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Leena AI is an autonomous virtual assistant that helps enterprises facilitate a better employee experience. They offer solutions to meet the needs of every enterprise from employee helpdesk to employee engagement, process automation to employee insights. Leena AI is a category creator, addressing unique customer needs. 

Leena AI was founded on the belief that artificial intelligence can transform the way enterprises work. The company’s suite of products focuses on reinforcing a people-first culture, rather than a process-oriented one. 

As a part of our SaaS Leaders Interview Series, we got an opportunity to talk to Chirayu Akotiya, the Global Head of Marketing at Leena AI. Along with solution-oriented product development, he shared how Leena AI’s demand generation strategy helped them increase their sign-ups and customer base.

Leena AI Success Highlights

  • Responding to and resolving employee queries is one of the real-life problems Leena AI covers.
  • During their initial research, team Leena AI found that 60% of the workforce around the world spend their time searching for information about their jobs. This was essentially the idea behind Leena AI.
  • Leena AI’s ad campaign majorly focuses on email marketing and LinkedIn channels.
  • Content marketing and link building have been central to their demand generation strategy, earning them more than 300 customers in three years. 
  • A category-creating product, Leena AI primarily uses top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) content, such as product descriptors, to generate demand. 
  • They have a long sales cycle. Hence, they adopt a high-touch and intensive sales approach that involves educating and nurturing prospects through their journey. 
  • They leverage content marketing and link building to build authority and educate their audience on their product benefits.
  • Segmented content marketing has helped them cater to a diverse audience. These types of content pieces allow them to nurture the leads and accelerate the movement from the top to the bottom of the funnel. 

To know more about Leena AI’s success journey, let’s hear from the key person behind these campaigns, Chirayu.

Hey Chirayu! Thanks so much for taking the time to tell our audience about Leena AI’s growth journey. Congratulations on achieving 300+ customers globally in three years. We are eager to hear about it!

But first…

Can you share a bit about how it all started and your expertise?

I joined Leena AI back in 2020, before which I was working with the co-founders as a consultant. I was the first full-time product and marketing owner at Leena AI, helping them build a strong product and marketing team from scratch. Today, out of the 400+ employees at Leena AI, the product and marketing team alone constitutes about 30%. Currently, I am the Global Head of Marketing at Leena AI.

Before Leena AI, I worked with MyOperator, a SaaS-based Call Management System which helps SMBs and enterprises manage calls without any hardware or software installation. I was responsible for the marketing and growth initiatives: directly working with the CEO, devising revenue-centric sales and marketing strategies. For three consecutive years, the company increased revenues by more than 200% year on year.

I’ve also worked with startups like Harmonize and TestFunda during their initial stages to accelerate their growth trajectory, foundational marketing strategies, product development, and team building.

Tell us about Leena AI. What unique customer problems are you solving?

We are an autonomous virtual assistant that’s built to help enterprises better service delivery for employee-facing teams. Founded in 2018, Leena AI focused on building products for HR professionals. However, we are now expanding our suite of products for other employee-facing teams, such as Admin, Finance, and so on. 

For example, with our HR products, companies can eliminate the need for HR professionals to work on tasks, such as answering policy-related questions, knowledge management, generating employee documents on demand, and managing employee tickets. This allows them time to focus on strategic direction over transactional ones, thereby resulting in increased productivity on an individual and professional level.

Leena AI plays well with 100+ platforms, including SAP SuccessFactors, ADP, Oracle, Workday, Microsoft Office 365, and over 300+ customers, including Nestle, Puma, AirAsia, Coca-Cola, Lafarge Holcim, and Abbott, with millions of employees worldwide relying on the platform. 

Answering employee queries is one of the most evident real-life issues that we at Leena AI resolve. Helping employees figure out their leave balance, providing them with reading material to understand company policies and missions, and sending them to the right department when they need to lodge a grievance of any sort is just part of our product offerings. 

Alongside these, Leena AI is a virtual guide for new hires, helping them with any queries they may have. Recently, we also launched the Covid-19 Workplace Response Suite which helps HR teams book vaccination slots, track vaccination records, and even roster teams. These are just some of the other real-life everyday issues Leena AI helps resolve. 

As I mentioned earlier, the main idea behind Leena AI was to give a personal virtual assistant – similar to Siri – in the hands of every employee in the world to make their lives easier. Once the co-founders of Leena AI started their research, they discovered employees typically spent over 60% of their time searching for information relating to their jobs. They noticed a gap within the industry, and this became the idea behind Leena AI. 

As an enterprise-focused B2B SaaS company, our focus lies with companies that have 1000+ employees across the globe. In addition to that, our target audiences are CHROs, Presidents, Vice Presidents, and thought leaders in the HR landscape. 

We want to reach out to decision-makers to illustrate our suite of product offerings so they recognize how beneficial it could be for their respective companies to use our services.

What’s been your strategy when promoting Leena AI? 

Essentially, we are a category-creating product. There are no other players in the market solving the same problems in the same way that we do.

Being unique and innovative challenges us to create market awareness since the majority of our audience is problem-unaware. Hence, we go the extra mile to educate the audience on the benefits a product like ours brings to the table. 

For example, our ad campaigns primarily target our customers through email marketing and LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, most of our ad campaigns shed light on the value a customer would get from our products. 

In addition, we also run broad campaigns that spread awareness about the products, how a company can use AI for employee-facing teams, bi-weekly webinars, and so on.

Webinars form the basis for our marketing campaigns as we get the opportunity to convene with the attendees over how AI is helping transform various departments in a company.

Finally, this also helps them understand the product specifications and solutions.

We have multiple strategies in place that have helped our existing and potential customers during the pandemic. 

For example, though a lot of companies are interested in shifting to a hybrid work model, most of them are not completely prepared due to the almost sudden shift in workplace transitions and compliances. We noticed this gap and proceeded to launch multiple products to help cover such requirements. We’re looking to continue this momentum of providing solutions to our existing and potential customers. 

How did you leverage content in your demand generation strategy? 

Our primary focus for the past two years has been demand generation. Most of our content pieces are product descriptors, explaining our suite of products and the solutions we provide. Some additional content pieces include customizable employee experience survey templates, employee onboarding checklists, and several handbooks on employee engagement and onboarding. 

Our strategies seem to be working well for us. Over the past two years, we have had more sign-ups than ever, resulting in a massive generation of demand and a huge sales pipeline.

Since we are an enterprise-focused company, our sales cycle varies from around six to eight months, as there are multiple stakeholders involved in the process of buying and adapting our products.

Given the length of the cycle, we have a very high-touch sales process where we keep educating and nurturing our prospective clients during the complete sales cycle. The steps involved start with a discovery call, after which we reach out to other stakeholders and decision-makers in the organization for a one-on-one call where we take them through the product demos. 

We also customize the demos to their requirements, so they get a clear business impact created, understood, and realized, all in that call itself. Post which, the formalities of signing the agreement begin. 

What’s your link-building strategy been like?

One of the link-building strategies that have worked well for us is through HARO. We have a team set up that regularly responds through the channel to various reporters to get us backlinks. 

Our first big backlink had come from HARO. One of our responses got shortlisted by a website with a high domain authority of 95, which itself was a win for us. HARO is now a constant part of our overall marketing strategy, and we’re looking forward to keeping the momentum going.

We have also been focusing on creating brand and product awareness through our organic PR initiatives. This has also led to multiple mentions on various channels, thus improving our link-building strategies. By the virtue of us being an innovative product, we receive multiple queries from media channels across the globe.

Any advice you’d like to give to marketing professionals, especially in the SaaS domain?

To stay relevant in SaaS, it is important to continuously increase the value you provide to your customers. 

Content marketing and SaaS are joined at the hip. Most audiences are categorized into three parts – problem aware – unaware, solution aware – unaware, and product – unaware. 

You must know your audience before writing for them. With segmented marketing, these content pieces can help you nurture the leads, and accelerate the movement from the top to the bottom of the funnel.

Content marketing has a significant impact on each stage of the SaaS sales cycle and marketing.

Moving on to headwinds, I don’t anticipate any large trends soon. However, it is important to note that most demand generation channels come with an expiry date due to the drastic changes in audience behavior. 

For example, Facebook was populated with Millennials a decade ago, but today, the platform is largely used by Gen-X and Boomers. Similarly, every channel used in a demand generation campaign will have an upper limit on the possible output. Hence, people should be careful about relying on a certain channel for a certain period. 

How have you been maintaining a work-life balance during these times?

Work-life balance for me revolves around reading books and listening to music once the chaos called work calms down. Currently, I am reading ‘IKIGAI: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life’ to learn a bit more about the work-life balance that everyone keeps talking about. (laughs).

With skills, the one thing that I want to focus more on is understanding how to write well, exploring the different writing styles, and so on.

Is there any piece of content that you own (ebook/ whitepaper/ podcast) you’d like to tell us about? 

I recently worked with my colleague Manpreet Kaur on a research report titled, ‘The State of Employee Onboarding in the US region’.

Link – https://leena.ai/state-of-employee-onboarding-united-states

SaaSy Tidbits from Chirayu Akotiya

  • SaaS companies can only stay relevant by consistently providing value to their customers. 
  • Content marketing and SaaS come together to create a robust and flexible strategy that attracts and converts customers. Content has a significant impact on each stage of the SaaS sales cycle. 
  • SaaS firms usually have a long sales cycle. Hence, they must adopt a high-touch sales process that educates and nurtures prospective clients through the cycle. 
  • Also, remember to customize your demos to customer requirements. This will make a clear business impact, thus boosting the chances of conversions. 
  • Demand generation channels come with an expiry date due to the drastic change in audience behavior. Every channel also has an upper limit on the possible output. Hence, marketers should be careful about relying on a certain channel for a certain period. 

In this interview, Chirayu shares a critical lesson – SaaS firms can stay relevant only if they add value to their audience and share content that solves real problems. We, as a SaaS content marketing agency, live by this mantra because it is a clear sign that we are listening to our patrons. This simple step can help you earn loyalty and trust.

If you are looking for information about Chirayu or Leena AI, feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn. You can also visit their website to learn more about their products. 

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