With cloud technology becoming widely embraced, SaaS solutions are filling the market with promises of scalable and flexible alternatives to legacy systems. What helps them stand out from the competition?
Artizan has worked with a number of SaaS vendors over the years, helping them to see beyond their technology and communicate the value it brings to a business and its workforce. While our brand strategies help with positioning and direction, the website is an interactive manifestation of that. In most cases, it’s the primary sales and marketing tool for the brand so a lot rests on its digital shoulders.
Based on years of experience, we’ve compiled a list of key considerations a B2B SaaS provider needs to take into account before commissioning work on a new website:
The work and problem-solving invested in a SaaS solution are usually second to none. The platform is built using the latest technology and by the brightest minds. But how is this all relevant and relatable to a customer’s needs? SaaS providers often fall into the trap of promoting technical prowess as a differentiator. It may seem impressive but it’s not relatable. Customers engage more if it’s clear how a solution will make their lives better/easier. Technology is getting increasingly sophisticated and capable and consumers automatically expect that of a SaaS solution. Communicating the value of its application is the route to the customer's heart.
Promoting features and benefits will only achieve so much. It’s how they’re presented that counts. Exhibiting characteristics via language, tone, typography, and style contributes to an important first impression, evokes emotion, and helps humanise a website.
SaaS solutions have great potential for growth. With this comes the need for high calibre talent. Employees worth their salt know their value, so how do you get them to consider applying for a role in your company? A careers section on a website affords an important opportunity to convey culture and values in a way that feels authentic and peer-to-peer. To attract good people, it’s worth getting this right.
For new SaaS vendors new to market, it can be a challenge to demonstrate credibility before they acquire their desired client base. Without supporting case studies, testimonials and industry awards, we focus on the vision of the company and how that’s infused in the way the company moves and behaves. The language needs to be confident and reassuring. Too much content smacks of trying too hard to convince. And that triggers scepticism.
When creating websites for SaaS providers, it would seem logical to include screenshots of the software. But in many cases, we don’t. Or at least we won’t. This is usually because the interface is simply not aesthetic. SaaS solutions are often built by technologists and informed by industry experts without any design input. We have encountered numerous clients selling a solution built on cutting-edge technology that’s completely tailored to every need their customer could possibly imagine. And yet the interface is clunky and dated. In many cases, customers are willing to overlook look and feel for a solution that can seamlessly meet their needs. But increasingly it’s being proven that design can play a very influential role in our purchasing decisions. Showing a screenshot of a poorly designed UI on a brilliantly designed system will not do the brand or its reputation any justice. If this is the case, we opt for illustration or iconography.
Commissioning an agency to create a website is all well and good. They have all the skills to bring your content to life. But what about the ongoing effort required to support your marketing message on social media, in blog posts, at trade events, presentation decks, sales packs, promotional collateral? Sometimes these tasks are delegated internally after the website is launched. Unless a brand guide is established and faithfully adhered to, different assets are created as independent projects and the brand image begins to dilute. Commissioning a comprehensive set of brand guidelines is a worthwhile upfront investment. It ensures a consistent brand experience at every touchpoint.
SaaS platforms are usually designed to streamline and optimise a series of tasks. Industries like retail, lifestyle or hospitality are spoilt for choice when it comes to powerful, emotive imagery. Technology is a harder visual sell. When creating a website to promote a technical solution, it can be challenging to source appropriate imagery that will bring the content to life. Stock imagery can appear cliché or generic. Absence of imagery will lessen engagement. Screenshots, as mentioned above, can potentially do more damage than good. When we create websites for SaaS providers, we often have to find ways to compensate for a lack of photography or quality footage. Our approach is to experiment with the visual identity – extracting elements of the logo to create watermarks, masks or navigational elements. We use illustration and iconography to make abstract concepts feel more tangible.
SEO is an important requirement for most B2B companies promoting their services online. So too is lead generation. Occasionally, these two requirements can act as opposing forces which requires forethought to get the balance right. SEO loves content – lots of copy containing keyword-rich phrases. However, prospective leads don’t have the time or patience to wade through too much content. They want top level information to get a quick initial grasp as to whether their needs can be met. We start here – with an emotive and visual value proposition to tickle interest and invite engagement. Once the prospective customer starts to explore further and drill deeper, then we start to furnish more SEO-friendly content following a form of progressive disclosure.
Not only should a website focus on communicating value, credibility, relatability and personality, it’s also that it addresses the unique needs, questions, or concerns of its prospective customers. To be a leading authority in your space requires effort and resources and most importantly a strategic communication plan. A clearly defined tone of voice and shortlist of themes act as an important guide and focus for developing original and relevant content.
While this may take a bit of time to get up and running, marketing automation and well-considered lead-nurturing campaigns will help take a subscriber to a sales qualified lead with little to no effort on the marketer’s part. Integrating a 3rd party CRM into a web-generated lead process is a relatively straightforward process and should be integrated in any brief. Once it’s in place, the sales team is free to focus their efforts on converting the higher-value customers.
Vendors of SaaS software exist in a fickle market. While it’s easy to acquire new customers online, it’s just as easy to lose them. With a website that demonstrates confidence, personality and empathy, you are more likely to win them over and keep them for the long-term.