Category Archive : customer life cycle

Trying the new SurfaceRT

I’m writing this post on a new SurfaceRT at the Windows store in Stanford mall. Was trying to figure out for myself what’s the value of this product, can it really be the single replacement for an iPad and a laptop. Short answer – not yet…

Keyboard experience:

I’ve started with the ‘touch cover’ ($119.99) keyboard – that didn’t really work well for me. It kept missing key strokes and I switched to the Type Cover ($129.99) which feels much more natural for typing.

Touch experience on the screen – seems very good. Similar to the iPad – no meaningful latencies.

Design, Look & Feel –

The non windows experience (metro) looks very modern and cool – slick. But when you press the famous ‘start’ button – you get to the old view of windows. Personally not my taste, but I’m sure some people will feel at home 😉

Bottom line – could give a fight to the iPad specifically on productivity, however, I’m keeping my Mac for a bit longer.



How Dropbox Increases Their Customer Engagement Rate

Dropbox - Steve Bartel

Today I’ve interviewed Steve Bartel, Head of Analytics Team at Dropbox.

Dropbox no-touch sales model is a very good example to emphasize how important it is to increase customer value using different types of user approach activities (nurturing campaigns, application, etc.)

Those activities, if done correctly, would naturally increase customer engagement rate and are easy to perform when thinking of the customer’s life-cycle stage at any given time.

The most efficient way to conduct those activities is by performing them based on the customer life-cycle stage, rather than time based (as many companies still do) as the first approach refers directly to the user’s life-cycle stage in the application while the later assumes where they’d be at this time statistically.

If we refer to our users knowing their current stage in our application (instead of assuming that), we increase the chance users will be mature enough and be able to address our call and implement our suggestions.

See the complete interview with Steve to find out which other activities Dropbox is using to increase their customer engagement:

To read the full transcription of the video, click here


Video Transcription:
My name is Steven Bartel. I am responsible for the analytics team at Dropbox. And Dropbox is just a way to have your files wherever you you are, it also makes it really easy to share them. So dropbox does a lot of different things to increase user engagement. We use some of the more standard techniques.

For example, we’ll have tip e-mails, so early on in your Dropbox life, you’ll get an e-mail, saying “Hey, you haven’t tried out this feature. It might be useful for you.” We also do things around promoting our different features on our website. For example, in the top left corner when you’re browsing your files online you might see something that prompts you to share a folder with a friend, and maybe your photos.

Lastly some of our features our viral and they help help our users promote user engagement across each other. For example, we have shared folders, so when I put something into a shared folder, I’ll invite my friend to it. And, you know, they’ll start using DropBox again. We have a sales team. And what they’re looking into is how to sell DropBox for businesses.

The consumer product is entirely driven word of mouth and automated through our website. But we find that it’s, you know, very useful to have people to help explain the use case of DropBox for businesses. It might be, you know, if that’s a thing that will put more into this product, and we have a bunch of tools around, sourcing those leads, and figuring out who exactly might be the best fit for our sales team.

Tools to Manage a Successful SaaS Business

Managing a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business isn’t trivial. Successful SaaS companies are able to deal with a high volume of leads and turn those into a high volume of loyal customers with fast response and turnaround time.

This is often referred to as the ‘sales and marketing machine’ – a highly optimized, massively scalable and controlled business operation that is capable of:

  • Generating, managing and nurturing leads;
  • Converting leads into paying customers at high conversion rates;
  • Ensuring customer success and preventing churn;
  • Continuously increasing the service value, differentiation and offerings.

In order to build a ‘sales and marketing machine,’ companies need to invest in the tools that will get them the business scalability that is required and reduce the learning curve.

Many startups begin with homegrown solutions using spreadsheets and databases (with a bit of integration glue in between). This is sufficient for small scale, but quickly becomes unwieldy as the organization grows. Luckily, there are excellent tools available for SaaS companies to leverage.

Many vendors have a “starter” package, so there is really no excuse not to start building your tool-chest sooner rather than later.

The Customer Life-Cycle

To best understand where the different categories of tools fit, it’s best to look at the various stages of the customer life-cycle, as they evolve from early prospects to mature customers.

At Totango, we use the following customer life-cycle terms:

  • Visitor – Anonymous user on the website
  • Lead – Person who has expressed some interest in the service. This can be anything from downloading a white paper to signing-up to a trial
  • Evaluating – A user (or company) who’s actively evaluating the service usually during a trial period or fermium
  • Onboarding – A paying customer in the initial usage period
  • Mature – A paying customer who has been loyal to the service beyond the initial usage period

With those definitions in mind, it’s easier to associate solutions and tools to help carry customers through every phase of their life-cycle.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

CRM is a common way to keep a reference of all customers’ life-cycle stages. CRM organizes all contacts’ information and account details in a single database, so it’s vital you select a tool that fits your needs and can grow with you.

Primary users
Specifically, your CRM software will be the main working software of your inside sales teams as they organize account work mainly during the sales life-cycle phases.

Select list of CRM solutions, SugarCRM, Highrise, or the ever promising Pipedrive

Web Analytics

Web analytics tools keep track of visitor activity on your website and various other marketing properties; this is where you keep track of your top-tier leads funnel, measure the initial success of marketing and advertising programs, and work to improve visitors’ experience with your products’ properties.

Primary users
Mainly the marketing team, though other users in the organization (product team, IT) will need to use it as well.

Select list of Web Analytics solutions
Google Analytics is the most commonly used tool. It’s immensely powerful, feature-rich and free. But there are other good tools your marketing team should look at, such as Clicky, WebTrends that provide additional useful views into vistiors’ actions.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation takes you beyond basic web-properties and aims to help you interact, build, and cultivate a relationship with leads, so they can ultimately be passed on to your sales team and “convert” to happy customers.

Primary users
This is your marketing team’s main toy!

Select list of Marketing Automation tools
Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua

Post Marketing

A post marketing (sales & customer success) solution stack for SaaS companies does not exist yet. Enabling the buying process (converting leads), ensuring customer success, and increasing service value, is something that I feel is needed and missing in the market, and this is what we’re building in Totango.

SaaS Dashboard

Having all the above tools in place enables marketing, sales and customer success teams to effectively do their jobs and be an integral part of the ‘sales and marketing machine’.

Having said that, it’s crucial to have a single business dashboard available to the executive teams that allows them monitor the business end-to-end.
The SaaS dashboard should include operational metrics, trends and key business performance indicators (KPI’s), which allow the business owners, get ‘the full picture’ of the business, identify bottlenecks and allow to teams to take appropriate actions.


The SaaS model presents an opportunity to run a predictable and high-volume business. The first step is to put the required business infrastructure in place in order to monitor, analyze and optimize the sales and marketing machine operation continuously.

In coming posts, I’ll discuss in further detail the actual attributes of the SaaS dashboard.

Get your FREE copy of our latest RESEARCH:

The 2012 SaaS Free Trial, Freemium and Pricing Benchmark


About Totango:

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


Want to have a successful SaaS business?
Try Totango free for 30 days