As much as we have been told that you can’t judge a book by its cover, it still happens. First impressions are everything. A research study showed that in just 50 milliseconds the average user decides whether or not to stay on your website. With the increasing number of Software as a Service (SaaS) companies popping up, it’s even more critical that your website stands out above the rest. This post will cover some of the best methods for setting up a killer SaaS website.
Above the Fold
A site visitor’s first impression is first based on the “above the fold” section of your website. This is the portion of your homepage that is visible before the visitor needs to scroll. You can increase your conversion rate by including the following items above the fold:
Let’s break down each of these components:
1 | Understanding Pain Points & Solutions
Before you type one word on your SaaS website, it’s crucial that you have a solid understanding of your potential client and how you can best help him/her.
Here are some questions to ask to help you with this step:
- Who is the target audience?
- What are their current pain points related to your product/topic?
- What solutions are you offering to their problems?
- How will it solve these problems?
Having clear answers to these questions will help you as you create compelling website copy.
Once you’ve identified the pain points, you need to demonstrate to your audience that you truly understand their problems and that they are in the right place.
Evernote taps into a pain point that many have: people believe that it takes a lot of work to feel organized. Evernote addresses this issue with the bold headline: “Feel organized without the effort.”
Evernote also discusses another pain point in the subheading, indicating that the software can make it “so nothing falls through the cracks.” Users can connect with this statement because they have, in fact, had things fall through the cracks.
Another example of a SaaS website effectively addressing a pain point is IFTT. IFTT talks about how it gets “devices talking to each other” and playfully points out how “not everything on the internet plays nice.” This connects to the reader who feels like all of their internet and apps seem to work separately; the user is jumping from one platform, service, or device to another. IFTT is showing how it can bring everything together to create more simplicity for the user.
2 | Attention-Grabbing Headline
The page must also have an attention-grabbing headline. Copyblogger found that 80% of your visitors will read your headline, but only 20% will move on to finish reading the body of your page. Therefore, the headline must be compelling.
To do this, specifically target an issue that your audience is facing that your product or services can help solve–that is why understanding their pain points prior to this step is vital. But addressing a pain point isn’t enough…you want it to catch your visitors’ attention and make them want to know more.
Hubspot accomplishes this with the headline, “There’s a Better Way to Grow”:
This suggests to the site visitors that perhaps they are missing out and there’s a more effective way to grow their businesses. This strategy immediately catches there attention, giving them a bit of FOMO.
Google uses a visual element to catch the visitor’s attention. Since Google Docs edits documents in realtime, Google used a moving headline to show various users editing the headline:
A strong headline requires a high level of creativity & expertise, which is why I recommend hiring a copywriter that knows the SaaS industry.
3 | Value Proposition
The value proposition is another crucial item to include on your website. A value proposition gives the visitors a strong sense of what it is you actually do and, most importantly, how you do it.
I was recently looking at a SaaS website, trying to figure out what it does. I’ll modify the tagline for anonymity, but it said something like this:
“Taking podcasting to the next level.”
I got nothing out of their tagline. I kept hunting around for what it was that they did and why I would want it for me. Sure, I would want to take my podcasting to the next level, but I needed more than that. How will they do that? What is it about their tool that would make it happen?
This is why it is key to have a value proposition. Here’s an easy-to-remember formula for your value proposition:
Asana makes its value proposition clear on its homepage:
- What Asana does: A work management platform for teams
- Why Asana is the best: It helps teams stay focused on the goals, projects, and daily tasks that grow their business
Fitbit is another great example:
- What Fitbit does: Motivates you to reach your health and fitness goals
- Why Fitbit does it best: It helps a person track a variety of stats such as activity, exercise, sleep, weight, and more
4 | Well-Tested Call to Action
At this point, your reader is ready for the next step. Your call to action (CTA) is simple: it tells your reader what to do next.
This is the entire purpose of your piece of content. It is what you are driving the reader to do.
Start your CTA with a command verb. Here are some examples:
- Click Here
In the example below, Zoom has a simple free signup opportunity for the user. Once the user has entered his/her contact information, he/she can access the platform. At that point, the user might even upgrade to a priced plan.
Todoist uses a similar tactic:
Todoist uses the action phrase Get Started to show the site visitor that he/she can be set up right now.
Hootsuite also uses Get Started, but also includes a second call to action in the upper right. This one reads, Start Your Free Trial. Both CTAs accomplish the same task but are worded differently to appeal to different users.
When creating your CTA, make sure that it is clear for the reader. You may want to test the CTA using A/B splits or sites such as UserTesting to ensure that readers can easily find the call to action.
Below the Fold
Next, let’s look at some essential components for below the fold:
5 | Showing BENEFITS of the Product
At this point, you want to move your visitor from being just interested to actually desiring the product. One effective method for eliciting desire on a SaaS website is by covering the benefits of the product. Don’t get caught up in listing all of the features of your product. Take the example below:
“Our to-do list software features repeating tasks”
That simply covers a feature, but you could modify that sentence to add in the benefits:
“Our to-do list software features repeating tasks so that you don’t have to keep re-entering new tasks each day.”
Hubspot is a fantastic example of this strategy. Rather than listing software features, it uses the value proposition formula for each feature:
Remember that this is an opportunity to explain to your reader how what you are offering can solve their problems. Be sure to appeal to their needs and wants in this step.
6 | Providing Social Proof
Many copywriters add in this additional step (which is sometimes called “Conviction”). It’s an opportunity for you to use your copy to specifically address concerns that skeptics may have.
This is where you could use testimonials, case studies, before/after photos, or any additional evidence that could convince your reader that he/she needs this product or service.
Testimonials are a great way to provide social proof. In fact, a Spiegel research study conducted in 2017 found that including customer reviews on your website could increase your conversion rate by up to 270%.
Here is how Zapier uses customer reviews as social proof:
Most successful SaaS companies include the logos of brands which they have worked with.
Unbounce has a headline indicating that over 15,000 have used its platform, but highlights some of those companies by including their logos:
Hootsuite is another SaaS website that includes logos of companies it has worked with:
Zoho is a fantastic example of how a company uses statistics of customer success as a form of social proof. The visual of the rising chart is eye-catching, as well as the convincing statistics:
7 | Show Product
Another effective below-the-fold item to include is a video or screenshot of your product. Let’s look at a few examples:
Elegant Themes uses a video on the homepage so that the visitor can see how easy the product is to use:
Keep in mind that a video on the homepage may slow page loading time, so you’ll want to perform multiple tests to ensure that it doesn’t.
Instead of using a video, Buffer shows screenshots of the product in action:
From this image, users can easily see how Buffer could help them save time because they can write one post and have it publish on multiple social media outlets.
Subtle, But Important
Below are some features to include on your website. These are items that are normally in the header and footer that are subtle, but still incredibly important:
8 | Contact Information
It’s important to make it easy for customers to know how to contact you. This is often included in both the header and footer.
For example, notice how Dropbox has a contact link clearly displayed in the upper right-hand corner. In this case, this is a dropdown menu, allowing the site visitor to pick the best contact method:
SAP does something a little different. It also has a clear Contact icon on the right side of the screen, but it remains in place as the user scrolls down the screen:
9 | Menu & Sitemap
Sometimes users are going to your site to go to a particular location, not necessarily to schedule a demo or research product features. You’ll want to include clear direction for site visitors that doesn’t distract from your website.
Microsoft 365 includes a simple header, but features a dropdown menu once the user selects a particular topic:
Here is what it looks like when the user selects “Products” from the menu:
This menu style makes it less overwhelming for site visitors and helps them get to exactly where they want to go.
Many companies include sitemaps at the bottom of the website. The best sitemaps are ones that are subtle, with smaller fonts and clear organizational structures. For example, here is the footer from Microsoft:
Notice how each primary category is in bold, with subheadings underneath. The font is also significantly smaller than, say, the headline or body text on the website. Having fonts too large can overwhelm site visitors, especially since most aren’t going to your website to look at a sitemap.
10 | Connect on Social Media
Having Social Media buttons on your SaaS Website gives visitors the opportunity to connect with you. This allows them to get more information on your company and possibly remain connected if they choose to follow you.
Workday uses the footer to direct visitors to their various social media profiles. Notice the subtle social media icons on the right side of the footer:
Whatever you decide to do for your SaaS website, split test it like crazy. You can use websites such as UserTesting to help you determine which elements perform best on your website.
I’d love to hear from you–what website components motivate you to want to learn more about the product?