Companies that market software as a service (SaaS) can never rest when it comes to nurturing their existing customers. At renewal time, if you haven’t been helping customers get the most from your application, they’re not likely to renew. But it goes even beyond retention. In a mutually beneficial business relationship, your customers will grow with your business.
“The way I see it, closing a deal is just the first step,” Stan Masseuras, Director of EMEA Sales at Intercom, said in The Sales Handbook. “It’s what comes after—onboarding, upselling and cross-selling, renewal—that determines your customers’ ability to grow with your product and, consequently, the fate of your own growth.”
Look at the Entire Customer Lifecycle
When you’re thinking about nurturing SaaS customers, you need to take into account the entire customer lifecycle. The stages include onboarding, gaining maximum value from the software through education, expanding into new features and functions through upselling and cross-selling, and renewals. You must create a long-term relationship based on brand trust.
It’s a team effort that not only involves marketing but also customer support and sales. As a content marketer, you will play a key role in building valued, long-term customer relationships.
Here are six of the best ways to nurture existing SaaS customers.
#1 Start Immediately
Customer experience matters from the moment a prospect becomes a client. If you’re nurturing brand-new customers, start with a welcome packet to make the onboarding process smooth and positive. If IT is responsible for deployment, you may want to include a go-live kit that includes resources to help IT through implementation, as well as emails and internal social messages and other get-started content that the IT team can use to communicate with its end users.
Whether IT is involved or not, you can help end users get excited about adopting new software by providing content that shows them how easy it is to use and the value that they’ll get from using it. In addition to your digital strategy, include webinars or demos to help customers master the basic functions they will be using.
#2 Develop a Lifecycle Strategy
If your renewal cycle is annual, create a content marketing strategy that covers the entire year. You don’t need to start from scratch. Review your content library and look for evergreen resources that could fit within your nurture. Then fill in the gaps with new content.
Examples might include white papers that take a deep dive into how to implement your software, solution briefs that highlight different solutions or different functions of a solution, blog posts that offer tips to getting the most from the applications, or case studies that showcase how other businesses have implemented your solution.
Chances are, you have most of the assets you need for nurturing SaaS customers already live in your content library.
#3 Provide Continuing Education
Provide information throughout the lifecycle that educates customers about the features and functions of your solutions, and the benefits customers will realize from using them.
You may have outlined all these features and benefits at the outset, but people typically won’t retain a great deal more than the basics when they’re starting out. Helping them build their knowledge base over time can ensure they take advantage of a broader range of the features and benefits that will deepen their satisfaction with your solution.
Highlight a different function or feature every month, every quarter, or at whatever regular interval makes sense for your SaaS solution. Here again, you can offer regular webinars or demos that help users gain and increase mastery of the functionality that helps them do their jobs better.
#4 Consider Newsletters
Newsletters are often viewed as a throwaway—another message that clutters the inbox. But if you use them to provide real value rather than promotions while nurturing SaaS customers, newsletters can become a valued resource that customers look forward to receiving. Consider starting with a quarterly newsletter and interspersing other content in between. Here are some suggestions for content to include in your newsletters:
- Feature/function showcases
- Customer case studies
- Event announcements (e.g., demos, webinars, conferences, user groups)
- How to get help from your support team
- New features or products
#5 Expand Their Horizons
Once customers feel comfortable using your software, start adding upsell and cross-sell messaging. Show them how they can increase the value they receive by integrating new functionality within their own teams or by integrating with other solutions across the organization.
Integration is a key driver of value when it comes to SaaS. Show them how by sharing data across the organization, everyone gains access to a “single source of truth” that provides reliable business insights to deliver a better customer experience or make better business decisions.
#6 Woo Back Inactive Customers
When you’re nurturing SaaS customers, make a concerted effort to include more than just your power users. Identify inactive customers and take the opportunity to win them back well before renewal time.
Now is a good time to get personal. Get your sales and support teams involved by crafting messages they can use on a personalized email or phone call. These must reflect an accurate picture of the customer’s activity level and address it specifically.
The Value of Customer Retention
With all these activities, you’re not just helping your customers get more value from your SaaS solution. You’re also more deeply embedding your solution into their organization and making it harder for them to switch to a competitor. You’re adding “stickiness.”
A study by Price Intelligently shows that a 1% increase in customer acquisition results in about a 3.3% boost in the bottom line. In contrast, a 1% increase in customer retention boosts the bottom line by 7% over the customer lifecycle.
A strong nurture strategy for existing customers can help build a loyal customer base that will stick with you for a long time.
Sales and field marketing teams play a pivotal role in long-lasting client relationships, and now they’re challenged to keep those relationships alive without the benefit of in-person events. Check out “Reimagining Field Marketing: How B2B Brands Are Connecting With Their Communities” for tips on bridging the event gap.