The Six Triggered Campaigns Every SaaS Marketer Should Try

Almost any business can benefit from the strategic implementation of triggered campaigns (see: to increase mindshare, walletshare, and lifetime customer value. For SaaS businesses, though, the benefits can be even more powerful as success depends on the optimization of the ongoing revenue stream from existing customers and prospects in trial. In a SaaS business, there is a proliferation of customer “moments of truth” – points in the customer lifecycle when the customer experience can significantly affect the business decision-making process. Because services are often paid for as-you-go, a change in usage volume, a service experience, training attendance (or lack thereof), and the degree of understanding of the product features can all lead to decisions to increase or decrease contract levels. As a result, marketing based on usage behavior and lifecycle rises significantly in importance as there is a strategic imperative to influence and/or drive interactions.

With that in mind, the following is a list of triggered campaigns that any SaaS marketing team should think about putting into circulation:

  • Free trial conversion. Once a prospect is in trial, that is the opportunity to communicate the value of the product – to reiterate the benefits and make it an easy decision for them to move from trial to paid. The conversion campaign should be planned as a series of communications, ideally including sales scripting. Customer testimonials and cautious use of incentives (e.g., discount offers) can be effective.
  • Win Back. You win some; you lose some. Having invested in getting the prospect to trial or even to a paid subscription, you shouldn’t sit back and simply accept the loss of a customer. A campaign based on common reasons for cancellation and/or non-purchase, potentially featuring incentives to entice the customer back, is vital to ensuring that you are maximizing the return on your acquisition costs.
  • Onboarding. Immediately after a customer has agreed to a pay is not the time to sell, but it is definitely the time to reaffirm the customer’s decision and the value of the product, as well as preparing the customer for future communications. The Onboarding campaign can be a single email, a series of emails, or even a multi-channel/multi-touch effort.
  • Training attendance. Even if it’s the greatest software in the world, customers won’t use more, expand their user base, and spend more unless they really understand how to use it. A triggered campaign targeting training attendance is therefore vital to maximizing lifetime customer value. The campaign can target individual users or a point-person/advocate who has a stake in training attendance.
  • Cross-sell and up-sell. After the onboarding campaign has laid the relationship groundwork and the training attendance campaign has ensured initial satisfaction, it is time to begin trying to increase walletshare. Cross-sell and up-sell campaigns should not apply a “hard sell” approach; they should be informative rather than overtly promotional. Again, customer testimonials (e.g., “see how customers like you are getting the most out of the software”) can be a powerful messaging element.
  • Feedback. Nothing enhances satisfaction like being asked for feedback. Any important point of contact (e.g., service call, initial implementation, training session attendance) should be seen as an opportunity to solicit opinions. But beware: if you don’t take action on the feedback, asking can be worse than not asking at all.

The good news for marketers is that not only is lifecycle information available for triggers, but now, through companies like Totango (, one can easily create and execute triggered campaigns based on software usage.

The Mobile Marketing Opportunity of Behavioral Routines

An article recently posted on the Mobile Marketer web site urges marketers to think longer term about what they can and should be doing to nurture a relationship with someone who clicks on their ad from a mobile device. While I certainly agree with all of the advice (and assertions of missed opportunity) in the article, I think that this doesn’t push far enough. There’s something more that should added to marketers’ thinking about interactions with customers and prospects on their mobile devices: routine behaviors.

Some time ago, I signed up to receive Groupon daily offers and, as a result, wake up every day to find my Groupon email waiting for me in my inbox. And every day, I read the email. I’ve probably bought 2 or 3 things in the 18 months I’ve been subscribed, but that lack of conversion hasn’t stopped me from checking that email every day. The reason? It’s part of my daily routine. Wake up, make breakfast, check email—including that day’s email from Groupon. The combination of the variety of the offers, the programmed consistency of delivery, and the fact that I always have my mobile device on hand has ingrained checking that email into my morning behavior.

While it may not be the case that every marketer pursuing every type of customer should think in terms of establishing a presence in the audience’s daily routine, the increasing ubiquity of mobile devices makes it an opportunity every marketer should be considering. To aid in this consideration, below are some scenarios that would make “behavior integration” a strategy worth pursuing:

  • A highly competitive battle for mind share and audience attention
  • A need to expand the target audience’s understanding of the range of product, services, or solutions offered
  • Under-utilization of a rich collection of thought leadership resources

In any of these scenarios—or, most of all, in environments in which more than one of these scenarios are combined—a strategy to foster a behavioral routine that leverages the particular usage profile of mobile devices is worth exploring.

How to Generate Critical Mass for Mobile Payments

Mobile payments continue to receive widespread coverage in payments-related media, as various companies pilot and roll out mobile payment products targeted at both consumers and merchants.  In recent weeks:

While these launches are generating a good deal of hype in the industry, and mobile payments are the hot topic in 2012, it is worth noting that researchers assessing consumer and merchant interest in mobile payments are finding that consumer interest in mobile payments is lukewarm at present:

Most consumers are comfortable with established payments methods and feel that they do not have a compelling enough reason to change.  In addition, they have concerns regarding security and privacy.  In addition, most merchants have yet to embrace mobile payments.  The main reason for this is that there is a cost to equipping terminals for mobile payments acceptance, and merchants do not yet see the benefits outweighing costs.

However, with growing smartphone penetration, increased consumer use of mobile phones for shopping, and enhanced mobile payment and acceptance products coming on stream, most observers expect consumer and merchant attitudes to and usage of mobile payments to grow significantly in the coming years.

With this in mind, we have developed the following ten steps to overcome challenges and build a strong mobile payments franchise:

  1. Incorporate mobile payments into a digital wallet.  Although mobile payments on their own have a “buzz” factor as well as enhancing ease and convenience, these attributes on their own will not be enough to encourage widespread adoption of mobile payments.  Some mobile payment providers are looking to leverage power of the smartphone as well as social media apps to develop mobile wallets that will include targeted offer and loyalty program management functionality, in addition to mobile payments.
  2. Identify and target segments who are more willing to try new technologies and alternative payments.  In addition, develop strategies for other segments along the product-adoption curve.
  3. Conduct consumer and merchant research. Focus on identifying what these audiences would look for in a mobile wallet or in mobile acceptance tools, what offers and incentives would drive usage, as well as what factors reduce the likelihood to adopt mobile payments.
  4. Clearly articulate key selling points (over both existing payment methods and other mobile payments products), and incorporate these into all communications.
  5. Establish a partnership strategy that seeks to harmonize the different objectives and concerns of each stakeholder in a mobile payments consortium. (This is particularly important as there is widespread recognition that no one company can go it alone in the embryonic mobile payments space.)
  6. Develop local marketing plans, as mobile payments will tend to be rolled out initially in select markets rather than on a nationwide level.
  7. Conduct mobile payments pilots in select markets to assess and enhance the user experience, evaluate different offers and incentives, and test different media and messaging
  8. Create compelling incentives for consumers and merchants to trial mobile payments.
  9. Build referral programs to encourage initial mobile payments users to recruit friends and family.
  10. Once it has been launched, continually enhance your mobile payment solution to continue to meet changing customer needs, as well as to maintain a competitive advantage.