Archive for the ‘Getting Customers’ Category

How to Get Incredible Customer Testimonials

Monday, April 17th, 2017

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Need testimonials but not sure how to get them?

Pull up a seat. That’s exactly what we’re discussing in this post.

You know that testimonials play a huge role in the success of your business. Testimonials provide social proof. Testimonials show that not only have people used your product, but that they endorse your product.

For these reasons, testimonials are so much more convincing than your own marketing. People trust proven results, not glitzy promises.

But here’s the problem: testimonials are hard to come by. Even when people are happy with your product, they probably won’t reach out to you saying, “Hey, I want to leave a testimonial for your product.”

So, the burden rests on you to not only find people who are willing to offer testimonials, but also source the right testimonials to convert your prospects.

Mission impossible? Absolutely not. You can find incredible testimonials for your product, and I’m going to show you how. Let’s get started.

What Makes a Testimonial Incredible?

Not all testimonials are created equal.

A vague testimonial like, “I love this product” doesn’t do much to persuade a prospective customer. It doesn’t answer the all-important why?.

An over-the-top testimonial like, “This product is the best thing ever created in the history of the universe” is not effective, either. It sounds a little too enthusiastic, and prospects will immediately disregard it unless the claim is backed up by facts.

These types of testimonials are wonderful for boosting your ego, but don’t do much to push your products.

Let’s take a look at the four requirements of a quality, customer-converting testimonial.

It’s got to be credible. Your testimonials need to look like they come from actual customers and not your marketing team (it happens). Attaching photos to your testimonials is a great way to create a sense of a credibility. If you have video testimonials, that’s even better for establishing credibility. Also, make sure that you link to their business website or social media for extra credibility points.

It needs to be consumable. A testimonial doesn’t have to be short, but it should be snackable. Think of your average customer. Chances are they’re busy, they’re stressed out, and they’re trying to find the right solution for their problem, but they don’t know whether to try your product or go with the tempting offer of your competitor. They need to see testimonials that get straight to the point and answer their hesitations. Select testimonials that do just that.

It should be specific. Vague testimonials need not apply. Instead of showcasing ego-boosters on your website, social media, and email campaigns, use testimonials that give insight into what problem your product solves. “I’ve gained X amount of hours a day since using this product” is an example of a specific testimonial. In one sentence, this testimonial highlights a key benefit to using your product.

It must be relatable. The testimonials should come from people who look like the rest of your audience. Choose testimonials from people who share the same job function, or a pain point that’s similar to your target customer. Prospective customers want to hear from others that they can relate to. This can make the biggest impact on their decision to choose your product.

So, you may be thinking, That’s all great, but how do you find people who are willing to give these credible, consumable, specific, and relatable testimonials? And once you find them, how do you avoid getting vague or over-the-top testimonials?

I’m glad you asked. Let’s talk about how to get the best testimonials for your brand. I’ll break it down into two parts: asking for testimonials and then finding testimonials that already exist.

Here’s a checklist for getting incredible customer testimonials.

1. How to Ask for Testimonials

When you need to beef up your testimonials page, here’s how to find willing endorsements:

Via Email

Your email list is the perfect place to find testimonials for your product. If you’ve segmented your list into prospects and customers, consider emailing your current customers and asking for testimonials.

But don’t just ask for a testimonial.

A lot of people shy away from giving testimonials because they don’t know what to say. It’s a lot of pressure.

So, instead of asking for a testimonial, call it feedback. And then prompt them. A few questions you may want to ask:

  • What has been the biggest benefit of using our product?
  • What results have you seen since purchasing our product?
  • What would you tell other people about our product?

You can also reach out to trial users who haven’t become full-fledged customers yet. In your welcome email, ask for feedback:

  • Why did you sign up for our service?

This immediate request for feedback comes at a time when the user is very engaged in your product, so you’ll score a lot more answers.

When you receive feedback that you can use in a testimonial, shoot over another email asking for permission to publish their words as a testimonial. Keep it casual but grateful, for example, “Hey, thanks so much for your feedback. It was outstanding. I’d love to use your feedback in a testimonial. Here’s what I’ll use on my site: [their testimonial]. Would you mind?”

Chances are, they’ll agree.

Over Social Media

Ask for testimonials over social media. Here are a couple of ideas you can try:

On your Facebook business page, create a tab for collecting reviews.

Run a video contest where you ask users to explain why they love your product. You can offer a prize to the most creative video, but give everyone who participates a reward (such as a discount code, a free upgrade, or a free consultation).

In Your App

Prompt for reviews at the appropriate time during the user’s lifecycle. You should time your ask to coincide with maximum engagement, for example after the user has tested your product but is still invested enough to leave feedback.

2. How to Find Existing Testimonials

You don’t have to solicit all testimonials. Some testimonials exist without you prodding them. Here’s how to find them:

Monitor Your Name

Use a tool to monitor every mention of your business or products. There are a ton of social media monitoring tools you can choose from, such as HootSuite, TweetReach, and Social Mention. When you find people who have a positive review of your product, reach out to them. Ask if they’ll provide a testimonial that you can use on your site.

Review Sites/ Forums

Stalk sites and message boards populated by your users. When you see a positive review or shout out, reach out to that person and ask for a testimonial.

But, even though it’s tempting, don’t copy and paste any reviews you find on third-party sites. These reviews are owned by the user and licensed to the site that they are on, so you could get in legal trouble if you lift these reviews and place them directly on your site.

Your Blog

If you have a blog, the comments section can be the perfect place to find glowing customer testimonials. As a courtesy, you can also contact the commenter before displaying their comments as a testimonial.

Where to Display Testimonials

Now that you have testimonials, let’s discuss where to place them for maximum impact. While you may have a dedicated testimonial page, I suggest that you also place testimonials other places, too. That’s because not every prospect will see your dedicated testimonials page.

On Your Home Page

Proudly display testimonials on your home page. Think of ways you can incorporate testimonials to nudge on-the-fence prospects into trying your product.

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Image Courtesy of Canva

On Your Social Media Page

Integrate testimonials into your cover photo on your social media account.

On Paid Advertisements

Incorporate testimonials in your marketing campaigns on search engines and social media.

On Your “About Us” Page

Spice up your “About” page with testimonials that increase trust.

On Your “Contact Us” Page

Instill confidence before they contact you by posting up a few testimonials on your contact us page.

On a Dedicated Testimonial Page

How can I forget the dedicated testimonial page? Even if not everyone will venture over to see it, it’s still a good idea to have one if you’ve collected at least one dozen testimonials that meet the four requirements we discussed above.

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Image Courtesy of Docusign

Additional Resources

Check out these extra resources before you go:

Don’t forget to download this customer testimonial checklist!

What is Lead Nurturing and How Does It Work?

Monday, March 20th, 2017

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You’ve probably heard a lot about lead nurturing, and you’re thinking to yourself, Should I use lead nurturing? And exactly what is it?

Lead nurturing is perhaps the most effective tool for building a stronger relationship with your potential customer. If you’ve ever struggled to close the sale, you need to develop a lead nurturing strategy.

In this post, we’re discussing the “what is” and “how to” of lead nurturing, so that you can turn your leads into customers. Let’s get started.

Here are 6 lead nurturing emails you should send:

What Is Lead Nurturing?

Lead nurturing is all about building a relationship with your audience, and then moving that lead in the right direction.

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How Is Lead Nurturing Different From Lead Generation?

As a business, you’re no doubt familiar with the notion of generating leads. Leads mean customers, and the only way to grow your business is to get customers for your business.

But lead generation is different from lead nurturing. It’s one thing to attract people who are interested in your services, but quite another to convert the curious into customers. It takes a different strategy to get customers than it does to get leads.

That strategy is called lead nurturing, and it’s where you’ll spend the majority of your pre-onboarding time.

During lead nurturing, you’ll build a relationship with your audience so they learn to trust you, and eventually take the lead into trying your services.

It’s a shocking statistic that 79% of leads never become customers. The reason? These leads were never nurtured by the brand, and thus, fell through the cracks.

It’s important to generate leads, whether you do so through aggressive outbound marketing techniques or through a somewhat friendlier inbound marketing strategy. However, it’s also important to have a plan for what to do with your leads once you have them on the hook. What’s the next step after they arrive on your website?

What Are the Benefits of Lead Nurturing?

Let’s take a look at why lead nurturing is so effective.

You’re utilizing buyer psychology. Most of the people who arrive on your website aren’t ready to buy from you immediately. They may want to learn more about what you offer, and they want to compare your prices. They’re simply not ready to “show you the money” just yet. So, the best plan of action is to offer something valuable for free (i.e. a trial, a digital download, a consultation), and then nurture until they’re finally convinced and ready to buy from you.

You’re respecting your audience’s space. Hard sells scare away would-be customers. No one likes to feel rushed into making a decision. And rushing your audience can often backfire because they may end up getting something that they don’t want.

You have an opportunity to build the audience’s confidence in your brand. Your leads are suspicious. They’re not sure your product fits their needs. They don’t know if you’re going to scam them. With lead nurturing, you’re able to give the audience a chance to learn more about you, your values, and your products.

You can develop long-lasting engagement with your audience. By investing in your leads, you’ll create more of connection with them.

How Does Lead Nurturing Work?

You may be tempted to think of lead nurturing as the middle step process between lead generation and sale. But it’s actually easier to think of lead nurturing as a series of steps, and not just one. Here’s a very basic lead nurturing model:

Lead Generation:

To generate leads, you create a Facebook ad and promote a free resource guide.

First Contact:

George signs up for your mailing list to download your free resource guide. Now that you have his email address and permission to market to him, you send him a welcome email.

Continued Education:

You send emails to help George learn more about your product. You may also send case studies, testimonials, webinar invitations, and more to educate George.

How to Create a Lead Nurturing Program

Now, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of how to create a nurturing program that works for your leads.

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Understand Your Customer’s Lifecycle

The first step to a successful lead nurturing program is to understand your customer’s lifecycle.

With your previous customers’ data in hand, see if you can pinpoint your average lifecycle. If you offer multiple products, lifecycles may vary. Ask questions like:

  • From initial introduction, how long is it before most people buy?
  • What prompts leads to become customers?
  • What are our most effective lead generating tools, and why?

Create a Nurturing Pathway for Each Customer Persona

Do you offer multiple products?

Do you have multiple customer personas?

Do you have multiple lead generating techniques?

If the answer is “yes” to any of the above, you should develop multiple nurturing pathways.

For example, if you attracted a lead with a free eBook, your nurturing pathway may include an email series where you offer a case study of your theories in action, or a checklist to accompany the eBook.

In another example, let’s say you attracted a lead who signed up for a trial of your product. In an effort to nurture the lead, you’ll send them a series of automated emails during their trial to boost their success with your product.

And, in a final example, suppose you offer multiple products — but your lead is only interested in one of those products. Instead of sending generalized, untargeted content that promotes all of your products, you’ll automatically enroll the lead into a track for that specific product which takes him or her from vague interest to purchase.

Create a Series of Emails to Nurture the Customer

The bulk of your nurturing will be in the inbox. While you can also use SMS and social media for nurturing, your best one-to-one relationship building will be via email.

Create emails that do the following:

Educate your leads. Provide them with so much information about your product that you answer all of their questions and topple their doubts.

Activate your leads. It shouldn’t just be a one-way communication where you’re doing all the speaking. The best way to nurture leads is to get them involved with your brand. This way, you’ll establish a relationship. To activate, simply invite them into a dialogue. Ask for feedback. Solicit questions. Be open.

The best emails are:

Short, sweet, and to the point. Don’t ramble.

Informative. The subscriber should always be empowered by your email.

Actionable. End each email with a call to action so that the lead knows what to do next.

Other Ways to Nurture Leads

Although email is effective, it isn’t the only way to nurture leads. You can also do the following:

Use Your Blog

Your blog will be a great resource for your lead nurturing efforts. You can create blog topics that answer questions and concerns, and present it to your leads in an ongoing attempt to market your brand.

Use Social Media

Social media is another avenue for marketing leads. For example, you can use Facebook to remarket to people who’ve visited your page in the past 90 days but didn’t buy. It’s a great strategy for capitalizing off of a lead’s demonstrated interest in your brand/ products.

Over to You

What is your favorite lead nurturing strategy?

Don’t forget to download this list of lead nurturing emails you should send:

How to Leverage the Product Adoption Curve for a Successful Launch

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Launching a product is the hardest part about running a SaaS business. Once you have a few people using your product, you can solicit feedback and referrals. You can iterate and refine. You can use your first users as sources of knowledge so as to capture and impress future users.

But how do you find those first users? How do you start from zero?

When the ride-sharing app Uber started, they were giving out free rides. Seems reasonable, right? It’s common for SaaS products to give something free to new users in hopes of turning them into paying users. But Uber took a slightly different approach.

Uber gave out free rides to people during Austin’s SXSW Conference. Attendees of the conference were young, tech-savvy people with money to experiment on new things. They were also struggling to get around a place that was short on taxis.

(If growth hacking is a subject that interests you, you should definitely read more about Uber. They are consistently used as an example in startups and business schools on growing scalable products.)

Instead of spending millions giving free rides all over the country, Uber focused on potential customers who were most likely to adopt the product. They could maximize their marketing dollars by focusing on the people who would help their product grow. Not only did they capture their first users, but they found the right users who would carry their product onward.

Uber took advantage of the product adoption curve.

Make users adopt your product faster by proving these critical benefits.

What is the product adoption curve?

Communication scholar and sociologist Everett M. Rogers learned that not everyone is willing to adopt a new product immediately, especially a disruptive product. But that doesn’t mean product adoption is unpredictable. We can group consumers based on how quickly they adopt (or are willing to adopt) a new product.

Some customers will adopt a product the moment it becomes available. They were likely anticipating the product and following its development before its release. On the other end, some people will adopt a product only once everyone else has.

As a whole, product adopters can be plotted on a bell-shaped curve (also called the Rogers Adoption Curve) that looks like this.

product-adoption-curve

Note that this curve only includes people who actually adopt a product – not all people. For instance, someone far removed from your target customer wouldn’t be included because people don’t adopt products that aren’t relevant to them.

Innovators the first 2.5% of users to adopt the product

These are risk-takers who are willing to try an unproven product. They are not guinea pigs or lab rats, however. They are well-informed followers of the brand or technology. Technically, they are taking risks by adopting the product early (which is likely incomplete and buggy), but they understand those risks.

Demographically speaking, innovators are usually young, financially stable, and have close contact with other innovators (it’s usually a close community).

Early Adopters the next 13.5% of users to adopt the product

Early adopters jump in based on the positive response of the innovators. Again, these are educated users. Many are industry opinion leaders with followings or audiences of their own.

These people are generally young, financially stable, and socially outgoing. They differ from innovators because they are discrete and focused about their adoption preferences. That is, they aren’t willing to try any product, just this product.

Early majority the next 34% of users to adopt the product

These are careful consumers who insulate themselves from risk by letting other people try products first. They don’t want to be the last adopters, but they aren’t willing to waste money on a buggy product or a product that never builds a user base to support itself.

Whereas innovators and early adopters are waiting for triggers to adopt (product release or innovator approval), the early majority has a longer adoption period. They rely on recommendations from the two earlier groups and each other.

Late majority the next 34% of users to adopt the product

These people only accept products once they become commonplace, as they approach product adoption with a high degree of skepticism. They aren’t just skeptical about a particular product. They are skeptical about all innovation.

Demographically, they aren’t willing to take financial risks. They do not easily accept recommendations from earlier adopters, and offer little opinion leadership (meaning their recommendations to other people don’t hold much value).  

Laggards the final 16% of users to adopt a product

This is the final group to adopt a product. At this point, the product has been available and commonly used for quite some time. People in this category often have an aversion to change. They aren’t willing to try new things and tend to be older in age.

Laggards have little to no contact with anyone who would be considered an innovator or an early adopter. They only adopt the product out of necessity (example: “I have to use Facebook because it’s the only place to see pictures of my grandkids”).

Keep in mind that people only fit into these categories in the context of a particular product. Just because someone was the first to buy the iPhone doesn’t mean they’re the first to install solar panels, or try that new hamburger restaurant. Adopters can be innovators for one product and laggards for another.

How can you take advantage of the product adoption curve?

Hopefully you have an ideal customer profile (also called a buyer persona) put together. This profile should describe your perfect customer – the type of person who would receive the most value from your product.

To take advantage of the product adoption curve, focus on a subset of your ideal customer. You want to target people who will receive the most value and be likely to try new things. If you sell a disruptive product (a product that changes the way a problem is solved or solves a new problem), you need to drill down as deep as possible because most people resist fundamental change.

This focus should happen early in your product development. When you envisioned your product, you likely thought of a dozen features that would create a robust platform, and then had to scale down to your minimum viable product.

Consider your innovators and early adopters when you plan development. What type of features do they need? For instance, UberEATS is Uber’s food delivery service. They could have started with food delivery before ride-sharing, but they had to consider the adoption curve. Innovators and early adopters needed rides more than food and could be targeted.

Notice Uber’s growth on this chart. They grew steadily until July of 2013, then took a sharp upturn. At this point, the innovators and early adopters had drive product adoption to the point where the early majority jumped in.

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Image: uber.com

Furthermore, develop your product and prioritize features that drive adoption. Your product should be easy to use and share, and simple to understand. It should fit seamlessly into your customer’s’ current lives (as much as possible, that is).

Most importantly, you can drive adoption by making your product more valuable in some way than the alternative. The difference doesn’t have to be economic. It could offer more social prestige or save time, but it has to be better in some way than whatever else is available.

Drive adoption of your product by building these important features into your product.

If you consider your ideal customer and develop your product so it’s likely to spread, you’ll position it nicely for quick adoption. The faster a product is adopted by earlier adopters, the quicker it will move through the remainder of potential users. The trick is to please the innovators first so they adopt quickly.

That isn’t the end of your struggle, however. SaaS products have another hurdle: customer retention. Retaining customers is a critical way to acquire new ones, as happy customers spread your message to their friends.

When you’re ready to focus on retention, get your invitation to Retained.

How SaaS Can Harness Influencer Marketing

Monday, January 9th, 2017

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You’re marketing your business, but you’ve become stuck. Maybe you’re trying to break into the scene and don’t have any fans. Maybe you’ve hit a wall and can’t seem to raise your profile.

In either case, you need a boost. You’re already using email marketing or social media marketing. You need something to accelerate your growth and capture more fans and customers.

Influencer marketing is the strategy you need.

Get the bonus content:Use our free pitch template to reach out to potential influencers.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is pretty simple. You’re exposed to it countless times a day in one form or another.

There’s a reason Nike’s Air Jordan is one of the best selling sneakers of all time – it’s been closely linked to basketball legend Michael Jordan (so close it’s named after him). It comes with his endorsement.

And endorsements are a big deal. Kristen Matthews, Director of Marketing at influencer intelligence app GroupHigh says “People are wired to trust a third party recommendation more than someone talking about themselves. Whether it’s a guy at a cocktail party trying to promote himself for a date or a brand trying to convince a consumer that they are the best—it’s all the same.”

According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising report, we’re far more likely to trust recommendations than any other form of advertising, even if we know the recommendations are part of a marketing program.
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Image: marketingcharts.com

Basically, influencer marketing is the leveraging of key leaders to promote your brand. It means using someone else’s audience to grow your own by having the influencer share your content to their fans or make an outright recommendation of your business.

Influencer marketing is leveraging other people’s audiences to help grow your own.

An influencer is someone with an audience that’s similar to your own. If you don’t have much of an audience yet, target influencers who have audiences similar to who you think your audience should be.

How do you find influencers?

You don’t need a giant list of influencers. In fact, due to the majority illusion, you only need a few. Research from the USC Information Sciences Institute found that it only takes a few influential people to create an appearance that everyone is talking about your brand.

This means you don’t have to build a giant list of potential influencers. You should target a small list of people who would make the best symbiotic relationships (part of working with an influencer is providing value to them as well, but more on that in a minute).

Finding influencers isn’t an easy task. 75% of marketers say identifying influential people is the hardest part of performing outreach.
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Image: emarketer.com

  1. They’re active – Don’t waste your time on anyone who hasn’t blogged or Tweeted in more than two months. They might be influential, but they aren’t useful if they aren’t engaging with other people.
  1. They aren’t too big – Sorry, Bill Gates isn’t going to plug your B2B SaaS. He won’t respond because you don’t offer anything substantial in return for his time. Instead of going after the biggest fish, approach smaller influencers who are willing to partner for your level of reciprocity. As your audience grows, approach more influential people.
  1. They’re relevant – Sharing a similar audience isn’t enough. An influencer’s brand needs to relate to your brand. For example, a social media scheduling tool would have the same audience as social media manager, but the manager isn’t likely to plug your product because he wants to steer people to his services.
  1. They must have an engaged audience – Potential influencers need to have an audience that actually pays attention to them. There are plenty of “influential” people with thousands of followers (some of which may be fake, purchased accounts), but they never get any likes, comments, shares or retweets. These people aren’t any use to you. Engagement is tough to measure. All you can do is look through the influencers feed to see if fans are active.

Now that you know what makes a good influencer, let’s find some.

Step 1: Start your list with people you already know

There’s a chance you already know of several influential people in your industry who share the same audience. Put them on the list right away. Pitching them will be easier than pitching unknown people because you’re familiar with their work. Add their names, URLs, and Twitter handles to a spreadsheet.

Step 2: Use an influencer scoring index

An influencer scoring index is an application that runs algorithms on different online personas to determine their influence on the web. They aren’t perfect, but they’re good for inspiration. Check out PeerIndex, Followerwonk, Klout and Kred.

Step 3: Search for relevant topics in BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a tool that shows you the most shared pages on the web. Search for a basic topic that an influential person in your niche is sure to have covered. For example, a sales expert must have written something about setting up a sales funnel. You would search for “sales funnel” and see who wrote the most shared articles.

Step 4: Join LinkedIn and Facebook groups

Groups on these two social networks are often run influential people. Even if their creators are not especially influential, they are definitely trying to be influential, which means they’ll be willing to work with you. Search for your niche, join as many groups as you can and poke around.

Step 5: Scour Twitter and follow accounts

Finding influential people on Twitter is simple. First, search for a keyword in the search box. You can use a hashtag if you’re sure an influencer in your niche would have used it. Second, click the “People” filter. This will bring up a list of account. Start investigating and following each.

Step 6: Look at the retweets/shares

Follow people in your industry, even if you don’t think they are influential. Watch who they retweet and share. Do you notice any trends or patterns? Whose name pops up in conversations?

At this point you should have at least five or 10 names on your list. It’s alright if you have a lot more than that, too. All niches are different; some are more popular than others. If you have a lot, pick out the top 10 that are most likely to work with you.

How can you partner with influencers?

Working with influencers is about building a relationship. They’ll expect you to give just as much as you take. The key is to become a valuable person to them.

The best way to open a dialogue with potential influencers is to give them something without asking for any compensation. You could offer free exposure by asking for a quote to fit into your next article. Or you could start with a simple, “Hey I loved your post on [topic], I shared it wherever I could.”

Make sure to find other ways to pop up on your influencer’s radar. For instance, you could go through some of their Twitter history and retweet whatever’s relevant to your audience. You could link to the influencer a few times from your website (then send a quick “Hey, just to let you know” email).

Any correspondence with the influencer should be personal. It’s OK to use a template email to reach out to new people, but customize it considerably for the receiver. Make sure you’re familiar with their work and their brand so you can say meaningful things.

You should be focusing on the top 10 people who can make a difference to your brand, not hundreds of people. So invest time and effort into building new relationships.

Finally, be open with the influencer about your goals. They know how the world works too. They want to grow their brand as well. Tell them that you’re looking to partner with influential people and you’re happy to reciprocate wherever you can.

This free pitch template will help you contact influencers and build relationships.

The Result

Over time, you’ll build a network of VIPs who mean a lot to your brand. You’ll notify them of content before you tell your email list or social fans.

You’ll give them opportunities to comment on your content. You’ll give them chances to test your new features and give feedback before anyone else. You might even give them discounts on your service or commissions on affiliate sales.
In time, your influencers will become partners who genuinely want to grow your brand.

7 Mistakes You’re Making in Retaining Your Customers

Monday, October 17th, 2016

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Does your SaaS have a “leakage” problem?

Retention and churn figures go hand in hand and are key metrics for SaaS, yet knowing what they are and doing something about them are quite different things. Many SaaS are failing miserably when it comes to retention and find themselves in a routine pattern of trying to plug up a leaky boat.

Need a quick retention checklist? Get ours here:

If your SaaS is one of those, you may be making one of these critical mistakes which impact your retention:

#1. Your Key Focus Is Acquisition

When you think of the analogy of a sales funnel, where your new acquisitions come in at the top and the width narrows on the way through as fewer people move all the way through with you, retention problems can be akin to having a hole at the bottom of your funnel.

It doesn’t matter how many new acquisitions you keep pulling in at the top if you have that leakage problem at the bottom.

One of the important things to remember is that churn isn’t the problem, it’s the symptom of something else going on in your business. For example, if your focus is largely acquisition, but you’re then leaving customers to fend for themselves once you’ve got them onboard, there’s a good chance you’ll see this result in churn issues.

Of course you need to give focus to acquisition, but that’s not where your plan should end. Customer success journey mapping is a great strategy for laying out a plan which will give you that holistic view of how the customer moves through your organization, not just a view which says “get them onboard at all costs.”

Client Success looked at journey mapping recently and defined some best practices for preparing maps:

  1. Always look at the journey from the customer perspective.
  2. Identify any handoffs between departments in your customer journey.
  3. Define your customer success milestones.
  4. Share your map with trusted clients and have them validate it.
  5. Measure and optimize regularly.

Journey mapping helps to reinforce that you can’t just put all your efforts into acquisition, then sit back, hoping the customer wants to stick around. As you can see from the Client Success example below, there are touch points that go with each stage so you’ve got to put that work in.

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#2. You’re Not Asking for Engagement

No matter how you look at it, a customer who is not using your product is probably not going to keep paying for it. You might think “oh well, it mustn’t have been the right app for them”, but how would they even know that if they haven’t had the opportunity to try?

Look, we’re bombarded with new information, emails, content and the latest, most exciting new technology constantly. There’s a good chance that someone not in the habit of using your app simply forgets to put it to work, especially when it’s not yet part of their daily ritual. Next thing, they see you billing their credit card, think “oh, that’s right, well I’m not even using that” and they cancel.

You may have been able to prevent this simply by asking for engagement from their very first interaction with you. When Totango did some research on SaaS use, they found around 50% of customers weren’t using the service they were paying for. This immediately puts those people at high risk of cancelling.

You’re not going to win them all, you just can’t. However, you can do your best to engage them while you have them and hopefully ensure that more people become active users.

Some ways of asking for engagement include:

  • Push notifications for apps.
  • Emails encouraging customers to try different features.
  • Phone calls from your customer success team.
  • Incentivizing product tours (for example, Dropbox offers free space for taking their product tour).

 

You need to give yourself the best chance of getting in front of the customer and demonstrating the value of your app.

#3. You’re Not Delivering Value

It could be that your app simply doesn’t deliver what users want. It happens, though hopefully you did enough research before producing it that this simply isn’t the case. The other possibility is that the customer simply doesn’t see the value of your app, a possibility which can certainly happen if you haven’t asked for engagement.

How will the customer realize value if they don’t try it and see it?

It comes back to understanding what your customer success milestones are (those key steps which a customer has to take to see value from your app) and driving engagement so that they reach them.

#4. You’re Inaccessible

How easy is it for your customers to get help or to submit a support ticket? Some SaaS are notoriously difficult, with queries not being followed up unless the customer goes back and asks, or with deciphering how to get help being difficult in the first place.

Most people can’t be bothered spending money on something which they’re going to need help with, but even more so if that help is hard to find.

The solution is to make getting help easy and obvious. The customer shouldn’t have to click around looking or wait for lengthy periods of time for a response.

Part of this is accountability too. From time to time there are always bugs or upgrades happening within an app and being upfront and accessible shows that you’re transparent and probably a trustworthy bet for the customer.

#5. You’re Not Personalizing

Tobin Lehman described failing to personalize the experience as “the biggest” SaaS retention mistake. Why? As he points out, this can be explained using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. We’re not buying the software because we want software, we’re buying it to solve a need that we have and for each customer, that need may be different.

“The truth is that your SaaS not only fulfills some tactical or basic needs, it also fills some emotional needs higher up the hierarchy. And in the customer experience many marketers neglect this hidden contract with the consumer that your product is doing more than providing a service. It’s providing an avenue to the experience of this person’s daily life.”

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The suggestion is that your retention process should heavily focus on developing relationships with your customers and being able to offer a personal touch.

Depending on your business model, you may not be able to offer large-scale personal service, but you can make your interactions more personalized by segmenting customers appropriately and keeping your messages to them relevant.

Instead of blanket email blasts, try sending out emails based on behaviors and activities. This helps to convey a message that you “know” your customer better.

#6. You’re Not Proactive

Ideally, you don’t want to be waiting until there is some kind of issue to take action. You need to be monitoring constantly and noticing potential churn issues before they have turned into a full-blown churn event.

For example, are you monitoring for expired or cancelled credit cards? This is a common reason for churn, but by using the right software (such as Retained for any SaaS using Stripe), you can send out early alerts to your customers to remind them to update their credit card details before their next billing cycle.

You should also be monitoring sentiment about your app and general chatter about it (on social media, for example, or through surveying your customers). If there are complaints, comments or requests which come up regularly, you may have an issue that should be addressed early before it turns into a cause for churn.

Another big one is any changes in the pattern of use of the customer. If they were usually a twice weekly user, but have only logged in once over the last month, this reduction in use may indicate they’re not happy anymore and looking to move on. This is where you need to be reaching out and just asking the customer how things are going.

#7. You’re Not Focusing on Features that Matter

It’s almost always the case with SaaS that, over time, you’ll find certain features are much more important to your customers than others. These are your “moneymakers” and are a large part of why the customer decided to sign up with you.

If you’re devoting a whole lot of time to new, extra features, but neglecting any essential fixes or updates to those core features, you’re setting yourself up to annoy customers and trigger churn. Want retention? Devote your main focus to those features which really matter to customers.

Have you nailed customer retention? Grab our free checklist:

Final Thoughts

We all want better customer retention, but remember if you’re experiencing more churn than you’d like, that is not the real problem you have. Churn is a symptom of something else somewhere that you’re not meeting the needs of the customer or not even getting out of the gate there because you haven’t engaged the customer in the first place.

Map out a plan which includes the entire customer journey (not just for acquisition!), and look for ways to better engage or meet their needs. The hope is that your funnel turns into more of a flask, with no significant numbers cancelling.