal solution.

Next stage? Seal the deal. 

During the ToFu and MoFu stages, your goal was to educate them and build credibility. Now? You can be a bit more aggressive.

Lewis recommends sharing urgent, specific, and conversion-focused ad campaigns on social media and Google Search, with a persuasive and direct CTA like “Buy Now.” 

To create urgency and drive decision-making, Lewis suggests using: 

  • Strategic red and orange colors (these colors encourage action and purchases)
  • Product-specific visuals
  • Limited-time discounts, promotions, and upsells
  • Daily email reminders and follow-ups
  • Retargeting and channel cross-selling

It’s no secret the SaaS sales funnels need a ton of content. You have to demonstrate that your product is worth buying, and content marketing is the best way to do that.

But to double down on your efforts and supercharge your campaigns? You’ll need to optimize your funnel with the right insights.

 5. Know which sales funnel metrics to analyze

Google Analytics offers over 100 different key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to examine. Factor in web analytics like traffic and heatmap behavior, and it’s tough to know what stages of your SaaS funnel are most instrumental in generating conversions. 

So what metrics should you focus on?

Lewis says each stage has specific KPIs: 

  • Awareness stage: Website traffic and social media engagement
  • Consideration stage: Lead generation and content engagement
  • Decision stage: Conversion rate, customer acquisition cost, customer engagement within the app, sales cycle length

Customer retention (an indication of loyal customers), is one of the most vital marketing metrics for SaaS brands. Lewis recommends paying close attention to: 

  • Customer lifetime value (CLV): Total revenue accrued from a customer throughout their engagement with your business
  • Churn rate: The rate (annual percentage) customers unsubscribe from your service

Don’t know where to find all these? Partner with HawkSEM and gain access to user-friendly dashboards with real-time metrics in our proprietary system, ConversionIQ.

 6. Create a sophisticated internal link network

Want Google to rank your SaaS content? You’ll need the big guns from one of Google’s important ranking signals: internal links. 

Let’s say you’re a fitness SaaS brand offering subscribers exercise insights and recommendations. Your audience might read an informative article about workouts and fitness challenges on your company blog. 

This is a great opportunity to include plenty of internal links pointing to:

  • Related articles
  • CTAs to your trial page
  • Freebies like ebooks and meal planners
  • Web pages (home, about, FAQs, etc.)

Your main goal for internal links is to enhance the customer experience

After all, the more content you can link to, the more authority you showcase to your customers.

Just check out this example from our client: 

datadog screenshot

(Image: DataDog Blog)

And there are SEO benefits to this, as well. 

Linking to an abundant library of resources shows search engine crawlers you are an expert, which can unlock increased rankings, and bring more prospects to your sales funnel. 

Of course, you’ll need to know what topics inform all your web content and articles first. 

 7. Keep SEO rankings high with topic cluster research and audits

What compels and interests your audience the most? If you’re unsure, it’s time to get serious about topic cluster research. Lewis says topic clusters pose an important role in every stage of the funnel:

“Topic clusters capture each form of search intent around a particular topic,” says Lewis.

For example, a vacation rental SaaS company might create a topic cluster around “forest cottage,” including: 

  • Things to do in the forest
  • Cottage trip on a budget
  • Forest navigation
  • Cottage packing list

These are what Lewis calls “easy SEO;” rich keywords that your audience is typing into Google. 

You need a meticulous content strategy to capitalize on every opportunity to engage and educate your audience, and a calendar informed with the right topic clusters helps you do that. 

We find topic clusters with keyword research from our skilled SEO strategists and unique marketing system, ConversionIQ

But what if you already have the content your audience is looking for? 

Lewis says you can’t afford to risk competitors having more relevant or engaging content. That’s where a content marketing audit comes in:

“At HawkSEM, we offer the best-in-class content audits with our SEO campaigns,” says Lewis. “This guides our client’s content calendars, building the necessary content to drive the new organic traffic/conversions needed to reach their goals.”

Audits help us assess keyword rankings, outdated content, and relevance over time. 

Even a stellar blog article isn’t immune to irrelevance after a few months, and a dedicated content agency like HawkSEM can monitor and optimize content while creating new, relevant, targeted content topics. 

Seamlessly blend clusters, internal linking, and optimization tactics into one laser-sharp content calendar and what do you get? 

A SaaS sales funnel that attracts and engages your audience and Google’s crawlers.

The takeaway

The SaaS sales funnel is a tough cookie to crack, but with the right strategies in your playbook, you’ll set yourself up for success. 

You’ll need a savvy content strategy to stand out from the crowd and convert your audience.

But if you really want to get ahead of the SaaS market’s stiff competition? It’s time to call in support from an agency with a qualified and experienced marketing team. 

You deserve undivided attention from marketing pros with proven experience, (like HawkSEM’s strategists) in converting customers in the SaaS sales funnel

Just look at the doubled lead volume we secured for our SaaS client Zephyr

So, what’s the HawkSEM difference? For Lewis, it’s our commitment to topical authority:

“Ultimately, compelling content + topical authority = top result in SERP,” says Lewis. “We architect compelling content strategies, using the modern cluster approach to build topical authority for our clients.”

If you’ve waited weeks for your audience in the consideration stage, this is your sign to convert them. Need help? Get in touch today.

Contact HawkSEM for Free Consultation