SaaS Design: The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Saas Experience
10 years ago, if someone said, “I’m doing some SaaS design for a SaaS website,” you might wonder what they were talking about. Today, that’s a completely different story. The average number of software products a company buys is about 125 per company, and the SaaS industry has grown to an estimated $146 billion — almost 5x the size it was six years ago.
What does that mean? Predictably, it means the number of SaaS websites visited daily has increased at the same exponential rate. And how is your SaaS product supposed to stand out in this new (and crowded) world of “automated this” and “scalable that?”
Website or Landing Page?
Before you design a SaaS website or Saas product landing page, you’ll need to decide which one you want to drive traffic to during your PPC campaign. If your main website converts at 1% or greater, you may want to drive users to one of its existing pages. Good websites give users a choice of what they want to do and where they want to go next. They’re also structured with conversion in mind.
Landing pages, on the other hand, are great for controlling the user conversion path from start to finish. Unlike web pages, landing pages don’t have any nav bars or menus to distract users from the intended path of conversion. You’re in control every step of the way. A SaaS Landing Page is also a great way to test specific messaging before adding it to your SaaS website.
Creating a Meaningful SaaS Landing Page Experience
The goal for any SaaS landing page is to convert visitors to leads. But to do this effectively, you’ll want to create a unique experience that speaks to customers’ emotional motivators and pain points. This isn’t a B2B, templatized, talk-about-your-product equation. To connect emotionally, you need to deliver an experience that’s dynamic, deeply connected to who and where your customers are, in a way that stands out.
At Directive, we call this Customer-Led Creative. Here are several aspects to consider when designing and writing this effective way to convert customers.
1. User Experience
Designing a great user experience plays a huge role in any successful SaaS landing page. But contrary to what you might think, it’s more about understanding who your customers are than the design itself. Before you start designing, start doing your research.
2. Buyer Personas
Why is it so important to know the different players you’re targeting? So you can better understand their unique pain points and needs. For example, if you’re targeting developers and you know one of their checkboxes is integrations, make sure you’re including that information on your page. Many landing pages are so concerned with getting visitors to click on that Free Trial, they fail to provide the information the user needs to make a purchase decision.
3. User Behavior
Before you start designing your SaaS landing page, it’s important to consider how users will behave when they land on it. Great landing pages incorporate a breakdown of visitor behavior, and what they usually need to become a customer. Using heat mapping to understand how visitors interact with your page brings value to your decision making and tools like Hot Jar or Crazy Egg can help. Once you have this, you can better plan the elements to include on your page and how to optimize it for maximum conversions.
4. Great Copywriting
Writing great copy is such an important step in your SaaS landing page communications strategy. The attitude, tone and character of your copy can also define your brand personality. Connecting emotionally with your customers is hands-down the #1 best way to convert visitors to leads, and copywriting plays a huge role in that. Headlines should be short and punchy with the customer pain point woven smartly into the solution. Subheads should clarify and enrich the headline, and any copy underneath should be short and catchy or bulleted for easy skimming.
5. Well Produced Videos
It’s a visual world. Speak in a visual way. Video is the world’s #1 communications medium for a reason. Most people don’t like to read. They’d rather be entertained. A well-produced video breaks through the consumer-attention-span barrier of eight seconds, and gives visitors a more engaging overview of your SaaS product.
6. High Performing Gifs
Show how your product works or how it looks in action. Quickly showcase unique product benefits in a way that draws attention. Gifs do a great job on either front. Put them next to a compelling headline and subhead and you’re communicating multiple benefits on multiple levels – all at the same time.
7. Social Proof
Showcasing the companies you’re doing business with is a proven way to bring instant credibility to your product or service. Social proof is another way of saying don’t believe us, believe them, and best practice says, put it above the fold.
8. Customer Testimonials
Another great piece of social proof is the customer testimonial. Using shots of real customers with a quote next to them is a fast and effective way to get those believable benefits across, but sometimes it’s better to let the customers do the talking. Short video testimonials or customer stories speak way louder than words and beg to be viewed. Plus, you can use them creatively in your paid media efforts as well.
9. Testing Strategies
The great thing about landing pages is you can test them at will, and may the best communication win. Testing can be big, like measuring engagement from adding video to your page vs. a static page. Or it can be small, such as changing the color of a button, or putting the contact form above the fold. Testing goes hand-in-hand with heat mapping and is all about optimizing your page to perform its best by giving customers the information they need to convert with the least amount of friction possible.
All of these are important to consider when planning out a meaningful SaaS landing page experience, but there are several common mistakes that can derail that effort. These are easily avoidable if you know what they are.
Common SaaS Design Mistakes To Avoid
Below you can learn more about some of these common derailing mistakes plus how to solve them.
Mismatched pre-click and post-click experience
Mistake: The ad showed one thing, but the landing page delivered something else, confusing your customer and causing them to bounce off of the page before converting.
Solution: Consistency is key—not only for paid ads and pages but for your brand voice as a whole. Your ads should be incorporating the same visuals and headline found on the page you’re directing users to—at least for the hero section of the page.
Lacking a single, clear call-to-action (CTA)
Mistake: It’s one of two problems: either there are no high-contrast CTA buttons or there are so many, the user gets distracted away from what you actually want them to do. Ideally, you want to give the user one goal in order to keep them on the landing page—not distract them with social pages or ebooks.
Solution: Decide upon a singular, actionable goal you want users to take. Then, make your CTA button stand out from the rest of the page with a high contrast color, used sparingly elsewhere to draw the user’s eyes to it.
Not outlining what the user will get from submitting their personal information
Mistake: Even with a clear CTA stated on the page, if you’re not outlining what the user will get out of filling out a form, they may not understand the benefit of doing so. Merely saying “get your ebook/demo/trial” doesn’t clearly communicate what information they’ll learn, how long it will take, if it’s worth their time, etc.
Solution: Put yourself in their shoes—what do they get and what additional questions might they have? Think of the top 3-5 takeaways your user will get in exchange for their time and list them out next to your form. Disclose things like how long it will take (a 5-minute read, a 30-minute demo), whether it’s live or on-demand, or if they need to enter in credit card information.
Asking for too much info in the form (off-putting)
Mistake: Once you’ve convinced your audience to take the next step, they’ll generally move to fill out a form. However, if that form is asking for too much or too personal information, you may miss out on a great prospective customer.
Solution: There are some general accessibility rules to consider, such as keeping field labels outside of the form field, but ultimately it boils down to “what information does our sales team 100% need to know in order to qualify this lead?” Since most sales follow-ups are done via email these days, it’s likely you’ll never need to ask for someone’s phone number. But if you have different solutions based on the size of the company, the pain point they’re trying to solve, their industry—those are questions to consider including. Not only will you get a better understanding of how to solve their problem, but you can also ask those questions first to help ease the user into filling out more personal information such as their name and email address.
No reason to believe
Mistake: You’ve talked a big game on how incredible your solution is, but forgot to back it up with any substantial evidence. Your customers want to fix their problems but won’t trust that you have the answer without some social proof.
Solution: Evidence can come in many forms: a logo farm of clients (bonus points for big names), case studies that outline how you fixed someone else’s problem, statistics from customer success stories. Anything that highlights how you’ve solved the same problems for others, especially if you can highlight different pieces of social proof that resonate with specific audience segments.
Telling instead of showing
Mistake: With consumer attention spans ever-shortening, lengthy paragraphs of text can lead users to skip over the information entirely. The most compelling copy in the world won’t convince your target audience that you have all the answers unless they can also visualize how you’d pull it off. In the digital age, there are more visual learners than ever before, and they need to see it to believe it. What you include should clearly communicate a specific benefit or feature—no random screengrabs of dashboards where the user can’t tell what the product actually does.
Solution: There are so many effective ways to do this—chunking information into bullet points or sections, showing product walkthrough videos, high-quality UI mockups, even lifestyle imagery if you’re targeting a specific industry or persona. If it helps your customer understand how they could use and benefit from your solution, it’s well worth the time and effort to create it.
Product-focused rather than person-focused
Mistake: Donald Miller (author of Building a Story Brand) said it best: “The customer is the hero, not your brand.” When companies only focus on how great they are, they miss out on connecting with their customers’ pain points and goals. No emotional connection means no customer, and wasted marketing spend.
Solution: Rework your messaging and visuals to focus on the page’s target audience. Have a pain points and benefits section that highlights how your solution is going to make their lives better. In keeping with the Donald Miller lessons, your brand should be the Yoda to their Luke Skywalker.
The design sucks
Mistake: Plain and simple—if you’ve got misaligned elements, text that doesn’t meet accessibility standards, a demo video made in Powerpoint, or pixelated imagery? Your users will take that lack of quality control as an indication of how your product looks and feels too.
Solution: Invest in quality. Directive’s Performance Creative Service team brings strategy together with best-practice land page design to turn page visitors into customers. Our retainer-based model includes full design and build of pages, ongoing variant testing, and image ads for display and social to go with. Our designers also work side-by-side with an exceptional video team for dynamic explainer and demo videos, customer testimonials, or just to add engaging motion graphics to your pages.
Takeaways on SaaS Design
SaaS is a great space to be in, but it’s expanding at a rate of nearly 100% year-over-year. Adding to that, 55% of top enterprise companies are planning to increase their software spend in 2022, which means more competition will be entering the market, and more SaaS websites and landing pages will be jockeying for attention.
How will your site stand out from so many competitors offering similar benefits? It’s important to work with an expert like Directive.
Directive is a performance-driven agency with individual departments that specialize in all the mediums that matter. Our Customer-Led Performance Creative teams create smart, engaging communication strategies for landing page design and development, and work seamlessly with our video team to bring emotional engagement to the forefront of our design strategies.
Whatever your ultimate performance goal is, make sure it’s Customer-Led, and see how emotional connection helps create meaningful site experiences that boost your conversion strategy.
Performance = Directive.