Almost any business can benefit from the strategic implementation of triggered campaigns (see: http://www.emiboston.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Triggered-Campaign-Field-Guide.pdf) 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 (www.totango.com), one can easily create and execute triggered campaigns based on software usage.