SaaS (Software As A Service) companies are spreading like wildfire. They are all over the internet, and have penetrated practically every industry. They represent a new age of businesses as they are often cutting edge, unconventional and personal.
As I've mentioned in previous posts, I believe that every company needs to consider themselves as a software company to succeed in the next 5 years. Here are 10 ideas you can steal from SaaS companies and adopt into your current business.
For many SaaS businesses, their revenue is based on recurring monthly revenue. This means you could be collecting monthly subscriptions for an on-going service or use of your product. In the long run, you’ll have a steady cash flow from your monthly subscriptions, which means you can easily answer the question, “Will I have revenue tomorrow?”
Adopting a Monthly Subscription model for a service or product you offer is an investment. Your customers won’t be paying you upfront. Their payment would be spread out over an indefinite amount of time meaning if you can maintain your customer service and value - you can keep your customer for an indefinite amount of time.
The major takeaway: monthly recurring revenue allows for predictable cash flow. Consistent cash flow allows you to grow your business at a sustainable pace with minimum risk.
SaaS companies most always have a significant online presence. Online is where their product is, where their sales are and where their customer service is. However just because your product isn’t online doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a strong online presence. A strong online presence allows your potential customers to find valuable information regarding your company, and can ultimately lead to convincing them to becoming one of your clients.
One of the many tools to create strong customer support is using live chat. Live chat on your website gives customers the opportunity to get their questions answered by a real person. Not only does it add personality, it gives you the opportunity to actually speak to your prospects and see what they are looking for. In fact, according to a study conducted by Forrester Resear 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person is one of the most important features a website can offer.
In 2008, Wells Fargo added online chat to their website to drive sales. The result of the implementation led to higher customer satisfaction scores and a double-digit increase in converted shoppers.
Have you ever considered what your onboarding process is for your customer? How does one transition from potential customer to paying customer? A great onboarding process allows your customer to quickly and effectively take all the steps necessary to become an active client with your company, and educates the customer on all the services you provide and how they can best utilize your services or product. An onboarding process serves as your first interaction with an active client - it’s the first impression of your services and the relationship you will maintain with your customer. It ultimately helps define the customer’s expectations. And by defining your customer’s expectations, you are securing customer satisfaction.
Zenpayroll is a great example of a fantastic onboarding process. I’ve discussed how great their services are before. Right when you sign up with Zenpayroll, they provide an in-depth step-by-step guide of how to get all set up with payroll.
It took me less than a day to get set up, while my experience elsewhere was significantly longer. I was so happy with the experience of the whole thing - it inspired me to write an article that was upvoted to the front page of Hackernews and received thousands of visitors in a matter of hours.
Now that’s an onboarding process!
Tiered pricing is a standard for SaaS companies where the customer would receive a range of services/features depending on the package they select. Tiered pricing does not work for every situation however what it does accomplish often is simplicity. It allows the customer to easily understand how much they will be spending and also be able to compare with other companies.
I read an article written by Steve Blank recently describing an experience working at Supermac, a military intelligence system supplier. He tells the story of how he managed to turn one product into eight using a tiered pricing model.
It isn’t just the quality of your product or service that will define your success - it’s how you package it and present it to customers.
One of the many ways to become a leader in the industry is to be the company that everyone considers the experts in the field. To acquire the credibility of an expert, you have to be communicating to the general public regarding all sorts of issues that occur in your industry. You need to gain the respect of your competitors, your current customers and your potential customers.
To do this many successful SaaS companies have composed incredibly thorough guides to help their potential customers become more educated in the industry. And not only does it increase the odds of their customers being more successful, it also positions their company as the experts. Who wouldn’t want to work with the leading experts in the field?
Kissmetrics does a fantastic job of creating useful marketing guides. You can spend all day reading through all the guides they have available.
Creating an educational video library not only brings your company credibility, but it also allows your customers to answer their questions online. This isn’t just to minimize your customer support calls, it’s to provide convenience.
We have all experienced the Google effect - whenever we need an answer, we Google it. Consumers have adapted to using the internet to answer all questions including any questions about your business, and if your business does not answer those questions online while a competitor does, guess where your potential customer will send their business.
Our friends over at Infusionsoft, a local Arizona company, have a massive video database to help answer any questions you may have. They also have live chat embedded in their product.
Imagine if any person that has a question relevant to your industry came to you to get it answered. That opens a lot of doors for potential customers.
3rd Party Integrations
SaaS companies often make their product more appealing by creating integrations with other SaaS companies. For example, Freshbooks, a simple online accounting system, has several integrations with other software platforms.
If you take the software aspect out of it, third-party integrations are really just a partner program. Creating partner programs could be a huge sell for potential customers. If they already are doing business with one of your business partners, it would make it easy to do business with you as well.
Free one month trials just make sense for SaaS businesses, but maybe they could make sense for your business also. SaaS businesses offer free trials to their customers to give customers the opportunity to try out their product. In effect, you are allowing your product or service to sell itself to the customer.
I was having a conversation with the CEO of one our clients recently. He was telling me how he was in the market for a new car. He was considering the new Range Rover, but it was a big change for him because he wasn’t sure if he wanted an SUV as his primary vehicle. He told me he had gone down to a dealership, and instead of selling the features and doing a quick test drive, the dealership offered him a one week free trial. He got to take the Range Rover home and drive it for a week. He ended up loving it and buying the car.
Try to adopt free trials in your services or products, but don’t worry it’s not for everyone. This article does a good job of explaining whether a free trial is right for you.
Almost every SaaS company in the world requires a universal input to start using their product. That’s your email. This is done for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important reasons is notifications.
Whenever something occurs within the SaaS product that requires a user’s attention, a notification is either sent via the application and/or through email. This simple feature provides a lot of value for your customers. It allows your customers to have the peace of mind that whenever something important occurs in doing business with your company, you will notify them immediately. It also creates transparency in the relationship with your clients. They now feel that they are up to date with what your product/service is providing.
You can set up notifications to be automatic or you can send them manually, either way the benefit is a stronger customer relationship.
Great SaaS companies have more than an online business. Great SaaS companies have an online community. A service we at RAD Development absolutely love to use and recommend to basic Ecommerce companies is Shopify. Shopify is one of the leading Ecommerce store builders, and not only do they have a fantastic product, they have a fantastic online community. Their Ecommerce forums are comprised of thousands people discussing Ecommerce best practices and of course, Shopify is right in the middle of the conversation.
You don’t have to create a community online, but creating a community that centers around your industry is very effective in generating potential customers to your business.