Hey, I am Maximilian Fleitmann, the founding partner & CEO of Wizard Ventures and founder of Tona. We build, buy and invest in internet businesses focusing on everything that helps you in your entrepreneurial journey. Our projects include BaseTemplates, Startup&VC, VCStack.
I have been passionate about building tech businesses since high school. As my first bigger business, I co-founded one of Germany's most successful ed-tech companies StudyHelp, before moving to the investor side two years ago. I have a portfolio of >20 companies worldwide focused on B2B SaaS, Education, and community-driven products.
We're excited to interview Maximilian Fleitmann who is a respected venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur. He talks about some of the best SaaS marketing strategies across CRO, referrals and demand gen. Lots of awesome takeaways worth reading if you're in SaaS.
When I think about conversion rate optimisation, three things come to mind.
1 - Reducing Friction
I always go to our checkout pages and try to delete as much noise as I possibly can. I tended to include too much information in the past because I always thought it might be helpful to know that. But almost every A/B test I have run in my career has shown the opposite. The shorter the content, the better. The same goes for every kind of Friction in the checkout itself. Try to delete as many fields as possible and make it easy for the buyer to purchase (e.g., all relevant payment options).
2 - Increasing Trust
People only purchase your products if they trust you to solve their problems. For people you know personally, that might be easy, but if you are selling things to strangers, you have to focus on some strategies to win that trust.
In most cases, reviews, guarantees, and free examples have helped a lot to increase the conversion rate. It is about giving first and taking second.
3 - Creating a Structured Process
Most founders I talk to think they can quickly increase their conversion rate and then move over to other tasks. But instead, I always try to create a system that lets me test assumptions and hypotheses that I have on an ongoing basis.
You can, for example, make one change every week on your landing pages to see if it changes the conversion rate. CRO is a constant process, and you can easily integrate it into your weekly schedule.
Before I tell you about my favorite growth strategy, I want to clarify that every business and product has its own strategies that work or don't. For some, this might be paid ads for some affiliates. But what most of them have in common is: you won't understand if a channel works by a small test. Make sure to spend significant time and resources to master one channel, and don't let yourself distract yourself by all the other things that you could do. In an early-stage startup, you will always have unlimited ideas but limited resources.
For a lot of our startups, my favorite strategy is side-product-led growth. It is relatively new but describes building smaller tools & freebies to drive constant traffic to your website.
Let me give you an example. With BaseTemplates, we wanted to have early-stage founders thinking about raising money as our core customer group. So we asked ourselves what kind of content and resources could excite them. As most of them will need to build a pitch deck for their fundraising, we knew they were looking for examples.
So we created a database of over 200 real pitch deck examples that founders can use as inspiration while building their pitch deck. And it worked even better than we expected. We launched the side product, sent some emails to our current customers, and it started gaining traction in the SERPs.
Since launching, the side product brought over 100k free visitors to the website, and it's still over 1000 new ones per week - all highly relevant for us.
If you want to learn more about Side Product Led Growth, subscribe to my youtube, as I will be releasing some videos on that in the coming weeks.
A good referral program has to be easy to set up for both sides - the vendor and the affiliate partner. So make it easy to set up an account and the tracking links - nothing worse than sending emails back and forth to get the right things.
The second important factor is transparency. For me, as an affiliate, it is essential to understand which links are clicked often, which aren't, and where my leads are in a sales pipeline. This helps to create trust - nothing worse than seeing your leads sign up without you getting the bounty.
An excellent example of a referral program is Sendowl. They pay you 20% of ALL future SaaS fees for the lifetime of that customer - and don't limit that in any way. So the more people you bring to sign up, the more money you make. Clear and simple.
One last thing about referral programs. I think most companies are also underestimating alignment. One example would be SaaS companies only packing an affiliate fee for the first three months or a fixed one. But paying a monthly affiliate fee for every active subscription creates an increased alignment. It might also lower your churn because the affiliate partner is interested in keeping the customer.
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