Freemium Sales Models for B2B and SaaS

PBWorks

As promised, here is the second tip from Chris Yeh, VP Marketing of PBWorks about freemium sales models for b2b and SaaS.

Knowing of the advantages of free trial / freemium models, I agree that companies that are making the adjustments towards those sales models have an advantage in today’s online market where users can pick their products without a moderator (sales person) and pay for it only it it’s valuable for them

Similarly, Chris believes that the way to business success is establishing a trial for its product. This way customers feel they’re not taking a risk by buying a product but they test it first and understand how the product works before paying for it and this is tremendously important for building up a Successful contemporary business.

In his blog post: Bought vs. Sold (Why Jive is a dinosaur & Dropbox is the future), Chris compares 2 types of companies that have similar revenues achieved it in very different ways. The first company is Jive software and the other is Dropbox.
Jive is a 10 years old traditional enterprise company who spent millions of dollars in marketing and still not profitable and on the other hand there’s the 5 years old Dropbox, who has 40 employees already and a hundred millions in revenue.

To read the full transcription of the video, click here

 
 

Video Transcription:
I’m Chris Yeh. I’m the VP of Marketing for PBworks, which is a SaaS company that does collaboration software for various markets like advertising agencies, law firms and, of course, general business.

Well, it just so happens that I wrote an extensive blog post about this, comparing Jive Software with Dropbox, two companies which, interestingly enough, have almost the same revenues, but have achieved them in very different ways. Jive is a traditional enterprise company that was started almost 10 years ago and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in marketing to get to where they are today and are still not profitable.

On the other hand, we have Dropbox which was started in 2007, has something like forty employees in a hundred million in revenues and so where I really see this going is that you know, certainly the tradition enterprise world still applies to large complex products but the ability to get a trial going, the ability to get people to say, okay I’m not taking a risk by buying this product, I know that it can deliver for me, is tremendously important for building up the business, so somebody like Dropbox or somebody like PBworks who offers the ability for people to really understand how the product works before they have to make a six figure commitment I think and that’s the way to go.

Trial Conversion “The Early Days” – Lean Startup Presentation

Lean Startup Meetup

We’ve held yet another very interesting lean-startup meetup on Thursday to discuss free to paid conversion best practices for cloud applications.
First, please find within the presentation I’ve used. It’s a collection of many ideas we’ve been working on at Totango collected into idea presented by this presentation.

I emphasized during the talk the need to focus on the ‘evaluating’ users – the ones that their actions indicate genuine intent to come up with a buying decision.
Many people still wanted to understand what to do with the other group. The short out of the sleeve answer would be: “It depends ;) ”. Seriously, this question deserves a blog post on it’s own which I’m going to write later this week.

In the mean time, please feel free to enjoy the presentation. You will be able to learn a lot also by starting a ‘free trial’ for the Totango trial conversion product. So here’s the link for that as well.

If you enjoy this content, please be kind and share it with your friend. The links are above and below.

Converting from Visitors to Signups and from Freemium to Paid in a Fun Way

BadgeVille Interview

In the next couple of weeks I would like to share some short video interviews on relevant subjects taken at several events I’ve been to.

At the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, I’ve met Eric Montoya from BadgeVille and interviewed him about the ways to convert from visitors to signups and from freemium to paid users.

These topics are highly relevant to every SaaS business and I’ve been writing a few posts about it lately, including my previous post.

In this interview, Eric explains how the conversion process become a simple mechanism when you find unique and fun ways to get your users to know your product by gentle guides or creating a feedback system that is presented back to the end-user once they conducted a series of behaviors that we wanted them to.

Eric also gave some interesting examples in which he mentions a 500% lift for a unique application of Samsung – view the interview to learn more

Tomorrow I will upload another interview from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference. This time Jessie Wilkins, Director System of Engagement for aiim will talk about how the document system era evolved to the system of engagement era.

To read the full transcription of the video, click here

 
 

Video Transcription:

“My name is Eric Montoya, I am with sales and business development here at BadgeVille. You know, there is a couple of really, really unique things that happen within the context of any sort of online community or any sort of interaction with the product, the first is some sort of anonymous or local capture, right?

How do i get that person who has just come to my platforms, to my products and my brand and what can I do to try to capture them at that point? How do I convert them, maybe from fremium to paid and all of those mechanics that go along with could be something as simple as a mechanism like gentle guide or something where I am taking a series of behaviors or actions and presenting that back to the end user in some sort of unique, very step oriented, fun way with that getting feed back as they through all of the interactions learning the platform, taking a steps in necessary to become engaged within the product, but they are doing it in a way that’s very controlled and really wrapped around the behaviors and the actions that you want dozen users to perform.

Us, like our kind of broad, you know, 100 plus customers that we have now, we’ve seen, you know, strategic impact to the goals and objectives tied to a lot of those specific behaviors in the, like, 25 to 30% range, if you want to be very broad.

When you look at very, very unique applications or specific behavior such those users are performing. Samsung, for example, has just put out this last week that they are seeing a 500% lift on some of the drive and user engagement and actions that are very relevant to the success of their community.

Things like rating and reviewing and interacting with the product and the brand overall. So, you know,we have seen a lot of variance but the impact, you know, whether that’s 10%, 50% or 500%, absolutely the numbers are there.”

How NOT to Sell in SaaS and Increase Paid Conversions

Offer Customer Value

So you have a product! you’ve worked so hard on making it the way you want (iteratively of course) and now you want to sell it – so how do you do that? The answer, as strange as it might sound, is that you don’t!

As I wrote in my previous post, two very common sales models which have recently evolved are the zero-touch and the low-touch models where there are no sales teams or a very small sales team respectively. Why have these models evolved? because they were needed! in the SaaS reality, where the Internet is flooded with information, customers prefer being the active searchers and find solutions for their specific problems. They tend to rely less on non-objective sales people to convince them why their product is good for them – they prefer to simply read or hear about a solution from someone else and if they feel a solution might help them, they can simply sign-up to it’s free trial period or free account (freemium) and try it themselves!

Come to think of it, it’s kind of a revolutionary state of mind where your customers want to be able to choose their products based on its true value! After choosing it, they’ll evaluate it and only then, if they find it really helpful for their needs, they’ll convert to paid users.

The key is not to sell the product but to give away value – if you honestly & utterly try to gain customer success and help other people with their existing needs, they will feel your pure intentions and stay for more. Once trying to sell, the whole focus will go in that direction and you risk loosing the audience loyalty.

This very much like Google organic search: if your website truly provides relevant and valuable content, it will be ranked high in Google and attract prospects. Similarly, if your product is truly relevant and provides value to customers, prospects will try it and convert into paying customers.  Your solution should of course solve a very common problem and preferably have a unique answer (and that is a subject to a whole different post).

3 Outright Strategies to Improve SaaS Customer Success

Outright Image

Totango is now (also) located in Mountain View, CA! Having a new Totango home in California is great and allows me to meet many cutting edge businesses with free trial or freemium business models while here. Today I caught up with Laura Messerschmitt, VP Marketing at Outright. Outright helps small businesses to organize their finances. Over 100,000 users worldwide are tracking the health of their businesses with Outright. Outright is a free service, with a premium product available for a monthly fee. The sales model for Outright is entirely customer driven: the sales process is self-service (zero-touch selling).

What struck me most about Outright is it’s commitment to customer success. Making existing customers successful is the highest priority for the company. In my blog on “customer engagement is key for SaaS” I have written about the importance of increasing customer lifetime value and preventing churn in SaaS business models.

Here are a couple of things Outright is doing to align it’s entire company with it’s customer success (and thus customer lifetime value):

1. Define a customer engagement funnel

Key to customer success is realizing that not all customers are created equal. When a visitor to your website first signs up to your service, you have not yet won a new customer. In fact, a large percentage of sign-ups may never activate the service. I discussed this phenomena in my blog on “3 ways to do cohort analysis on SaaS churn“. In the case of Outright, they have explicitly modeled the different stages in what you might call the “customer engagement funnel”:

Stage 1: Sign-up, user has registered
Stage 2: Activation, in the case of Outright has started using the product
Stage 3: Use, in the case of Outright has continued to use the product over time

While you can get a lot more fancy with this and define further actions and life cycle stages (including those that include up selling and expansion opportunities), just recognizing the difference between a sign-up, an activated user and a truly active user is a huge step in the right direction.

2. Make customer success metrics central to the business

You cannot manage what you cannot measure so the next step for Outright was to develop a dashboard that shows sign-ups, activated users and active users and the conversion ratio between each of these stages. Outright is looking at this on a daily, weekly and monthly basis via cohort analysis to see how the service value which is delivering customers is improving over time. If you want your company to be customer driven, you have to give everybody in the company access to these metrics . Only if you make the customer success metrics central to all your management meetings, will the entire team be laser focused on improving customer success.

3. A customer driven organization chart

The most innovative thing Outright has done is to align their entire organization chart with the different stages in the customer engagement funnel. There is a dedicated team, including product managers, developers and designers, focused on improving the product for those users who have just started using the product. The focus is on making it easier and easier for these customers to help themselves and get more value out of the product. Automated e-mails are sent with helpful tips to help customers along the way. Then there is a separate team, also with its own product managers, developers and designers to improve the value in the service for those customers who are already active.

Thanks so much to Laura for sharing. I am looking forward to check in with Outright again in a couple of months to see how their customer driven organization chart has impacted the key conversion metrics of their customer engagement funnel.

Trial Conversion is Top Priority in SaaS

Trial Conversion is Top Priority for SaaS-DreamSimplicity Interview

Interview to DreamSimplicity.com

Thanks so much to Matt Childs for giving me an opportunity to tell the Totango story on DreamSimplicity.

Matt and I met each other on a very nice day at San Francisco and conducted this interivew which is actually about Totango’s core believes.

Here are the main points from the interview we had:

The Customers are Kings

Totango is all about helping SaaS companies to be more successful by understanding their customers.
The idea with SaaS is that customers are kings, meaning that in order to be a successful SaaS company, businesses should make sure their clients continuously have value, otherwise customers have other choices and they can easily switch into other solutions, so that Totango helps them understand the value they are currently getting from their service and continuously improve the value they are providing to their customers.

Increase Trial Conversion Rate

One of the big challenges big companies are currently experiences is that they have enough leads but having free trial or freemium programs, they are naturally trying to convert those free accounts to paying customers and in order to get there they will need to make sure that customers are getting value through their trial and they can help them being more successful.
So what Totango does is actually help them see what their users do during their trial period and then help them convert into paying accounts.

View the complete interview in the following link:

Get your FREE copy of our latest RESEARCH:

The 2012 SaaS Free Trial, Freemium and Pricing Benchmark

get-your-free-copy


About Totango:

Totango analyzes in real time customer engagement and intention within SaaS applications to help you grow your business

 

Increase your revenue!
Try Totango free for 30 days
sign-up1

Customer Lifetime Value and Customer Experience

Lately, I’ve started building a SaaS Dashboard for my own usage (which I’ll be happy to share with others as well) and I have put together a short survey in order to learn what are the key metrics to measure SaaS business success. As I posted in our previous post, every metric matters when trying to see the whole picture, however, according to Chris Zane’s interview in Christoper Brown latest post, if he could only have one measure to manage his business, he would have chosen “lifetime value of customers”.

This metric, in Zane’s opinion is not a static number but a dynamic one that can grow with the customer, so that customers will first purchase their bike when they’re 4 years old, then when they’re 6, again when they’re 12 and they might come by to buy their own kids their first bikes. That’s the power of a happy customer.

This classic example could be taken to any sort of business, as in all businesses, it is critical to understand customers behaviour.

What is ‘customer lifetime value’ translated to the terms of a SaaS company? It’s when your service is valuable and highly appreciated by your users who chose to repeatedly and constantly use your service.

Most customers will encounter SaaS online services when signing-up to their free trial period / freemium. As the funnel goes on, the amount of users converting to paid customers naturally goes down, however, user’s usage pattern in crucial to understand what’s behind those numbers and also to reflect the users behaviour and needs.
Therefore, even though measuring many other metrics should be taken under account, I agree that customer lifetime value should be standing in front of our eyes when thinking of our business plan.

To run a successful SaaS business and increase the chances to gain lifetime users and revenue, a business must make the right conclusions and adjust its service according to customer / user experience.

Tell us how you adjusted your service to fit your user’s needs!

 

 

About TOTANGO:
TOTANGO analyzes in real time customer engagement and intention within SaaS applications to help you grow your business

 

Increase you customer lifetime value!
Try TOTANGO free for 30 days
sign-up1