3 Big Ideas for Software-as-a-Service Customer Success

big ideas for saas

I was on a super exciting panel at the All About The Cloud conference in San Francisco this week: “the Power of the Customer”.

Here are 3 predictions for the future that were discussed on the panel:

1. All SaaS companies will use predictive customer analytics. Measuring and optimizing customer lifetime value was a big topic. You can’t manage what you can’t measure so expect SaaS companies to invest big in customer analytics and predictive analytics.  These are technologies coming from the consumer marketing space. However, in software you can go one step further because all customer interactions, including interaction with the product itself are digital. So while Victoria’s Secret may analyze customer transactions to predict whether customers will buy again (and whether it’s worth sending you another expensive catalogue) imagine that you could actually know how often your customer wore that swim suit. That would be a pretty good indicator of how much you liked the swim suit and how likely you are to buy again from the catalogue. With software this is possible! And indeed software usage turns out to be the most reliable buy signal (or churn signal whatever the case may be).

2. There will be many SaaS companies with no sales teams. Think about Atlassian: a $100 million+ revenue B2B software companies with ZERO sales personnel. Their sales model is 100x or more cheaper than that of their competitors with field based sales teams. And their velocity is so much higher. I bet you their customer satisfaction is higher too.  At no-sales companies, marketing is responsible for demand generation and initial signups. For more complicated products a customer success function is emerging to coach customers post sign-up and to grow usage, users and use cases over time. There was common agreement on the importance of building out customer success teams regardless of the sales model. Customer success managers have responsibility over renewal revenues as well as upselling and carry a quota rather than being a glorified support team.

3. Products are becoming social. The product itself will be the primary sales tool. Much of customer engagement will happen from within the application itself. Customer actions speak loudest: usage is the most important buy or churn signal. Also customers will communicate with other users and with the vendor using in-application communities and communications. The panel agreed that the new Social Buyer demands self-service. It started some years ago with self-service information (‘inbound marketing‘) and these days the ‘must have’ is a free trial or freemium version of your product. The panel agreed that freebies were essential in creating trust. Also think about this: if your competitor offers  free trial of some version of your product and you don’t, then customers will be already half-way down the sales process with your competitor before they ever talk to you.

Thanks to the All About Cloud team for having us, thanks to Shubber Ali from Accenture for moderating and thanks to my fellow panelists Jon Miller (Marketo), Todd Bursey (FinancialForce) and Jeff Yoshimura (Zuora) for fun times! See you next year :-)

If you are interested to analyze and predict your customers’ actions, or if you want to make your product social:

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Improve Trial Conversion – Focus, Filter and Analyze your Data

Adon Rigg

Do you know how it is that your company gets more and more leads then your sales people can handle but it’s still won’t justify hiring another sales person for your team?

Well, in many cases it’s just the case that your sales people need a “small push” that would help them understand which leads to refer first and that would make the difference on your customer onboarding picture.

Being at the Sales 2.0 conference, I’ve met Adon Rigg, the author of Insightful Selling, which told me that he too was enlightened to find tools which help in capture data, filter it and then analyze it in a way that could direct salespeople to focus on the most converted opportunities.

So how do we know who to focus on? easy – we’re gathering information from your metrics, build your cohort analysis and make the thinking for you. All you need to do is focus on the opportunities we offer and watch how your trial conversion is being increased!

Give it a shot now! try Totango free!

To read the full transcription of the video, click here

Video Transcription:

Hi, my name is Adon Rigg, author of Insightful Selling, and I’m just finishing up the Sales 2.0 conference here in San Francisco, which was absolutely fantastic.
My main takeaway would be that there are a lot of tools available such as some of the vendors here today which allows you to use programs and tools to capture information, filter that information and then put analytics or numbers to help make the efficiency of a salesperson a lot better and to help make them more effective in the field

The Power of Measuring Customer Engagement

Mark Kofman-300mg

Talking about Customer Engagement, there are many metrics that could show a user engagement level, i.e. user are considered to be higher engaged if they refer your app to other potential user. Another example would be for returning users – users are more committed to your app if they keep coming back and use your app.

Talking to Mark Kofman, CEO and Co-Founder of 300.mg, these 2 metrics are what’s on his company’s schedule these days and using tools like Totango, help them calculate them correctly and exempt them from developing their own solution in-house.

Sometimes, understanding your users is not as simple as it looks, as it involves human behavior which is not always expected. Also, there are many metrics in the puzzle which complete a whole picture and any SaaS company should be measuring its most converting metrics and properly analyze them in order to grow customer lifetime value and accelerate revenues.

To measure YOUR customer engagement and increase your revenueSignup here for free!

To read the full transcription of the video, click here

   

Video Transcription:

My name is Mark, and I am CEO. and cofounder of 300.mg.
We’ve built an education center for all your collaboration activities. so we like consolidate all the indications which comes from Dropbox and Google Docs and other things at work with the team. I’d say a couple of months we are in beta right now and doing lots of tweaks and lots of experiments with the application right now.
Since we are coming from 500 start-ups. So, as you might have guessed if you know about Dave McClure’s activation acquisition of AARRR metrics. So, this is probably one of the core things what we do and in addition to the beta we also use a lot of metrics called Virility to understand how our current users actually referring the product to other users.
So, these are the two core things which we do. I think right now one of the most important ones is returning users. Basically, in this we track it simply, if user has been signed up last week like before last week, and if he is still coming back to the applications, so, this what we call a returning user in our system.
Just basically the only thing we are doing, and yeah its like lots of experiments we try out different positioning, ideas, different products, feature improvements. I would say everything what we do is to actually to increase that part, to measure the things which we are trying to achieve, have less metrics probably, not more, and focus on two or three things which we are trying to once and not more.
We try to use the tools and Totango is one of them but clearly something with other people who has built in that, and ideally we would not like to do any calculations or full metrics for this part and overall but there are some components which neither of the tools do, so we to need to do that ourselves.

What is the Connection between Lifecycle Marketing and Automated Nurturing?

Robot and a Human Hand

Reading Fergus Gloster’s post on Marketo’s blog got me thinking how Lifecycle marketing has dramatically evolved lately.

Fergus states that Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) won’t turn into Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) by themselves – this phase can’t be automated and requires human interaction.

I agree with Fergus about the necessity of an additional role which businesses should consider. This role should help submitting qualified leads for the sales team. Mark Roberge, VP Sales at Hubspot has also talked about this by distinguishing the Hunter’s job from the Farmers.

I also talked in the past about the necessity of the Customer Success role in the SaaS industry new generation model.

But how would this function know which leads are qualified for their sales team? Well, Marketo is offering their scoring system, which based on user behavior on your website, which is a really efficient tool!
However, how would you know what leads are doing inside your APP?
For example, would you react differently if a new signup of yours signed up once and didn’t invite new users for your service rather than a user who logged in 3 times and invite 2 of his colleagues? Of course you would! You would like to invest more on the second user which reflects a higher level of engagement, won’t you?

And what if several users have entered one of your most important pages which suppose to lead for a sale and then signed out and never go back? you would probably want to look at that page again and figure out conversion issues, right?

This is why Totango service also offer the engagement score that would show you in-app engagement involvement.

But why compromise on one of the solutions – why not use them both?

This is why Totango and Marketo have joined forces and now Totango is also offering integration with Marketo’s services – this is how you could both know what’s happening in your application, get analysis on wha’t going on your app and then use Marketo strong nurturing tool to send your users exactly what they need to know by the stage they’re stuck on or need help with – the perfect match – Totango’s Lifecycle Marketing with Marketo’s automated nurturing – can you afford not to have it?

Presenting – the SaaS Resource Center

Resource Center Screen Shot

This week we’ve added a section into our website which I believe would add value to the SaaS Community – I present our SaaS Resource Center!

The Resource Center is a place where we update the most important/informative/valuable articles on 7 of the hot categories that are most current these days in the SaaS industry and I believe this knowledge base would assist many beginners as well as veterans in this industry to learn on new trends in their fields.

Resources Print Screen

Here are the categories the Resource Center approaches:

  1. SaaS Best Practices – Will consist our latest SaaS business models and SaaS best practices and is updated with the hottest topics facing SaaS software and Cloud app vendors today.
  2. SaaS Sales Tips – B2B sales tips on different sales models such as low touch or zero touch, sales metrics and the best practices to build the ultimate sales machine.
  3. Lifecycle Marketing – Drive the usage and adoption of your application and maximize customer lifetime value. Nurture existing customers based on their specific needs and wants and their use of your application.
  4. Customer Analytics – Perform customer, conversion, cohort, funnel, usage or churn analysis. Discover how big data and customer intelligence can increase SaaS revenues.
  5. Free Trial & Freemium – Free trial tips, benchmarks and best practices and the way to optimize trial conversion and freemium conversion.
  6. Customer Engagement – Increasing customer/user engagement and customer lifetime value and reduce churn through lifecycle marketing and other techniques.
  7. Customer Retention – New strategies to increase customer lifetime value and reduce churn for SaaS businesses, how to identify customers at risk and how to implement customer retention strategies.

If there is a topic that we haven’t addressed and you think is worth mentioning, please don’t hesitate to comment on this post with the subject and we promise to consider it.

Also, if you’d like to guest-post in one of our categories, please feel free to contact me through this form and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Cheers,
–Guy

Successful Lifecycle Marketing through Innovative Marketo & Totango Integration

Marketo Logo

We are excited about our integration with Marketo to help companies with lifecycle marketing (marketing to existing customers).

Combining the capabilities of Marketo with Totango leads to the automatic customization of content, timing and type of Lifecycle Marketing campaigns targeted at existing customers.

Account nurturing should not stop when a customer buys from you. On the contrary: revenues from existing customers can far exceed revenues from new customers and these revenues are less costly to attain. Therefore, use Totango to understand how your existing customers are using your software and to automatically create usage-based cohorts.

Totango significantly enhances the native capabilities of Marketo, helping to drive adoption and usage of SaaS products. The result: better relationships with clients, increased revenues, customer success and lifetime value.

Lifecycle Marketing: Challenge & Solution

Challenge:
Oftentimes, customer nurturing activities abruptly stop when a prospect or customer starts using a trial or paid service. To continue to nurture the relationship with customers, businesses must create effective Lifecycle Marketing campaigns that engage, support and serve customer needs as their usage evolves.

Challenges in creating successful Lifecycle Marketing campaigns:

  1. Accurately assessing customer needs and behaviors; and,
  2. Following through with timely, relevant customer engagement initiatives.

Solution:

Totango – Marketo: Working Together

Totango automatically calculates a customer engagement score for each account, based on real time streams of user actions (showing how people are using the service and where they get stuck), and customer demographics collected from CRM systems, help desk systems and billing systems. This score, as well as specific customer actions, can be used to segment users into activity-based cohorts, which in turn can be leveraged for automated and customized sales and marketing campaigns.

Totango Marketo Integration

Examples of activity-based cohorts include:

  • Users who signed up for a trial but never activated
  • Users who are more active than the average activity
  • Users who display similar behavior to the most successful customers
  • Users of a particular feature
  • Users who logged in once but never returned
  • Users who referred other customers

Totango Marketo use case examples:

Trial Conversion: Trial users still active on the 3rd day of a trial are 4 times more likely to convert into paying users. Checking in with these active trial users increases trial close rates by 70%. Totango identifies who the most active trial users are, and Marketo reaches out to them at the right time with the right message.

User Onboarding: Totango analyzes where customers are getting stuck while using the product or service, and Marketo sends helpful tips at the right time to get them back on track.

Upselling: Totango finds users who are using a particular feature and are likely candidates for purchasing additional module(s) and/or finds highly engaged users who may be interested in expanding their deployment, and Marketo executes the upselling campaigns.

Customer Success: Cancellations are almost always preceded by a period of non-use. Totango identifies a drop in usage for a particular customer, and a Marketo campaign can be used to proactively reaches out to the customer before it’s too late.

Totango, a Complimentary Platform to Marketo

Totango serves businesses who operate in a no-touch or low-touch environment. We aim to help businesses gain a better understanding of their clients, so that businesses can serve their customers better. While Totango aggregates data and translates it into meaningful insights, Marketo translates Totango’s insights into meaningful actions. Together, the two platforms create a holistic, customer-centric work methodology that encourages context-driven, customized and automated marketing and sales intitiatives targeted at existing customers.

Marketo/Totango Integration Details:

With the Marketo and Totango implementation, Marketo smart campaigns are created to target certain behaviors, detected by Totango, by users of the cloud-application. The two systems seamlessly communicate through Salesforce.com.

  • Once installed on the cloud application, Totango monitors user actions and determines the nature and level of engagement of each user. When a configured behavior is detected (such as first usage of a specific application module or a drop in usage) the Totango record is updated with the appropriate Totango Insight.
  • Totango synchronizes information with Salesforce.com in near real time, updating Leads and Account with Insights as they happen. Marketo, in turn, seamlessly integrates with Salesforce.com and uses this information (alongside any other) in campaigns and programs.
  • A Marketo email campaign is created using Totango Insights as part of the campaign’s Smart List.

For more examples and documentation, please visit this Lifecycle Marketing article

View ebook on Totango-Marketo Integration, The New Generation Lifecycle Marketing:

Top-of-Funnel Strategy

HubSpot Tip

Another tip from VP sales at Hubspot Mark Roberge at the Sales 2.0 convention re top-of-funnel strategy.

Mark recommends on keeping the top-of-funnel as wide as possible and worry about the filtering and the quality further down at the funnel.

Most companies don’t know what type of a customer will convert and this will allow tracking a whole bunch of data that can be analyzed later.

However, the danger in that strategy is when passing all those customers to your sales team, it could lead to ineffectiveness and waste of their time so it is recommended to use filtering at this stage so that the most quality stuff is being transferred.

As mentioned in my previous post: “Top 3 Metrics to Measure Customer Engagement“, there are ways to set your filters by. Choosing the right metrics and measuring them correctly will assist in screening out the non potential buyers and keep the high potential ones is essential to any successful SaaS business.

Once the data is gathered and there are more and more leads you can continue optimizing this process.

Tomorrow I will publish another tip by Mark Roberge regarding how to pick your sales model – zero touch vs. low touch vs. high touch.

To read the full transcription of the video, click here

SaaS Key Metrics Survey Results

 

Want to know which metrics are usually used in top and bottom of funnel?
Download SaaS Business Survey Results

 
 

Video Transcription:

Mark Roberge. VP of sales at Hubspot.

I highly recommend at the top of the funnel keeping it as wide as possible and worry about the the filtering and the quality further down to the funnel, and the reason being is especially when you are stunning out and most people are starting out with inbound. You actually have no idea who’s going to work out, what type of marketing tactics are going to work, what types of buyers are going to actually work well in your funnel, so keeping it why it is, possible allows you to capture a whole bunch of data to see what actually progresses through.

The danger in that strategy comes when you pass everything to the sales team, because that can lead to a lot of ineffectiveness in recent time by that sales team so with that process you want to have a lot of filtering to make sure that the most quality staff is actually getting down to the sales team.

And as you gather data and gather more and more leads, you will continue to optimize that process.

Using Customer Analytics to Increase Revenues of SaaS Business

Presentation: Using customer analytics to increase saas revenue

This week I was attending the Business of Software Workshop talking about Using Customer Analytics to Increase Revenues of SaaS Businesses.

I’ve shared the presentation I’ve used in the workshop in which I discussed:

  • Characteristics of the SaaS business
  • How CLTV (represents Customer Success) should be higher than CAC (represents Marketing & Sales)
  • The Customer Engagement Cycle
  • Grow Conversion Rates
  • A case-study on the SaaS Low Touch Module which shows how to focus on the converting opportunities and create priorities in order to increase conversion, reduce churn and enetually increase revenues for a SaaS business
  • Ensure customer success (CLTV)

Can you implement those important tips in your SaaS business?