5 Traits of User Onboarding Craftsman

If you haven’t looked at Jordan Koschei‘s  analysis of dropbox user onboarding flow, you should go ahead and read it here. I’ve also found this interesting thread on Quora with other examples of good user onboarding flows.

User onboarding is a critical part of the product usage and adoption lifecycle. When users have the option from thousands of products and services to choose from, the first ‘feel’ of a product becomes very important to the success of a new product or service implementation.

Every online product manager is aware that to achieve both, there is tension between:

  • getting people to complete necessary steps in order to start seeing value from their product; and at the same time
  • making sure not to overwhelm them with unnecessary information/tasks/steps.


In the case of Totango onboarding, we’ve had a heated internal debate with one camp feeling that we’re imposing too much effort upfront by requiring a Javascript implementation, and the other camp feeling that we could ask for way less information and provide just enough value before getting deeper. We’ve called the new approach the ‘drop-in’ project. I’m happy to admit, as the leader of the ‘aggressive camp’ that I was completely wrong. The drop-in yielded fantastic results of higher rates and much faster  onboarding.

Crafting a great user experience while building a successful user onboarding flows is like an art, or more precisely a craft of minimalism.

Too little effort upfront will leave users underwhelmed with your product and too much effort upfront will turn away new users.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this problem and have been working with Totango customers on their user onboarding flows. You can read about nCircle’s journey here. From working with many customers like this, I have been able to find 5 rules of thumb that lead to great user onboarding implementations:

1. It’s all about the core value
When designing the onboarding implementation you should carefully understand the core  of your application. In most applications, there are many things people can do, however, you’re designing the best way for people to understand your service value without interruptions and without extra unnecessary steps.

2. User-centric approach
Think about who your user is in a very concrete way. Where did they come from, what have they done prior to initiating your “getting started” experience, what language do they speak, which device are they using? By preemptively getting this data, you don’t need to ask redundant questions and they don’t need to fill data you already have.

3. Have an owner, have a team
Someone has to own the onboarding project, which will take time to get right. Have someone (you?) own it and drive it to success. It will require many follow up changes and decisions that will impact the results. Also, important, make sure you have an implementation team in place that can follow up with UI, graphics, flow, copy (language) changes.

4. Iterate, iterate, iterate…
You will probably need hundreds of changes, some of them very minor while other very significant to get it right. You’ll have to go through many cycles of analysis and learning to get it right.
The key metrics you should care about are:

  • Onboarding success rate – of the people who started (and you care about) how many successfully completed the onboarding flow, and how many dropped and why?
  • Time to onboard – optimize for the minimal time to successfully onboard new users. Track that time and find ways to improve it.
  • Engagement – the rate of onboarded users who ended up frequently using the service/app
  • Monetization –  the rate of successfully onboarded users who ended up paying

5. Remove steps

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away“. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This is an all-time favorite of mine, and it’s true in user onboarding as well. Always consider removing steps, you’ll be amazed by the results.

Which products do you find with the best onboarding experience? Let’s use the comments thread below to praise those products.

6 Surefire Tips to Retain & Grow Customers

Totango-Zendesk Webinar-Slides Print Screen

Just a short while ago, I was co-presenting a webinar with J.D Peterson, VP Product Marketing of Zendesk.

In the webinar I gave 3 tips on how we accelerate revenue throughout the customer lifecycle and how to drive conversion from free to paid users, grow the lifetime value of the existing customers & boost retention!

Zendesk, which is one of Totango customers, is using Totango to find out how people who are trying their product or already existing customers are actually using it and how engaged are they with their product.

J.D. from Zendesk, was covering the other 3 steps, to complete the process of building customers loyally, form the customer-service and support angle.

Here are Totango slides from the webinar – please feel free to share or embed them in your website/blog:

View the Complete Zendesk-Totango Webinar

Chief Customer Officers Boost Customer Engagement

Chief Customer Officer

I am excited to see so many talk about the importance of the Chief Customer Officer. Dedicating an executive on your team to customer success can significantly boost customer engagement, increase customer retention and ultimately grow customer lifetime value.

We have given the Jeanne Bliss book to several of our clients. We have also written about the rise of the VP Customer Success, a different name for the same animal.

In the last months there is a lot of momentum around the new position of the Chief Customer Officer:

Jeanne Bliss launched a forum for Chief Customer Officers: ”Chief Customer Officer 2.0 is a resource center built for practitioners by a practitioner “, says Jeanne Bliss, head of CustomerBliss. “Chief Customer Officers wrestle with customer leadership across entrenched silos. They must create a connection between customer experience and profitability, while exquisitely listening to the lives of customers. It’s a tough job and they crave resources and an opportunity to share ideas, challenges and solutions.” The new site includes tools, content and real-world materials, including the inaugural series on the Top Ten Aptitudes for Successful Customer Executives.

Desk.com blogged about the importance of a Chief Customer Officer: According to Jeffrey Henning, founder of the Vovici blog, ”Without a CCO, customer advocacy and action is dispersed and diluted. Marketing worries about the customer as a lead; Sales worries about the customer as a prospect; Service worries about the customer as a problem; but there is nobody to think about the customer holistically as they experience and engage with your brands, your products, and the legions of employees who represent your business on the front lines every day.”

Audrey Manring profiled the Chief Customer Officer in CRM Magazine. She is quoting the research of several analysts: ”All the forces of gravity suggest the chief customer officer (CCO) position needs to exist,” says Stephen Diorio, president of IMT strategies, an e-business strategy consulting firm and META Group affiliate.

While still only a small percentage of companies have a Chief Customer Officer, we believe this will change rapidly in the future, especially as the role will increasingly morph into the “Sales Team of the Future”. Once Customer Success and Customer Officers carry a quote for customer renewals and expansion sales, they will have found their true place in the C-Suite. Especially for subscription based businesses this is happening rather quickly as revenues from existing customers typically dramatically exceeds that of new users (the traditional realm of sales).  A customer success team with more power than sales: now that is a world I would like to live in!

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?

How Zendesk and CloudBees Increase their User Engagement

SandHill Logo

Yesterday, the SandHill Magazine have published an article about Managing Challenges of Onboarding SaaS Customers and Converting from Free Software Trials where 2 of the very popular app services providers – Zendesk and CloudBees, were quoted about their success in increasing engagement level and therefore their free to paid conversion rate.

Both companies, who are using the Totango technology, managed to increase their visibility on what their users are doing in their application and therefore optimize communication with them to make sure they’re gaining value out of their product.

Many app services in the SaaS industry lack that visibility. This problem is especially in onboarding new customers and in converting free trial users into paying customers.

“Understanding user behavior is critical to success in the XaaS model”, states Sacha Labouray, founder and CEO of CloudBees.

Zack Urlocker, COO of Zendesk is happy that this solution exists and therefore saves the time on self development: “Rather than trying to build the technology to do this in house, we love the fact that Totango has already figured this out, giving us tremendous insight into what is going on with our users during that trial period.”

Zendesk’s goal was to increase customer engagement for their 30 days trial users and increase the free to paid conversion that way:
“We changed how people experience sending and receiving customer service tickets during the trial. Totango helped us figure out ways to try different approaches to highlight key features which and see ones got the most usage” says Urlocker.

Since Zendesk has massive amount of daily downloads and thousands of customers, they needed visibility into who to focus on in order to gain the most success and Totango is helping them to achieve that and thus increase their conversion rates.

Similarly, CloudBees needed to understand, in real time, how developers in its freemium model use their platform. “We need to see where they start using specific services and using multiple services,” says Labouray. “Before implementing Totango, we tried using analytics to track user behaviors. It gave us overall trends but no insight into what specific teams or specific users within a team or group are doing on our platform. You don’t know what you don’t know. Totango showed us what we didn’t know. We’re using those insights in working a lot of services and reaching out to our users.”

He says they had a big “aha” moment when Totango revealed an unexpected spike in usage all of a sudden. They then realized there is often a lag between when customers sign up for the freemium model and when they actually get ready to use it.

Creating value for customers is the most important activity for retaining customers longer, so all customer-facing teams need to align around that objective. With the right data, you can get real insights into which customers are likely to convert from free to the paid model as well as where those customers come from, their overall lifetime value and the customer acquisition cost and with all of that information, you can build an effective marketing/sales model!

We want to help ensure our customers not only improve their communications with their users but also gain the ability to drive to monetization and unified value-creating goals for acquiring and retaining customers.

 

What about you – have you tried our service yet?
Signup now for our free trial!


Zack Urlocker is chief operating officer at Zendesk and heads up Sales, Marketing, Business Development and Support. Zack came to Zendesk from MySQL, where he was Executive VP of Products. Besides building the business model for MySQL, he helped grow revenues to more than $100 million annually. He has more than 20 years of experience in the software industry and has held executive management positions at Active Software, webMethods and Borland.

Sacha-Labourey-CloudBeesSacha Labourey is founder and CEO of CloudBees. In 2001, Sacha joined Marc Fleury’s JBoss project as a core contributor and implemented JBoss’ original clustering features. In 2003, Sacha founded the European headquarters for JBoss and in 2005 he was appointed CTO. After the acquisition of JBoss by Red Hat, Sacha became co-General Manager of Red Hat’s middleware division until leaving in 2009 to eventually start CloudBees.

Are You Engaging New Trials in Their Evaluation?

Evaluating Trials

We recently published a study that proves through big-data analysis what many people already know:

Users that are actively engaged a few days into their trial are much more likely to convert to paying customers.

4x times more likely, to be exact. (more details)

This is a great signal for SaaS sales teams that want to identify the accounts that are most likely to convert, but it is also very helpful for marketing and product teams.

Marketing: Relevant, qualified and nurtured new trials are more likely to be engaged once they begin their trial.

Product: A better, clearer and smoother first user experience, increases the amount of trial accounts that actually go through the evaluation.

The question so far has been how to systematically measure the ratio of engaged trials with your offering?

We are pleased to release a new Totango Executive Report which does just that:

Engaged Evaluation (Totango users: View here for your customer base)

A month by month analysis of the percentage of trial accounts that are engaged in their evaluation. Engaged accounts are those that have at least 3 days of active usage during their first two weeks of trial.

Engaged Evaluation Chart in Totango
What you can learn from this report?

The percentage of engaged evaluations is simultaneously an indicator of the quality of the incoming leads and of the first-user-experience your application delivers. For an established business, you should expect at least 20% engaged evaluation, ideally reaching 50% or more.

Monitor this metric on a month by month basis and take actions in marketing, sales or product onboarding to maintain a high ratio of engaged  evaluations.  To assess leads, you can also break down this information by Source Campaign, in order to identify which marketing campaign are generating the most engaged leads.

 

Totango User: See this live for your customer base

Not a Totango customer yet?: Signup for a free trial or contact us to talk.

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:

2 Important SaaS Businesses Studies

SlideShare-SnapShot

We’ve just uploaded two of our past studies for public access on slideshare – check it out:
  1. A study of 500+ SaaS executives into the metrics they use to run their business
  2. Analysis of the customer engagement of over one million businesses during the trial phase and post purchase phase
Our latest research looked the free trial, freemium and pricing practices in 550 SaaS companies – you can download it below

The 2012 SaaS Free Trial, Freemium and Pricing Benchmark