Pay Attention to These 5 User Behaviors to Increase SaaS Customer Engagement

Ever bought a survival kit?

It contains supplies to help you during a disaster. Every tool within the kit serves its purpose to sustain your life.

But what about your business? Does it have a survival kit?

Customer engagement is one of the tools to include. SaaS companies must engage with users for business survival and growth.

“Customer engagement can help answer some tough product and marketing questions. The key is to determine which parts of your product different users utilize, and to target users directly for primary market research,” says Guy Nirpaz, CEO and co-founder of Totango.

Your team can monitor user behavior to pinpoint friction points, correct product mistakes, and prevent unwanted cancellations. So pay attention to these five user behaviors below.

1. When Users Miss the Initial Onboarding Step

Teams spend weeks (sometimes months) nurturing leads into customers. Then, once the sale happens, some team members automatically move to the next prospect in line.

As a result, the new customer is left to navigate your platform alone and wrestles with how to solve their own problems. This is a lose-lose situation for everyone involved.

Your team’s time and effort around onboarding will determine the rest of the brand-customer relationship. It’s important to welcome customers, get them acquainted with your application, and show them how to gain value quickly.

The small wins count when onboarding customers. They subscribed to your service to receive a solution. If that goal isn’t achieved, you may receive negative feedback from an irate customer, or worse, a cancellation notice.

“Keeping motivation high is especially crucial if your product’s activation event is inherently difficult or time-consuming. It’s much easier to ask people to complete one small thing at a time than to make one giant commitment,” writes Julia Chen, blog editor at Appcues.

Study your onboarding analytics to track users’ sessions per day and the in-app milestones completed. You want to detect inactivity early.

If you notice customers need extra help, screen overlays are an effective way to guide customers in the right direction. Check out this example from Slack.

slack-direct-messages-onboarding

Welcome your new customers with open arms. Give them an extra boost of support to see the value in your product.

2. When Users Remain Inactive in Your Platform

Because of our ability to form habits, people are somewhat predictable. We might sit in the same seat on the bus or order the same latte from Starbucks every day.

So when customers begin to use our products and then stop consumption, we notice the change in their behavior. It’s especially noticeable when it adversely impacts growth.

Behavioral analytics tools like Kissmetrics uncovers when users stop logging into their accounts or when customers fail to open your customer success emails. Your team’s mission is to find the reason for their lack of engagement.

The causes for inactivity may include software difficulty, a shift in preferences, or even life distractions. More often than not, inactive users reflect your team’s inability to engage with the individual. You must take a proactive approach before the customer becomes disinterested.

Zapier sends its customers re-engagement emails. The company offers tools to help the user succeed and reminds the person about product benefits.

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Take charge during customers’ inactive periods. Provide them with a compelling reason to interact with your platform again.

3. When Users Submit Negative Feedback

Negative feedback isn’t awful as some companies may think. It’s receiving no feedback that should frighten SaaS businesses.

When consumers are dissatisfied, they usually quit buying without telling you why. That’s more harmful because you don’t know how to improve your services. You’re left guessing about what to do next.

So welcome all feedback—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Consider it a competitive advantage to have all this information at your fingertips. Plus, it will help you spot new trends to stay relevant in this dynamic market.

“Don’t always assume that negative reviews can only be a disadvantage to your business. Be open to customer input and you might learn something about how your competitors do things right that you’re doing wrong,” states Forbes contributor Steve Olenski.

To analyze the feedback, tag each message with predetermined criteria, like product types or support issues. Then, comb through the comments for general themes of negativity. This technique will expose your priorities.

For instance, if customer service is the problem, you may need to analyze your response times and the quality of your messages.

Dimensional Research found that customers considered a customer service experience to be good when there was a quick resolution to the problem. So you could revamp the experience in a manner that meets (and exceeds) your customer’s expectations.

Negative feedback isn’t a setback. Transform customer frustration into business results.

4. When Users Avoid Training Resources

Trying something new often brings excitement and eagerness to learn. New customers want to know how to turn their brand new tool into a valuable asset.

It should concern your team when users aren’t actively engaging with your training resources. If you notice a decrease in your video replays, content hub page views, or ebook downloads, it’s time to examine the cause of the decline.

It may be that the educational materials aren’t conveniently accessible. Customers don’t know where to go for help.

Or customers may consider your content boring and too hard to digest. If that’s the case, try different types of training— customer webinars, mini-courses, and AMAs—to educate users about your product.

Wrike hosts live webinars to speak with their customers directly. It’s a chance for users to get their questions answered in real-time.

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Take a second look at why customers avoid your resources. You might be standing in the way of customer success.

5. When Users Cancel Their Subscriptions

For some teams, it’s a dreadful experience receiving a cancellation notification from a customer. Questions flare up: What happened? What can we do better?

Before you bombard the customer with a slew of questions, work with your team to develop a process for handling all subscription cancellations. It will help you create a standard benchmark for evaluating every situation.

You shouldn’t dwell on cancellations. Instead, focus on their reasons for leaving. SaaS experts advocate that cancellations don’t equate to churn. So you still may have an opportunity to win back customers.

Use subscription cancellations as a tool to learn hard lessons from your team’s mistakes. Surveys are an effective method to collect this data.

“One of the best tactics that you can use to win back your cancelled customers is by using cancellation surveys, but just sending out a survey itself won’t provide a lot of results. Basic unplanned surveys will result in low response rates and inaccurate results,” says Wilson Peng, cofounder of YesInsights.

Developing a system for identifying the problem to find the real reason behind the cancellation. Experiment with asking different questions and conduct split testing on the best times to ask users to submit a cancellation survey. You may even want to test whether or not making the form field mandatory increases your response rate.

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It’s always a good time to learn from your errors. Change your perception around cancellations by focusing on how you can improve.

A Watchful Eye

For your SaaS to survive (and thrive), customer engagement is an essential element to your business strategy. But it’s not enough to say it, your team must execute.

Monitoring user behavior offers insight on how to engage with customers. This newfound knowledge prepares your business for future disasters.

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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3 free AdWords testing tools to adopt today

Columnist Todd Saunders discusses the importance of data-fueled decision-making with regard to ad copy and suggests a few tools to help you test and optimize your search ads.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
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Everybody’s Working for the Weekday

"Find the space where hard work and fun coexist." – Stefanie Flaxman

Why do we spend so much time researching, creating, optimizing, and promoting our content?

“Geez, Stefanie. That’s a silly question,” you might be thinking. “You of all people should know that content marketing helps with our business goals. In fact, you wrote about that last week.”

And you’d be absolutely correct.

But that’s not what I want to focus on today. I want to look at the personal motivations and goals of people who decide to become writers and content marketers — people like you.

The eye-roll heard round the world

When I hear people glamorize writing as a profession, I buy a one-way airplane ticket to Eye-roll-Ville and fly high above the fantasy that writing is a special job.

Writing is hard work and always incomplete.

Why would someone think it’s exciting and “cool” to be a writer?

That’s the question that always brings me back down to Earth because the answer is … being a writer is actually that exciting and cool. I need to remember that.

The hard work part is still real, but the personal joy writing produces is incomparable. “Fulfilling” is an understatement.

Perhaps the most driven to communicate clearly, artists who are writers take on many different roles. They’re teachers, mentors, philosophers, trailblazers, revolutionaries.

They don’t just “do work,” they love the work they do.

Personal goals can fuel business goals

In the 1981 hit “Working for the Weekend” by Loverboy, the sentiment is that we have to get through the week. The weekend is what we look forward to, our reward.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of the weekend. And it may seem a bit absurd to dissect the chorus of a lighthearted pop song, but the point I want to highlight is:

If we spend the majority of our time working during the week, shouldn’t we strive to make that time enjoyable as well?

I also support taking breaks during your workday and making it a priority to not get burned out, but those aspects aside, I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of loving the work you do so much that you’re not desperate for an escape.

Writers and content marketers tend to gravitate toward that intersection of personal and business goals.

They first get clear on the “why” that gets them out of bed in the morning and carries them to work each day, and then take steps so that some part of their daily reality (even if it’s not their full-time job) consists of progress that helps them achieve their desired lifestyle.

They find the space where hard work and fun coexist.

So, if you’d like to spend more of your time “working for the weekday,” let’s talk about getting clear on how you can start moving in that direction.

Answer these 3 questions to get clear on what you want

Before a content marketer writes her first word to promote a product or service, that product or service had to be born. Someone had to decide to build something that solves a problem.

In a notebook, write down these three categories across the top of a piece of paper:

  • What do I love to do?
  • What do people need related to those interests?
  • What solutions can I offer that will help establish me as an authority?

Jot down anything that comes to mind for each question.

Don’t hold back here because sometimes you won’t see a brilliant connection between all three categories that will become your content, product, or service concept until you release all of your ideas and get them written down.

I always go through this process with a pen and paper because it’s supposed to be messy. A digital document — that allows you to seamlessly delete some of your answers into oblivion — is too clean and organized for the madness that is necessary to have a breakthrough.

Self-indulgence as either self-care or self-harm

Is doing work you love self-indulgent and worthy of criticism?

Like anyone who chooses to pursue a career path that makes them happy should feel a little guilty … like what makes them so special that they can do work they find fun while other people are stuck at jobs that make them unhappy?

Consider this: self-harm is just as self-indulgent as self-care, but self-harm is often viewed as much more acceptable.

Staying at a job you dislike. Sleeping too little. Drinking too much alcohol. Eating an unhealthy diet. Normalizing all of those choices as just a part of modern life makes taking care of your well-being almost seem out of the ordinary.

Let’s say any self-indulgent action is either considered self-care or self-harm.

Self-care would be an action that helps support long-term happiness, while self-harm would be an action that satisfies a need and/or briefly produces joy, but does not support sustainable contentment.

When someone feels safer on the self-harm side of self-indulgence, clinging to the belief that happiness only occurs in fleeting moments and that the majority of existence is suffering … that’s a choice.

And if we’re willing to overlook those self-harm actions as understandable and necessary to navigate through life, then no one should be criticized for valuing self-care actions and taking the time to explore the interests they want to pursue professionally that would help them serve others.

Help people discover what you have to offer

Passionate writers want to reach everyone who will benefit from their work.

The thoughtful content on your website that you research, create, optimize, and promote is a reflection of your passion — and it attracts the people you aim to serve.

Do you love your work? If not, what can you do today to start moving toward a more fulfilling career? Commit to your next step in the comments below.

The post Everybody’s Working for the Weekday appeared first on Copyblogger.

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How MailChimp Uses Data Science to Make Their Email Service Irresistible

When it comes to mailing list services and autoresponders, few services out there are more popular than MailChimp. As of June 2014, MailChimp was sending out over 10 billion emails a month. That’s a lot of communication. And there’s no one better suited to wrangle that communication than MailChimp data scientist and author, John Foreman.

His insights and the data science work he’s done for MailChimp, as well as other companies like Coca-Cola, Royal Caribbean, Dell and more have helped not only grow these respective businesses, but also forged new paths in understanding what it means to create impactful, actionable and meaningful data science discoveries.

So how can you follow his lead and put data science to work for you? Let’s take a closer look:

First, Ask “What’s Useful or Required by the Customer?”

One of the biggest misconceptions about data science is that there are a bunch of number-crunchers holed up in their silo cubicles, staring at mounds and mounds of spreadsheets and screens and having little to no interaction with anyone else. According to Foreman, nothing could be farther from the truth. As the brains behind many of the data-backed initiatives at MailChimp, Foreman and his department serve teams internally as well as MailChimp’s customer base.

One such example of an internally-developed tool that was eventually rolled out to the mail-sending population at large within MailChimp was Omnivore, an artificial intelligence learning tool that scans emails for bad URLs, spammy keywords and other telltale signs of mail abuse. It is, essentially, a self-cleaning tool that continually adapts to not just help ban abusers from compromising the system, but helps keep inboxes as a whole, cleaner and safer.

Tools like this one are not only useful, they’re necessary for a company like MailChimp, whose very business backbone is built on the ability to send clean, reputable messages. One thing Foreman adamantly wants to avoid is the perception that data is glitzy, glamorous or worth showing off just because it’s the trendy thing to do.

According to an interview in GNIP, he stated “[a] data science team is not a research group at a university, nor is it a place just to show off technologies to investors. We’re not here to publish, and we’re not here to build ‘look at our data…oooo’ products for the media.” He further adds, “whenever a data science team is involved in those activities, assume the business doesn’t actually know what to do with the technical resources they’ve hired.”

In another, meatier example, profiled on Mashable, the issue at hand was that ever-present, ever-nagging question:


“When is the Best Time to Send Email?”

Foreman has stated that self-doubt holds back users from achieving the kind of success they want in MailChimp, so the team built a Send-Time Optimization System (STO) to mine the data. Here’s what they got when they segmented recipients into three groups: college-age, forties and over-retirement age.

optimal-email-send-times-demographics-mailchimp

So there is, as you might expect, no “one size fits all” approach to the absolute “best time to send” email messages. It depends on whom you’re targeting: not just their age group, but also other demographics like their work, where they live, and so on. If you’re wondering why they built an entire system just to prove what most marketers know as common sense, the answer is exactly that.

The data proves common sense, and MailChimp gets a precise, data-backed answer that isn’t just pulled out of a customer support technician’s ear. This, in turn helps customers feel more confident about their segmentations and get better results from their emails, which in turn helps fuel their connection with and loyalty to the MailChimp service.

Circumvent Unnecessary Risk and Complexity

Another surprising bit of information, which may come as a surprise to some marketers who dabble in development, is that sometimes the simplest option is the best.

Foreman was able to demonstrate his expertise to the MailChimp team when he originally applied for the job, not by using flashy platforms like Hadoop or NoSQL, but by using plain old Excel spreadsheets. He follows this same path in his book, as well.

According to an article in VentureBeat, Foreman notes, “a data science team should align itself with the business and serve that business…[t]he purpose of the data science team is to lead from the back, not to make headlines.” And one of the many ways they do that is by avoiding using flashy new technology just because it’s new. You end up avoiding a lot of unnecessary complexity that way.

Data Science is Not Just “Nice to Have” – It’s Necessary.

As more and more companies start to gather meaningful, usable data, the science and the users behind it become even more critical. Having “data backed” hard evidence that you can show customers, team members and investor alike helps breed confidence, and confidence breeds success.

All of this ties in with technology in that we’re getting both a broader picture and a granular view of how our customer base is acting and reacting. We can see how data overlaps and bridges gaps while zooming in on a single point to get the kind of details that would ordinarily be pure guesswork.

Are you collecting the kind of meaningful, measurable data that can make these types of impacts in your own work? While you may not have the flexibility to create entire A.I. systems just to prove or disprove a point, the fact is that having data on your side solidifies your company’s place in its respective industry and in the small but measurable things you do to improve the customer experience.

How are you using the data you collect? Have you been able to forge some new ideas or hypotheses to test? What have the results been? Share your thoughts and perspectives with us in the comments below.

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

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