Successful SaaS marketing, whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned professional, is an ongoing process. Many SaaS companies manage to land qualified customers, only to lose them in the first 90 days.
What takes the pain to a new level is that you’ve racked up some marketing costs along the way through search engine marketing, attending events, email marketing costs, and time spent working your social media networks.
How the Customer SaaS Acquisition Machine Is Supposed to Work
SaaS customer acquisition is like every machine known to man. It’s supposed to work.
Sure, it’s okay to expect an occasional ruffle in the feathers, but it’s supposed to move right over the speed bumps.
The money invested in your customers during the acquisition process is supposed to yield a return over time. Hopefully, it doesn’t take more time than you have available.
A realistic expectation is that for every dollar you spend at the front end, you should repeat $3 to $5 on the back end.
Your acquisition machine only works effectively if your customers remain customers for the long haul.
So, how long is long enough?
The answer isn’t complicated. It depends on how much it initially cost to acquire that customer.
It’s also dependent on the service/product and how long you’re being paid by your customer.
Why Are Your Customers Jumping Ship?
The good thing is that your SaaS clients are on board, otherwise, jumping ship would be a moot discussion.
SaaS customers, across the board, have gotten used to a hassle-free process where they pay no upfront licensing fees and don’t have to deal with long-term commitments.
So, this naturally works in their favor. If they’re unsatisfied or a new offer comes along, they’re free to bail.
On occasion, this is going to happen, and there’s not a lot you can do to stop the bleeding. However, by taking a closer look, there are several reasons that might be the cause for their early flight to freedom.
#1. Weak Onboarding Processes
SaaS providers, for the most part, know their products. So no problems there.
The mistake made by many providers though is thinking that a customer can learn quickly with little or no follow up.
The reality is that customers need some type of guidance, no matter how familiar they think they are with a product.
Your SaaS customers simply don’t have the time or desire to navigate a long learning curve. They’re busy trying to figure out ways to run their business as efficiently as possible.
No matter how simple you think your product is to learn and use, in most cases a new customer needs a helping hand to boost their self-confidence. Without getting the help they need to surmount the initial barriers, most customers will never be able to successfully deploy their solution.
Clients can usually figure out in a two or three month period if the business relationship is still worth pursuing.
#2. Reality and the Promise Are Miles Apart
A number of SaaS providers, in their haste to sell a product, make promises that their product fails to deliver.
SaaS is all about your customers having the confidence they need in you to continue doing business. If your product can’t deliver, your customers will look for the exit sign.
#3. False or Unfair Pricing
“Gotcha Pricing” simply doesn’t work in today’s world.
Realistically, your SaaS customers have spent quality time listening to your sales pitch and absorbing information you’ve provided. They decided to try your solution because they think it could be the right fit.
In many cases, it makes sense for you to publish your prices on your website.
The moment invoice pricing includes an adjusted, elevated, price due to data migration fees, or anything not previously discussed, clients have a built in warning system that screams foul play.
Again, they’ll be looking for a viable escape route, and you’ve given them the pass they need.
On the Analytical side of things, there are three areas that you need to keep an eye on:
- Measuring Customer Engagement – When customers are engaged, happy, and receiving the type of service they can reasonably expect, they’re likely to remain customers for the long haul.
You should have a handle on the following three things: The amount of time users spend with your product or service, how often do they come back, and how are they utilizing your service.
- Identifying Critical Risk Stages – Every client goes through a potential risk stage after making the decision to try an SaaS product. There’s a window where they’ll continue or cancel their subscription. Your mission is to make sure that they’re completely satisfied customers when they reach their decision point. Risk stages, will of course, depend on the product being offered. The challenge comes with being able to effectively think through these risk stages to identify the risk points, and then to have a solution in hand for retaining your customers.
- Being Effectively Proactive – This is the most important service you can give. Proactivity is the platform for everything you can offer a customer.
Spend at least 30 percent of you and your team’s time engaging in proactive activities.
The right analysis tool can help you identify those customers with low activity scores. These are the ones you should reach out to first.
Identify and remove any roadblocks from these customers who are their “flight stage.” Cared-about customers can once again become active customers.
#4. Solidifying Your SaaS Social Media Footprint
Isn’t it odd how every successful business model always comes full-circle with respect to social media?
Here’s some additional fat to chew on:
- Twitter Chats - Twitter is immensely popular, and many marketers are leveraging it for some serious marketing purposes. You can invite experts in your field to participate or moderate. You can also provide and allow for question and answer periods to better familiarize customers with your products.
- Podcasts – Choose a passionate topic of interest. Brand your podcast and structure and format it properly. Carefully plan your content and delivery. Then record, broadcast and measure the results. Podcasts are a great way to grow and educate your audiences. Be serious, but have fun while you’re at it.
- Webinars – Webinars offer a surprise in that they allow a high level of rapport, they’re time efficient, and they’re highly scale able. A lot of people can attend a webinar, which is quite normal.
#5. Additional SaaS Marketing Techniques
Here's what else you can do to help boost sales:
- Add some impressive testimonials. The right kind of testimonials can give your retention efforts a boost. They’re like hiring sales people who are willing to work for free.
Give the client detailed information to say about his or her experience with your product.
Getting “real” people to endorse your product is the key.
- Charge the right price for your product. This may include “raising” your price. This might sound a bit off-track at first, but raising your price to match its benefits can be a positive move since SaaS is defined by value, not price. There’s also the possibility that a higher price tag will filter out those who “won’t” pay and can’t “stay.”
- Keep revisiting your trial length. The length of your trial period will depend on a number of factors, which include your company and its products to name a few. Is the free trial structured to allow people to move directly into the full version without interruptions? You’ll have to determine what works.
- Upsell. It’s easier to sell to a customer who’s already a customer.
- Keep your customers focused. Eighty percent of your revenue will come from 20 percent of your SaaS customers. There’s a lot of revenue that can be generated after the initial sale.
Delivering a reliable and secure SaaS service is essential if your goal is to eliminate or minimize customer churn.
Churn not only hurts a company’s income opportunities, but it can also damage a company’s reputation. Remember that your company is selling solutions, not products.
Here at Agile Payments we do the same with our own SaaS clients we provide ACH integration services to. Just because we understand how everything works doesn't mean our clients do. So we make sure education is a big part of our onboarding process.
Once your own solution is sold, the next goal is to move your customer past the trial period into the real product stage.
This can best be done by managing your client's expectations up front. SaaS customers have gotten used to free-trial periods.
Follow up with emails that signify that a milestone has been reached. A milestone can be completing a lesson, following through on an assignment, or even a thank-you not for asking questions.
Give your customers access to a strong community of users. People can easily communicate with other and seek additional support. Just make sure that your community is a positive one.
Engage your users. Whether it’s an email they’ve sent, a social media post they’ve responded to, or a post on your “Contact Us” page, engage them.
Finally, it’s a great idea to set up some type of trial-user award. If your trial users invite their friends, offer them a reward.
Word-of-mouth advertising represents some of the most effective advertising on the planet. People will believe in and follow what their friends and network endorse.
A reward is also a great way to say, “Thanks. I appreciate and value your business.”