The best part about any SaaS business is that its customers are mostly retainers, consistent monthly subscribers. But how do you build that customer base and establish a strong monthly recurring revenue (MRR) to drive your business? In order to grow your business and maintain profitability, you need to provide high-quality services and build (and maintain) trust with customers.
Today, there are literally thousands of SaaS businesses available under different niches. Competition gets tougher every day; so in order to stand out from the rest and build trust in your customers, you need to go an extra mile.
In this article, I am going to hack different SaaS businesses and present some proven ideas that any SaaS business can use to grow market share and build trust with current and potential customers. In the end, these growth hacks not only increase sales but also improve your chances of building a sustainable business based on customer happiness and consistent user engagement.
Blog, blog and blog a little more
No, I am not saying fill up your blog section with tons of useless content; that probably would be a bad idea. But blogging is important, and there is no shortcut to it. You as a SaaS business owner have to fill up your blog with the highest-quality content within your niche that actually answer the questions people have in their mind and inspires them to share your content with others within their circle.
Why is blogging so important? Gone are the days when you could hire a team of a few sales reps who continuously call a list of phone numbers and pitch them the product with the hope that they will close at least a few sales from these cold calls. Today, in order to sell your product to a targeted audience, you need to inspire them and encourage them to convert into paying customers. And what is a better way to inspire your audience than blogging? Nothing.
When it comes to blogging, I personally love the BuzzStream Blog. They are not as famous as Moz.com, but the best part about their blog is that it actually answers the industry questions that inspire the targeted audience to stick with their blog and get encouraged to become a paying customer.
UI and UX are as important as functionality
Talking from the personal experience, UI and UX are very important – almost as important as your SaaS tool’s functionality. Why would a user stick with your tool if the functionalities of your tool are either not working or at least create problems from time to time? The case is the same with design and user experience. If the functionalities of your tool are superb with not-so-good UI and UX, chances are users will go for their second choice in order to fulfil their needs, even if they did sign up for a trial account with you.
A few years back, I did some consultation for a rank-tracking tool called Rank Watch. The tool was perfect at that time; but they were really missing a good user experience on their website, which is why they were struggling. But today they are super-established. One of the main things that they changed was their UI and UX.
Remember, your customers are the most important people in your business’s life. You should always think of them first. No customer wants an interface to be clumsy or a user experience to be a pain, so kill the pain for them and spend the necessary time and energy on UI and UX. Provide customers with a seamless user experience and they will not only stick with you but might even start to promote you on their own time.
The best idea for any business, but especially for SaaS businesses, is to listen to your customers, ask for their advice and what else they need in your product. No matter how hard you work on your product or service and no matter how deeply you research about your niche, the real-world fact is that your product will never be 100 percent complete. You have to learn from what you have and act accordingly.
The more you do that, potential and existing customers will stay close to you and become brand advocates.
At our company, for example, we continuously listen to customer feedback about the live chat app and constantly add integrations and enhancing features based on customer requests from around the world. Today, ClickDesk integration is available with almost every major customer communications tool out there, whether it’s Google Analytics, Unbounce, Zendesk or MailChimp. These extensive integrations have been a huge factor in our SaaS business’ consistent growth.
Build and manage a community
We all know that it’s important to build a community around your product, but only a remarkably small number of SaaS businesses manage to do this successfully. Any business in general and SaaS businesses especially should have an active community around their brand. This can include customers and potential customers. This is important because it can help you continuously spread your brand name to a new audience, encourage potential customers to convert into paying customers and give current paid customers a good reason to upgrade.
Moz.com is one of those few SaaS businesses that gets it right when it comes to community. They’ve built a strong community of brand advocates around them and, as a result, are now a number-one marketing tool for almost every type of small business.
Check this Moz.com article, and you will get an idea about what you need to do in order to build and manage a community around your brand.
Social media engagement
In this article, I’m talking about ideas and ways that a SaaS business can both retain customers and increase their customer base so that they can build a profitable business with strong MRR. When talking about this, we also must consider social media, which plays a vital role when it comes to customer engagement.
Gone are the days when people talk to logos and anonymous call centers. Today people expect to communicate with real people at your company, and this is exactly where social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter come in. The platforms can be changed as per your audience, but social media at the end of the day is integral.
If you ask me for one SaaS business that runs its social accounts like a pro, my recommendation would be SEMRush.com. They not only tweet but also respond to customer problems on social media, share information, run Twitter chats and much more. Follow them today and you’ll start to get a sense for how to use social media effectively as a SaaS company.
Add gamification to it!
Recently, I wrote about gamification. I seriously believe that in order to retain your customers you need to add gamification within your system as retained customers can get bored over time. Gamification, if implemented correctly, can always add a fun element, which allows the returning customers to come back again and again instead of getting bored and looking for alternatives.
I personally love Treehouse and the way they added gamification within their systems. It allows their customers to come back again and again with full motivation and not only that but share their awards and badges with the rest of the world. This tactic will increase your brand name and encourage potential customers to convert into paying ones.
Gamification is important; but where to add gamification within your system is an even more important question. Before you try implementing this, understand your customers, identify the reasons why your customers will come back and act based on that instead of assumptions.
And then there’s gamification for sales teams. All-in-one sales and marketing automation apps like Agile CRM make it easy and affordable for SaaS startups to gamify sales efforts with leader boards and email reports. My clients that use an app like Agile CRM for sales gamification often report that they actually learn a lot about their customers by encouraging competition and collaboration among their sales reps because this high-pressure environment demands that sales pros find the hottest leads and learn how to pitch their product to specific user personas.
There are more ideas, of course, but the ideas I’ve discussed here are a proven set that even a new SaaS business can use. The best part about these ideas is that they will not only help you retain your customers but also allow you to spread your brand name to a wider audience that eventually will increase profitability.
SaaS is a struggle, but it can also be immensely fulfilling (and financially rewarding). Connecting with your customers is the first step in building a successful brand.
Sreedhar Ambati is the co-founder and chief product officer of ClickDesk. He handles product development and is responsible for product delivery and road map. His goal is to provide multi-channel customer engagement platform for startups and entrepreneurs to communicate with Web visitors and convert them to happy customers.