Archive for the ‘Customer Insights’ Category

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.

How to Hire for Customer Success

Monday, November 28th, 2016

featured_how-to-hire-for-customer-success

Are you looking at expanding your team to include dedicated customer success people?

Many SaaS are acknowledging the importance of customer success and are moving to hire teams dedicated to it. As we’ve written about previously, these are not teams who provide a customer support role, there is a big difference:

“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.”

In any kind of customer-facing role, you don’t want just anyone filling in. For a start, anyone who deals with customers should be of a “built to serve” kind of mentality. Secondly, if we look specifically at customer success, you need people who are suited to the proactive nature of the role.

Here’s how we think SaaS should hire for customer success:

What does “built to serve” mean?

What should you look for in a customer success person? Get our checklist here:

As we mentioned, one of the number one traits for anyone who deals directly with customers should be that they are “built to serve.”

You’ve probably noticed that there are large numbers of people employed in some kind of customer service role who tend to be fairly light on the “service” aspect, and this is exactly what we mean. Your customer success people need to have a heart for serving others, an innate drive to get the best results for their customers.

As Glide Consulting state: “Being built to serve means caring about the customer’s journey. Each customer will have their own journey, but they usually follow a similar path. At any point, the CSM’s role is to anticipate problems, solve them, and make the customer experience the product’s value.”

The fact is, we’re all made up differently and you’ll find that that person on your team who is excellent at bringing in new business will probably struggle with customer success, and vice versa. Glide Consulting also point out that “built to sell” people are on the opposite end of the spectrum with a completely different set of skills. They enjoy conquering numbers and thrive on deal-closing, but would probably struggle if asked to take on the “servant” role.

Here are some other traits of “built to serve” people:

Empathy

Your customer success people need to be genuinely interested in people and getting to the root of any issues they may have. They need to anticipate needs and be good readers of customers’ feelings.

They “give a damn”

Amanda Saunders of Totango points out that good customer success people have a strong desire to win, both for their customers and their company. They probably have a history of excellence and will take on customers with no less enthusiasm than what any founders before them displayed (possibly even better!).

Hire someone who is truly invested in the success of your business, who wants to see your clients, and therefore your business, do well.

gone-with-the-wind

Choose people who DO give a damn – Image source: The Guardian

They are problem-solvers

People who stick firmly by-the-book are not usually the best-suited to a customer success role. Good customer success people need to think creatively and look for ways to work with the customer which don’t necessarily follow a rigid set of rules. They are agile and prepared to quickly change direction if need be.

Communication skills

Good communication lies at the heart of any excellent customer experience. Your customer success team need to be active listeners, ask thoughtful questions and be clear communicators in all they do.

Language also plays an important role here; the best customer success people instinctively know how to use language appropriately which can engage the customer, foster their loyalty or de-escalate any kind of issues.

Well-organized

Your customer success people need to be highly proactive as well as responsive if the need arises. Every customer should feel like they are a high priority and not languishing somewhere far down a to-do list. This means you need people who are very organized.

They love to teach

A core role of customer success team members is to help guide customers through their journey with your company so that they can realise success with your product. This means you need people who enjoy teaching and are able to present things to customers clearly. Lots of patience is also a plus!

Critical and strategic thinkers

Your team members need to have good skills when it comes to thinking things through when interacting with customers. They need to form the bridge between what the customer’s needs are and what the overall company goals are.

Supporting Customer Success

If you’ve found the right people who are “built to serve”, then next it’s your job to make sure you’ve got the right support in place to ensure they can successfully come into the job.

A surefire way to inhibit the success of your customer success team is to be vague about what you need them to deliver or where they fit in your company. Here’s what you need to support customer success:

Know exactly why you need them

As we’ve mentioned, customer success is a role very distinct from customer support. Make sure you have clear deliverables drawn up for each so that there is no blurring of the lines. For most SaaS, customer success is going to have goals revolving around engagement and retention make sure their deliverables are specifically things they have control over.

Make sure you have a clear understanding and description of the role you need. This will not only help your team to succeed, but it will help you to identify the most appropriate people with the traits we outlined above.

Know where they fit

In SaaS startups, you may not have large departments for each function just yet, but once you do, you’ll need customer success people who are capable of communicating and collaborating across all of them and presenting a case in the interests of the customer. Technical aptitude and passion for the product can be useful here too.

Make it clear to customer success team members where they fit, who they need to be communicating with and what they should expect from them.

Support Wellness

Wellness is important for employees in any role, but you do need to be mindful of people in those customer-facing roles, particularly as they may spend a lot of time dealing with issues or assuaging unhappy people. This can be draining work, so it’s important to recognize that and provide a safe space for work/life balance and simply taking breaks.

As Ryan Engley talked about in an interview with HelpScout: “We need to challenge ourselves to help nurture and grow individuals in those roles, or they’ll wear down and look for careers elsewhere.”

young-woman-relaxing-during-massage-therapy

Who should you hire for customer success? Get our checklist here:

Final Thoughts

Hiring for customer success means not hiring just anyone to fill a role, it means identifying those who are “built to serve” and have the kinds of proactive traits required of the job.

Your customer success people should be invested in the success of the customer and the company. They should be top communicators and savvy problem-solvers. They should also have a knack for identifying needs, often even before the customer has identified them themselves.

For SaaS owners, supporting customer success in the company is key. Have clear goals for the customer success roles and know exactly where they fit in your company. Provide them with the space to achieve a healthy balance.

How to Deal With Negative Feedback in Your SaaS

Monday, November 14th, 2016

featured_how-to-deal-with-negative-feedback-in-your-saas

You can’t be friends with everyone.

Some people aren’t going to like you. Some customers will walk away disappointed.

These are the realities of running a business. It doesn’t matter how strongly you prioritize customer service and customer success, some customers are going to complain.

Young startups feel this the most. They only have a handful of customers, so a few complaints are a blow to their egos. They can’t turn to a user base of thousands for assurances. Plus, resources are tight. They can’t provide as much of their attention as they would like.

But that doesn’t mean that negative feedback should be ignored.

Your customer service policy should be a carefully designed plan. Download our free guide to learn how to create yours.

All Feedback Is Useful

Anytime a customer or user takes the time to send you feedback, you should rejoice.

Sure, sometimes the customer will be upset. They might even be angry or use unconstructive language.

Just keep in mind that the customer is giving you an opportunity to learn; an opportunity to improve your product. If you can set your ego aside and critically look at your product and business, any bit of feedback can be used to strengthen your SaaS.  

Positive feedback is encouraging, but it rarely helps. You already know what you’re good at. Negative feedback, however, points you at the areas you can improve. A complaint is a big neon sign that says “FIX THIS TO MAKE MORE MONEY.”

You’re likely familiar with the Lean Startup methodology. The build-measure-learn feedback is an exercise most SaaS businesses use to improve their product. User feedback is a big part of the “learn” phase of product iteration.

build-measure-learn-loop

Source: theleanstartup.com

The beauty of software is that you can change the product in response to complaints. So unlike physical products where negative feedback is best minimized and handled quietly, SaaS complaints are a chance to make your product and service better.

Understand the Complaint

Before you can take steps to respond to negative feedback, you have to understand why the customer is complaining. Something made them upset. What triggered the behavior?

In many cases, the original complaint will tell you everything you need.

Let’s say a customer signed up for your payroll software, but didn’t realize that you specialize in helping small businesses. His company is too large and requires elaborate features that you don’t provide. He may label you “ineffective” and “unfinished.”

It’s obvious from his complaint that his challenges are real. He is frustrated because he purchased a product that doesn’t help him. You could dismiss the customer as a poor fit, but that doesn’t help anyone. Instead, use his feedback to improve your marketing (perhaps your website copy) to make your product’s intended use more clear.

In other cases, customers won’t be as clear. They’ll fail to provide details and use general words like “disappointed,” “unprofessional,” and “dissatisfied.” These complaints don’t help you solve the customer’s problem or improve your product.

If you don’t feel that the customer has provided enough information, ask for more. Don’t be condescending or overly suspicious, but don’t admit fault or apologize until you know the full story.

Respond Respectfully

When we’re emotionally investing in something, we have a tendency to take negative feedback to heart. Resist this urge at all costs. Respond to the feedback quickly, but not immediately. Give yourself and the complainer at least two hours to cool off. (Exceptions apply here. If the customer is experiencing severe hardships – like revenue loss – get on the phone.)

Always respond in an intelligent, thoughtful manner. You care what they have to say, so make sure the sentiment comes across.

If you are replying publicly, be especially cautious (email is considered public; it’s easy to forward around). Speak in terms of solutions, not problems. Make sure to thank the customer for the feedback, no matter how much that sentence hurts to write/say. All feedback is a gift.

Sometimes a customer will be wrong. They’ll misremember, misread, or insist that you help them in a ludicrous manner. If you assessed the situation objectively, it’s alright to correct the customer. Don’t feel the need to apologize for everything, but recognize that sometimes it’s smart to rectify a problem that isn’t your fault. In many cases, solving unrelated problems is a big part of customer success.

A few days after you have proposed a solution, follow up with the dissatisfied customer so they understand that you genuinely want to solve their problem. Ask if they have taken your advice or used your solution. Offer further help. If they don’t reply, don’t harass them.

Even if you can’t provide a solution, respond anyway. The service recovery paradox is when a customer thinks better of a company after the company has apologized for a mistake than if the company had never made the mistake in the first place. It doesn’t work for big failures and it doesn’t work repeatedly for the same customer, but a failure on your end does not instantly end a relationship.

service-recovery-paradox

A Harris Poll survey found that responding to negative feedback online is a smart tactic. 33% of people who leave negative reviews online will post a positive review if a company responds, and 34% will delete their original review. The key is to respond quickly, accurately, thoughtfully, and address their complaints.

Improve Your Business

Once you have handled a complaint, your work isn’t finished. You need to catalog them so you can identify patterns.

Complaints will rarely be uniform, but they can often be solved with similar solutions. Let’s return to our example from before – the customer who wasn’t a fit for your payroll software. Perhaps you had another customer who misunderstood your product for accounting software, or a customer who wasn’t aware she could only list 15 employees.

In our example, each complaint is different, but they share a commonality: The customers purchased your software without understanding it. You should adjust your marketing to better educate your customers. This solution won’t help the complainants, but you’ll prevent future problems.

Keep in mind that anytime a customer sends negative feedback, there are several more who choose to say nothing. According to Help Scout, “a typical business hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers.” They’ll think it. They’ll tell their friends. But they won’t come to you. The smart solution is to fix whatever triggered the poor feedback so it stops happening.

Create a Feedback Process

Smart businesses use processes so they don’t solve the same problems over and over.

Create, document and implement a system to deal with negative feedback, especially if you have a large team. The process should tackle negative feedback immediately in a consistent manner.

As CSM Wire suggests, this feedback process should integrate with your customer success team. “The customer success team should also develop a library of standard messaging that can be quickly accessed during an urgent situation. Standard update and maintenance communications can be customized as necessary.”

Feedback is so important, in fact, that seeking feedback should be a part of your process. Social media is a good tool for this, but it’s also smart to build features into your app for immediate communication, like live chat, review prompts, and popup surveys.

You can build a customer service policy that deftly handles negative feedback and turns those customers into loyal fans. Download our guide to learn how.

The Takeaway

The key to handling negative feedback is to not sit idle.

If you receive feedback and fail to address it, the likelihood of churn skyrockets. Even if the problem wasn’t a big deal to the customer, your unwillingness to address it exacerbates the problem. Suddenly the customer feels unappreciated and unvalued. Instead of a polite “I need help” email, the customer publically criticizes your company on social media. Not good.

If you respond to your upset users and continually refine your process for handling feedback, you’ll retain users and squash your churn.

SaaS Pricing: When Is The Price Right?

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

featured_saas-pricing-when-is-the-price-right

There is a lot to consider when it comes to pricing your SaaS. You need to figure out what the optimum pricing will be to attract the right customers and, of course, keep your business afloat!

The short answer to the question “when is the price right?” is; when you are able to bring on board your ideal customers and sustainably grow your business.

Unfortunately, while the answer sounds simple, the practice of getting there is far from it. There is no universal “formula”, nor is their any rule saying that once you’ve priced “right” the first time, you’re safe from having to re-evaluate your pricing.

Is your SaaS underpriced? Grab our quick questionnaire to find out:

Let’s take a look at considerations for your SaaS pricing:

Charge Early?

There are so many SaaS startups out there that do not charge their customers from the get-go. Sure, you’re looking to generate buzz, gather feedback and just get some users on board, but you’re opening yourself up to possible problems by not charging. For example…

How do you know that you’ve nailed product/market fit until people actually pay you for it?

We suggest that you charge early and ensure you have a product people will hand over money for. As SaaS founder and entrepreneur Jason Lemkin states: “if you don’t charge, you have no idea what people will actually pay for.”

He also points out that if you’re not charging, that early feedback you get may be entirely useless to you. How do you know those people are really “customers” until they’re willing to pay? Plenty of people sign up to something that’s free just because “free” is the right price to them.  You might have impressive-looking numbers signed on, but those really are just vanity metrics if those people aren’t handing over cash.

If you’re going to need to experiment with pricing (as many SaaS do), early on is the best time to do so. Steli Efti suggests being bold with price experiments early on. Most SaaS are their own worst “complainer” when it comes to pricing, often envisaging that “no one will want to pay that much.” What if they do?

The other thing about free is the perception it can create. Without a price tag, there’s a good chance people won’t see value in your product – a point which leads us nicely into a look at value-based pricing.

Value-Based Pricing

Value-based pricing is about coming up with a price that your customer is willing to pay. As Marketing Donut discuss, there’s no right or wrong answer and it’s a lot to do with the perception of the customer. Why do we pay more for a brand name over a home brand?

While you’re not selling groceries, your SaaS has to figure out what “value” means to your target customers too. As Lincoln Murphy says, your SaaS pricing model should be built around what the customer values which means staying away from any “commodity” metrics like storage.

Your customers only care about what’s in it for them, not considerations like how much it cost you to develop certain features. This means that the place to start with any SaaS pricing is always going to be your market, that “what’s in it for the customer.” Murphy further states: “if you base your pricing on something people find no value in, your value proposition will not be aligned with their value perception.”

Here are a few considerations that should go into value-based pricing:

  • What customer do you want to attract?
  • Where do you want to position yourself in the market?
  • Are you priced to achieve goals for the long-term value/retention of the customer?
  • What unique value do you provide that customers are willing to pay for?
  • How do you differentiate any tiers? Are those things perceived to be valuable by customers?

As we indicated earlier, you might find you need to experiment early on to find your sweet spot with pricing. The key to making it work and retaining paying customers for the long-term is to really be delivering value as it is perceived by the customer. People will pay for something which they comprehend unique value from, but will easily switch to a competitor if that is no longer the case.

What About My Competitors?

The temptation can often be for SaaS to put a lot of focus on what their competitors are doing when it comes to deciding on pricing. If you’re simply matching competitors, you’re looking at a market-based pricing model and this is often unsustainable.

How do you differentiate yourself from the rest? If it’s not based on value, you’re another “me too” SaaS and you may find this doesn’t bode well for your longevity.

What About Pricing Structure?

Good question, and this is something you may need to experiment with before you find the pricing which is “right.” Usually, SaaS are working off some kind of tier-based pricing structure, so you need to determine what those tiers look like and how they are valuable to the customer.

rsz_5

Here are some common strategies and thoughts on them:

User-based – Increasing the number of users allowed per tier is a frequent tactic of SaaS. This can work well for getting into companies, but Lincoln Murphy pointed out a flaw where it can lead to the old-fashioned view of “shelfware”, where a company has too much software sitting on a shelf. For example, if the company needs 3 users instead of the 2 users available on their current tier, they might go to the next tier which allows 7 users. They only need 3 so those extra 4 might be seen as “shelfware.”

Storage space – Apps with storage associated often offer extra for higher tiers. Again, this is very much going to depend on how valuable that is to users. You could end up with another case of perceived “shelfware” if there is a big leap in storage space that isn’t really needed, for example.

Features-based – Usually, this means customers get more features available in return for upgrading. For example, an invoice app might offer customization instead of standard, software-branded invoices. Getting this right involves a lot of research. What features do your customers care enough about to upgrade for? What do they see as valuable?

Freemium – Plenty of SaaS offer a certain set of features free, but more to customers who upgrade. This could even take the form of more storage space or users allowed to collaborate. The key to this working lies in delivering enough value at the freemium level that your customers are hooked, however, not so many features for free that they don’t upgrade.

Hubstaff illustrated this point well when they discussed their own mistake in offering a free plan. They found that free users simply brought more free users, then collectively they took up a lot of support time. One of their major conclusions? If someone values a product, they’ll pay for it. When they changed their freemium plan to $15/month, they didn’t lose all their users, they now have people happy to pay for the value they provide.

Could your SaaS be underpriced? Find out with our quick questionnaire:

Final Thoughts

There is no set “rule” or formula to follow when pricing your SaaS, however determining what value looks like to your customers and pricing based on that value is a better bet when it comes to a sustainable strategy.

If you use market-based values to come to your pricing decisions, the chances are you aren’t differentiating what you offer based on value to the customer at all. Also, you might find yourself dragged into a price war which is only heading in one direction…

Consider who your target customer is and what will really mean value to them long term. Finally, don’t be afraid to charge early and experiment with your pricing to find what works.

Engaging SaaS Customers with Targeted Content

Monday, September 5th, 2016

FEATURED_Engaging-SaaS-Customers-With-Targeted-Content

When you consider content marketing for your SaaS, what immediately springs to mind?

For many SaaS, content marketing is seen as a lead generation strategy, a way to generate interest and effectively “prove” their expertise to potential customers. This is a great idea, but if you’re not looking at content with a view over your entire customer lifecycle, you’re possibly missing out.

When you think about it, at any given time you have customers who are at various stages of their journey with your SaaS and these customers have different needs and desires when it comes to content.

If your view of content is more of a “one-size-fits-all” approach, you risk becoming irrelevant to those who are at different stages. This is where targeted content comes in…

Need content ideas for your SaaS? Grab our ideas list.

Why Targeted Content?

Targeted content means that you deliver relevant content to the right people at the right time. For example, if account records show a customer just took a certain action with you or reached a particular milestone, you might send them content which pertains to taking the next step.

To get an idea of what content and when, you’ll usually need to create content which falls under each of the phases of a typical SaaS marketing funnel:

Awareness Stage

Awareness or “top of funnel” is the stage where prospects have some kind of problem or need they’re searching for a solution for. They’ve come across your solution either via search or because they’ve heard through the grapevine that you can take care of their problem.

The usual content strategy at this stage is to provide them with a broader view of information that is relevant to their problem, or possibly to help them discover a need they didn’t realize they had (this stage may also be referred to as “discovery”). This is not usually the stage to share deep, analytical information about your solution because the prospect isn’t ready for that yet.

Middle of Funnel

At this point, the prospect is familiar with the problem and probably aware of multiple possible solutions besides yours. They’re in the “consideration” phase, looking into deeper research to determine which solution is going to be the best fit for them.

Middle of funnel content should establish you as an authority within your industry and help guide the prospect through their research. You want to establish trust and provide information specific to your solution, such as what makes you unique.

Content here may also include knowledge base topics or how-to videos; your prospect wants to know how your product works and preferably be able to see it in action to determine whether it is easy to use and has an attractive interface.

Bottom of Funnel

This is the stage where prospects are ready to make their final decision to purchase—the “conversion” stage. They will be looking for evidence that solidifies their decision to go with your SaaS such as social proof, free trials or guided demonstrations.

You might use case studies and testimonials, webinars or “master classes”, all designed to demonstrate the value of your SaaS and how customers can get the best from it. If your SaaS uses a customer success or sales team, you need to be looking at how your content at this stage supports their efforts too.

Retention

This is the next part — the “flask” into which your marketing funnel flows. We like this example as demonstrated by Moz because it is one of the few funnel examples which emphasizes the importance of not forgetting about the next stage of content.

marketing-funnel-2

For SaaS, keeping churn numbers low is a critical metric, so it’s important to make a plan which includes content for retention of current customers. The aim is to keep the customer engaged and continue to deliver something that is of value to them.

Content at this stage might include tips for getting the most of your software, how-tos, user case studies and email newsletters for subscribers.

Start by Tracking

If you want to get better at providing targeted content, you need to begin tracking usage data and segmenting customers based upon activity.

You need to understand your customer behaviors and preferences so that you can create content which is useful and relevant to them. For example, if you notice that current customers reach a certain milestone then tend to go quiet, you can focus on “next-level” content which will help them realize new heights of value.

Of course, this works when you have registered users to track. For prospects who are not yet registered, monitor the analytics for the content you are putting out and figure out what is working for getting people into your free trial. If you’re not sure what content to start with, ask people! You can only track if you’ve started with something…

Some Examples

It’s all very well talking about targeted content marketing in theory, but what does it look like when done well in practice? “Done well” is the caveat to success for any content marketing strategy; with the amount of content already being put out there, yours needs to stand up and count among the noise.

Here are some SaaS-based examples of content at different stages:

CrazyEgg

CrazyEgg uses strategies so simple, they’re genius. If you’re a newb arriving on their website for the first time, this is how you’re greeted:

crazyegg-heatmap

Easy, intriguing and immediately relevant content. Who doesn’t want to know precisely how users are interacting with their website and what they might be able to improve?

This kind of gateway content provides value to the individual immediately and helps to drive awareness of the problems they should be monitoring for. It helps to endear CrazyEgg to prospective customers because they’ve already received something useful which helps to highlight the expertise CrazyEgg can offer.

HubSpot

HubSpot is a regular purveyor of multiple types of content. When it comes to middle-of-funnel, they have got some simple solutions for prospects. Take their marketing automation solutions as an example; if you’ve reached the consideration stage there, you might be offered a quick tour to see what makes it tick. As an aside, they also offer live chat as you go through that process so prospects are able to ask any questions immediately.

hubspot-tour

Netsuite

Do you have some good customer stories to tell? Netsuite makes the most of these to produce some “conversion” content that is relatable to prospects and sells their product well.

netsuite-testimonial

Moz

Moz are another example who are content machines at all levels of the funnel. Their content is a huge asset to them because they continue to deliver valuable insights, including those aimed at people who are at a more advanced stage in their customer lifecycle.

If you’re looking for the next strategy to spice up your results, Moz probably has it either in their blog or included in their in-depth beginner’s guides.

moz-seo

What types of content should your SaaS produce? Check out our list:

Final Thoughts

If you want to make content marketing really work for your SaaS, then taking a targeted approach is a good strategy. While you might get some good hits by blanketing content and aiming at all levels of the funnel, it is much more powerful when you are able to be relevant to the stage the individual customer is at.

Start by knowing the different stages of the marketing funnel and what types of content work for each. Track user activity and content analytics, ask customers what they’re looking for and create more content to suit the stage of the user.

Targeted content is an opportunity which many are now grabbing. Get your SaaS onto it and boost your chances of getting and retaining the right customers.