Author Archive

5 In-Person Ways To Bring In New SaaS Clients

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

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SaaS by their very nature tend to operate almost exclusively in a digital environment. Communication tends to be by email, live chat, social media, contact forms or over the phone, but in-person is much more rare, especially for SaaS not targeting the enterprise level.

However, old-fashioned interpersonal skills definitely have their place, especially for SaaS who are wanting to try different methods to bring in new clients.

There are times when remote communication falls short—it can be misunderstood, missed altogether or filed away for “later.” This is where making strong, personal connections can be a viable alternative.

Here are five ways to get out there and bring onboard clients in-person.

Where can you meet up in 2016? Grab our free conference list here.

#1. Events

Events could cover a broad spectrum of gatherings that your target customers are likely to attend. These could include trade shows, conferences, trainings or niche industry events. Your role there could be as a participant, exhibitor or guest speaker.

[tweetthis]Choose events carefully. How likely is it that your target audience will be there?[/tweetthis]

The Participant

You’re going to want to send someone who is very comfortable in social situations, personable and approachable. Their mission is to get out and meet as many people as possible, preferably people who are in your target group.

Tips:

  • Many conferences and events publish lists of participants ahead of time. You can always look through that list and target specific people to meet.
  • If you can, arrange to meet with people at the conference before attending. You could always grab coffee during a break or a drink afterwards.
  • Technology can still play a role. Usually you would be handing out business cards, so make it easy for people to get to your website or landing page by including a QR code on the card.

The Exhibitor

Relevant trade shows as well as many big conferences (like SXSW) provide great opportunities to set up a booth as an exhibitor. These can run to a fair bit of money to book and set up, so you do want to be very targeted about only attending events that should have a large number of your ideal clients.

Keren Phillips of Weirdly attended a conference in their HR niche and wrote about what they had learned from the experience. A key point she makes is that you don’t need to spend big to get noticed; the important part is keeping in perspective what you’re trying to achieve.

They needed to look lively and interesting, so they bought some blow-up palms rather than renting expensive potted plants. They needed a big screen to run demos and found that while two days hire would have cost just over $800, buying one cost around $400. They then gave it away as a prize on the last day.

Tips:

  • Again, send your personable people! It’s about connecting with people on a personal level.
  • Positioning is important. You don’t want to languish in the back corner.
  • Have simple ways to gather sign ups or prospects. For example, Weirdly put together one of their quizzes specifically for the event, tweeted it out, and had people complete it during their talk.
  • Make it fun. Have desirable merchandise and activities that keep people interested.
  • Be able to easily show a full demo and explain the value of your SaaS to prospects.
  • Get to know other exhibitors—they could end up being your customers.
  • See Keren’s tips on nutrition, hydration, clothing and pre-preparation. You may be in for some long days.

weirdly-artist

Here’s a cool gimmick idea from Weirdly: They hired an artist to do caricatures of anyone who wanted one (which was most people!). The artist drew on the plain side of a heavy card flyer, which also featured Weirdly’s logo, and which had info about their product on the other side.

The Speaker

Whether your SaaS is hosting its own conference or you are speaking at someone else’s event, the important part is that connection you want to make with potential customers. Speaking tends to be more about exposure and personal branding, but it can be a good way to build up a following who could become customers later.

Tips:

  • Provide relevant, actionable tips and try to get some audience interaction going.
  • Try speaking at events where there are other key players you would like to meet, for example, in order to form partnerships.
  • Make it easy for the audience to find you. Use slides and have website details up.

#2. Get Out To Prospects

If you’re looking to onboard some bigger clients (enterprise, for example), actually getting out and meeting with prospects can be a good strategy.

This gives prospects the chance to ask questions and for you to demonstrate in-person how your SaaS works. From your perspective, actually meeting with someone one-on-one can also give you a much better opportunity to figure out what their needs are and what value looks like to them.

Many early startup SaaS are on very tight budgets and aren’t inclined to travel a lot, but start with your local area, then always plan to meet with prospects when on any incidental travel. Often prospects find it easier to deal with a human face rather than trying to figure everything out remotely.

#3. Complementary Businesses

Which businesses in your area are complementary to yours and target a similar audience to your own?

Get out to those businesses and introduce yourself. Whether you form some kind of affiliate partnership or more of a “gentleman’s agreement” to promote each other, this can be a good way to tap into a new source of ideally targeted customers.

For example, if they are sending out regular newsletters or invoices, you could have an offer for your SaaS included in the email or physical letter. This can be a win-win-win: the other business gets goodwill from customers for offering an extra perk, the customers get a discount offer and you get new customers.

#4. Local Business Groups

Sometimes we forget that there is life happening beyond our computer screens. While digital methods can net you large numbers of customers, it doesn’t hurt to build your personal profile out in the “real” world.

Get involved in your community and join local business groups such as Chambers of Commerce or Young Professionals groups. While you may or may not find ideal customers are members, it’s about building connections—they probably know people who could benefit from your service.

Group members are often well-respected members of their community, so these are great people to get to know. It’s also where you can find out the latest business news for your area—are there new offices being fitted out and businesses coming in who could be good customers?

#5. Business Workshops

There are B2B workshops happening all the time, often hosted by organizations such as BNI. Find clients by being a participant or guest speaker, asking permission to post flyers, or making an offer to workshop participants.

Again, it’s about raising the profile of your SaaS among your target market. The more you are seen out and about (and all over the web), the more likely you are to come to mind when someone is looking for the service you provide.

We recommend you do your homework first though, as in-person meetings and events tend to take up much more of your time and resources than say, inbound marketing or paid advertising. Be very selective about the places you choose based upon the likelihood of finding target customers.

bni

Where can you meet up in 2016? Grab our free conference list here.

Final Thoughts

Getting out to in-person meetings and events can help to grow your SaaS by boosting your profile and by making a personal connection with people. It gives you the opportunity to showcase your expertise and really learn about the needs of the prospect.

Try attending events and conferences, joining local business groups, meeting prospects and complementary businesses in-person and having a presence at business workshops.

These things can take up a lot of time, but they can also be a valuable source of personal connections.

How To Develop The Right Loyalty Program For Your SaaS

Monday, April 18th, 2016

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How does your SaaS develop loyalty and effective referral pipelines?

In the competitive SaaS market, your business needs every advantage it can possibly use to get ahead. Developing rewards and loyalty schemes can both help you to grow your customer base and keep the ones you already have. They are also great for increasing your visibility, as we’ve discussed previously.

Many successful SaaS are turning to loyalty and rewards programs throughout different stages of the customer lifecycle. How do you decide what is right for your SaaS? We’ve got a few ideas…

Want some good SaaS reward examples? Grab our free guide.

Rewards For Loyalty

Outside of incentivizing current customers to refer others, rewards for loyalty to your SaaS can have good results. The caveat here is that you need to know what you’re doing—certainly not every loyalty scheme is effective, so let’s look at how you can create one to get better results…

Make it Meaningful

For a subscription-based SaaS customer, a loyalty program is not going to be quite the same as getting their coffee card stamped every time they purchase at their local café. What makes those coffee cards great? The reward is meaningful—it’s something that the customer already likes and can use.

SaaS could choose to reward loyalty over time, for example offering some kind of extra feature, free month, discounted pricing or other reward that aligns with the type of people who use your product for every year the customer sticks with you. The idea is that by offering them something closely related to the product (rather than say, sending them chocolates), you already know that the reward is useful to them.

Make it Attainable (and Simple!)

Ever seen one of those airline miles programs where the awards are so elusive, or so steeped in conditions for what you can redeem them for that they’re not really worth doing? This is just frustrating to any customer and will probably lead to them giving up.

Loyalty and rewards schemes are much more effective if awards are clearly attainable and simple to cash in. If you set too many complicated rules around your program, you may as well not bother.

Consider Tiers

It’s often a matter of ego to think that we’re privy to a more elite reward class. This is one the airlines use all the time and it has the effect of encouraging more purchases. Could this work for SaaS? Well, you probably have different tiers of subscription already, so why not tie in your rewards?

Amazon Prime is a good example of how offering something extra to a more elite tier can encourage purchases. While they are estimated to make a significant loss on their free two-day shipping offer for Prime members, they make up for it by the significant increase in spending of Prime members over non-members.

Set Goals & Monitor

How will you know if your loyalty scheme is a success? Set specific goals for what you want it to achieve and monitor how it works over time. You want to remain relevant to the customer and ensure that your loyalty scheme actually does provide them with some incentive. If you’re not sure, ask. Send out a quick survey or call a few clients and ask them whether the loyalty scheme is a motivator for them.

Rewards For Referrals

Know Your Referral Stats First

As Tommy Walker points out for Conversion XL, before you implement any kind of reward or referral program, your best course of action is to understand your current referral data. How many of your customers came to you because another existing customer referred them?

As he explains, ideally you will have something set up in your analytics which allows you to track customers who are coming in from shared links. Alternatively, you can always simply ask customers how they found you to at least get a rough idea.

It’s important to know your current referral stats first because you want a baseline for any program you put in place. Most SaaS will already have some referrals coming in, whether you’ve officially asked for them or not, so it’s worth knowing about.

Find The Right Incentive

What makes people refer friends to your SaaS? Dropbox is well-known for its rapid growth over a short period of time, largely attributed to referrals, but funny enough, they found that their “free space” giveaway was what made people share, rather than what made people sign up.

dropbox-startup-lessons-learned-28-728
Source: ConversionXL

As Marketo show, referral programs could be:

  • One-way (the referrer receives a reward for successful referrals).
  • Two-way (both the referrer and the referee are rewarded).
  • Third party (a referral offer is made when you purchase something from a partner company).

What’s going to work for your SaaS? It’s worth testing to find out, but we would start with knowing your customer profiles very well and taking your best idea of what would be a good motivator for them. Again, you can always ask them! “What motivates you to refer friends to (our SaaS)?”

yesware-referrals
Yesware is a good example of a one-way referral program. Referrers earn redeemable points for successful referrals. Image source: Referral SaaSquatch on Slideshare.

Make it Easy

When you think about designing the flow for how your referral program will work, consider how easy it is for both the customer to refer and their friends to accept the referral and join up. Generally, the less clicking about and different screens involved, the better to ensure people follow through.

How can you make it easy? The Yesware example above is a good one, with fields pre-populated to make the process faster. Simple social share buttons is another good way, such as shown by Free Agent below…

referral-share-buttons-badge

Again… Meaningful Rewards

If you’ve got an excellent product, you’re probably finding that happy customers want to refer others who could benefit too anyway, but still ensure that any rewards are meaningful.

Some companies have used incentives such as drawing entries for electronic prizes, gift vouchers or vacations, but beware that these won’t always have the desired effect. If you use a reward that everyone wants (hello ca$h!), you could end up with a bunch of “freebie seekers” signing up who don’t really fit your ideal customer profile.

A solution to avoid this could be to reserve those juicy prizes for existing customers and use incentives such as a free month for new sign-ups.

Want some good SaaS reward examples? Grab our free guide.

Invest In Retention First…

There is no sense in initiating a referral scheme if you don’t have good retention strategies in place first. This quote from Robbie Kellman-Baxter sums it up well:

“Don’t invest in acquisition until you know you can retain them. If you do, you’ll end up with a sieve, not a funnel.”

Final Thoughts

Rewards and loyalty schemes can be a great boost to both your acquisition and retention, as long as you have set them up well.

Any rewards offered need to be meaningful to the customer and you need to have a simple system for them to cash-in.

Be very clear on your goals and what your baseline measures are to start with, so that you can clearly see whether or not your program is successful or needs work. That includes understanding whether or not you are drawing in appropriate customers with your reward scheme.

Finally, retention needs to be a priority before investing in any referral scheme for acquisition. You want to be able to keep those who come onboard…

Social Media Strategies For Educating SaaS Clients

Monday, April 4th, 2016

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Engagement is key for retaining clients and reducing churn. There are a number of ways your SaaS can boost engagement, but an important factor is ensuring that they are educated about your product and able to derive value from it.

Generally speaking, customers don’t know what they don’t know, so as we’ve established previously, education can provide a win-win for the business and the customer.

Social media often tends to be underused by SaaS as a channel for educating customers. While it won’t suit everyone, with 2.3 billion active users worldwide, there’s a good chance you can reach a large number of your customers through social media.

Screen-Shot-2016-02-15-at-11.54.57
Source: Smart Insights

What can you be doing to encourage better results with social media? Let’s look at some strategies:

Want good examples of SaaS on social media? Grab our free guide.

Know Your Customer

First up, it’s a difficult task developing an effective social media strategy if you don’t have a clear picture of who your customer is. We’ve discussed previously how you need to be able to identify your customer personas and the key aspects that define individual customer success.

When you’re looking to educate, you will be much more effective if you can speak to those ingrained preferences and produce content that directly addresses how your customer can achieve success.

Choose Your Platform(s) Wisely

A mistake that many companies make is in trying to cover too many social media channels at once, but not having the time to do any of them effectively. You will only harm your brand if your social channels are used inconsistently or ineffectively.

This is another part of knowing your customer; you need to know where they tend to hang out on social media so that you can focus on the one or two channels which will get you best bang for buck.

Social media has not traditionally been a huge push for B2B SaaS, but you may also find that there are less “traditional” platforms which are ideal for your target audience. For example, SlideShare is used by many businesses and can be a great opportunity to educate through engaging presentations, while Medium is another channel frequented by professionals.

Listen First

Rather than jumping into a social media group and blurting or saying what you assume people want to hear on your own channels, spend some time hanging out where your people do and listen to what they’re saying.

Identify themes and common problems/questions so that you can frame up your educational posts in a way that speaks to the needs of the customer. You could also just ask questions at first, for example “what is your biggest challenge with (something that relates to a problem your SaaS solves).”

[tweetthis]SaaS social media: Listen to your target audience, then create a strategy to address needs.[/tweetthis]

Content

If you want to gain engagement from your educational social media content, then it must be insightful, relevant and of high quality. There’s a lot of noise on social media so you are competing for attention with others who may have the same goals as you.

The engagement of customers is better achieved when you’re able to make an emotional connection. This means truly speaking to their issues and desires. You should be finding out what those are by listening in on platforms as suggested in the last section, but other ideas include checking out Quora and Reddit for questions and pain points that come up. Your educational content will probably answer questions like “how do I …” and “how can your SaaS help me to …”, so look at those social platforms with those questions in mind.

Storytelling

Sure, you can deal in purely the cold, hard facts and figures, but neuroscience tells us that’s not the best way to achieve the audience connection you’re looking for. If you want to really grab them and make a lasting impression, weaving storytelling into your educational content is the way to go.

When we are told a story, studies show that more parts of our brain light up and become engaged than if we are processing facts and figures. Imagine what that could mean for your content! If you are able to directly speak to those needs of your customer but do so while crafting a compelling story, you win on engagement and become instantly memorable to the customer.

your brain on stories
Source: xtrii.com

Readability

You can create the most emotion-inducing story to educate your customers, but it’s of no use to you if it doesn’t get read. There are a number of barriers that can put people off consuming content, no matter how well put together it is and these tend to come down to the readability of the post.

It might seem like a lot for a busy, early start-up SaaS to take onboard, but taking the time to ensure that your posts are crafted for readability can pay dividends in terms of engagement.

The “how to” for specific posts will vary according to the platform you use, but here are some general rules for ensuring your content is readable:

  • Use formatting where possible. Change up your text with italics, bolding, underlining and bullet points.
  • Keep paragraphs short and easy to consume. If you’re using slides, stick to one or two key points per slide.
  • Use high quality images. We tend to be drawn to images over text and statistics show that people’s willingness to read a piece of content increases by 80% when colored visuals are included
  • Use images that are sized correctly for the social media platform.
  • Write conversationally and try to have personality!

Readability is a factor that often gets left out in the hustle to produce good content at the same time as growing your SaaS, but if you forget this point, your content creation efforts could be a waste of time. Don’t let yours become a snooze-fest of lengthy paragraphs!

How Does This Look In Practice?

You aim is to grow engagement and retain clients by using social media as a channel for education. Good content strategy is not easy, so let’s look at a couple of examples of SaaS who have met the criteria discussed here…

Shopify

Shopify has been a mega success story on how education can boost current customer engagement while growing their brand and encouraging new sign-ups. Social media has been a big part of their content strategy and they can be found on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Instagram and Pinterest (whew!).

While they are a large player now, it’s important to remember they didn’t start out that way. They employed a very successful content marketing strategy and were able to grow ten times larger within three years.

If you look at their social media accounts now, you see they tell stories and they educate. A powerful part of that has been in sharing customer success stories. It’s through these real-life examples that others can relate to their own situation.

shopify-facebook

Hubspot

Hubspot is another example of a SaaS which has grown with a large emphasis on content marketing (which is hardly surprising, given that it is their specialty!). They are also across multiple different social media channels educating both clients and prospects, but they are a good example of a SaaS doing well on less traditional channels.

Hubspot was an early adopter of SlideShare and use the channel to produce educational content that is garnering a high level of engagement. They currently have nearly 40,000 followers on SlideShare alone and tend to produce something new once or twice per month, often in tandem with a larger blog post on their website.

hubspot-slideshare

Want good examples of SaaS on social media? Grab our free guide.

Final Thoughts

Social media can provide a big opportunity for SaaS to educate and engage customers and prospects, but only if you take the time to know the customer and develop a strategy first.

Social media channels will potentially give you good reach due to their high numbers of active users, but you need to be producing engaging content that elicits emotion from your audience and really speaks the successes they desire.

B2B SaaS have often been slow to create much of a presence on social media, or they are simply creating the token pages to get found. But if you choose the right platforms where your target audience can be found, you can build your brand for customers and deliver quality educational posts that will help their decision to stay with your SaaS.

How To Position Your SaaS To Attract Clients

Monday, March 21st, 2016

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How well has your SaaS assumed a position?

Are you attracting the clients you’d like and developing your own, unique audience?

Positioning is something that is often overlooked by SaaS brands, yet it is one of the most significant activities for any kind of product marketing. If you want people to pay attention and make the move to sign up with you, staking out your own unique piece of SaaS-land in an increasingly crowded market is vital.

What can you do to position your SaaS for attracting more clients? We’ve got a few ideas.

Who is doing a good job of positioning their SaaS? Grab our free guide here!

What Is Positioning?

John Peltier puts the answer to this question nice and succinctly:

“Positioning refers to the tactics used to establish a place in the mind of your prospects about what your product is, and how it fits into the world of products they’re already familiar with.  To be heard, much less remembered, you need that place to be unique.”

Ryan Battles suggests that in SaaS, unique positioning can be identified in the answers to the following questions:

  • Who is this product for? Is it for me?
  • What does this product do?
  • Why is this product helpful?
  • Why should I pay X for it?
  • When would I use this product?
  • How is it different from product X?
  • Who else is using this product?

So positioning is about branding a concept that is bigger than simply marketing because whereas marketing is largely tactical, branding is philosophical and identifies who you really are.

We all know that the SaaS market is becoming increasingly crowded, so clearly marking your own territory is an important reason to get brand positioning right. As Scott Mackin says in this Kompyte piece:

Luckily, for most of your competitors ‘branding’ is what’s happening to their company while they’re too busy adding new features, raising money or “growth-hacking”.

Yep, a relatively scathing indication that most SaaS are not doing well with their positioning, so you’ve got a good chance if you put some focus on it.

Elements of Brand Positioning

Professor David Jobber has identified in his text “Principles and Practices of Marketing” six foundational elements of brand positioning. These are shown in the diagram below, taken from Staffs UK:

brand-positioning

In a crowded SaaS market, it’s about finding that unique space and creating your own category where you are the big fish.

[tweetthis]Brand positioning can be broken into 6 key components: how is your SaaS doing?[/tweetthis]

Why Are You Here?

No, we’re not talking about the deep contemplations of life, though it is about the deeper purpose of your SaaS. In a world where SaaS is now fairly mainstream, why does yours exist?

For most SaaS, you can easily point to a good handful of close competitors who offer a similar product, possibly even with similar pricing, so why are you here too? Importantly, why should your customer choose you over any of your close competitors?

If you’re another “me two” in a sea of “me three’s,” you’ve got a battle on your hands from the start. How are you solving a unique problem in a unique way that is better than the rest? Your brand heritage will play a big part in answering this question.

The “Why” question should also be answered in your value proposition—a short statement (usually ten words or less) that captures the overall value of your SaaS for customers. This should be prominent and memorable; for example, check out Evernote:

evernote

What’s Your Brand Personality?

If given multiple similar choices, people will tend to gravitate toward one that has a voice or personality that they resonate with. This means that bland and boring is unlikely to grow your SaaS.

AVC puts this well when they talk about “minimum viable personality”; their illustration is especially relevant to any SaaS competing in a crowded category:

brand-personality

Slack is a good example of brand voice in a SaaS category where there are a number of competitors. They’ve created an app that draws people in by having a slightly quirky, offbeat humor, kind of like the office joker you might find in a physical work environment. Every time you log into Slack, your “robot friend” offers you some random piece of advice or pithy observation.

Untitled

What Are Your Values?

Values are another key basis of brand positioning and can be a way in which you are unique among your competitors. Your values should be sacred to your company in that they form the basis of everything that you do. They are lived out every day.

AVC further points out that values are part of having a “minimum viable personality.” They suggest that you answer these three questions for your business:

  1. How will you change your customer’s life? (This is part of your “why,” too.)
  2. What do you stand for?
  3. Who or what do you hate?

Answering these questions establishes a basis for values and voice (and even gives you an enemy).

What About Brand Reflection?

Brand reflection is how your brand relates to the self-identity of your customers. How do they feel as users of your product? How do they perceive themselves or feel that others perceive them?

Apple is a great example in technology. The Apple brand reflection tends to be one of personal enhancement, connectedness, tech-savvy and a kind of creative-cool. Owning Apple products often tends to be perceived with some level of prestige.

This is reflected in their brand assets (another basis for positioning), with clean imagery, simple copy and contemporary fonts and color schemes.

ipad-ad

In general, your brand reflection should bring up positive feelings for the client. By using your service, they are only going with the best, or they will be seen as the most savvy.

Your Brand Domain

Brand domain is simply where you compete in the market. Who are your target customers? If you haven’t done a detailed analysis yet identifying your target clients, you probably missed SaaS 101, because doing so allows your messaging to be much more targeted and appropriate.

Segment your target market and develop very clear customer personas, including demographic, psychographic or geographic information. Yes, this has been talked about a lot in the last couple of years, particularly with reference to content marketing, but it is still an opportunity for you to do a better job of it than competitors.

Some will have done a good job of narrowing their target market, some will still be just a bit too broad, while others haven’t narrowed their personas at all. The significance of this is in how you will build a real connection with customers so that your brand feels like a natural fit to them. The deeper you can dig to produce an accurate persona, the easier it is to find the stories and messages that will appeal to them.

Who is doing a good job of positioning their SaaS? Grab our free guide here.

Final Thoughts

How your SaaS is positioned should be something that you work on, not just before you launch, but consistently throughout every phase of your business.

Positioning is what makes you stand out. It’s the difference between being the person who ran for president and won, and that guy who came second (who was he again?). The idea is that you want to occupy your own piece of territory that is clearly marked out from others.

Positioning well means working on the fundamental elements of personality, reflection, heritage, values, domain and assets. Everything you do should have consistent messaging that is reflective of those things.

Carve out your own unique space and you will soon find yourself with your own unique customers.

Why Investing In Customer Success Will Boost Your Bottom Line

Monday, March 7th, 2016

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In the last few years, “customer success” has been a term often discussed in relation to SaaS. With so much competition in the SaaS space, the idea is that if your customers aren’t successful, your SaaS is at risk of not lasting long…

So what is customer success and what can your SaaS be doing about it? Let’s take a look…

What Is Customer Success?

“The foundation of Customer Success is based on increasing customer adoption of your product, driving retention and mitigating churn. Said another way, Customer Success is about getting customers to use your product with a smile on their faces.” Bluenose

Lincoln Murphy has described customer success as something that should be the driving purpose behind your SaaS. If not, what is the point really? That second ‘s’ in the term SaaS implies that service is a given—customer success is an important piece of that service.

Put simply, customer success happens when your customers achieve the outcomes they were looking for through their interactions with your SaaS. This means that customer success is not “one size fits all”; it will very much depend on the goals of the individual client.

The Difference Between Customer Success & Customer Happiness

Customer happiness is more about sentiment than success. It is definitely possible to have a customer who is happy overall, but is not achieving success with their own desired outcomes. As Lincoln Murphy further points out, sometimes your most successful customers are in fact your most demanding, and these ones never seem to be happy.

[tweetthis]Customer happiness measures are more about sentiment than customer success.[/tweetthis]

The Difference Between Customer Success & Customer Support

Many SaaS are implementing teams for customer success, but what is the difference between this and customer support? The answer lies in the timing of the interaction with the customer; customer support exists in reactive mode where they are taking action because the customer has contacted them with a problem. Their job is to resolve these problems as quickly as possible.

Customer success teams have a more proactive role. Their role is about fostering engagement between themselves and the client, and the client and the product. They want to ensure that the customer derives meaningful value from the product. This means there is more longevity in the relationship between customer success and the customers.

Why Is Customer Success Important?

In short, without customer success, you are very unlikely to have a successful SaaS. The goals of the customer will vary, but your SaaS is always selling something predicated on the idea that your service will somehow make something that they do easier, more complete or more something.

At a base level, the customer should be achieving those “more somethings,” but there are other things that affect overall success too. Each interaction the customer has with your SaaS needs to add to the equation that results in their desired outcomes. So if they can achieve some outcome, but the interface on the software was difficult or they had an unpleasant customer service experience, then their outcome will be less than what they desired.

Do you want to encourage upsells or cross-sells in your SaaS? As Bluenose states, customer success is often at the tip of the spear when looking to land that vital business and grow your revenue per customer. If you can’t meet their desired outcomes at the entry level, why would they feel encouraged to upgrade?

So, customer success is important because it is about not only decreasing churn, but creating an environment which increases your revenue per customer.

How do you measure customer success strategies? Grab our free tips here.

Customer Success Strategy

Customer success strategy always needs to start with a clear view of your customer personas. Who are your target customers? What do they do? What are their challenges? What are their goals?

When you have built a clear picture of who your customers are, you will have a better idea of their desired outcomes for using your SaaS. (If you want to really learn more about their desired outcomes, just ask them. Most will be happy to tell you what they’re looking for).

Customer Success Milestones

Customer success milestones are about the steps involved for the customer to achieve their desired outcome/s from using your product. If you know what those outcomes are, you are able to map out a journey in terms of success milestones the customer must reach to get there.

As Lincoln Murphy says, success milestones can be both product- and customer-centric, and it’s important to understand the difference between the two.

Product or functional milestones tend to be centered around the desires of your business, and occur inside the product. These could be things like signing up for a free trial, using certain features of the product, and signing up for the first tier paid option.

Customer-centric milestones may include some of those product milestones where they make use of the features, but they also include events that lead to the customer achieving their desired outcomes. For example, if you sell software to set up an ecommerce store, “make first sale” could be a customer-centric milestone which happens after they have been through the steps, using your features to set up their store.

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Source: Sixteen Ventures

Gaps

Can you identify any gaps that potentially exist between the customer achieving their desired outcome and the milestones they need to hit to get there? How you overcome these gaps can be a key point of difference between you and your competitors.

In short, if a customer has used features of your product (for example, they have initiated a cart abandonment email sequence using your software), what happens if they don’t see a result from doing so? Could the gap lie in the content of the emails they are sending out?

Education is often the best way to mitigate any gaps in the customer success journey. So a big part of your customer success strategy should lie in not only helping the client to use your product, but to understand any best practices for doing so.

If we follow on with the cart abandonment email sequence example, you should then be putting out content that clearly explains how to create an email sequence that will get opened and get results. What types of subject lines should people use? What should they include in the email? Is timing an issue?

Besides putting out content, part of assisting customers to reach their goals could be in getting on the phone to check in on them and just ask if there’s anything they need help with. It may not be doable to call every customer, but if you can at least talk to a fair sample, you should be able to get good feedback which you can use to improve the content you put out and improve the customer journey.

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Source: Sixteen Ventures

Your Bottom Line

Every SaaS is concerned about churn. Most also want ways of increasing the revenue per customer that comes into the business, so that churn can be mitigated in ways other than achieving higher growth.

It costs money to obtain a new customer so it’s simply not sustainable to rely on bringing in new customers as your only strategy. Customer success helps by engaging the customer long before leaving may have crossed their mind. It promotes their good feelings and good will towards your company and encourages them to make the logical step to upgrade.

Besides keeping your current customers, investing in customer success can help your growth because those successful customers then refer their friends. Many big players online will say they get 80% of their new customers from their old ones.

It will take some investment on your part. You need to either add customer success to the duties of current team members or hire on people with the express duties of a customer success team. You may also need to invest in content creation that helps to bridge any gaps between your product and the success of the customer.

In the end though, you need your customers to be successful if your SaaS is also to succeed, so an investment in customer success can be an invaluable boost to your bottom line.

How do you measure customer success strategies? Grab our free tips here.

Final Thoughts

Customer success is about ensuring that your SaaS customers achieve their desired outcomes from your SaaS, and understanding that these will be as different as the differing personas of your clients.

To put a successful strategy in place, you need to clearly know who your customers are, know their goals and help them to get past any gaps that exist between implementing your product and achieving their goals.

With customer success at the heart of your business, you can reduce churn, increase the uptake of upgrades and boost your bottom line.