12 Proven UX Tactics to Boost Your SaaS Sales in 2023
18 min read
18 Jan 2022
At times of tremendous competition, many auspicious Software-as-a-service (SaaS) startups fail to succeed. This guide may help you to pull through, and even thrive by developing the best design solutions.
The SaaS model made things easier in terms of scalability and licensing, but posed a real challenge on customer acquisition and retention. You have just a few seconds to show the value of a product. Then a customer's attention inevitably goes further. That is why user experience (UX) came to the fore in defining any SaaS marketing strategy.
There are already a thousand and one ways to increase SaaS revenues via UX. And all the same, a one-size-fits-all magic pill is still to be discovered. We did our best to extract and synthesize the most efficient and universal approaches to UX improvement. They apply to any SaaS product be it B2B, B2C, or a marketplace.
1. Optimize your funnel and remove barriers
First and foremost. Stop thinking of your user experience in terms of a website. If you really want to boost your sales, it is no more a collection of visual and textual components. Forget such phrases as a homepage, a web page, a popup, and that sort of thing. Let your product team deal with this framework.
Get a vision
From now on, think of it as a sales funnel and a route for the customer journey. As with any journey, it has to be amazing, meaningful, and beneficial. This means, your landing page should equally appeal to human emotions, reason, and will. Only in this case, it gets a chance to be accomplished.
From this perspective, your UX/UI becomes not an eclectic kit of rigid web elements, but a holistic, vibrant, and responsive entity working together for one purpose. Its pages and popups reflect stages of the user journey.
Stick to the numbers
But how to know that your funnel straightforwardly leads towards the goal and eventually increases your SaaS revenue? Is it as fast and convenient as possible? The metric that would never lie to you about this is a conversion rate. High conversion is exactly what makes an average webpage a funnel boosting your sales.
In precise terms, this figure shows how many of the first-time visitors get impressed and intrigued enough to explore a product further, as its leads or customers.
The lesson is: most visited webpages of a SaaS funnel must be high converting; otherwise they do not make sense. More attention and energy to the conversion means more sales and higher revenues. Period.
UX solutions to convert decisively
The science of UX offers an almost immerse spectrum of ace technologies to turn your web platform into a magnetic spiral attracting commercial customers. They include one-way organization of the homepage, UI tactics aimed to enhance emotional acceptance and trust, expert practices of market research and analysis, methodologies of in-depth work with buyer persona(s) and customer journey map, content customization to expand on your target users.
At the same time, don’t hurry to lead a potential customer to the signup page immediately after responding to CTA if you want your partnership to be solid and lasting. When the procedure is not mediated with a consistent and substantive onboarding process, premature registration may end with similarly quickened unsubscribing.
Ideally, a potential customer should see and realize the value of a product before, or at the very least during their attendance of a pricing page or a subscription form. When a newcomer gets impressed with your SaaS’ opportunities from the start, they would strive to join the user community as a full-fledged citizen.
When being pulled onto the landing page for the first time, the customer only starts familiarization with your technology. This means that their impression and interest in the proposed value is still very superficial and fragile. You may use different approaches both along with and during the registration process to fully convince both their heart and mind.
As a result, they will get a clear understanding that your product is the real deal to meet their needs and manage pains.
This includes proven strategies including such as:
displaying a demo video effectively showcasing technological capacity and functionality;
proposing a free-trial period to let a user try their hand on the platform;
inserting value reminders throughout the registration process;
organizing proactive introductory assistance of the support team.
3. Optimize your pricing page
The landing page is not a decisive point of your customer's journey.
In fact, it is a pricing page that indicates whether the entire conversion is a success. The reason is obvious: a real value exchange happens at this stage when a new client pays to accept your offer.
Psychology comes into play
Nobody normally likes to part away with money and even motivated customers think twice before closing the transaction. If anything distracts, frustrates, or confuses them at this moment, they may easily and irrationally quit the process, like a scared lizard.
While we think we take deliberate decisions, in fact, our emotions, fears, and unperceived mental programs are our real puppeteers. The studies show that most of the human decision-making procedures are unconscious, based on cognitive bias, and remarkably compulsive.
Reap benefits of good research
The design of a pricing page has to be based on profound analysis and user testing. They reveal which critical information is missing, what is imperfect in the visual organization of data for a target client group, and how competitors with higher sales approach this important stage.
This is what the Hubspot product team did in their pricing page redesign. They eventually achieved an increase in the number of marketing qualified leads by 165%, and users of free products by nearly 90%.
Solutions that work
UX design offers a wide spectrum of solutions to take human psychology into account. You may create a pricing page that conveys an air of availability and gain, instead of scarcity and loss traditionally associated with money spending. For this purpose, you may use UI solutions exposing your features and benefits more attractively, use specific price formatting, or implement tailored microcopy that makes the most of basic heuristics rules.
4. Use video to improve activation
A modern customer likes to be amused. As Nicolas Carr reasonably stated in his notorious article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, mankind gradually withdraws from the practice of deep reading. Good or bad, but a SaaS founder must effectively use this trend in a product design.
Why do you need some movies?
If you have something important to tell a customer about your product, don't make extensive copies. Better use a short movie trailer or a podcast. The statistics are unambiguous: 72% of users prefer videos over texts to learn about products, and 87% said they would like to have even more video materials from companies.
Frameworks that sell
The practice reveals several UX areas where videos work especially effectively. This includes greeting introductory clips on a homepage, demo videos, short podcasts with customer testimonials and case studies, and brief instructive videos.
At the same time, you may go beyond your main web platform and add additional funnels speaking of your product in a video format. Creating a youtube channel with educational series, updates, and vlogs is perhaps the most popular strategy in this respect.
5. Improve reactivation
Detractors are the most valuable group of your customers.
Yes, you heard right: if you only pay attention to them, these users may become the largest contributor to your product development. By clarifying the factors that pulled some clients away from your SaaS, you get a priceless opportunity to discover – and then fix them. Forewarned is forearmed.
It is ok, and yet...
The rate of such unsatisfied users is called customer churn. A certain percentage of dismissals is normal and inevitable for any company. While opinions vary, for an average-sized SaaS it is considered normal to lose about 5-7% of customers annually.
Many clients quit using a product for personal reasons. They can be simply not your target users that tried a product occasionally. In other cases, customer churn can be high at the first period after the time-to-market stage. If the product is too innovative and unusual, it will probably suffer the fate of Google Glass.
Good-bye is not always farewell
However, quite a great number of drop-out cases happen because the company was not sensitive and responsive enough to a user’s needs and challenges. Potential factors leading to this - reversible and thus manageable - type of customer churn may include deficient onboarding, problems with in-app user experience, incapability to show the product’s value to a user, poor communication and customer support, belated reaction to the external market changes, or merely unwillingness to pay the price after the end of a free-trial period that was not properly elaborated by the marketing team.
By detecting and engaging with these issues in time, you can not only reduce the churn rate but even reactivate users that already came off.
The SaaS industry knows many cases when relevant measures on product improvement brought clients back and even saved the company from decay. A great one is represented by the CRM platform of a large stationery retailer Paper Source. Along with many other firms, it was close to shutdown after the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemics. Due to a series of effective design solutions increasing online visibility and simplifying customers’ migration from in-store to an online format, the company reached an amazing 126% increase in reactivation rate.
UX design offers numerous ways to restore the loyalty of such customers. They include preventive research methods, communication renewal strategies, customization, and other time-tested solutions.
6. Improve retention
Keeping loyal customers is more important than the acquisition of new ones. This proverbial maxim is already in all textbooks on marketing. Almost every article on this subject will remind you that getting a new customer is 5 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.
Yet this understanding does not make SaaS businesses feel any better, because customer retention in this area is a bit more tricky compared to “hard” industries and markets. When a client buys a new car, they would not normally return it the next day or even a month. You would have at least a couple of years to demonstrate all the benefits and competitive advantages of using your brand before the time for the next purchase comes.
With SaaS products, it is all different. Customers deal with a broad choice of products with a relatively similar range of functions and services, especially when it comes to matured markets having dozens of high-end competitors in place.
Also, with the fluidity of the virtual environment, a user can more easily quit your platform at any moment, with one click. No facilities visited, no documents signed. Of course, you may use such tricks as quarterly or annual subscriptions at a lower price. But this would mainly work with clients already loyal and confident in their choice.
How to make them stay
In this respect, UX design has quite a few wizard formulas enhancing the retention capacity of your SaaS project several times and more. They center around more comprehensive customer support, long-run loyalty accumulative systems, value reminding marketing strategies, educational programs, progressive price optimization, retention metrics analysis, UX personalization and gamification, and other methods.
7. Understand your clients better than anyone
Nowadays collecting customers’ feedback to improve the product does not impress anybody. SaaS giants such as Apple, Google, or Facebook systematically suggest putting stars or answering a brief survey to assess the quality of some feature or service. The problem is, when after several trials a customer sees that nothing changes, the entire idea becomes meaningless in their eyes.
How things should be done
But that’s not always the case. The Ukrainian startup Grammarly shows how to make this strategy effective. It went beyond a standard procedure of leaving feedback in the form of formalized questionnaires and service reports.
Instead, the company proposed users to participate in the product testing and development directly. Every user can suggest corrections, amendments, and contributions to grammar in a real-time mode while using the application. What's more important, their suggestions are immediately taken into account.
Outcomes of proper UX
As a result, Grammarly dodged two bullets. On the one hand, it managed to engage its users in the process of product co-creation, giving them a feeling of belonging and gaining extra points of popularity. On the other hand, they showed how feedback can work effectively and save lots of money for a SaaS company.
As the founder, Alex Shevchenko pointed out, “our system was not perfect, so we added the option of taking a vote on the correctness/incorrectness of the rectification…. Grammarly, as we see it today, is exclusively the result of our customers’ contributions”. In their case, user expertise and cognitive resources were used to constantly improve and update a product, instead of building a cumbersome and expensive algorithm from scratch.
Knowledge is money
This is an example of how the genius of UX design can save you million dollars and skyrocket profits at the same time, with a minimum of time and energy from your side.
8. Convert customer feedback into your product strategy
It is not always possible to use the customer’s engagement in the product development as directly as Grammarly did. This depends on the market field, specifics of the product, and technical solutions underlying it.
But what you always can do, is to categorize the customer feedback, make its competent and insightful analysis, and design customized and relevant decisions towards the product improvement.
Raising feedback from tactical to strategical level
This is more than simply reacting to feedback regarding a particular problem, error, or deficiency. The support team deals with such kinds of tasks. Converting feedback into a strategy means incorporating its insights into the concept, roadmap, White Paper, and other visionary documents of the project.
This includes feedback analysis, its classification and segmentation, filtering off occasional and non-essential data, making hypotheses, conducting additional user testing to prove hypotheses, and other UX techniques.
9. Make your clients your sales force
If you did not implement any kind of a referral program in your SaaS, you have missed a grand opportunity to boost sales in a geometric progression. Successes of the classical multi-level marketing (MLM) strategy, used in traditional business for decades, are nothing compared to its potential for SaaS platforms.
What changed from Amway to Binance
Previous generations of MLM dealers had to work hard taking door-to-door trips or making cold calls on the phone for hours and days. Today, we are all full-fledged internet citizens having profiles in several social communities. We create networks of dozens-to-thousands friends and followers that in turn connect to even more Internet users worldwide. They are already organized by similar interests and common ground, simplifying information exchange and consensus.
Your salesmen army
Therefore well-motivated clients may become eager marketers because this costs them nothing. They can promote your product to a crowd of like-minded people with a couple of clicks or taps, since sharing functions and tools are embedded in the UX of any media platform. Engage them in a sales process with a referral program – and voila! - you have cohorts of potential clients.
How to do
This strategy provides a great variety of options. Along with direct invitation bonuses, you may develop long-run incentive systems, such as:
multi-level partnership programs;
compound interest correlated to the duration of a product’s use;
discount programs for clients onboarding via referral links, as Binance does, to further simplify the negotiation work of your sales partners.
10. Learn from your competitors
It may sound a bit of a paradox, but you need to research your competitors in order to know yourself. Only by looking in the mirrors of similar products in your niche, you are capable to find out your true position on the market, your unique features, strength and weaknesses, and opportunities for growth.
Why do you need a competitive analysis?
Most probably, you have made a profound competitive analysis at the initial stage of the product development, as the UX theory mandates. If this was done, and done properly, you have laid a long-lasting foundation for steady financial growth.
This is totally proven by the case study of Calendly, a popular scheduling tool outsourced to the Ukrainian product development company. Its clean and functional design became a real godsend for companies during the hard times of COVID-19 lockdown.
Calendly’s founder, Tope Awotona, reviewed over 30 competitors' scheduling apps during his research phase! “I signed up for every single one of legacy scheduling tools. I became an expert at using every single one of them. I read through their support portals, what did people really like about the product, what did they hate about the product, what were they complaining about, what did they like, what did they not like. It’s very important to know what people already like in tools they have, and what they feel is missing or poorly executed”.
Never too early, never too late
However, if your product is already launched, and you realize you did not pay enough attention to the competitive analysis, don't be upset. You can give it an effective restart from any point of your business deployment. And this will in turn immediately spur your sales.
Moreover, even if you did everything right at the beginning, competitor research is not a one-time solution. All the market participants constantly change their strategies and improve offerings, so keeping an eye on their performance is a must for not lagging behind.
Be a lifetime leader on the market
Competitive analysis reveals market gaps, strengths of your competitors, and your own deficiencies that can be improved. Customer reviews, qualitative studies of responsiveness, load time, and pricing, specific techniques such as “five forces” and growth-share matrix, and other UX methods are at your disposal.
11. Improve your Design process
The best design solutions are insufficient if they are static. The entire world changes, but the SaaS world changes faster than any other realm. Competitors multiply and eagerly copy those solutions that work. Even if they do not, a lifetime of any technological know-how permanently shrinks, from decades in the 20th century to years and months in the 2020s. And today's success is just history tomorrow.
The only way to keep afloat in this turmoil is to evolve together with the market and your technological area. How to do that? By properly organizing the Process of your product design and development.
A normal design process steps well beyond creating layouts and visual components making your interfaces look smart. The actual process includes:
User research based on real communication with your end-users to define their actual problems and needs;
Market and competitor research for shaping your unique selling proposition and enhancing competitive strength;
Comprehensive UX design with hypotheses validation, making basic information architecture, customer's journey mapping, creating buyer personas and user flows, prototyping, and usability testing;
Conducting design sprints and brand sprints with intense brainstorming to ensure that every effort and opportunity was taken to make the product better;
Design quality assurance with reviewing and checking every micro-interaction for usability convenience;
Creating high-fidelity user interfaces and design system(s) assuring the quality standard and apt for consistent follow-up changes in the product.;
Proper design process allows for incredible cost optimization due to focusing on the necessary features only, reducing the time for user education, and easing the burden on the technical support.
In the long run, this increases the customer satisfaction score and other metrics of your SaaS’ success.
When the product cycle is running like clockwork, a business owner has an opportunity to concentrate on strategic issues such as scaling or launching new products. But organizing such a process is not a one-man job. You need a team of specialists to continuously monitor the business environment, keep a finger on the pulse of user needs, investigate the competitors, and seek every possible way to improve the product.
12. Bonus way: Hire professionals who can audit your product and suggest possible improvements
Understanding the strategies suggested in this guide provides you with a much better vision of how to move forward in your SaaS product development.
You could also notice that cooperation with a credible product design agency is a bonus way indeed for increasing SaaS effectiveness. It is the best because it resolves the need for all other strategies, placing a whole bunch of accountability in one instance.
Put together, expertise, high research capacity, and dedicated teamwork can work miracles for your SaaS product to the extent you never imagined.
Previously you might have thought that all the potential of UX design is already used to increase your SaaS revenues. Hopefully, now you see that you didn't even start yet.
Specific lines of the prospective effort include: optimization of your sales funnel; enhancement of onboarding experience; upgrading conversion capacity of the key funnel pages; work on user activation, reactivation, and retention; more effective use of customer feedback, developing referral programs, competitive analysis, and making design an ever-evolving process.
For a visionary eye, the UX realm always abides with solutions. What seemed fantastic yesterday, is our life today. When it comes to the SaaS model, UX potential for self-improvement is really the endless supply.