Questions are the center of great websites

When you’re optimizing a campaign or website, it’s easy to become fixated on having all the answers. But columnist Brian Massey explains how generating questions can lead you to success.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.


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5 User Engagement Strategies for SaaS Product Marketers

Want to sustain growth?

It all starts with user engagement. SaaS businesses must aim to educate and entertain their users to boost satisfaction and retention.

For your team, that means building a marketing strategy that keeps users engaged. You want customers to feel compelled to login to your platform in the morning, during lunchtime, and even before bedtime. You want the stickiness factor.

“Once people start using your product, SaaS companies need to focus on making that product as sticky as possible. Your customers need to be using it in their day-to-day workflows,” says Paul Schmidt, a senior consultant at SmartBug Media.

Ready to engage more? Check out the following five user engagement strategies.

1. Send Triggered Messaging

Communication plays an integral role in customer relationships. You’re already emailing customers welcome messages, product updates, and the occasional thank you note.

Powered by data, it’s possible to send more relevant emails to your audience. Triggered messaging takes advantage of customer behavior to automatically deliver a personalized experience.

“Real-time triggered emails get good results because they respond to subscriber actions and are relevant to them, so they benefit from current high engagement. Whereas routine marketing emails can be more like interruptions and are sometimes rejected as irrelevant,” states Mike Austin, a technologist and email marketer.

Let’s imagine that new users who don’t take a significant action on your platform within 2 days of signing up are more likely to churn. You can set up a triggered message to nudge these users to login to their accounts.

Below is a triggered message I received from Buffer. Their system automatically emailed me when my social media post surpassed a specific audience reach.

Kissmetrics Campaigns can help you deliver behavior based, automated emails to keep customers engaged every step of the way. You also can build targeted segments and measure your campaign impact.

Keep the conversations going beyond the routine emails. Take advantage of customer behavior to send timely messages.

2. Engage with In-App Chat

Over the years as a marketer, you’ve acquired a lot of knowledge about SaaS products. You understand how most platforms work, and you could probably navigate new software within a couple of hours.

The same can’t be said for your customers. They don’t eat and sleep SaaS technology. Therefore, users will need ongoing assistance to achieve their desired outcomes.

“Simply establishing the fact that you are available makes your customers feel better. It makes them not just view the product as some pixels on the screen, but as an extension of the people behind it’s creation: you,” writes Ryan Angilly, CEO of Ramen.

In-app chat is an effective tool to provide one-on-one help to your customers. You’ll learn what features users find difficult, and you can ask users specific questions about their engagement. Your conversations might look the following image from Pipz:

pipz in app messagingImage Source

Some in-app chat platforms offer the capability to segment users. You could identify key behaviors hindering customers from achieving full product adoption. Then, initiate an in-app chat to guide users through their particular roadblocks.

You also want to remind your team to respond to chat messages quickly. Most people don’t like waiting for answers for long periods of time. Another good tip is to be personable on chat support. Emojis help break the monotony.

3. Garner Attention with Video Tutorials

After a customer makes a purchase, it’s important to provide continuing education. An informed customer is more likely to find success with the product, as a result increasing your retention rates.

While well-intentioned customers want to learn, your SaaS product continues to compete for their attention. There are the everyday demands of work, family time, and several other random distractions vying for your customer’s time.

Blogs, eBooks, and guides are the most common forms of educational tools used by businesses. It’s cost-effective and gets the job done. However, text isn’t always an engaging content format.

Video tutorials are one way to compete for your customer’s attention. Videos are visually stimulating and convey your message faster.

Check out the example below from Wrike. The project management company created a video series of tutorials to walk users through their features and benefits.

wrike explainer videosImage Source

To produce captivating video tutorials, start with your customer in mind. What do they want to learn? Schedule time with your customer success team to match your content with users’ pain points.

Beyond the topic, the video should connect with your audience on an emotional level. Use storytelling tactics, like narrative patterns and conflicts, to draw people in and make the experience memorable.

4. Add User Incentives

The right incentive works as a catalyst to influence user behavior. Depending on your company’s goals, you want incentives to serve a real purpose for your customer.

Most companies fall into the trap of giving their customers superficial incentives. That might include a free key chain or the chance to enter a sweepstakes. While these incentives are useful, they might not correlate with growing your engagement.

So let’s skip the swag bags for now. Instead, concentrate on activities that will create product stickiness and transform dormant users into habitual advocates.

Some of those activities may involve offering beta test opportunities for users to try out new features or inviting users into an elite community, like Sprout Social’s All Stars Program.

Sometimes, it can be as simple as creating a Facebook group for users to share tips and ask questions. That’s exactly what CoSchedule did!

coschedule Facebook group

Incentives should be highly valued by your users. Practice strategies of exclusivity or surprise and delight to get users excited about receiving an incentive. A customer who isn’t expecting your incentive will be even more thrilled to receive it.

5. Employ Gamification

The concept of engaging customers with games isn’t anything new. For decades, businesses have seduced customers with seasonal contests.

What’s different now is the method of implementation. The Internet is making it practical to employ gamification principles on a larger scale and at the customer’s convenience.

SaaS businesses see this an opportunity to remedy low customer engagement rates. With the right games, your team can persuade customers to stay on your platform longer.

“Can we do something about our users’ shrinking attention span? No. Can we try to keep them engaged and learning despite the dire circumstances? Absolutely. Gamification and interactive content (e.g. quizzes) are only part of the new dynamic content trend that is emerging in training documentation,” says Noa Dror, content manager at Iridize.

Quuu Promote showcases a great example of how SaaS companies can influence product usage. Their team uses loyalty badges to encourage users to promote more content. The badges are earned when a user’s content attains a specific number of clicks or shares. And as a bonus, the user can earn free credits toward their next purchase.

loyalty badge showcase

Not ready to scale gamification to all your customers? Run a beta program on a segment of your user base. Then, monitor your predetermined success metrics, like usage frequency, to see whether your program produces positive outcomes.

Start Engaging Your Users

Customers are the lifeblood of your business. To retain your users, experiment with different engagement strategies to improve retention.

You can send triggered messaging to remind users to login to your platform. Work with your SaaS team to deliver customer solutions with an in-app chat tool. Lastly, consider how user behavior coupled with gamification can increase engagement.

Engage to retain.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.


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A Simple Plan for Managing and Completing a Content Project

"Think about where you could be one year from now if you start today." – Stefanie Flaxman

On June 20, 2009, I was reading Copyblogger and I got a new idea: I should write an ebook.

At that point, my writing and editing business was less than a year old, and I had never written anything that resembled a book.

Could I actually do it?

I knew I wanted to try, so I established a plan on July 1 that would help me write, design, and self-publish an ebook on my website by September 15.

I’m going to share that plan with you today, so you can adapt it to any type of content project you’d like to finish by the fall. You’ll also learn some habits I like to avoid when there is a specific goal I want to accomplish.

Select the right topic

Writing an ebook could easily take a year or two … or five.

But launching it as soon as possible was an important step for my business. The ebook would help:

The last bullet point above was especially critical because I didn’t have my own blog yet. I’ll explain that in a bit.

In order to complete the project by the end of the summer, I decided to create a short guide to avoiding common writing mistakes.

If I had chosen a more complex topic, either the quality would have suffered or I wouldn’t have been able to release it on September 15.

Carefully select a project you have the time and resources to finish.

Set final deadlines

On July 1, I set these deadlines …

  • August 1: complete draft
  • August 15: complete editing
  • September 1: complete design
  • September 8: complete guest posts for promotion
  • September 15: launch ebook

As you can see, I had a pretty weak promotion strategy. It made me nervous, but since my goal was to produce an ebook, I didn’t worry about it too much.

The project taught me countless lessons about writing, content creation, and marketing that I could apply in the future.

If you don’t try something new because you don’t feel confident about every aspect of it, you’ll never learn those lessons.

Work on weekly goals

After I marked my calendar with my final deadlines, I outlined weekly goals for how I was going to meet them.

Even though I made daily to-do lists to keep me on track, I preferred to measure my progress at the end of a week. Daily goals are often too strict for my creative process.

Sonia recommends forming a support group with other entrepreneurs to help manage your stress and keep yourself accountable. If you’re more of a lone wolf, adopt a no-excuses attitude.

Don’t treat your deadlines as options. Meet them like your job depends on it.

But also recognize that no project goes perfectly. If you have a week that doesn’t quite go as planned, simply reschedule the tasks you didn’t work on.

It’s possible to have a flexible attitude each week and still finish everything by your final deadlines. Find the space where hard work and fun co-exist.

My website didn’t have a blog

How embarrassing is this?

Although I don’t regret spending a lot of energy in the summer of 2009 on that ebook, it would have also been wise to set up my own blog.

I had already been guest posting on other websites, but my online home was a basic “brochure” site that described my services.

I missed out on a lot of opportunities to build my audience (and business) but came to my senses about a year later when I was ready to blog regularly. :-)

What’s your next project?

It could be:

Think about where you could be one year from now if you start today, and let us know in the comments about a new goal you’re ready to focus on this summer.

The post A Simple Plan for Managing and Completing a Content Project appeared first on Copyblogger.


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SEO: The missing piece in brand protection

Columnist Bobby Lyons outlines the ways in which search engine optimization (SEO) is critical in building and defending your brand’s reputation online.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.


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PPC strategy: Planning beyond the click

Your paid search campaign may be getting a lot of clicks, but are you really making the most of them? Columnist Amanda Evans discusses how to succeed by focusing on the post-click experience.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.


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How to set up a successful revenue-generating demand gen system

Some marketers hurtle headlong into gathering leads without considering the strategic framework surrounding the effort. Contributor Sweta Patel explains how to set up a system to maximize the quality and quantity of demand generation.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.


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