A comprehensive guide to B2B SaaS copywriting.

This guide assumes you have some baseline knowledge of direct-response marketing and conversion optimization, but wouldn't call yourself a domain expert. 

If you’re just starting out with conversion-focused copy (moving beyond just listing out benefits and features), it can be tough to know where to start. 

This guide exists to teach you the 4 key areas you should focus on FIRST when writing copy that converts.

So let’s dive right in.

Contents:

  1. In-App UX Copy
  2. User Onboarding Emails
  3. Landing Pages
  4. Pricing Pages

1) In-App UX Copy

For your mobile app and web app, in-app UX copy (also called in-app microcopy) is how you’ll demonstrate your product’s value and activate users from clueless newbie to habitual user.

Think of it as a series of in-app messages to guide freshly new users through your app’s navigation.

This is your first real shot at properly explaining your product’s functions that might not be so intuitive, help them understand the software plan, and make recommendations for more effective usage while they’re actually using the app.

For example, look at how Evernote onboards users with their simple, but consistent onboarding flow:

The flow makes it extremely clear the one thing they want users to do: capture and record digital notes.

Step 1.

Step 2.

Step 3.


Step 4.


Step 5.


Every aspect of their UX copy reflects their unique product positioning: “Evernote is the app that helps you take better digital notes.”

Step 6.


They also keep the in-app UX experience consistent with their homepage copy.


There’s zero question as to which job Evernote helps users get done.

This works just as well for mobile apps. Take ClickUp’s UX copy, for example:


“Woohoo, Inbox Zero!” might seem like just a playful blurb, but it exists to reinforce the core outcome users come to ClickUp for: move away from email chaos.

UX copy doesn’t have to be totally functional though. 

Here we have what many marketers call “delight”. Quoting a crucible figure like Steve Jobs moves people to a work mindset.

Pro tip: When writing UX copy, follow the Jobs-to-be-Done framework.

It deeply saddens me how many people still think copywriting is about putting pretty words on a page.

Especially in B2B software, you must understand when messaging to fresh new users that they’re trying to get something done while using your app. Odds are, a very specific thing — or a very specific outcome.

In Evernote’s case, that thing is taking better digital notes. For ClickUp, it’s moving away from chaotic email inboxes.

Their in-app experiences don't deviate from that!

Source: jtbd.info

(Only instead of skateboarding tricks, they’re doing software tricks!)

Let’s say you’re messaging an app built for eCommerce companies.

Your job is to message the outcomes they want. Since eCommerce companies are typically trying to better market omnichannel, gain visibility into their inventory and supply chain, and recommend more relevant products to customers, it could look something like this:

What you should say:

“When customers expect to be met where they’re at, demand relevant recommendations, and you’re itching for supply chain visibility — try {your solution}.”

What you should not say:

“Welcome to the most advanced eCommerce {your platform} yet. Our software powers your business to excel to new heights! Check out our features here...”

Here are some examples of the right and wrong ways to think about your customers’ “Jobs-to-be-Done”:

Users’ jobs are product-independent, meaning you should think about their lives without your product in it. In UX copy, the job is everything! 

And when you shift from features and benefits to outcomes, your stuff starts converting like champions. Trust me.

2) User Onboarding Emails

Your website visitors are signing up to try out your software, but then… crickets. For some reason they’re dropping off in two spots:

  1. From initial signup to active trial user
  2. From active trial user to paid user

Or if you’re a SaaS company without a free trial, new paid users aren’t activating or using the software’s features how you’d like them to. As a result, you have high churn.

You don’t want users to ditch you and ask for their money back on their way out. 

You don’t want users to fail to realize the value your product offers because of poor communication on your part.

How do we solve this problem? User onboarding emails.

Let’s look at some examples and why they work:

Appcues’ 5-part onboarding sequence focuses intensely on what I like to call “Concierge Onboarding” — engaging me by attempting to get me on a call, where a CS rep will help me get set up on the spot.

For users, knowing there’s a team of friendly people standing by, ready to help at any moment, significantly raises my chance of activating and converting to paid.

Had they not communicated this in their onboarding emails? More crickets, less conversions.

And what’s a way to engage signups right off the bat? Have an awesome brand.

Like this newsletter autoresponder from The Hustle:

Readers are people, just like users are people — with personalities and senses of humor. So don’t be afraid to step off the B2B jargon-robot-mobile and liven up your emails with personality, humor, or even sarcasm.

Plus, onboarding emails are your chance to reinforce how what you’re offering is better than your competitors, like Ryte does here:


They re-position their competitors as “only able to find errors, but not how to fix them.”

Or if your product integrates with lots of other tools, sell it!

Here Clubhouse provides links to help docs and other landing pages that can help users kickstart their integration with Slack, Zendesk, GSuite, and Github. The more users tie Clubhouse in with other tools, the more likely they are to stick around.

The same thinking applies to transactional or usage-based emails. Zapier, for example, tracks in-app activity and sends a weekly roundup email to engage users as soon as their free trial starts. 

Admittedly, Asana’s transactional emails are basically the reason I’m able to keep track of all my tasks:


Asana’s transactional emails and daily task updates have worked so well on me that I log in without thinking about it. The internal trigger Asana has managed to develop for me tells me “Asana is where Brooks’ work stuff is. Go forth and get sh*t done.”

But transactional emails don’t always have to be so, well, transactional...

Example: Webflow:


Here’s how I would've re-phrased this:

Hey Brooks,

Having a professional website is essentially a requirement for businesses in 2020. Making sure yours runs optimally is at the very top of our list. 

Here’s the receipt for your monthly subscription to Webflow — just in case you like to have a record to refer back to.

If you have any questions or concerns at all, we have a team of committed and available experts to help you out. Just reply to this email :)

Always here for you,

Sarah from Webflow

3) Landing Pages

Here’s my favorite quote about landing pages…

“NSAMCWADLP” - Oli Gardner, Founder of Unbounce. 

Abbreviated for “never start a marketing campaign without a dedicated landing page.”

Landing pages convert sooooo darn well if you do them right.

And to do them right, it’s not 100% about tactics, rules, or even A/B testing.

It’s about catering to your user’s Stage of Awareness.

As soon as I started relentlessly catering to prospects’ Stages of Awareness in my landing pages, my copy immediately started performing better, I started churning them out faster, and I had double happy clients.

Case study: GoCopyTech + Looker Data

Looker Data’s customer marketing team tapped me for email and landing page copy for a campaign they were running for their embedded analytics offering: Powered by Looker. 

We were targeted existing customers the team planned to upsell later on. But for now, they needed to raise their level of awareness from Problem Aware (aware that not being able to embed their data into other tools is an issue that could be costing them lots of time workflow-wise) to Product Aware (aware that Powered by Looker could help them put data into their teams’, partners’ and clients’ hands even more effectively).

As all copywriters should, I began by researching Looker’s customers, reading reviews, and understanding why a customer would upgrade to PBL.

Which informed this wireframe:


Which became the focus of this landing page:


Which drove hundreds of downloads from enterprise accounts, now nurtured for upsell later on.

Our research told us that users already understood that they were sitting on a goldmine of data, but didn’t understand how to monetize it and weren’t aware exactly how PBL could help them embed their analytics and sell it as a solution to clients.

The takeaway? When you write landing pages, spend most of your time researching and figuring out your user’s Stage of Awareness, then let the copy write itself.

Case Study: Catering to multiple stages of awareness on SimpleCrew.com’s Homepage

SimpleCrew knew it would have to cater to multiple customer segments and multiple levels of awareness on the newly written homepage. 

The resulting page ended up with multiple CTA’s throughout the page, from top to bottom. We included buttons for visitors to self-select which segment they belonged to.

Here’s the page we ended up with:

Let’s look at some more examples:

What they did right: Dapulse’s CTA is to get people to create a free account. In this case, prospects would be product aware, since the copy is minimal, and all they have is a header and screenshot of the platform. 

In this example, Salesflare’s landing page doubles as a free trial sign-up page and a lead magnet. The page digs into the problem of using Excel spreadsheets and goes into the benefits of using Salesflare templates instead. Plus, the lead magnet includes the templates they’d need to get started.

It also covers prospects with lower awareness because it dives into the fundamentals of what a sales funnel is.

4) Pricing Pages

For some mysterious reason, many SaaS companies are bashful when it comes to communicating how much their product costs.

I’m still trying to understand… why put in all that work to get users interested enough to click through to your pricing page? Then when you FINALLY get them there, you ghost them on the deets.

‘Contact Sales’ or ‘Reach out for a demo’ doesn’t compel me, the budget-conscious business software user, to sign up.

Take Sendoso for example, a product that’s been uniquely positioned as the leading “Sending Platform”, allowing sales and marketing teams to integrate email marketing, direct mail, and gift sending.

Pretty sweet product!

While the company is growing its user base, they’re face-palmingly vague about they’re pricing. 

And what’s the cost of that? It keeps would-be leads in the dark about what their financial commitment might look like — causing a portion of them to leave and never come back.

Qualified leads — walking right out the door.

The reality for most B2B SaaS companies is, most prospects simply don’t want to engage with your sales team to figure out if your product fits their budget.

Instead, you should share 100% of your pricing details up front, and let visitors decide for themselves.

The marketing team at Basecamp does quite well with their pricing page copy.

Honestly, what doesn’t Basecamp do well when it comes to copy?

Why does this page work so well? 

Three reasons.

  1. Leads with updated social proof, “4,176 teams signed up last week. Join them.”
  2. Direct, side-by-side price comparisons to other project management tools.
  3. Clear delineation between Basecamp Business and Basecamp Personal.

… and I can already hear the objections, “Sure, this might work for Basecamp, but I’d never have my pricing page be this long.”

That’s a great point!

Which brings me to the question, “How long should my pricing page copy be?”

The answer: it depends.

And it starts with understanding your buyer’s perceived financial commitment.

Think about it, if your product is a high-ticket SaaS that costs $1,000 per month, you’ll need more copy to overcome more objections than say $10 per month.

Check out the differences between two vastly different software products: ChargeBee and CloudApp.


CloudApp can get away with less copy simply because their product costs $10 per month. That price tag doesn’t pull 50 different objections out of users’ brains. Whereas a minimum of $250 per month will require more copy.

Much, much more. Like, Chargebee should add more copy to this page. 

More specifically:

  • Video testimonials
  • More in-depth copy of your core features
  • A comparison chart that shows me why you’re the better option than other recurring billing management apps like Pabbly, Cheddar and Recurly

Conclusion

So, I hope you got a lot of value out of my new B2B SaaS Copywriting “Where to Start” Guide.

I know that there’s A LOT here, so I want to ask:

Which technique from this guide do you want to try first?

Do you want to start clarifying your pricing page the right way?

Or nail down your users’ Job-to-be-Done?

Let me know by emailing me at brooks@gocopytech.com, I’d love to hear what you’re working on copy-wise.

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