Create a Winning B2B SaaS Homepage
This post outlines some of the key elements you need to consider to ensure your B2B SaaS Homepage is optimised to deliver on it's core objective (which is often lead generation).
Co-Founder / CEO
September 21, 2022
When it comes to B2B SaaS websites the home page is by far the most important page on the site. Most traffic comes through this primary portal on your world. Take one look at your Google Analytics and you’ll be surprised at the percentage. If over 50% a lot of the traffic is getting stuck and is not clicking further into the site. For most early-stage B2B SaaS websites average session durations will be under 2 minutes, and the number of pages per session will be under 2 unless you have a content engine that is producing high-quality content that encourages visitors to stick around. The importance of the home page can thus not be overstated when it comes to B2B SaaS companies - it really is a case of “judging a book by its cover”.
The Company Lifestage
Before we get into the details it is worth noting the following. Depending on your company’s life stage your ability to optimize the homepage will be contingent on you having all of the elements needed to power the page and the resources at hand to execute. While this blog is written from the perspective of a B2B SaaS scaleup it will also help those earlier on their startup journey to prioritize elements for the months ahead.
The Role of The Content Management System
The building block of all websites is the Content Management System (CMS). All modern Content Management Systems will of course enable you to create a compelling homepage. Depending on your budget and life stage you may have built your site on a website builder platform like Squarespace where you pick a theme (like Bedford) and drag and drop the components. For growing B2B SaaS startups, increasing numbers are upgrading to Headless CMS [What is a Headless CMS?] solutions like Contento. Without getting into the Pro’s and Con’s of the different CMSs some of the resultant benefits from using a Headless CMS-based approach are fast loading and design flexibility. Regardless of the CMS chosen, you’ll need access to it to manage and update the home page.
The Need for Clarity on the Primary Purpose
A good starting point is to be clear on the primary purpose of the homepage. For most B2B SaaS companies it is to funnel visitors into a sales process. The primary route to do this is often by a form submission which is accessed via a Call to Action [CTA].
Hence CTA’s tend to feature heavily on the homepage of B2B SaaS companies, often in the guise of
[Free Trial], or
A secondary CTA is often also used to help those earlier on their journey by encouraging visitors to submit a form for a lower commitment engagement e.g. [Download WhitePaper].
Data included in the form is then used to market to the prospect (often in the form of drip emails) once the visitor has opted in to receive communications. Ideally submissions through the various forms are routed directly into the CRM (Zapier is a handy tool to use if there are no native integrations between your CMS and CRM).
Above the Fold
The primary ‘real estate’ on a home page is the bit you see before you need to scroll. It is the main area of focus for visitors. If you install optimization code like that offered by solutions like CrazyEgg you’ll note the percentage decline in eyeballs when you scroll. In many instances, less than 20% of visitors will reach the footer which is why the most important content needs to go at the top of the homepage.
Key elements to include “above the fold” include:
Logo (top left) to help with branding
An announcement bar spanning the top of all pages for content you want to showcase
Top Level Navigation with clear naming conventions (it should also lock on scrolling)
The ‘hero image’ represents the main image people see
The primary and secondary call to actions
The H1 and main body copy which includes - eyebrow copy (outlining the category you are in) and 2-3 lines describing the pain you solve for.
G2 or Credentials stars like the badges on Champions League winner’s jerseys
Finally peaking above the fold it is common to include a row of customer logos as a form of social proof giving confidence to the visitor that they are in good company.
The Visual Design
When it comes to the visual design, this includes the primary pantones, use of product shots, iconography, spacing, and it is important to engage a brand agency or freelance UI/UX designer, to ensure you look enterprise-grade. Cheap stock images and basic imagery can undermine confidence in the proposition.
A high-quality visual design will reflect a strong brand & value proposition. A trustworthy brand attracts the right audience and is vital to increase user engagement metrics and increase conversions.
—Source: Rob Turlinckx, Product Design Consultant for B2B SaaS
Ideally, as a B2B SaaS application, you provide a window on the application with zoomed-in shots of how the application looks. This can often be housed on a MacBook image or iPhone / Android depending on the context.
Visual design was often a weak spot. So many websites looked like they are built from the same cookie-cutter blocky templates. If you build a site that has a unique layout, it definitely grabs attention (but don’t get so fancy with it that you load your site with a million dynamic elements that make the page load super slow).
—Source: Casey Hill, the Head of Growth @ Bonjoro
Adding animation and iconography will also increase impact e.g. having the images fade in on scrolling adds an element of movement that draws the eye in as the visitor scrolls.
The Messaging and Copy
You will need to make every letter count on the homepage. Again most B2B SaaS copy falls short on this. It's not surprising either. Your home page has to convey the right message to people at varying levels of readiness to buy. Maybe you have ideal customers with complex decision-making committees. You might have some visitors who want to jump right into a trial or demo today. Others who need more education and trust-building before they make the leap. It's not just a different ballgame to writing a blog or a singular sales page. It's being played in a different stadium.
The copy will often have been written in-house by one of the generalists in the marketing team without being aware of the subtleties a dedicated freelance B2B SaaS copywriter would spot and improve. Save some budget for a copywriting specialist - you won’t regret it. They may even have the time to speak to some customers and look at your reviews to align with the voice of the customer or your ideal customer profiles (ICPs).
Imagine owning a 3D printer that pumped out people waving fistfuls of money at you. That’s what great copy can do. Voice of customer analysis defines the blueprint. You’ll learn how to describe their pain points, help them achieve their desires and overcome their buying hesitations. It’s the secret superpower that best-in-class copywriters use to help you create winning home pages.
—Source: Helen Peatfield, Messaging Consultant & Copywriter for B2B SaaS
Which brings us to positioning. Positioning as a concept has been around for a long time, and in the context of SaaS is frequently misunderstood.
Positioning defines how your product is a leader at delivering something that a well-defined set of customers cares a lot about.
—Source: April Dunford, Obviously Awesome
Dunford goes on to define the 5 key components of positioning.
Differentiated “Features” or “Capabilities”
Value for customers
Target Customer Segmentation
In short, she is advocating about setting the context and providing a frame of reference for the site visitor. When you consider the role of the onsite copy as helping the buyer navigate their option set, positioning helps them understand your proposition relative to others competing for your dollars.
As your startup matures and competition intensifies, you may go one step further by helping the buyer further by creating dedicated pages where you spell out the differences between you and various named competitors.
The SEO Elements
You want to get traffic to the homepage right? It is thus important that the key SEO elements are optimized for the homepage with particular attention being paid to the H1, Meta Title, and Meta Description as well as Alt Tags on images. As always these need to be informed by the category your SaaS application is in and the primary keywords you want to rank for. As always don’t forget to index a new page in Google Search Console if there have been substantive changes.
In the early days when budgets are tight, there is often an over-reliance on vector graphics and stock images from sites like Unsplash (or iStock if budgets permit). For growing B2B SaaS companies imagery is a key part of the visual identity.
Real close-up images of the app trumps zoomed out blurred images every time.
Clever use of on-brand icons helps break up the text.
Real customer pictures beat anonymous testimonials with no easily identifiable customer.
Upgrading your imagery will help create a great impression.
Again for those with bigger budgets adding animation and video will help deliver an impact and can be used effectively to showcase a strong UI/UX as well as to leverage positive reviews from existing customers.
As long-form homepages become more popular and should contain more images than most other site pages the site speed becomes an important consideration. As always it is important to optimize the file size so the images are crisp and in high definition without slowing the page loading time too much. Running the page through tools like GTmetrix, Pingdom and Google Pagespeed Insights will help you optimize the speed, although depending on the Content Management System in use you may struggle to keep the load time under the critical 2-second mark. For companies where the main market is in the US, it is important to test the speed via servers located in the US (Pingdom allows you to do that).
Social Proof - Customer Proof Points
When it comes to social proof, real testimonials from real people are crucial. Of course, this can be challenging in your early years as customer numbers may be low (especially for enterprise applications with sales cycles) and also because the customer will need to get value for some time before being willing to “go on the record”.
As Casey Hill, the Head of Growth @ Bonjoro argues,
Specifics and customer-proof matter. Take this claim, “We help you convert more of your free users to paid!”. What is far more persuasive is, “After Canva implemented [insert company], they saw an 18% increase in their free to paid users over the next 6 months. Read their case study here
Social Proof: Review Site Credentials
If you have hit the scale-up stage there is a high probability that you are in a defined category when it comes to SaaS. The easiest way to tell is to assess whether G2, Capterra, or Gartner have a clearly defined category where you fit. If this is the case, gaining reviews via these platforms is important as a form of social proof that carries some weight. Naturally, the more the merrier, provided they are overwhelmingly positive. Again for B2B SaaS scaleups being able to reference leadership positions on these review sites helps bring validation. Rendering these visually (particularly above the fold) is becoming increasingly common.
To Add A Chatbot or Not to Add a Chatbot?
When it comes to chatbots there are a few things to think through before adding one to the homepage.
Firstly, it is worth checking your current visitor numbers in Google Analytics. Early-stage B2B SaaS startups may lack the traffic to warrant the effort.
Secondly, it is worth assessing the geographic breakdown of your traffic. If an Irish-based company with the majority of your traffic coming from the US the time difference will be a factor. You either resource the chatbot with someone or you use it as a means to serve appropriate messages (often marketing) while also being clear on responsiveness. The last thing you want to do is to create the impression that it is manned 24/7 if it is not.
Finally, post-installation it is worth evaluating the engagements. You may hope it has been a source of sales inquiries but you may also encourage a fair share of unsolicited offers of all sorts.
If you have some valuable content it is worth testing it as an exit popup. The bottom right of your homepage is likely to get cluttered if you are running a Chatbot and also have a Cookie notification firing so ensure these are not too much before proceeding.
So what are some examples of well-designed homepages to look at for inspiration?
For those at Series B and beyond, Lattice and 15Five both have well-designed sites that look visually appealing while also ensuring they include most of the elements listed above. For example, both run expansive Top Level Navigations that house access to lots of great resources. They also use iconography, video, and imagery effectively.
In summary, the above post outlines some of the key elements needed to ensure your homepage portrays your company in the best light possible. Every pixel and image conveys an impression, so you need to ensure that all elements combine to deliver a favorable impression, be that in the guise of credible social proof or images that accurately showcase the applications UI/UX or messaging that helps to position and differentiate you from the wider competition.