|By Joel York||
|May 7, 2014 08:00 AM EDT||
As a SaaS business matures, the importance and value of SaaS metrics increase. Most SaaS businesses begin their journey down the SaaS metrics path by tracking recurring revenue in relation to customer acquisition costs. After building a solid customer base, churn becomes a priority. These fundamental SaaS metrics are all apparent in the standard SaaS profit equation below.
SaaS profit =
current customers x ( avg recurring revenue – avg recurring cost )
– new customers x avg acquisition cost
However, it quickly becomes apparent that fighting churn requires a SaaS metrics toolkit that digs significantly deeper than simple financial metrics. Operational metrics are needed that connect day-to-day business reality to financial performance. It is this realization that gives birth to the new Metrics-driven SaaS Business as it discovers the goldmine of SaaS customer success metrics and predictive analytics that enable it to eliminate churn before it begins.
But what about the other half of the profit equation? Is it possible to apply SaaS customer success metrics to customer acquisition? The answer is most emphatically yes! Prospects are merely future customers, and their success lies in the purchase of your SaaS product. It’s a SaaS best practice to provide a seamless customer experience from visiting your website to trial to purchase to use, therefore the metrics used to describe this process should be seamless as well. In all cases, the goal is to help customers become happy users of your SaaS product, i.e., successful customers. SaaS customer acquisition is merely SaaS prospect success.
Customer success metrics are equally applicable to SaaS customer acquisition,
because prospects are merely future customers whose success lies in purchase.
This is the third post in a series inspired by my ongoing collaboration with Bluenose Analytics that explores the new Metrics-driven SaaS Business based on emerging best practices in SaaS customer success metrics. The last post discussed the promise of SaaS customer success metrics for churn reduction and upselling. This third post examines their use in SaaS customer acquisition.
Improving Trial Conversions
Marketing automation vendors built an entirely new software category based on the idea of facilitating purchase by helping B2B companies engage more effectively online with the New Breed of B2B Buyer. Unfortunately, marketing automation products focus all their attention on trying to get prospects to read your content, not use your product. Reading content is good, using product is better. Online trial is a foundational SaaS best practice and improving trial conversion is strategically important to many SaaS vendors. Fortunately, SaaS customer success metrics offer as much potential to increase trial conversion as they do to reduce churn.
The same statistical methods used in customer success can be applied to customer acquisition,
only we are looking for drivers of purchase rather than drivers of churn.
Trial is the moment where the SaaS vendor establishes that always-on communication channel to the SaaS customer through the product. Prior to trial login, customers are just cookies and email addresses. After trial login, product usage can be monitored and every click can be associated with an individual customer. Trial forms also collect key customer demographics that can be used in predictive models. In fact, The Metrics-driven SaaS Business uses these same models to decide exactly what questions should be asked on a trial form, i.e., the ones that can be used to best predict and facilitate purchase! Using SaaS product usage data to create predictive purchase models is SaaS lead scoring done right.
Reducing Acquisition Costs through Metrics
Moving along our SaaS profit equation, we come to one of the most important SaaS financial metrics for every SaaS vendor: customer acquisition cost. Keeping customer acquisition cost is line is essential to the financial success of every SaaS business, because customer acquisition eats cash. The lower your customer acquisition cost, the sooner you get repaid for your upfront investment in acquiring a customer, and the sooner you can reinvest that money in acquiring yet another one.
By now you should be able to guess exactly how SaaS customer success metrics can be applied to reduce customer acquisition costs, because they are essentially similar to the methods for improving customer success efficiency. First we need to identify the key predictors of purchase. For example, our analysis of product usage data may indicate that prospects that use the product every day of the free trial can usually be converted with a single phone call, whereas those that stop using it within the first week are twice as likely to convert if we can get them to attend an instructional webinar. Now what SaaS account manager wouldn’t love to have that little jewel of information?
As with our customer success organization, the key to reducing acquisition costs is to embed our predictive models into the daily sales activities. The process is the same. First we create descriptive models to identify the root causes of why prospects do and don’t purchase our product. Then, we use these models to create KPIs at the trial account level that reps can use to guide their daily activities. We can also create alerts when specific trigger events require a reps attention, such as increased or decreased product use of a particular kind. And, finally, we can automate communications within the product itself to facilitate purchase.
Improving Onboarding with SaaS Customer Success Metrics
Onboarding a new customer is where customer acquisition and customer success meet. Most SaaS customer success professionals will tell you that inadequate onboarding at the beginning of a contract is one of the key drivers of churn at the end of the contract. In addition, onboarding can be an expensive and time-consuming task for more complex SaaS products. The Metrics-driven SaaS Business understands the strategic impact of onboarding and applies SaaS customer success metrics to streamline the onboarding process and reduce onboarding costs.
Where are your new customers getting stuck? This is the primary question of the onboarding challenge, and I can think of no better indicator than product usage data. Whereas acquisition and churn KPIs were largely focused on predicting future events, onboarding customer success metrics are looking at the here and now, as in “Why is this customer stuck right here, right now?” By drilling down on this question, we can identify root causes and predictive indicators of onboarding failure that can be used by both customer success reps and product managers to streamline the onboarding process.
Driving Customer Advocacy and Viral Growth through Metrics
At the beginning of the SaaS customer lifecycle, SaaS customer acquisition and SaaS customer success first meet in onboarding, but at the end they meet again in viral growth, where life begins anew. Up until now, we’ve explored a number of ways SaaS customer success metrics can be applied to eliminate problems: stopping churn, reducing service costs, improving trial conversions, etc. At the top of the capability pyramid, The Metrics-driven SaaS Business uses SaaS customer success metrics to create opportunities, not just resolve problems.
The same techniques we used to identify customers who might churn can be used to identify customers that will never churn, customers that love us, and customers that will recommend us! By applying SaaS customer success metrics to identify advocates, we can improve our bank of potential sales references, customer testimonials, case studies and user group leaders. Many organizations use methods like Net Promoter to measure customer advocacy, and these are good ideas for SaaS businesses as well, but only SaaS businesses can complement these qualitative measures with quantitative customer advocacy metrics based on actual product use.
By applying SaaS customer success metrics to identify advocates,
we can improve our bank of potential sales references, customer testimonials,
case studies and user group leaders.
Enabling viral growth through sharing is a common SaaS product design best practice. The main idea is to encourage customers to create work products, such as documents, charts, projects, etc. that are integral to the SaaS product experience, and then share those work products with non-customers with whom they need to collaborate. Understanding and facilitating the activities that lead to sharing is strategic goal of the Metrics-driven SaaS Business, because viral sharing leads to viral revenue growth.
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lea...
Oct. 1, 2016 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 865
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Oct. 1, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,188
Adobe is changing the world though digital experiences. Adobe helps customers develop and deliver high-impact experiences that differentiate brands, build loyalty, and drive revenue across every screen, including smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs. Adobe content solutions are used daily by millions of companies worldwide-from publishers and broadcasters, to enterprises, marketing agencies and household-name brands. Building on its established design leadership, Adobe enables customers not o...
Oct. 1, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 640
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. Y...
Oct. 1, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,109
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Oct. 1, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 5,539
“We're a global managed hosting provider. Our core customer set is a U.S.-based customer that is looking to go global,” explained Adam Rogers, Managing Director at ANEXIA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Oct. 1, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,272
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
Oct. 1, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,339
What are the new priorities for the connected business? First: businesses need to think differently about the types of connections they will need to make – these span well beyond the traditional app to app into more modern forms of integration including SaaS integrations, mobile integrations, APIs, device integration and Big Data integration. It’s important these are unified together vs. doing them all piecemeal. Second, these types of connections need to be simple to design, adapt and configure...
Oct. 1, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 645
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
Oct. 1, 2016 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,813
SYS-CON Events announced today that Sheng Liang to Keynote at SYS-CON's 19th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1-3, 2016 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
Oct. 1, 2016 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 319
Technology vendors and analysts are eager to paint a rosy picture of how wonderful IoT is and why your deployment will be great with the use of their products and services. While it is easy to showcase successful IoT solutions, identifying IoT systems that missed the mark or failed can often provide more in the way of key lessons learned. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Peter Vanderminden, Principal Industry Analyst for IoT & Digital Supply Chain to Flatiron Strategies, will focus on how IoT de...
Oct. 1, 2016 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,336
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
Oct. 1, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 888
24Notion is full-service global creative digital marketing, technology and lifestyle agency that combines strategic ideas with customized tactical execution. With a broad understand of the art of traditional marketing, new media, communications and social influence, 24Notion uniquely understands how to connect your brand strategy with the right consumer. 24Notion ranked #12 on Corporate Social Responsibility - Book of List.
Oct. 1, 2016 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 641
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
Oct. 1, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,734
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, will discuss how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy ap...
Oct. 1, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 729
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
Oct. 1, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 535
What does it look like when you have access to cloud infrastructure and platform under the same roof? Let’s talk about the different layers of Technology as a Service: who cares, what runs where, and how does it all fit together. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, an IBM company, spoke about the picture being painted by IBM Cloud and how the tools being crafted can help fill the gaps in your IT infrastructure.
Oct. 1, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,217
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Oct. 1, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,333
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridharabalan, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, Inc., will focus on key challenges in building an Internet of Things solution infrastructure. He will shed light on efficient ways of defining interactions within IoT solutions, leading to cost and time reduction. He will also introduce ways to handle data and how one can develop IoT solutions that are lean, flexible and configurable, thus making IoT infrastructure agile and scalable.
Oct. 1, 2016 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,690
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, provided tips on how to be successful in large scale machine learning...
Oct. 1, 2016 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,525