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How to Convert Customers into Referral Sources

Monday, July 10th, 2017

Would you like to turn your customers into referral sources? Wait, that sounds too boring. Not just referral sources, but evangelists who market your brand for you (and for free).

That’s the goal.

But is it a realistic and attainable goal? Can you truly get your customers to advertise your product to their own circles of influence?

Absolutely! In fact, word of mouth marketing is the most important type of marketing you can get, and you can get it. Let’s discuss how to convert your average customer into an effective marketer for your brand.

Need help asking for referrals? Check out this list of resources.

Focus on Your Customer Service

First things first, you need to develop a strong customer service policy. There’s no use doing any of the other things on this list if you don’t have a friendly, helpful, accessible, and responsive customer service team at the helm.

By ensuring your customers’ success with your product, you’ll groom them into excellent referral sources.

A lot of businesses pour so much effort into marketing and pulling in new customers that they neglect the ongoing and essential work of keeping customers happy. Happy customers engage with your product and are more likely to tell their friends about you. But it doesn’t happen without an intentional customer service and success strategy.

Simple strategies, such as following up on help desk requests or sending educational emails on new features, can strengthen your business/ customer relationship. Prompt responses, especially when delivered via live on-site chat, can show your customers that you care and are worthy of their endorsement.

For more strategies on how to improve your customer service, check out these posts:

Develop a Referral Rewards Program

Once you have rock solid customer service and success teams in place, you’ve got to ask yourself this question:

How will we reward our customers for their (free) marketing?

Although some of your customers will refer your brand without any incentive from you, that’s not something you can depend on. If referrals happen organically, that’s great. But, more than likely, any major referral marketing will need a push from you, the brand, to get it started.

When you incentivize referrals, you motivate customers to act. They know that by sharing your product with their social circles, they’re not only providing valuable information, they’re also getting paid for their efforts.

Referral programs are used in every type of business, from Google to your local gym.

But remember that incentive doesn’t necessarily mean cash. While cash may be the quickest way to your customers’ hearts, there are other, equally successful ways to incentivize your referral program.

For example, you can offer discounts on future purchases, thereby increasing the lifetime value of your referring customer. You can also offer free swag, such as branded t-shirts, pens, baseball hats, or coffee mugs. Swag has the added bonus of marketing for your brand whenever in use.

Ask Early

Ask for referrals when your customers are the most satisfied with your brand. Customers are usually the happiest and most engaged immediately after doing business with you. You’ve convinced them, they’ve bought in, they’re optimistic. It’s your chance to seize the moment.

So, after the customer purchases from you, jump into action and ask your customer for a referral. If you have a referral rewards program in place, be sure to invite them to join it.

You can ask simply in an automated email. It doesn’t have to be a big, lengthy production. It can be a few sentences along with a link to your set-up referral landing page. In your landing page, provide your customers with all the information they need to direct referral traffic back to your site.

Prep Them

Piggybacking off of the last point, it’s crucial that you prep your customers in the fine art of referral.

It’s not really that complicated, but for some people word of mouth marketing comes naturally, and for others, not so much. Some people don’t know how to tell others about you. That’s why you should come prepared with a script that they can use to tell people about your service.

On your customer referral landing page, embed share buttons for social media and email. Include a pre-written script that your customer can use, minimizing the need for them to come up with their own content. The easier you make it, the more buy in.

Run a Contest

Have you considered running a contest to build word of mouth marketing?

With a contest, you can excite your customer base while reaching prospective customers who’ve never heard about your brand. It’s like a two for one special.

When creating a contest with the goal of getting referrals, keep it simple and focused. In a simple contest, reward the customer who brings in the most referral traffic with a brand-related prize (i.e. give away your own product).

But don’t let any of your referring customers leave empty-handed. Everyone who participated and added new prospective customers should be acknowledged and rewarded for their efforts. Here’s another opportunity to gift free swag or offer special discounts.

Be sure to advertise your contest well. Email your current customers and get them excited about your contest. Advertise on your website via pop-ups or banners. Share it on social media. Add it to your email signature.

And then, after the contest is over, do it all over again. You can run multiple contests every year because there’s always someone else who needs to know about your product.

Create Content That’s Shareable

Exposure is huge for brands.

It’s estimated that nine out of every 10 people who are exposed to your brand won’t purchase on the first interaction. They may check out your products and even sign up for your email list. But the work of converting prospects to customers is through the process of lead nurturing.

You can nurture leads through your referral sources, too. My favorite way to do so is through creating valuable content that your referral sources can share with their social circles. From blog posts to case studies to beginner-friendly guides, take time to create educational content for the purposes of sharing and establishing trust with prospective customers.

Producing this type of educational, sharable content allows you to position yourself as a credible expert. It also gives your customers another reason to talk about your brand to their friends and family.

Include Reviews on Your Site

Reviews are word of mouth marketing, too. While onsite reviews are not the active “go out and tell” type of marketing, they do convert prospects into customers. That’s because people rely on the advice of others. A simple recommendation or criticism from an actual customer has more sway than glossy advertisements or even an entire marketing department.

I recommend allowing customers to leave product reviews on your website. This serves two goals:

  1. Good reviews can convert prospective customers
  2. Reviews are social proof that others have tried your product

By the way, don’t worry if you get a few less than stellar reviews. Prospective customers are more likely to trust products that receive a few mixed reviews over products that are universally loved. Universal love is always suspicious.

Testimonials also fit into the review category. Create a dedicated page for your testimonials, add them to your home page, and your product’s landing page. Include testimonials in your marketing materials and your social media outreach. Share case studies with your email list.

Use the words of your current, happy customers to reach new, prospective customers.

Additional Resources

Before you go, check out these related posts:

Don’t forget to download our list of resources for getting more referral business.

Use These 6 Email Marketing Strategies to Keep Your SaaS Customers Engaged

Monday, June 12th, 2017

One of the most important ways to reach your customers is through email. And you thought email marketing was dead.

According to MarketingSherpa, 72% of customers prefer using email to communicate with companies. That percentage towers over the 17% of customers who prefer communicating via social media.

So, do you have a rock solid email marketing campaign to keep your customers engaged and informed? If you’re like most SaaS out there, I’m guessing the answer is no. But that’s okay, you’re here and we’re going to tackle email marketing together.

Let’s discuss the most important things you need to know about email marketing first, and then we’ll look at the key tips to remember when marketing via email.

Here’s a list of best practices to remember when sending emails to your SaaS customers:

The Benefits of Email Marketing

Why is email marketing so important? It’s all about money.

You may have heard the phrase, “the money’s in the list.” Here’s what that means: Email has a 3800% return on investment. You stand to gain $38 dollars for every $1 spent in email marketing. After you’ve created a list, no matter how small, you can start to nurture your subscribers and turn them into customers. Then, you can keep investing in those customers, and continue to bring in revenue.

What’s even more impressive is that 91% of email subscribers sign up because they want to get promotional emails from the companies. If people are signing up for your list, it’s because they want you to market to them. Don’t be shy.

The biggest benefit of email marketing is that you can continue to stay connected to your audience. The hope is that you’ll eventually woo these subscribers into customers. With a proper email marketing strategy, you’ll definitely stay “top of mind”. This is essential because most people aren’t ready to buy right away, but if you keep nurturing them, one day, they will buy.

For those who have already converted into customers, your emails become gentle reminders to use your product. This is important in the first few days after signing up, because you want your new customers to get in the habit of using your app religiously.

Finally, email marketing is a great way to gather feedback from your audience. You can survey your list periodically or conduct research trials on new products before releasing to the general public.

Understand the Types of Emails to Send

There are six main types of emails that you can send to your audience. Here’s the breakdown:

Welcome

Your welcome email is the first email that you’ll send your new subscriber or user. In this email, you’ll set expectations on when to expect your emails, how often you send emails, and what you’ll discuss in your emails.

The content of your welcome emails will differ, depending on the audience.

If you’re sending a welcome email to someone who’s signed up for your service, you should include a getting started guide, where you discuss how to use your product.

If you’re sending a welcome email to someone who’s signed up for your newsletter but not your product, you should direct them to a landing page with a “best of” list of your best content. If you’ve promised a freebie (i.e. a lead magnet), you’ll also send instructions on how to retrieve it.

Newsletters

Newsletters are informational emails that keep your audience connected to you. You’ll send these emails to your entire list. But I do recommend segmenting for better open rates (more on this later).

Your newsletters should be sent on a frequent and consistent basis (for example, once a week every week).

In these newsletters, you’ll keep subscribers updated on any news concerning your company or your products. You’ll share blog posts. You’ll give them the heads up on any upcoming sales.

Lead nurturing

Lead nurturing is not the same as a newsletter. In lead nurturing, your entire goal is to move the subscriber from prospect to customer. You’ll do this through educational content, such as email courses. You can also use testimonials and case studies to persuade.

Promotional

Promotional emails are a favorite for your users. In these emails, you’ll send news of special discounts, promotions, and sales.

Transactional

Transactional emails are usually triggered by behavior from the subscriber. For example, if the subscriber needs to reset his or her password, you’ll send this type of email automatically. Other transactional emails include upsells, cross-sells, and receipts.

Cart Abandonment

Last but not least is the cart abandonment email. This is the email you should send immediately (within 30 minutes) after a customer leaves without completing a purchase. Approximately 23% of users abandon their carts on purpose in anticipation of a discount. Whether you want to give a discount or not is up to you, but sometimes rescuing a sale is better than not making any profit.

1. Segment Your List

You should always segment your list. Always.

Here are a two stats to remember:

No doubt about it– you should segment your list if you want to get more people to read your content.

If you’re just starting out, here are three important segments to consider:

1 – People who’ve purchased your product.

Send this segment emails of support, promotions, upsells, surveys, discounts, and information about your loyalty referral program.

2 – People who’ve expressed interest in your product but haven’t purchased.

Send this segment case studies, discounts, and webinar invitations.

3 – People who have initiated a trial but haven’t purchased.

Enroll this segment in an email course where you educate them on how to use your product. Towards the end of the trial, send testimonials, case studies, and special discount offers.

Here are a few other ways to segment your list:

By sign up date – Get your new subscribers up to speed and send them your “greatest hits” emails before funneling them into your main newsletter list. This allows you to gently introduce them to your list without throwing them into the deep end.

By app activity – Send emails based on where the user is in their customer journey with you.

By location – Send location-specific emails, such as discounts that coincide with special holidays like 4th of July or Canada Day.

2. Be Mindful of the Preview Text

Are you optimizing your email content for the preview text?

Preview text is the snippet of content that shows what your email is about. Most email marketing services provide a space for you to include your preview text.

So, why is it important?

Preview text allows a reader to determine whether or not to open your email. If your preview text isn’t relevant, then the reader isn’t going to bother opening your email at all. Your preview text needs to compel the reader to open.

Depending on the email provider, you have approximately 90 characters (not words) to persuade the reader. I recommend using this opportunity to ask a question. Questions immediately engage.

Preview text isn’t supported by every email service, but most of the bigger email providers offer it, including Apple Mail, Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo!.

3. Send Emails Frequently

Aim to send out your emails on a frequent and predictable schedule. According to this study, the majority of your email subscribers want to hear from you weekly. If weekly sounds like too much of a commitment, send no less than once a month. Twelve emails in a year is doable for just about any SaaS.

The reason you should send out frequent emails is so that you stay “top of mind” for your subscribers. They should get used to hearing from you often. This will help them remember you when it’s time to finally make that purchase you’ve been nurturing them into buying.

4. Keep Your Emails Short and Sweet

The most effective emails are surprisingly short. You don’t have to spend a lot of time composing lengthy emails. According to Boomerang, the most effective emails are between 50 to 125 words in length.

That’s approximately three paragraphs.

Image Courtesy of Boomerang

Maybe it’s due to our ever-decreasing attention span. Maybe it’s because the inbox is a pretty hostile place where users just want to get in and get out. No matter the reason, the best performing emails are short.

It gives you just enough time to pique your user’s curiosity and invite them to read more.

So, in the case of newsletters, just include an excerpt and invite the user to click over for more information. That way you’ll get users back to your website– a win!

5. Send Valuable Emails

Don’t send emails that are nothing more than glorified status updates. While I do recommend sending your emails on a consistent basis, if there’s nothing to report, then don’t.

You should always send the most valuable content to your subscribers. Your emails should be something that your subscribers look forward to receiving.

6. Mind the Call to Action

Your call to action is crucial for engaging customers. Don’t send an email without purpose. Your emails should direct users to your blog, ask users to sign up for a trial, invite users to a webinar, or encourage them to refer new friends. End every email with what the user should do next. If you don’t, they’ll delete it and move on.

Speaking of which, make sure that you click on the link at the bottom of this post to receive a checklist of emails you should send to your SaaS customers.

Download our list of SaaS email marketing best practices:

How to Predict Customer Churn Before It’s Too Late

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Predicting churn is one of the most important things you can do for your business, but it sounds far-fetched, like a concept ripped from a science fiction novel.

How can you predict when a customer is about to leave?

Should you consult a Magic 8 Ball?

Image Courtesy of MemesHappen

For SaaS businesses, there are actually several big warning signs, in flashing neon colors, that indicate churn probability. Even though these warning signs are hard to miss, if you don’t know what to look for, they can easily be misinterpreted or brushed aside.

Let’s look first at the top warning signs that predict probable customer churn ahead. Then, we’ll discuss how to use these signs to prevent churn from happening. Let’s get started.

Here’s a checklist of what to do to minimize churn.

App Usage Has Declined

App usage is one of the easiest predictive metrics to track. If a customer isn’t getting what they need from your app, they’ll stop using it. App activity may end weeks or even months before the customer actually cancels. But make no mistake– cancellation is coming.

When you see a decline in app activity, jump on it right away. Your immediate course of action should be a re-engagement email series.

In this series, I recommend educating the customer on how to use your product. Also, send case studies that align with the customer’s stated goal for using your product. Finally, have your customer success team reach out personally to each disengaging customer to offer ways to improve the customer’s experience with your app.

They’re Not Opening Your Emails

If you send out email after email but are met with dismal open rates, churn is on the horizon. Customers who are highly engaged with your product are likely to open up your emails… at least some of the time. You’re never going to get 100% open rates, but you should never be satisfied until you do.

Email marketing is one of the best ways to deter churn and remind people to come back and use your product. It’s especially crucial in the beginning stages when the customer is still trying to understand your product. If you’re sending the wrong emails, they won’t get opened, and your customers will slowly drift away.

Low open rates across the board could indicate that your email content isn’t resonating with your audience. In other words, your emails aren’t helping your customers solve their problem. Don’t make the mistake of trying to speak to all of your customers at once, through the same email.

Instead, segment your email list into groups. You can slice and dice your list in different ways, including: app activity level, job title, user end goal, trial user, customer pricing level, and more. Segmenting your email list allows you to write more targeted and relevant content that will appeal to your users.

Through your emails, you can help your customers succeed with your app.

The right message can be compelling enough to pull them back to your product and remind them why they signed up with your product to begin with.

Administrative Changes Within the Account

Are you a B2B Saas? When you work with an entire business and not just a single consumer, churn is often a result of an internal change within that business account.

Let’s say your key contact for a business account leaves the company or gets promoted to a new position. Now, you have to work with a completely different contact– someone with a different personality, who may not “get” your SaaS, or may be looking to switch things up and cut costs.

Sometimes change is swift, and you’re not always privy to the internal operations of your business customers. But, if you establish a solid relationship with your customers with the help of your customer success team, your contact may give you a heads up.

Being prepared is crucial. If you know that there are internal administrative changes within an account, your customer success team can reach out to the business and offer to host a webinar and train new employees on how to use your product.

If you haven’t already, forge relationships with all the key contacts for your business accounts. Follow them on social media (especially LinkedIn so that you may know if the contact changes jobs). Send personal (not automated) emails to them periodically, asking how you can improve their experience. Or actually call them on the phone (it’s a dying art and a surprising gesture).

Expired Credit Cards

Credit cards expire every three years on average. That sounds pretty innocent, but here’s what should worry you: expired credit cards are among the top reasons why customers churn.

It’s not that the customer actually wants to leave, it’s just that their credit card expires, and they forget to update their information. Or, in another scenario, the customer isn’t notified that their credit card is about to expire. So, they’re blindsided when they attempt to access their account and find out that they’ve been locked out.

That’s not a good look for your customer service.

And now, your customer has to go through the headache of updating their information, reactivating their account, possibly paying a late fee, etc. For your customers, it may be easier to just leave. Yikes.

Don’t let an expired credit card be the reason for your customers to leave. Use pre-dunning emails to ask customers to update their billing information before their credit card expires and the payment fails. This can help you prevent unintentional churn and improve positive sentiment. Customers like when businesses are proactive and not reactive.

More Complaints

Complaints are a part of doing business with the public. You can’t please everyone. But, have you noticed an increase in customer complaints recently?

For every one squeaky wheel that complains, there are at least two that don’t. They’ll just quietly take their business elsewhere. So, be thankful for the squeaky wheels, and don’t forget to find out why they’re squeaking. Their complaints can help you identify what’s not working in your product. By addressing these concerns swiftly, you’re not just helping one customer, you’re helping the ones that suffer quietly in the background.

By the way, squeaky wheels don’t always contact you directly. This is why social listening is crucial for any SaaS. What do people say about your product on social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook? Has anyone complained about your product in a blog post?

If you don’t know, you need to find out. Fortunately, tools like HootSuite or Google Alerts can help you monitor the web (automatically) for any mention of your brand or products.

Final Thoughts

Predicting and preventing churn is just as important as acquiring new customers. In fact, I would argue that keeping customers is even more important than constantly getting new ones. If your customers are canceling, you need to know why.

You need to get Retained. Retained will show you who’s in danger of churning and why. We look at key indicators, including sentiment and in-app behavior to make an intelligent prediction. Get email alerts before the churn so that you can stop it from happening in the first place. This is the one app that can help you predict churn before it’s too late.

Get an invite to Retained now.

Don’t forget to download this checklist for minimizing customer churn.

Delight with These Automated Customer Service Strategies

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Looking for easy ways to deliver impeccable customer service?

Nothing’s easier than automation. Set it up once, and you’re golden. From triggered emails that keep customers engaged to helpful onboarding emails that guide your visitors into a desired action, there are a ton of fantastic ways to be present for your customers (even when you’re not actually there).

This may sound ironic, but automation can actually forge a more human connection with your customers. The Internet can be cold and unwelcoming. You can counter-balance that by anticipating the needs of your customers and setting up experiences that help them succeed. With just a little planning and foresight, your automated interactions will feel intuitive and even interactive.

Let’s get into the details of how to create these experiences with your customers. We’ll take a look at the best and easiest ways to automate customer service without sounding robotic or disengaged.

Check out this awesome list of automated emails to send to your customers (and when).

Why Use Automation?

Not sure if you should automate your customer service?

At first glance, customer service automation sounds pretty soulless. If your customers don’t actually interact with a real human, how can you deliver a delightful, individualized experience?

That’s a valid question, and here’s the equally valid answer:

Automation allows you to respond to the 21st-century customer– the type who uses the Internet and doesn’t want to wait until for normal business hours for an answer to their question. On the Internet, everything’s open 24 hours a day. There’s no such thing as Monday through Friday business hours.

It’s old school madness to expect your customers to wait hours, or days even, to get in touch with a real human.

By automating your customer service, you can help your customers solve their issues as quickly as possible without waiting on human intervention. According to this study conducted by the Center for Generational Kinetics, the majority of American consumers prefer self-service customer service. A whooping 65% of customers feel positive about both themselves and the company when they can solve a problem without contacting human support.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Most customers, particularly millennials, prefer to avoid human interaction. For a huge portion of your customer base, it’s actually a loss to contact a customer support agent. But that doesn’t mean that you should abandon customer service altogether– instead, make your customer service more self-service friendly. Hello, automated customer service.

Another benefit of automating your customer service is scalability. You’re able to reach many more people when you automate interactions. It’s a lot easier to create one message that can be automatically delivered upon trigger than it is to keep writing that same email over and over again. You’ll free up your customer service staff to focus on the issues that truly need human intervention.

And last, but not least, automating your customer service shows that you care.

Have you ever reached out to a company via email and then… crickets. You didn’t receive a “Hey, we got your email and we’re working on it” response. You sat there wondering, “Did they receive my message? Maybe I should send again…” Don’t banish your customers to this communication purgatory.

When you send a response– even if it’s an automated one– you reassure your customer. You also communicate that you care about the customer’s experience.

Next, let’s discuss how to implement automated customer service in your business.

Anticipate the Needs of Your Customers

When will your customers need your attention or support the most?

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that customer service is reactive. The best customer service is proactive, especially when it comes to automation. If you can anticipate when your customers are most likely to need you, you can create systems to guide the customer into your desired course of action.

Here are two stages when your customers are more likely to need your support:

Before Becoming Customers

The majority of your first-time visitors simply won’t be ready to buy. You’ve got to nurture them from prospect to customer– and you can automate a big chunk of that process.

Whether you offer a free trial or a free lead magnet in hopes of wooing visitors onto your subscriber list, you can use automated systems to invite and then deliver the goods.

Then, you can stay connected to your prospects through ongoing automated email (more on this a little later).

During Onboarding

Once you’ve converted a prospect into a customer, you can use automation to deepen their engagement with your app. Setup trigger emails or messages that help the user find success in using your product. For example, if it’s been a week since the user last logged in, send an email that prompts the user to do so.

The onboarding process is about guiding your customers to success when using your app. Automation can help keep your customers engaged from the very beginning.

Ask yourself this question:

How can you help your customers have an enjoyable and delightful experience with your app?

Get detailed and use these answers to create an almost intuitive customer onboarding experience.

Automatically Route Incoming Emails

Are you segmenting the emails that arrive in your general “help” inbox? If not, you should.

It’s not an efficient use of time to individually sort through every email to figure out which department you should forward the email to. Set up filters and route emails that contain specific keywords or phrases to the right department automatically.

Send a Series of Automated Emails

Email allows you to serve your customers while also staying top of mind. Use email to deliver anticipatory customer service.

Feed a steady stream of helpful emails to your customers. Teach your customers how to use your product– this is a big part of customer service. Offer in-depth tutorials, share how-to videos, and link back to your knowledge base.

Create a series of automated emails, such as a tour of your app, a list of best practices, and common customer uses. Schedule those emails to send at specific intervals that coincide with your free trial, if applicable. Then, set those emails to send whenever someone signs up for your service.

How to Begin Automating Your Customer Service

Get Retained. We’ll help you automate your customer service and increase your customer retention rate. By providing you with actionable insight about your customers, it allows you to rescue those who are in danger of churning. Follow the predictive clues to figure out who you need to reach out to before it’s too late.

If you haven’t already, get your invitation to Retained here now.

Don’t forget to download this list of automated emails to send to your customers.

8 Creative Ways to Increase Customer Loyalty

Monday, May 1st, 2017

Churn happens. But it doesn’t have to happen to you.

You can minimize churn by maximizing customer loyalty.

While everyone’s focused on getting more customers, it’s actually better to keep the ones you have. In a study by Bain & Co., researchers found that increasing customer retention by 5% improved profits by up to 95%. Plus, acquiring new customers is a lot more expensive than retaining them– up to 25 times more expensive, in fact.

So, if you want to increase customer retention and loyalty, but have no idea how to do it, keep reading. I’m going to share eight ways to increase customer loyalty that you may not have considered yet. Let’s get started.

Here are 10 important takeaways to improve your customer retention.

1. Offer Customizable Service

Are you only offering static plans to your customers? Having basic plans are great, but if you’re focused on customer retention, you’ve got to offer customizable service.

According to Accenture, 41% of consumers prefer and are loyal to the brands that allow them to personalize their service.

The “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work well for retention. Your marketing may draw them, but once they figure out that your product isn’t flexible enough to do what they need, they’ll leave.

To minimize churn, think of your ideal customer, and what they may need that you don’t currently provide. Can you offer those features for an additional fee? Can you offer to take away features that they don’t need for a reduction of price?

For example, create an a la carte menu that allows customers to create their own perfect product that suits their needs.

2. Proactive Customer Service

Piggybacking off of that last point, you should invest in a customer support team. Here’s why:

One of the best ways to predict a customer’s loyalty is to actually allow them to design your product.

This same Accenture study shows that 44% of consumers are loyal to businesses that value customer co-creation. In other words, when you invite customers to create the product that they need, you’ll be rewarded with increased customer retention.

Customers like having a customized product that meets their needs.

The only problem is that you can’t just have customers customizing their own products willy nilly. That leads to confusion, frustrating, and ultimately, abandonment in favor of a friendlier option.

So, you need a customer success team that helps the customer:

  • Know your product
  • Personalize your product
  • Use your product

Compared to customer service, a customer success team doesn’t just wait for customers to initiate the conversation. A customer success manager, or team, should proactively reach out to the customer. And it should be a personal and genuine interaction. No form letters, please.

The primary focus of your customer success team is to develop customer loyalty. Whether that’s through upselling the customer the right product or by customizing your product offerings, your customer success team is an invaluable part of your retention strategy.

Learn more about customer success here.

3. Create a Loyalty Program

Everyone likes to feel like they’re part of an exclusive club. Do you have a club for your customers?

If you’d like to create one, but aren’t sure what to build a loyalty program around, here are two ideas:

  • Affiliates and Referrals – Incentivize word of mouth marketing among your customers by offering perks for referrals. This is two for the price of one– you’re appreciating your customers while also activating them to market for you.
  • Important Milestones – Celebrate important anniversaries (such as when your customer signed up) by gifting them with a special discount or freebie.

If you do create a loyalty program, make it worthwhile and exciting. It should feel special to your customers. Customers are less likely to leave a company that actually values their loyalty with goods gifts (such as exclusive discounts and free upgrades).

4. Invest in Ongoing Customer Education

Customers need to know how to use your product. If someone buys into your marketing and decides to try your product, but once they get inside of your app, they have no idea what is going on, they’re going to leave. It’s that simple.

For this reason, companies that put a premium on education also have higher retention rates.

Here are ways that you can continue to educate your customers well past the landing page:

On your website

Your website should be the central hub of information for using your product. Make sure you have the following:

Via email

Email marketing is my favorite way to educate customers because it’s proactive. You’re not reacting to their call for help, you’re actively sending out information that helps them. In addition to having an active customer success team, here are a few emails you should send:

  • Email Course (an automated course that gives beginner or ongoing tips on how to use your product)
  • Guides (in your email, link to a page on your website with a how-to guide that’s targeted to your customer persona– ideally, you’ll have several guides based on each customer persona you have)
  • Quick tips (no need to link to your website, just add all of the information in the body of your email)
  • How-to videos (linked to a landing page on your site, don’t link directly to Vimeo or YouTube)
  • Webinars (linked to a landing page on your site, don’t link directly to Vimeo or YouTube)

5. Be Charitable

One of the best ways to increase customer loyalty is to focus on a social goal that you can share with your customers. Obviously, the first goal is getting them what they need from your service, but you should also consider setting a bigger and more aspirational goal.

Whether you support the building of wells in Africa, a summer camp that teaches kids how to code, or a volunteer organization that plants trees in the Amazon, you need some big idea that galvanizes your brand, your customers, and your employees around a single vision.

I know you’re probably thinking, Does this really increase customer loyalty?

According to this study, 37% of consumers in the US are more loyal to brands that support charities or causes that they care about.

So, don’t be shy. If you’re involved in giving back to a charity, make sure that your customers know it. And that they feel connected to it. An inclusive way to do this is by sending an email to them, sharing you’ve donated X amount of money in their name to a charity.

By the way, simply showing that you care about the environment can boost your profits. A study conducted by Nielsen shows that 66% of consumers will pay more for products and services provided by brands committed to sustainability.

If you’re putting that money towards helping the environment, your prospects will be able to justify the higher cost.

An example of how you can incorporate this: On your homepage, share that your servers are powered by 100% renewable energy. It may seem like a small detail, but it can sway the odds in your favor between you and your competition, especially if your prospect cares about the environment.

6. Keep Them In the Loop

Sometimes, churn happens because credit cards expire or are cancelled. And, if you don’t have a plan in place to notify your customer, they may not even notice. They’ll just come to use your service, and realize they’re cancelled, but not know why. This often initiates a series of unfortunate events that culminates in your customer churning for good.

But you can avoid all that by staying in close contact with your customers. Notify them well in advance before a card is set to expire. And when cancellations happen (and they happen a lot more often than you think), make sure that you’re communicating with your customers and letting them know what’s going on. Your customer may not know there’s an issue with their card, and the worst way to find out is if they come to use your service but are locked out.

Dunning emails are an integral part of customer retention. By improving communication between you and the customer, you’ll also inspire greater loyalty.

7. Upsell Them

You may think that once you get customers, you should not bother them and just be happy that they signed up.

Wrong.

You need to get them even more invested in your product, and the best way to do that is through upselling.

Upselling should always be a part of your retention strategy.

Upselling strengthens your customer’s level of engagement with your business. When upsold, the customer is no longer just dipping their feet into your services, they get totally immersed. And then something magical happens:

They start to think more highly of your company. The more invested they are, the higher your perceived value in their eyes.

Customers are way more loyal to businesses that they’re invested in. If I pay more for a service or product, I’m definitely going to use it more. And I’m also more likely to think that it’s worth the money.

You shouldn’t just have one upsell opportunity (i.e. the base plan and the premium plan). You should have multiple add-ons that customers can tack onto their service plan.

8. Be the Trusted Choice

Accenture found that a whopping 85% of consumers like and are loyal to brands that protect their privacy.

Do your customers feel protected when using your product? Do they know how you protect their information?

Because privacy (and security) are essential to customer retention, you’ve got to let your customers know that it’s a priority for you. Plus, you’ve got to let them know how you do it.

Some SaaS nod to privacy in their microcopy. For example, some companies reassure customers during sign up with a notice like “we will never share your information with others”.

Be sure to link to your privacy policy, and it won’t hurt to include the details of how you keep your customers’ data safe.

Trust badges are another way to quickly convey that your service is committed to security. Add badges like McAfee, Powered by Stripe, Truste, and Norton Secured to your site to increase security.

Additional Resources

Check out these related posts:

Don’t forget to download this list of 10 tips to improve your customer retention.