David Kanika
David Kanika
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Kanika

David Kanika | Founder at App Marketing Minds

b2b saas cold email framework

New B2B SaaS cold email framework: Start sending these 2 types of cold emails

B2B SaaS companies need to stop sending generic cold email templates

When it comes to writing high-converting cold emails, a quick Google search will return thousands of different rules, templates, and steps to follow.

Cold emails as an acquisition channel are particularly popular for B2B SaaS companies. If you do your research and prospecting correctly, you can test and scale top funnel outreach very effectively and inexpensively, allowing you to allocate resources more effectively elsewhere.

However, given the amount of advice out there, with so many ‘proven’ ways to send cold emails, it’s safe to assume that there isn’t one silver bullet-type strategy that will save your failing email campaigns.

The cold email templates that flooded the internet can work, but their widespread use makes them often ineffective.

Email automation companies that have anything to do with email or cold email (from sending to verification) produce especially this type of content. And there is a fair number of them…

They understand their reads want a quick fix, plug and play solution.

Grow your SaaS business by understanding the principles behind successful cold emails

While small tweaks and improvements are nice, it’s something more nuanced than a simple template or a quick trick when it comes to long-term impact on your cold emails and sales processes.

We send thousands of cold emails weekly for our clients to prospects in different industries. The messages we send differ from client to client, and further for each client inside different campaigns, but they still perform really well.

If you start to approach your sales processes from this angle, you will quickly realize that it’s not about a magic combination of words that will make your prospects want to jump on a call.

Instead, it’s about underlying principles inside the emails. Every framework (in any field, from sales & marketing, to finance or science) is based on specific principles that make the framework robust.

The simple framework that I will discuss here is not different. Tactics follow strategy.

Based on the understanding that principles are more powerful than small tweaks, we set to analyze the cold emails we send (in this experiment, only the first emails) to understand what aspects make the successful campaigns successful.


Analysis of our best performing first cold emails – this is what we found…

Before we discuss what we did. Let’s break down the dynamics of communication that we’re engaging in when sending out emails.

One of the fundamental things our clients grasp when we start optimizing their campaigns is that there are two main categories of variables when it comes to cold email outreach.

Category 1 – You/your business

  • Product and features
  • UX/UI
  • Reputation
  • Pricing
  • Etc.

Category 2 – Your prospects

  • Competence to make a decision
  • Readiness to buy
  • Budget
  • Internal decision-making process, approvals
  • Etc.

The challenging part when it comes to cold emails is condensing the relevant Category 1 information and communicating it effectively and persuasively. How you do this is in your control.

However, you can’t control variables in Category 2 for a specific organization you communicate with. You can only influence WHO will be on the receiving end of your emails. The selection of who enters your sales cadences is in your hands, that’s why prospecting for the right accounts is as important as what you communicate to them.

To understand the effectiveness behind winning emails, we looked at how different elements interact between Category 1 and Category 2 variables.

We found that product differentiation is the major variable when it comes to writing effective cold emails and enticing a response. Upmarket solution deals are made on the features, integration, and flexibility to integrate with existing processes.

If your prospects are cold and you don’t have any history with them, they never saw your ads, read your blog or heard about you, they will care primarily about how your product solves their pain in a differentiated and better way.

Talking about price, UX/UI or other elements is important, but it’s often too early in the sales process.

While talking about price early can work for a certain type of prospects, it’s generally too early in the buying process, especially with organizations at the growth and maturity stage. They need the best solution, not the cheapest option. Click To Tweet

When I talk about differentiation, I mean a 10X differentiation, not 10%. It’s the kind of differentiation where your prospects think ‘Ok, wow, that’s really cool’ or ‘this is very interesting, how does it work?’.

Are you competing on the fact that one or a small number of features are marginally better, or are you offering a paradigm shift in terms of how the problems of your prospects are resolved?

Are you so far ahead of your competition that there is nobody competing with you in your category?

It’s important to be honest with yourself and to not make an emotional decision when thinking about this.

However, most likely you know the answer already – the answer was obvious (at least at that time) before a single line of code was written.

If you struggle to determine this, start by analyzing your competition and their products, conduct user interviews, and quantifying your findings.


Make your value proposition determine the types of cold emails you send

Generally, we send on behalf of our clients two types of emails depending on their value proposition.


If you have a product without significant differentiation – send ‘bait’ emails

In case your product falls into this category, the ‘bait’ emails perform the best. In a bait email, you introduce your product alongside a valuable piece of information or content for your prospect, ideally as a result of using your product (but this is not always possible). The bait also needs to be easy to consume and applicable in the near future.

While we’re baiting a response with something free, the value you offer has to exceed any cold emails they are used to receiving. It has to be something worth paying for.

b2b saas cold email optimization

Some examples are a detailed SEO report made with your SEO tool or a collection of PPC and SERP marketing data of your prospect’s competition. Experiment with offline or online events, data sheets, fact sheets, reports or recent industry research or statistics.

If your product can’t be used to create a bait, think about what valuable information your prospects want and will be a ‘no brainer’ to access and consume.

What to remember when writing the bait cold emails:

  1. Short
  2. Industry specific
  3. Account-specific
  4. Explain your product in 1-2 sentences
  5. Valuable bait that solve a real problem
  6. Test baits
  7. Clear call to action


If you have a differentiated solution – send ‘fact-based’ emails

In case you are miles ahead of the other players in your market, the ‘fact-based’ emails tend to perform the best.

These emails are shorter and require less research when crafting the offer (however, don’t neglect personalization). The fact-based emails simply state in what major areas you differ from other competitors.

While it’s not a ‘take it or leave it’ messaging, these emails resemble it. You outline your differentiation (remember 10x differentiation) and ask whether your prospect wants to know more.

Don’t be too pushy in this email however, ask for a brief and no strings attached introduction, discovery call or a meeting. In this case, your product is the bait.

What to remember when writing the fact-based emails:

  1. Short
  2. Outline major areas of differentiation in 3-5 brief points
  3. Explain value of taking the next step (e.g. a discovery call)
  4. Clear call to action

Here at App Marketing Minds, we often consult our clients on the types of emails they send. While their cold emails are doing well, they could be doing better by offering a bait, or improving their existing baits.

b2b saas cold email optimization

Why so many B2B SaaS companies struggle with cold emails?

I already described the 2 categories of variables that can influence the outcome of a cold email. The list is far from exhaustive.

A campaign that is underperforming can have one or more variables contributing to its performance. The ony way to find out is through A/B testing.

However, understanding where your product falls in the marketplace and adjusting messaging accordingly will make a significant difference.

Applying this change led to up to 70% improvements in lead generation efforts.

This is still concerning only the first email – but what happens next?

Switch it up regardless of your value proposition in the later emails. Introduce content baits and also go with shorter, fact-based emails.

You need to keep systematically A/B testing different angles and emails with your product, offer and market

What’s the take-home message?

Don’t simply copy email templates that you and thousands of other people can download from the internet. The chances are thousands of other people are sending, and millions are receiving these emails.

You can’t spam your way to success in sales. Think about the value you provide, whether through your product or through a bait that will lead to a demonstration of your product.

Thinking about the principles behind emails will produce results, not tweaking one or two words.

Maybe your value proposition is truly unique, but you’re not clearly explaining it in your emails. On the other hand, you could be directly selling (‘take it or leave it’) a generic solution while having many direct similar competitors.

Try to make these changes and let us know the results.

If you’d like to discuss your current sales campaigns, simply leave us a message or schedule a call. If you are new to cold emails, discover how we will set up a turn-key outbound lead generation campaign for your business.

b2b saas lead generation
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SaaS sales expectations

Acquiring your first SaaS users: expectations vs reality

Your big, anticipated product launch is looming. Whether you’re a new founder or an experienced entrepreneur, you’ll still experience the emotional highs and lows of your high expectations, long hours and stress leading up to the launch.

In this post, I’ll discuss the 3 major expectations founders and marketers have when acquiring their first users, and what is the best course of action when faced with (harsh) reality.

Are you guilty of any of these false expectations?

”…we will get 10x results across the board if everything will be perfect!”


Expectation:
We spent so much time and resources to make everything perfect…Unless everything is perfect, we can’t launch! And anything but perfect results will be a massive disappointment.

In reality, having everything perfect in its true meaning would probably lead to close to perfect results. However, the concept of perfection is elusive. And chasing it will be destructive.

Let’s take matters into perspective. The majority of venture-backed businesses (~75%) still fail, whether that is due to not finding product-market fit, sales inefficiency or the team (despite VC vetting procedures).

Even with all the funding, access to VC network and resources, they still mess up and run into difficulties at almost every stage of growth.

Perfection is unlikely to be achieved at that level, let alone with startups without all these benefits. Instead, strive to be effective and representative in your approach – not perfect.


Reality:
Your SaaS product’s sales launch and first user acquisition campaigns are not going to be perfect.

Your initial sales efforts need to be effective, representative and have the correct foundations for the future. The entire sales process, results, and even your confidence will be initially based on market feedback/data, and all the lost and won accounts.

You still need to go to market with all the necessary tools (marketing collateral, sales pitch, landing pages, email templates, lead generation process etc.) but expect and plan to improve over time.

There will be a point in time when you need to stop trying to learn new things and playing around with the site and emails, and simply go for it.

The reality is that you can’t expect to improve on your sales approach without feedback from your customers.

As you collect more feedback and data, this information will be channeled to fuel your strategy into a more sophisticated process, which will also increase the effectiveness of the campaign.

In the example above, a sales process can progress from the initial sales approach (founder sales) to account based marketing, as data and experience increase.

However, let me clarify that sophistication doesn’t always equal effectiveness (sometimes the opposite)! In this example, we are adding more layers to the campaign which was based on good foundations.

The image shows an improvement of the entire sales strategy, but this same process improvement can happen not only across approaches (FS to ABM) but also within one approach/channel.

Let’s take cold emails for example, from low market data/feedback, sophistication and effectiveness to high.


1) Mass cold emails with no personalization

2) Better prospect list + Cold emails with basic personalization

3) Better prospect list + Cold emails with advanced personalization

4) Better prospect list + Cold emails with advanced personalization + industry-specific content

The channel and approach you choose will depend on your experience in SaaS sales and marketing, the product itself, and your market – but the main focus should always be on effectiveness and efficiency.

Another aspect to consider is having solid foundations from the start, your foundations will support your long-term approach. Again, don’t strive for perfection, but keep this in mind.

Don’t build your sales strategy that is too complex for your current needs, but also don’t go for the quick and easy solution.

As you start acquiring your first customers, maybe you don’t need the most expensive and complex sales automation tool, however, ensure that your infrastructure will be able to support future tech demands.

For instance, by choosing vendors that offer tiers that will expand in complexity as your business grows and need for features increase.


“…uhmm, and now what?”

Expectation:
Users will just start rolling in as soon as we launch!

Probably not too many founders have this naive expectation (but I am sure some do), however, a great number of founders grossly underestimate the effort it will take to build a sustainable pipeline of qualified leads that will become customers.

The competition is increasing and CAC is growing too. There are some amazing stories of companies who claim that their entire success formula is in “building a product people love” – but every founder loves their product and thinks people love it too!

Building a sustainable pipeline is for the average SaaS business, not an easy task.

Reality:
Nobody is going to use your product if you don’t make a conscious effort to acquire them. It’s close to impossible to acquire any new users without a pre- and post-launch strategy

Firstly, your sales and marketing strategy should be on your mind even before a single line of code is written. By understanding your users and their behaviours, your product should be created in a way to allow seamless adoption through 1-2 primary sales channels as a part your product-channel fit.

Secondly, as you build your product, you need to also start building an audience to sell to once you’re ready to launch. Many founders neglect this and just bury their in the sand, doing things they feel more comfortable doing. Instead, they should be out there promoting and creating.

As a business, your role is to produce products and services people love, and sell them.

Selling is a part of this equation, and neglecting sales will have only one possible outcome in the long run…we know what is it.


SaaS sales pre-launch activity

The goals of your pre-launch campaigns should be:
– building a pipeline of qualified leads
– brand awareness, excitement, engagement
– collecting feedback
– agreement from beta users to become early adopters
– thought leadership

In fact, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to achieve these goals. Start with content marketing – start blogging even if your product is not ready, and also use 3rd party platforms such as Quora (great for targeting your user base), Medium or Linkeidn and explore guest blogging opportunities.

Secondly, start a Youtube channel. If you’re short on time and resources, record 5-10 minute long videos and transcribe them.

Repurpose content and create blogs, powerpoint presentations and downloadable PDFs from the transcript. In terms of content topics, educate your audience about solutions that will bridge the gap between their problem and their desired outcome.


”….everyone will love our product. I mean… I love it!”


Expectation:
I, the co-founder and also my friends love our product. I am sure everyone else will too!

Unfortunately, many founders don’t properly validate their business idea. For the argument’s sake, however, let’s consider a situation where the founders did conduct thorough market research and gap analysis.

But what if they still struggle to acquire their first 25-100 users? If you’re bringing a new idea to market, research will give you valuable information, but it will never tell you the entire story.

Only presenting a product to potential customers and asking them to show how much they like it with their wallets will give you a good understanding of whether the direction you’re going is correct.

Reality:
The market will tell you whether your product is useful or not. Based on this, adjust to the current situation.

If lead generation is still an uphill battle, even after adjusting your strategies and trying a variety of new approaches, it may be worth considering if you’re going in the right direction.

Quickly test if you’re going the right direction:
The initial sales struggle doesn’t need to immediately indicate that there is no market for your product. You can do a number of tweaks first, that should bring you closer to product-market fit.


SaaS sales tweaks

– Feedback: your ideal customer didn’t buy? The best way to know why is to ask why!
– Targeting: do your target accounts really need your solution, or would a different group benefit more?
– Sales focus: are you focusing on the right features and outcomes? Are you pitching to solve too much, pleasing everybody/nobody or are you offering too little and not solving an important problem at all?
– Sales team and processes: is your sales team, including you, equipped with the right education and tools to attract and close new deals?
– Positioning: can you improve your market positioning to occupy a special place in your users’ mind?
– Messaging: is your product, price and marketing messages aligned?
– Product: is your product really solving a problem?


Think about how to test these variables in your business, and collect the right data that will act as a catalyst for change. It’s important to not make premature conclusions and to not be completely attached to one idea about your business.

Being willing to make changes can save your business. On the other hand, don’t be too hasty, changing the direction every week. You may be tempted to satisfy every potential customer who says they’ll buy only if you add one custom features for them. Don’t do this.

You need to find the right balance between listening to the market and staying on your course and pivoting only when data indicates that it’s necessary.

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How much should you invest into your SaaS sales and marketing

How much should SaaS companies invest into sales and marketing?

There is not a clear-cut answer that will apply and fit to every single SaaS business out there. Each business has it’s own unique problems and nuances. However, by looking at data and behaviour of other SaaS companies, we can derive to some interesting insights.

After working with companies finishing their MVP and needing a growth strategy, established companies experiencing sales decline, or even clients close to $100m in ARR, I noticed that the attitude and sales strategies vastly differ (we’ll highlight some outliers later in the article).

What companies will we talk about?

I will focus on segmenting companies by their growth and investment stage – all the way from ideation to Series A.

The impact of sales & marketing spending on growth

Perhaps as expected, greater investment into sales and marketing leads to greater growth.

Looking at the 2017 SaaS survey conducted by KBCM Technology Group (excluding companies below $5mm in ARR), we see that the companies who spend the highest percentage amount of their revenue grow the fastest.

Does this apply to you, at all times? Probably not.

Let’s look at different stages of early companies, and where you fit in.

Stage 1: Building your MVP / Pre-seed funding

How much should you spend on sales and marketing at this stage? It’s likely that you don’t even have a functioning MVP and many crucial questions related to your product and market are not answered yet.

My answer is as little as possible – close to $0.

Focus on leveraging your network, building your product, networking with investors, and gathering initial market feedback from potential customers, network and advisors. 

The pre-seed capital should be used to achieve the keys milestones to push your product forward, such as hiring new new technical talent.

Stage 2: Seed funding 

It’s likely that at this stage you have a functioning MVP which you can show to your friends, family or early stage investors to back up your pitch slides. The size of a seed fund deal can range from few thousand dollars to approximately $1.5mm.

Companies at this stage try to find their product-market fit and align their product with their ideal customer profiles, and to create a scalable, repeatable and predictable sales process. The amount of capital raised at this stage will also play a significant role in your sales strategy, just as the complexity, iterations and investment required for product development.

However, once you recognize the signs of product-market fit, such as:

  • Shorter sales cycles
  • Increased direct traffic
  • Predictable and growing sales
  • High net promoter score

It’s time to shift from founder sales, to professional sales.

Once you understand how to serve your customers and you know they want your product, it’s time to invest into a “real” sales process. You need to invest into in-house sales reps (1-3 reps) or temporarily outsource sales and lead generation to accelerate growth. It’s time to shift away founder sales and relying on network and referrals.

The data from 2012 to the current SaaS 2017 report indicates that greater investment (as a percentage of revenue) into sales and marketing does contribute to higher growth.

Therefore once you identify your primary acquisition channel, and establish your channel-product fit, being resourceful and not overly conservative (10-50% of revenue invested back to sales) is likely to contribute to greater growth.

Learn more about resourceful marketing through repurposing content. Download a copy of our Content Distribution Checklist and maximize your content marketing investment.

SaaS Content marketing tools

Stage 3: Series A

At this stage, product-market fit should be achieved. Your customer base, sales force and ARR are showing clear signs of growth.

The primary channel is unlikely to be enough to fuel the growth however, and new sales approaches, strategies and talent needs to be used. As the chart from earlier suggests, greater sales and marketing investment leads to higher growth rate. The study found that the median percentage of revenue spent on sales and marketing was 37%, but the fastest growing companies invested 50% to 51%.

If we look at the industry leaders, we can clearly see that the biggest players also lead the way in their investment into sales. Just how much they spend on sales and marketing?

Salesforce – 53% of their sales revenue

Marketo – 66% of their sales revenue

Constant Contact – 38% of their sales revenue

Bonus: Modeling sales and marketing investment

Tom Tunguz shared very interesting data on sales investment of publicly traded software companies.

(sales and marketing spend as a percentage of revenue of companies with different sales volume, white lines represent medians)

For instance a publicly traded company with revenue between $5m and $10m spends around 90% of their revenue on sales and marketing, whereas companies with sales up to $5m, around 180%. Take a note of some of the outliers however, some companies at the $100m mark still spend about 160% of their revenue on sales.

Tom also created and shared a simple model to forecast your own sales investment, you can access it here.

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How and when should software agencies participate in strategic partnerships

How and when should software development agencies participate in strategic partnerships?

In what way will your partnership impact your customers?

Your customers expect from honesty and competency. By writing code and building beautiful products, the complexity of your skill set increases, and so does the budget.

Therefore it goes without saying that knowing really well what you do is more than appreciated by your customers.

The aspect of honesty spills into numerous areas – but let’s focus on being honest in what you offer and try to sell to your customers.

On one hand, honesty can mean not to unnecessarily increase billable hours just for the sake of it.

On the other hand, it also means being the best and most trusted advisor, offering the best help possible that you’re able to give. This is what you should aim for.

Expanding your range of services and becoming a partner offering complementary services is not only about increasing your revenue, but about honestly offering a service to your customer that will serve them in areas where you can’t help them.

What partnerships to form?

We can segment partnerships in the following categoriees.

  1. Tactical – short time span and quick revenue
  2. Strategic – combining strength of 2 companies to enter a new market or to reach awider market
  3. Operational partnerships – provide operating capabilities
  4. Channel/Sales partnerships – one company provides services and other sells it

While it’s common that many software development studios want sales partners to simply sell their service for them (wouldn’t that be great!), the fact is that actively recruiting partners that are not developers / outsources is incredibly difficult. Secondly, the performance is often not meeting expectations – only a small segment of partners actually brings in some revenue (around 1-2%).

So what should type of partnership would be ideal for you? Of course, it depends on your business situation…

But, strategic partnerships tend to be the best. You combine strengths, and seek a win-win-win situation where you and your partner work hard to deliver on your partnership agreement.

Who should you partner with?

Since we have our own partnership programme specifically aimed at development agencies, I will briefly discuss it here.

Our partners introduce us, or resell our SaaS marketing services to their existing or past clients. This effort doesn’t require any additional work beyond utilizing existing resources they have.

The development agencies that partner with us benefit these ways:

  1. Increased revenue per client – by introducing us or reselling our services
  2. Increasing the likelihood of future work with their client, as our marketing services generate revenue for them
  3. Superior offering and differentiation – more holistic offering for their lead generation
  4. Get clients from our pool of past customers

How to pick a partner

Choosing the right partner is crucially important. When working with a different business entity, the relationship cannot be simply about maximizing revenue and increasing sales, also about the overall approach and attitude. It boils down to alignment of the following key elements.

  1. Compatibility
  2. Clearly defined terms
  3. Trust
  4. Ease of delivery
  5. Support
  6. Great relationship

1. Compatibility

It goes without saying that in any partnership both parties need to be compatible in a myriad of aspects to reach a win-win situation. Partners need to be compatible in:

  • Services: Let’s say they provide done for you or sales consulting for SaaS companies, are your and your services compatible so you can offer them to your clients? Does it make sense from the commercial stand point, and will your clients be interested? Do are your and your partner not competing, but rather their services complement theirs?
  • Compensation: being on the same page regarding compensation is crucial – both parties have commercial interests as the main priority when entering a partnership
  • Culture fit: how well do ou do business, integrity, fair, but also – important to have a call to discuss thi

2. Clearly defined terms

Crystal clear terms, knowing what to expect, and having clearly communicated each party’s responsibilities is a safe way to avoid unpleasant surprises that can end in litigation. Here is what you need to be completely clear on:

  • Goals
  • Division of tasks and responsibilities
  • Payment terms
  • Data processing
  • Method of reviewing results

3. Trust

Mutual trust is important as it gives the confidence for both parties to push the project and partnership forward. Trust is built over time, but make sure to do due diligence before entering any partnerships, especially if you get into legally binding contracts.

4. Ease of delivery

Remember that if you’ve entered a strategic partnership, your role should not be doing something completely outside the scope of normal operation. How easy can you fulfill your responsibilities? Clearly – the easier the better.

In case of our partnership programme, we partner with software development agencies that refer us to their clients. There is minimal amount of effort involved, as they already established close relationship. This way, our partners enter a low effort but high reward situation.

5. Support

Receiving adequate support from your partner is needed to achieve the end goal of the partnership. Will they leave you to figure everything out? Or will they provide you with enough information to help you accomplish your part?

In our case, we provide our partners with information on how to introduce us, how to sell our services (if they want), and how to generate their top-of-funnel leads. We treat our clients’ success and growth as our own.

6. Great relationship

Business is ultimately conducted between people. Having a great working relationship with your partner, where you have enjoyable communication and find ways to solve problems, is going to greatly contribute to the overall success and duration of the partnership engagement.

How to partner with us

You can learn more about our partner programme on the dedicated page, including all the support and very competitive commission compensation you can receive.

To find out more about our partnership programme and whether there could be a professional fit to form a long-term win-win engagement, contact us now.

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How SaaS Companies Should be Managing Their Online Reputation

While many companies with one-on-one with the clients, SaaS companies fill in a unique niche that caters to other businesses that are in need of a solution. Because of the important role that SaaS companies play in business efficiency, there are a lot of companies that seem to offer similar solutions.

If your SaaS company is operating in an oversaturated vertical, it can be difficult to differentiate your tool and win over more clients.

This is where reputation management comes into play. No matter how great your website looks, how effective your solution is, or how on-point your marketing strategy is, the fact remains that more people than ever are looking at what other people are saying about you first.

What is an Online Reputation?

An online reputation is, essentially, anything and everything that someone could find out about your company as they’re doing a search. This could be a direct search for your company’s name, or information they find when they are searching your particular SaaS vertical.

Search engines, like Google, have set their algorithms to seamlessly take your business’s overall rating and customer feedback into their ranking method. Because the majority of businesses have listings on rating and review platforms, especially Google My Business, it’s more important than ever to get honest feedback posted on those profiles.

Consumers are also becoming smarter. They understand that many companies can have a legitimate-looking website and great marketing that says “We’re the best!”

That’s why they are more likely to trust what’s being said in an online review, by other customers, than even a friend or family recommendation. So, in addition to having that great website, efficient tool, and great marketing, amazing SaaS sales team (internal or externa) you also need to make sure that online reviews are treated as a cornerstone to your online reputation.

What Differentiates Your Solution from Competing SaaS tools

If you are interested in managing your online reputation, or at least learning more about the topic, it’s likely that you are part of a SaaS company that is actively working on helping customers with a great tool.

However, it’s likely that there are a few other companies who are looking to fill a similar niche that you are.

This is where managing your company’s online reputation comes into play. At a basic level, all that separates your solution from someone else’s is how well it can be represented online. Without an in-person demonstration, it can be difficult for a potential customer to see the nuanced benefits that you offer.

However, it they’re able to read about someone else’s true experience, they’ll be able to understand exactly how well your SaaS tool can help their processes.

How to Manage Your Online Reputation

Managing your SaaS company’s online reputation means you’ll need to put in a little bit of work and planning to make this a successful project. Thankfully, online reputation management isn’t something that requires a lot of your time.

If you want to successfully  manage your business’s online reputation to gain the most amount of revenue from online outlets, continue reading to find out what you’ll need to do.

Create or Claim Your Professional Profiles

In the world of SaaS companies, having profiles created on review platforms, like Google or Yelp, isn’t as much of a guarantee as it is for more traditional businesses. That’s why you’ll need to take some time to research your company and find out what sites you already have a listing on.

If you have a profile already, you will need to take the appropriate steps to claiming it. In some cases, you may already have the login. When that isn’t the case, you’ll need to input some business information to verify that you have the right to claim the profile. Many platforms lay out how to claim a profile clearly, with most requiring you to receive a robo-call or postcard with a special code  as the final verification step.

When you have found all of your existing profiles, it’s time to narrow down what  other websites you should have a profile on. Some of the most important platforms include Facebook, Yelp, Google My Business, and Bing. You should also claim or create profiles on any industry-specific profiles to ensure that you are represented where your potential customers are looking.

Update Your Business Information

It’s important for you to review and update the business information that’s publicly available. This includes your business name, industry category, phone number, operational hours, address, and website.

You will also want to update your profiles with high-quality photos and any additional information possible. Some platforms will allow you to add a mission and value statement. Others will give you a free space to write a bio and description.

Remember, the more information you give potential customers, the better you’ll fare next to competitor profiles.

Solicit Customer Reviews

Once you have all of your profiles claimed, set up, and updated, it’s time to start getting feedback.

The best part about this step is that it is beneficial in two ways: it helps boost your business’s ratings and it helps you to improve your services.

Many SaaS companies elect to use a reputation management tool that allows them to upload a CSV of their client list and send out review solicitations in bulk.

When you are sending out these requests, make sure that you are pointing your customers to a specific profile. This will allow you to build up your rating on your most important profiles before circulating to different profiles. Over time, you can build a solid rating on each website before returning your focus to more important profiles, like Google.

Respond to Customer Feedback

Once someone has left you a review, your job doesn’t end there. You should be responding to each and every review, whether it’s positive or negative, with a thank you or an invitation to discuss their problem privately.

By responding to each review, you’ll be showing potential customers that you care about your customer experience. Not only that, but you’ll be demonstrating to your current customers, who are leaving these reviews, that you are actively listening to their feedback and appreciate their business.

To best manage your online reputation, you should be checking in on your professional profiles regularly. The sooner you are able to respond to a review, especially a negative one, the better.

Showcase Your Customer Feedback

One of the final steps to successfully manage your SaaS company’s online reputation is to showcase your company feedback. Every reviewer can become a brand ambassador if you pull quotes from their reviews and distribute it amongst your social media profiles and even your website.

That way, customers will know that you are proud of the services you offer and listen to your customers. Potential customers, on the other hand, will get exposed to real customer feedback while they are learning more about your company while not necessarily looking at your review profiles directly.

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SaaS Sales & Free Trials: With or without credit card details?

SaaS Sales & Free Trials: With or without credit card details?

While many companies simply follow the trend and what their competitors do (as little barriers to get using their product), some still struggle with this dilemma… and for the wrong reasons.

Should you ask for credit card details before starting a free trial, or not?

In this post I’ll briefly summarize my thoughts, based on what I’ve seen in real organization that decided to have free trials with, and also without CC details.

Try before you buy

“Try before you buy” has become the primary consumer mindset when buying software (SaaS or mobile apps) across almost all verticals and price points. Whether we consider low price points (free or freemium) to enterprise pricing (demos). Getting this right is crucial, otherwise all your prior investment into lead generation, will be lost.

But why do we see this trend?

The amount of SaaS vendors is dramatically increasing, and so is the competition in the market. Because of this, what would cost you money in the past is today given away for free in free trials or freemium products. All for the sake of demonstrating how and why is their solution better.

Customers are simply used to trying something and evaluating whether they like the product or not – i.e. whether they get the value or not, before purchasing.

Ultimately, because this is what consumers expect, asking for the extra step of commitment and investment of submitting credit card details will lead to lower free trial sign-ups.

Hoping to get only “high quality” sign-ups by creating the pay wall is not likely to be as profitable as acquiring a larger number of free trial sign-ups, and delivering exceptional value.

Free trials need to create real impact

Providing exceptional value is always a must.

….How?

Through an intelligently designed onboarding process which guides your users through the right hoops in order to realize the value you provide.

Also, this can be complemented by useful content related to the benefits your product brings.

How much of this value should you provide? Enough to the point where upgrading is the only logical course of action at the end of the trial.

My verdict? Focus on top of funnel lead generation efforts, make the free trial sign-up as effortless as possible — therefore without credit card details, and focus on delivering exceptional value as soon as possible during the free trial.

SaaS Onboarding Playbook (1)

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SaaS growth strategy and sales

How to Grow SaaS Sales Without Increasing Spending – The 3 Most Common Problems Of Over 55 SaaS Companies

How to Grow SaaS Sales Without Increasing Spending – 3 Most Common Problems Of Over 55 SaaS Companies

 

Do you also catch yourself late at night reading one post after another about a topic that really interests you, clicking from website to website and consuming all the information?

To me, this happens way too often. However, I realized that a lot of the information about startups and SaaS sales is elaborate enough to spark interest, but not elaborate enough to gain something tangible you can start immediately executing.

After solving demand generation and sales problems of almost 60 SaaS companies through App Marketing Minds, I started to see some patterns in what works and what doesn’t, and where organizations make the biggest mistakes.

In this post I will outline the biggest problems surrounding slow or no growth of companies and how to prevent the “we’ve tried it all and it’s not working” problem – therefore companies that can’t figure out the right sales process, or whose sales are plateauing or dying.

I will discuss problems surrounding your sales processes that are likely to cause unnecessarily high CAC, low user sign-up rates, and high churn.

More importantly, how to maximize existing resources in order to engineer your processes grow without overspending on new approaches.

While we hear about fantastical valuations and funding rounds, where too much cash is a problem, for such organizations there are dozens of smaller players going through very rough times. Especially because the SaaS business model is based on recovering CAC and earning profits for each user down the line through recurring fees, being resourceful and innovative in sales can go a long way.

 

Contents

Problem 1: Your sales funnel is not really designed for your users

Problem 2: Lack of understanding of the who and why behind SaaS churn

Problem 3: Impatience and neglected testing that leads to missed quota

Problem 1: Your sales funnel is not really designed for your users

I am certain that you, just like the majority of businesses, did your initial research phase thoroughly.

You defined you Ideal Customer Persona (ICP) and drilled down you personae so you clearly understand their needs and wants, goals, pain points, fears.

You also talk to your users on a consistent basis to get feedback to continuously understand how they interact with your product to receive the value they pay for. This allows you to align your marketing messages to speak their language and offer a product they are excited about.

However this is not enough in today’s competitive SaaS landscape.

I’d like to make a distinction between understanding what users want to hear and actually applying this knowledge at the right time in the sales cycle. Therefore the problem often doesn’t rest in doing the research, but rather in executing the tactics correctly at the right time of the sales process.

I made the assumption that you know your users really well, that you understand them and their questions and concerns. If not – you need to address this first.

Let’s discuss the actual problems we come across.

Many businesses don’t understand that their users (who often fragment into various groups) will have different set of questions and problems as they move along the sales funnel. Instead of applying the right language and trying to answer their questions globally, the right buyer questions need to be addressed at the right time of the buying process.

Download this post in PDF

After reading some great resourced but together by David Skok (VC, Matrix Partners) on how to map buyer journeys, we started to build on this concept to really drill down on each persona to orchestrate a high-performing sales funnel, mapped to specific buyer questions of that stage.

This is how most businesses see the sales process, it’s important to remember that this is the vendor’s perspective.

 

SaaS sales process

 

The journey can look like this, where:

  • Visitors land on your website
  • Read about your solution
  • Start a free trial / book a demo
  • Purchase

 

The first problem arises when companies try to do everything at once across all stages.

Visitors who just landed on your site – most likely a blog post, are unlikely to be ready to purchase. Yet too many SaaS sales strategies focus on selling even when the visitors are not completely sure what your product does.

Similarly, your re-engagement paths should not focus on building brand awareness, but focus on value perception and sales.

Differentiate the content and language used according to the appropriate stage and align messaging with your visitors’ journey.

 

saas customer journey mapping

 

Remembering how this messaging framework fits onto the sales process is crucial as me move forward.

The second problem arises once we realize that users simultaneously operate on a second decision making path. Their perception of their buyer journey differs from vendors’.

 

SaaS sales journey

 

Think about how you go from a problem to purchasing a solution. The steps are likely to be:

  • ”Oh wow, this is annoying! I wish there is a solution for this!”
  • You start searching for solutions
  • After you find several vendors that seem to scratch your itch, you decide which vendors to evaluate further
  • Free trials are started or demos booked
  • After weighing up the solutions you derive to a decision whether the value you received is greater than the monthly commitment the vendor is charging

 

As you can see, there is a great danger of misalignment between what vendors want and how they communicate they want (sales) and what users need to know to make a purchase.

We can address this misalignment in two steps.

 

1. Map your sales funnel to the buyer journey

Vendors’ role is to adequately display value so the visitor-brand engagement ends in a purchase. Therefore vendors’ communication and perception of how their sales funnel should look must align to what users need to receive in order to progress to the next stage and purchase.

Misalignment occurs when vendors don’t provide the necessary information at the right stage.

 

saas marketing process

 

Focus on what information your users require at each stage to create alignment. Deep understanding of your ICP and thorough research is the only way to achieve this.

 

saas marketing process

 

Once we understand what information users require at each stage, we can then proactively work on answering their concerns and move them along their purchasing journey.

 

saas sales and marketing funnel

 

As the image above demonstrates, we’ll address two broad and ubiquitous concerns.

1) How does this provider compare against other solutions on the market? Do the features provide what I need?

2) Is the price justified?

 

Knowing our ICP really well will allow for detailed breakdown of questions and concerns. It’s important to address all of these fully.

 

saas content persona strategy

 

Let’s think about applying this methodology to a real business – a SaaS landing page builder for example.

 

Competitive features matrix

  • Clean UI
  • Many integrations available
  • Wide range of customization

Demonstrate ROI

  • Pricing of solution vs graphic designer or developer
  • Pricing of solution vs developer designer for landing page
  • Pricing of solution vs time to build a static landing page yourself
  • Pricing of solution vs developer for custom integrations (e.g. difficulty of integrating email marketing provider)

 

2. Address the buyer decision making paths of different buyer personas

It’s likely that your product doesn’t appeal to only one extremely defined group of users. Maybe there are subsets of your primary user base, or maybe you offer different pricing tiers and solutions altogether – depending on number of seats, custom requirements or depth of usage.

There will therefore need to be several paths for different customer segments.

 

buyer persona for saas

saas buyer persona 2

 

Whether you attracted your traffic organically to a blog post, marketing on 3rd party platforms (Linkedin, Quora, Medium) or via paid traffic, it’s important to realize that different segments will have different problems and may require different solution / use case once they arrive to your site.

To fully maximize your content marketing resources, you need to re-purpose and distribute your content in a systematic manner. To learn how to do it you can download our internal tool from here.

 

SaaS Content marketing tools

 

While operating within the same framework, adjusting the individual items of the path can be achieved through different resources and content, personalization based on user segment, high vs low touch sales, or different sales tactics (provocative, consultative, transactional, or solution based sales)

 

Problem 2: Lack of understanding of the who and why behind SaaS churn

The SaaS world is full of important metrics which need to be tracked.

For example, you’re probably tracking already…

  • Visitors
  • Sign-ups
  • Traffic to free trial conversions
  • Lead:close ratio
  • Churn
  • CAC
  • CLTV
  • NPS
  • MRR

..and the list goes on and on.

However, the extent to which businesses collect and analyze their data differs significantly. Not uncovering important patterns from data that impact the bottom line will hurt businesses in 2018 more than ever before.

For many, the challenge comes from not knowing how to identify insights from the data. Hence not seeking much utility in collecting it in the first place.

From my experience, the average business (especially in its early stage) is focused on top-of-funnel metrics and conversions. How to get cheap and qualified traffic, how to convert the traffic, or how to scale this process. Of course, understandably, these and many other metrics are absolutely necessary.

What goes often unnoticed is a well-designed onboarding process that focuses on both, churn reduction and data analysis too.

Reducing churn by engaging users with the correct information, making ICP adjustments and even leveraging users’ network to get more customers is drastically cheaper than acquiring a completely new user.

I started to implement a modified version of a clever churn-reducing method used by Typeform (presented in a great and very insightful talk by VP of Customer Success at Typeform David Apple).

To reduce churn, firstly we identify who is churning and why, and how to mitigate it. There are four areas we’ll look at:

  • What is churn in your business
  • Churn drivers
  • Segmentation
  • Improvements

 

The following sections are components needed for drilling down into your audience based on metrics that you’re unlikely to be collecting and analyzing at this stage. However, if you’re interested in optimizing your free trial and increase your free trial to sales conversions, I highly recommend to read our SaaS onboarding playbook.

 

SaaS Onboarding Playbook (1)

 

What is SaaS churn?

You need to be crystal clear about what churn means specifically for your business.

We developed expertise for certain industries at App Marketing Minds, however, it rarely happens that two clients have the exact same product and business model. Therefore the product and market dynamics will differ from business to business.

To illustrate the point, whether your product is a mobile app (game), a marketplace or b2b SaaS, the definition of churn will vary drastically.

We could identify churn as the loss of a customer – they became unsatisfied with your solution, or their need was satisfied. However, it’s not always this simple.

Here are just some examples of how the definition will vary and that you need to be very clear about how your users use your product.

  • Cart abandonment plugin for Shopify (ecommerce) – this product will work on the “set it and forget it” model, therefore churn can be identified as deactivation and then subsequent uninstall
  • Landing page builder – infrequent sign-ins or less/no new landing pages being built, or complete deactivation?
  • Form builder such as Typeform – in some cases users have one-off need, or infrequent need to build information collecting forms. For example, form for a monthly or annual company event. If this user stops their subscription, just to reactive in 6 or 12 months, is that churn?
  • Market places – similarly to the example above, if an HR marketplace platform (such as Upwork) loses a user that had one-off hiring need for a long-term project, is that a churn, despite the goal the purpose of the goal has been fulfilled and goal of the user met?
  • Social media or entertainment apps – users are expected to be using the product daily, therefore few days of inactivity can be considered as churn
  • Online directories – should a business listed on Squarspace that goes out of business be considered as a churned customer, even if there isn’t anything Squarespace can do to keep them in business?

Clearly understanding what identifies as churn in your case is vitally important to measure and analyse the correct data.

All the examples above are likely to be considered as churn, but they will have different implications and meaning for each business. You need to start categorizing churns in relation to your business model to distinguish between different user behaviours.

 

Churn drivers

Once we identify whether the business model is subjected also to the “other churn”, we want to identify why and what are the causes. In the case of Typeform, many of their churned customers were despite churning happy – they simply solved their need by using Typeform.

Similarly, while I worked on a project with a background checks provider, many customers churned simply because their hiring demands didn’t require new candidates, therefore there wasn’t a need for frequent background checks.

Once you identify churned customers, it’s important not only to categorize types of churn but also to ask quantitative (NPS) and also qualitative questions to really understand the motivation behind their actions.

 

Segmentation

The objective of this stage is to meaningfully segment users to get more fragmented churn data. In contrast to lead generation, where you are most likely to segment based on company size, use case or depth of usage, here we’d start with looking at the retention curve to understand in what time frame do users churn.

 

 

saas retention curve

 

We can then start segmenting users into categories based on the churn timeframe.

 

 

 

Once we segment users based on retention, we can start looking into important metrics such as:

  • What percentage of your users fall into each category?
  • Is the percentage breakdown of users in each category consistent over time?
  • How much revenue does each segment bring?
  • What is the ROI for each segment? Based on the segment which has the greatest ROI, you can start focusing on attracting this customer segment more over others. Below is a visual representation of plotting different retention curves in relation to customer segments

 

 

  • How does the total number of accounts in each segment compare to ROI they generate? (example, segment 3 and 4 could have similar amount of total users, but ROI could differ)

 

To drill further into each segment, you need to start looking at characteristics of customers in each segment to understand who they are.

Knowing the representation of different customers among these segments will allow for more detailed targeting and refined messaging.

The segmentation will depend greatly on your business and what you consider relevant. We could however in each segment consider the following:

  • Company size (e.g. 0-5 employees, up to 10 employees, up to 50, over 100)
  • Industry
  • Use case
  • Geography
  • Traffic source
  • Number of sales touches
  • Behaviour during onboarding (e.g. engagement)

Application of this methodology is extremely useful for aligning your marketing with the right message to the right audience.

What percentage breakdown of these characteristics corresponds to our segments, and more specifically the most profitable segment?

Continuing with the landing page building SaaS from above, if you identified that the greatest CLTV and ROI segment consists mostly of business that to a large degree share these characteristics:

  • Have up to 50 employees
  • Are marketing agencies
  • Based in the US
  • Acquired through Linkedin Ads
  • Use your product to build pages for their clients inexpensively and quickly
  • Average 3 contacts with the customer success team

…would you make some changes to attract this specific type of customer? I believe so.

Not only that, given that you know this type of customer will lead to greater ROI down the line, you can be confident about spending more to acquire them.

On the other hand, cutting down on acquiring low ROI or unprofitable customers will have significant impact on your marketing performance and allow you to allocate budget on high ROI segments.

 

 

Problem 3: Impatience and neglected testing that leads to missed quota

What I mean by patience? I am referring to refraining from frantic switching from one approach to another as soon as some setbacks arise.

Secondly, I am talking about aimless continuing with unprofitable acquisition approaches just because the budget (for now) allows it.

While I make this point, I want to acknowledge that I will speak mostly to early stage businesses that struggle with funding – that is, there isn’t any. To those founders that have a vision, little to no entrepreneurial or sales experience and some hard earned cash to turn their vision into reality. These are the businesses in the Micro SaaS (1-2 people) and Bootstrapped category, and everything in between.

A common characteristic of these businesses is that they are extremely resourceful, risk averse, and keen to weigh up every advertising check that is sent off to the market.

The founders must wear different hats to keep moving forward, and usually approach outside help to boost their sales after depleting personal network and getting their fingers burned a little.

Deciding when is the right time to completely reshape your demand generation strategy after encountering setbacks such weak sales performance is in these circumstances difficult. And smaller the budget, the harder it gets.

This is particularly important for bootstrapped and underfunded businesses where a string of suboptimal marketing campaigns can be detrimental.

The problem stems from an extreme scarcity of resources that often boils down to these two thinking processes in face of under-performing sales attempts:

  • We’ve been running this campaign already for two weeks, and still no results? Let’s try something completely different!
  • We’ve been running this campaign for 10 weeks, spent 80% of our budget and no real results? We need to continue and hope it will turn around – we don’t know what to else try but we need sales now!

These extreme examples are not that far from reality of many organizations.

So how to approach this situation? Not meeting sales goals tends to be a multivariate issue which tends to be overwhelming.

Let’s break down the problem/solution into three categories that can lead to growth without spending extra resources:

  • Determine your product-channel fit
  • Focus on your primary channel and don’t diversify too early
  • Keep testing when things work and also when things don’t work

 

Product-channel fit in SaaS

We can loosely define product-channel fit as the compatibility between your product and your chosen channel to acquire customers the most direct, quick and cheap way.

An overwhelming number of entrepreneurs have the attitude of “we built this amazing product, how do we sell it?” One indicator of a product-channel fit issue. Product-channel fit should be considered before launching any sales initiatives, in fact, it should be considered while you build your product.

Your product need to be built with users in mind, as the market (people) will quickly indicate if your product is addressing their needs through sales (product-market fit). Similarly, your product needs to be built with a primary channel in mind. The demand generation part of your business during development can’t be an afterthought.

I took the framework which Briand Belfour described in his $100M+ Growth series and narrowed my focus on market, channel and product alignment (fit) when working with clients that require rapid sales improvement.

 

 

Given we operate in a sales capacity, where our role to market and sell the existing solution, we work with the assumption that the model elements (e.g. correct pricing or monetization method) are achieved.

Consider your ICP’s characteristics and the problems you’re solving as you build your product. Based on this, ensure that your product has characteristics that will fit the right acquisition channel for the audience with a clearly outlined and understood why.

This will be your primary acquisition channel.

Let’s consider an example: an app in the entertainment niche (music), utilizing social groups and connections between users to share their favourite music, operating on a freemium model with paid upgrades, targeting millennials.

The freemium model relies on high number of sign-ups and subsequent in-app conversions. However, a problem with this model is that paid campaigns (such as Facebook, Google ads) may become costly very quickly if the in-app conversions are low.

Building this product with the right channel in mind could focus on leveraging the product’s network effects and focus on virality.

This can be achieved through encouraging sharing the app with user’s network on social media through gamification, access to premium features or creating a sense of cause which will be achieved through sharing (e.g. everyone deserved ad-free music experience).

Secondly, given that on average 24% of users abandon an app after the first use – the time to first value needs to be extremely quick.

 

Credit: Localytics

 

Users need to immediately realise what value they receive from the first and continuous use. Clean and simple UI, just as quick comprehension of usage will add to first-time engagement and stickiness.

Achieving channel-product fit is therefore an issue that needs to be tackled before a single advertising dollar is spent. If you haven’t considered it when building your product, review how your product, ICP and primary acquisition channels align. You may realize that an entirely different approach is more suitable. Maybe you’re just climbing the wrong hill

 

Narrow your demand generation focus

Once you establish the primary acquisition channel, build a well thought-out demand generation strategy and don’t diversity for the sake of diversifying.

Are you trying to get good at Facebook ads on limited funds without prior experience when your product is not suitable for it? Or maybe trying to pay high agency fees without any guarantee it will work? Recipe for disaster.

Diversifying is not bad, but it should be way ahead in the future once your primary channel is working and bringing in healthy ROI.

As Peter Thiel comments in his book Zero To One about distribution channels: “If you try for several but don’t nail one, you’re finished. Distribution follows the power law.”

Simply put, the power law describes a phenomenon where a small number of items (in this case channels) is clustered and will account for majority of results (sales).

 

 

The relationship between new channels and results will be therefore nonlinear – doubling the number of channels will not result in doubling of revenue.

Additionally, in case where multiple channels perform equally but not well, spending resources to identify and fixing problems of several channels at the same time will lead to minimal results.

Focus on establishing and optimizing the primary channel will yield the best results.

Many entrepreneurs underestimate the effort that is required for driving solid growth out of one acquisition channels. Your one article per week and attempts to run Facebook ads and Google ads at the same is competing with a three person full-time content creation team, and separate two Facebook and Adwords teams.

It’s always important to pick your battles, especially when running low on funds.

Once you start seeing results from one channel, refrain from trying something new. It’s time to scale. This can be done by doubling down on what already works.

  • Does cold calling work for you? Call more
  • Does cold emailing work for you? Send more emails
  • Social media ads? Increase the budget, increase geography, test more ads

 

Make testing a priority

I encourage data collection, analysis and testing all stages. Given you identified the channel you want to focus on and have a demand generation plan in place, testing should be a standard process incorporated into your sales machine.

Changing one aspect of your sales funnel is unlikely to lead to astronomical improvements. Instead of relying on one massive change or a completely new methodology, start with the low hanging fruit.

As an example, let’s look at the following sales process below.

 

saas b2b sales journey

 

In this example “follow-up engagement” refers to follow-up process on leads that were qualified but didn’t purchase after the demo.

Instead of simply saying “let’s improve sales”, start breaking down the sales funnel into its basic components of each stage and map performance metrics.

 

 

It’s important to have the correct benchmarks as we keep improving the process. Consider historic data or industry average performance to have a reference point.

Next, identify the most important and high impact aspect which needs to improve immediately – in this case it could be the prospect:demo conversions.

As we’re looking to improve sales on a tight budget, the mindset here is to optimize the process for increased sales, without increasing spending.

The current demos booked (15%) could be improved by improving the components of:

  • Cold email campaigns that trigger initial responses that lead to a demo
    • Personalization (more specific information in emails vs baseline personalization)
    • Number of follow-ups (increase follow-ups vs baseline number of follow-ups)
  • Demo reminders to keep engagement in the build up to demo
    • Reminder format (old format of automatic email vs automatic email with a brief professional video including a personal invitation from the sales rep)

After setting up experiments for one stage, prioritize improvements of other components based on its current performance and potential impact.

We’ll look at follow-up engagement and follow-up sales in the example below.

 

saas b2b sales process improvement

 

Improving the performance of each stage can be done by A/B testing different approaches, focusing on what works and eliminating what underperforms.

It’s important to be selective with the elements of your experiments. While testing is good, spreading yourself too thin and focusing on too many aspects at once can have the opposite effect.

If you applied all three strategies (product-channel fit, narrow focus on one channel, testing) to your demand generation strategy and you’re still not meeting your goals, it may the right time to revisit your product-channel fit and identify which alternative channels will be the right fit for your product and your audience.

 

Will you make the same sales mistakes?

I addressed solutions to three problems that are hurting sales and marketing efforts of many SaaS businesses we come across.

You may not like it, but competition in the SaaS world is growing and unlikely to stop.

Today, there’s more than 8, 500 martech companies alone in comparison to 500 only ten years ago. In fact, every new SaaS company will on average face 9.7 competitors at the time of launching.

As Peter Drucker said: “The business enterprise has two basic functions: marketing and innovation”.

Here I demonstrated my take on making your marketing and sales more efficient using three real-life solutions we apply while working with our clients at App Marketing Minds.

We are able to gain an edge over competition by utilizing existing resources and applying new methodology to create more profitable outcomes.

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Beyond User Acquisition: How To Grow Through User Engagement and Decreased Churn

Beyond User Acquisition: How To Grow Through User Engagement and Decreased Churn 

SaaS companies that achieve the elusive product-market fit and successfully scale their sales processes encounter a new problem - churn. Churning customers and lost revenue at scale have far greater financial impact and strain on sales teams which need to replace the lost revenue.

Sales objectives will change with each organization's growth stage. Early stage startups are more likely to focus on top-of-funnel activities, acquiring more bookings, and conversion rate optimization. However, once these processes are established and work, the focus often shifts on aspects which were somewhat neglected and not finessed to the same extent. At this stage, companies take a more serious look on aspects such as their onboarding process, churn, user engagement or time to first value.

This simple model below published by David Skok demonstrates the impact of different churn rates across revenue growth.

The red and yellow lines indicate lost revenue due to churn at 5% and 2.5% respectively. We see that as revenue increases, 5% in comparison to 2.5% churn represents a significant dollar amount difference. For instance towards the end of Year 5 (Month 58), 5% churn represents $90,000. 

7%

Great SaaS companies keep monthly revenue churn at around 0.58%, that’s only about 7% revenue churn a year

100%

The very best SAAS businesses have a negative churn rate and will have a Dollar Retention Rate greater than 100%

How to increase user engagement

Decrease Time to First Value 

Time to First Value (TTFV) is the amount of time it takes for your users to receive and realize value of your product. TTFV is not to be confused with the time it takes for the vendor to receive value (money) from their users.

Decreasing TTFV is important, as quickly and consistently delivering value will stimulate continuous product use, therefore doing so quickly and faster than your competition will be a critical aspect in delivering enough value which will eventually lead to purchase. 

The competition in the SaaS world is intensifying with conservatively estimated 10,000 SaaS companies in the marketplace today. And as a result of competition, customers benefit from increased quality and number of vendors.

SaaS sales journey

The image above shows a typical SaaS customer purchase journey. Your users are most likely to be in the evaluation stage when they sign-up for a free trial.

Given that you're being evaluated against your category competitors solving the same problem, you're never too far from a churned user. 

To answer the problem of bringing users to value faster, we need to define what value means in the first place. The simplest explanation is that value refers to the promise your product makes - why users start to use the product in the first place.

Sometimes referred to as the Aha! moment, it's the point in time when users realize and experience how product solves their problem.

While defining the promise of your product should be quite clear, you need definition of the Aha! moment to be supported with further customer feedback, interviews and user questionnaires. 

Churn and the time it takes to reach and experience the Aha! moment are closely linked. The longer it takes to receive value from your product, the chances of churning increase.

The image below shows customers' interest in your solution and the time it takes to achieve the Aha! moment.



The image shows different times to realize value, where with increased time the likelihood of churn significantly grows. Every product will have different TTFV, however, it's important to proactively review this metric, and work on reducing it.

The first step is to analyse all the necessary steps that users need to take to receive value and reach the Aha! moment.

For example, users of a landing page building SaaS will reach the Aha! moment not when they sign-up and see all the beautiful templates, but when the page is actually live. This is the value they want to receive. These can be the steps they need to take to reach the Aha! moment.

It's necessary to map out your steps to the Aha! moment and work on eliminating all the in-between steps that are not necessary. Mapping out the least required amount of steps will aid further TTFV reducing strategies. For example, forcing your customers to fully complete their profile before they move on to select a template would be an unnecessary step in receiving value.

Another aspect that will help to reduce TTFV is the UI/UX of your product. Clean UI and latest trends in product design play a major role in how your users perceive and interact with your product. 

Even if you have all the features your users need, bad UI where using the product presents a major pain will inevitably cause more churn. Reducing the number of steps to realize value in combination with beautiful design will set you apart.

Follow the latest trends such as:

  • Global navigation
  • Hierarchy of importance in navigation - manage complexity of features through planning and simplicity 
  • Clear visual data
  • Font that is easy to read represents your brand

Lastly, providing adequate support as your users interact with your product for the first time will significantly ease the onboarding process.

Direct users to the next required step to realize value, or at least set them on the right course of action. Achieve this by sending documentation, walk-through videos, in-app messages or chat pop-ups that will outline the next necessary steps.

You can use products such as Intercom to set URL specific messages. This will allow you to identify when users reach different stages of onboarding and point them towards the next require action.

Encourage user engagement through behaviour-based reminders 

Some users will abandon the necessary process to realize value even if you have beautiful design and optimized path to the Aha! moment.

The only way for your users to realize value and then purchase is through rejoining the journey to their Aha! moment. 

Analysing individual product use will allow us to identify different drop-off stages and create behaviour-based campaigns.

If we consider the example from above, our users need to complete 3 success milestones to receive value.



However, through identifying the drop-off point, we can send targeted messages that will directly and in a relevant way remind the user to complete the next step.



This return path can be then repeated for all major success milestones. One important consideration is the frequency and positioning of these re-engagement messages. You need to very clearly understand how your users use your solution to gauge when is the right time to send the re-engaging message. 

For example an HR SaaS like breezy.hr which allows users to create and publish recruitment adverts on job platforms will have different timeframes to reach major milestones than a social media automation tool like Hootsuite.

There is notably more effort involved in crafting an entire job adverts than integrating a product with social media profiles (requiring just few clicks). 

Understanding the necessary time for your users to reach different milestones will help to create relevant and non-intrusive or annoying reminders.

A great example of this is Facebook's suite of business tools. 

Facebook uses multi-channel return path, targeting their users via email and Facebook notifications.

The end goal for Facebook is to collect advertising spend of their users. On the other hand, business users want to acquire more clients or gain visibility using Facebook. Therefore a major success milestone is creating the first post, as that will set them on the path to receiving value by gaining initial visibility.

When crafting the messages, it's important to focus on a variety of aspects of your product, and speak to your users' motivation to gain but also not to lose out, just as offering multiple support avenues (email, call, live chat) and education on how to complete the next step.



Use education to bridge the gap between users' capabilities and their desired outcome 

Your product is a vehicle that will bring your users from the current situation (pain) to their desired outcome.



However, the journey from the "before" to "after" state is hardly ever this simple. One element many SaaS organizations don't take into account is user's ability to perform the necessary actions outside the scope of their product which directly contribute to the desired outcome.

There is therefore a "user capability gap" between your product and the desired outcome.



To increase retention, it's vital to strategically close the gap and increase user capability. While you're probably already publishing top-of-funnel and bottom-of-funnel content that is required for acquiring new customers, your content strategy needs to also focus on resources that will close the gap.



Knowing your customers' pain points will help to understand what obstacles they encounter on a daily basis as they're trying to achieve their desired outcome.

If we consider users of a landing page SaaS, the value they receive from your product is a live page. However, the desired outcome is to acquire new leads, subscribers or sales through the landing page.

While the provider can offer a great product, the outcome (number of leads, subscribers or sales) falls outside their control. Therefore the question becomes how can we help them to achieve their desired outcome in addition to using our product? 

Some useful content is most likely to be around topics such as:

  • Landing page best practices
  • Conversion rate optimization
  • Copywriting 

We can then map out the journey from pain to desired outcome in this way:

This approach content marketing approach is seen across all leading SaaS companies:

Shopify - their survival and growth depends on successful merchants. Providing only an ecommerce platform doesn't lead to their users' desired outcome (successful ecommerce business). Shopify's blog educates merchants on how to generate sales, and therefore reach their desired outcome.

Hubspot CRM - Hubspot customers' desired outcome is easier sales management and increased sales of sales teams. Hubspot provide resources on sales, marketing, account management.



5-7%

Great SaaS companies achieve 5-7% annual revenue churn - equivalent to a loss of $1 out of every $200 each month 

2%

If your Net Revenue Churn is high (above 2% per month) it is an indicator that there is something wrong in your business; this will become a major drag on growth

Decreasing churn

The first action step towards decreasing churn is identifying what your churn rate is. In some cases however, it may be difficult to pinpoint what constitutes "churn" in your business. 

We could identify churn as the loss of a customer – they became unsatisfied with your solution, or their need was satisfied. However, it’s not always this simple.

Here are just some examples of how the definition will vary and that you need to be very clear about how your users use your product.

  • Cart abandonment plugin for Shopify (ecommerce) – this product will work on the “set it and forget it” model, therefore churn can be identified as deactivation and then subsequent uninstall
  • Landing page builder – infrequent sign-ins or less/no new landing pages being built, or complete deactivation?
  • Form builder such as Typeform – in some cases users have one-off need, or infrequent need to build information collecting forms. For example, form for a monthly or annual company event. If this user stops their subscription, just to reactive in 6 or 12 months, is that churn?
  • Market places – similarly to the example above, if an HR marketplace platform (such as Upwork.com) loses a user that had one-off hiring need for a long-term project, is that a churn, despite the goal the purpose of the goal has been fulfilled and goal of the user met?

Once we identify whether the business model is subjected also to the “other churn”, we want to identify why and what are the causes - the churn drivers. In the case of Typeform for example, many of their churned customers are happy with the solution despite churning (according to NPS and questionnaires), but they simply solved their need to create a questionnaire by using Typeform.

There are many ways to segment your customers to understand churn. You can start by looking at different user segments (e.g. size, revenue, product use), or you can start by analysing retention to understand what types of customers are likely to churn at different time frames.

saas retention curve

We can then create categories based on the churn timeframe.

Once we segment users based on retention, we can start looking into important metrics such as:

  • What percentage of your users fall into each category?
  • Is the percentage breakdown of users in each category consistent over time?
  • How much revenue does each segment bring?
  • What is the ROI for each segment? Based on the segment which has the greatest ROI, you can start focusing on attracting this customer segment more over others. Below is a visual representation of plotting different retention curves in relation to customer segments
  • How does the total number of accounts in each segment compare to ROI they generate? (example, segment 3 and 4 could have similar amount of total users, but ROI could differ)

Segmenting the user base by retention curve and identifying commonalities among the customer profiles can far more greatly improve the ROI possibilities than looking at different customer segments and trying to infer why they churn. 

Once users with the best ROI are identified and common characteristics mapped out, you can start implementing lead generation initiatives to attract the type of users who are most likely to provide the best ROI.

Secondly, given this information is now available, there can be greater confidence in spending more to attract a specific type of user. On the other hand, sales and onboarding process can be made less resource consuming for prospects which are likely to bring less, or even negative ROI given their profile.

4x

As companies scale their growth engines, a slightly-above-average churn rate becomes harder and harder to offset with net new revenue growth, especially when the goal is to outpace it by 4x 

55%

55% of SaaS companies rate Customer Retention Cost as the key metric to measure 

Optimize onboarding and minimize churn in your organization

App Marketing Minds specializes in onboarding, retention and monetization for SaaS companies. Schedule a confidential call today to discuss your current approach and challenges.



References:

http://sixteenventures.com/saas-churn-rate#pq=TOGfBg

http://www.forentrepreneurs.com/ltv/ 

http://www.forentrepreneurs.com/saas-metrics-2/

https://www.slideshare.net/totango/5th-annual-saas-metrics-report?next_slideshow=1

http://www.insightsquared.com/2016/02/benchmarking-quick-ratio-benchmarks-2016/


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important app marketing statistics

The 4 surprising mobile marketing stats you need to know

4 shocking mobile app marketing stats you should know

How well do you know your industry? Knowing what others are doing can be beneficial in understanding the competitive landscape, gaining insights into wider trends, but also for tweaking your strategy.

Here we present 4 app marketing statistic that many people are not aware of. With each point we also include actionable tips to prevent you from making the same mistakes like others.

So let’s get to it!

 

1. Users convert 3 times more often in-app than on the mobile web

JackThreads, the online retailer of male clothing tested how well will deep linking help convert their audience to customers. Essentially, deep linking involves sending subscribers from their email or web to a smartphone or tablet within a mobile app they already downloaded, rather than to a mobile web page.

Currently, an overwhelming majority of retailers continue to link to their mobile website, despite their inability to provide the same high quality experience for users as apps can.

So how did JackThread’s deep linking test end? Their visitors converted three times more when sent to their app and not their mobile website.

This testing resulted in JackThread’s 21% revenue increase per email customer who downloaded their app.

 

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The next obvious question of course is, what drove the increase of in-app conversions?

One of the key variables is the user experience offered by apps. The overall shopping experience is optimized for customers, from the speed of transactions, the smoothness of page transitions, to using the full power of a mobile device, rather than the web browser.

These findings have real-life impact on other apps? Firstly, you should think about how is your app  coded, as around 80% of apps are not compatible with deep linking.

Secondly, we can expect that we will continue to see higher in-app conversions in contrast to mobile sites, at least until the mobile retail experience catches up with the quality of apps.

2. Your app is likely to lose 77% of its daily average users within the first 3 days

Consumer metrics, including app retention rates, are horrible. Only 26% of installed apps are ever used after the first use. If that wasn’t bad enough, you are likely to lose 77% of daily average users within the first 3 days, and 95% within 90 days.

This is of course not the case for all apps. A small number of apps, the top 10 to be precise, has much higher retention rate within the first days after install. After this period, the retention rate is similar to other worse performing apps. However given the relatively high amount of users after first few days, overall, the top apps have still more than 60% active users after 90 days.

mobile app stats

 

There are some useful guides out there that will guide you to understand what apps will get download and shared a lot. However, in this case, it’s important to address how to make your users stay after first few days and app interactions.

The problem is that the user base of the vast majority of apps gets bored. One of the reasons for this is the constant bombarding of users with marketing messages. Both online and offline.

Therefore re-engaging your users must occur through core features of your app, rather than by showering them with more marketing messages.

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You should forget the (rather annoying) messages such as: ‘we miss you’, ‘long time no see’ or ‘did we do anything wrong’. Instead, try the following:

  • ensure that the user acquisition process is simple, and so is the continuous use of the app. This can be for instance achieved through simpler log-in via social media
  • provide a unique experience through personalization
  • make them more invested through app’s features so they don’t simply abandon it the next time
  • offer incentives to use your app

 

The numbers speak for themselves. Retaining app users is progressively hard, so it’s essential to create apps not only with the main features in mind, but also with a clear strategy for user retention.

3. Only 40% of companies measure how many leads they generate from mobile apps

mobile apps dataJust over a half of companies engaged in mobile-related business activities (including mobile apps and others) measure their return on investment (ROI) and user engagement, and only 40% measure the amount of leads.

To me, this was quite shocking.

User engagement and ROI are absolutely crucial aspects of understanding the effectiveness and success of the project as a whole.

Every good marketer should be close to obsessed with metrics in order to optimize and drive higher ROI. If you happen to fall to the ROI-conscious half of marketers, then you seem to be way ahead of more than 50% of your competitors and other businesses.

Having raw data however, is not enough. Understanding data patterns and gaining insight into numbers is the real driving force behind every successful project.

Fortunately, the same report from econsultancy and Adobe also found that 51% of companies use personalization and use A/B testing.

 

4. 45% of mobile app users dislike their app experience

in app experience marketing

The last study is also from Adobe, and similarly to point 1 above, Adobe looked at the satisfaction and user experience of retail users, comparing apps against mobile websites.

Here’s the caveat. Only 45% of mobile app users like the app experience, but 47% user like the mobile website. These findings go against the first study, as we’d expect many more people to like apps, or at least like them more than mobile websites.

This is not what the numbers show however, despite the fact that users tend to complete more purchases in-app.
What we can say from this data however, is that the majority of people are still not happy with their experience of retail apps and mobile websites too.

How can we then explain JackThread’s tripling of conversions? My guess (supported by their marketing team’s data interpretation) is that they offered much superior experience in the app.

Regardless of what is currently converting more in your business, it’s necessary to start optimizing both the app and mobile website. The data clearly shows that users are not happy, and unhappy users don’t spend money.

 

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Conclusion

Keeping up with the latest trends and studies in the industry is extremely valuable. Not only will you keep a tap on the situation so you can react better, but you can also actively change how you approach business.

We shared with you 4 stats that should prompt anyone with interest in apps to think about how to cope with challenges accelerated by the competition and increasingly bigger and more demanding audience.

 

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Sample outbound automation sequence

A simple 3-part cold email automation for IT, SaaS and almost any b2b sector

We highlighted below the best practices for a 3-part cold email automation. We are not going to write out the exact templates because there are literally hundreds of them online. Even worse, templates get overused. It’s essential that all your emails are unique to what you offer, unique to your business and relevant to your industry.

 

Email 1: The personal and well-researched email (day 1)

The first email is very important. You are a stranger, who has never provided any value to your prospects. Make sure this email has the following:

  • Research on your prospect (name is the minimum)
  • Research on your prospect’s business (industry, news, relevant information for your pitch, their problems, industry problem)
  • Relatively short copy
  • A clear call to action
  • Communicate the value you offer very clearly
  • Don’t ask for a lot of compliance
    • Don’t sell anything
    • Don’t ask them to schedule a call via a scheduling app
  • Ask a yes/no question if they want to connect with you, or what ask day suites them the most to complete the next step (usually a follow-up call)

Email 2: The smart follow-up (day 3)

How to write this email?

No reply? Don’t worry. The money is always in the follow-up. So, how do you go about writing this email?

  • Only briefly touch on the value you want to provide, all the information should be already in the previous email
  • Remind them politely that they haven’t responded
  • Try a different tone, length and angle in this email in comparison to the first email
  • Ask them to do one simple action, such as confirming what day they are available to speak

You can test this step and send the follow-up email in a new thread, with a new subject line. Alternatively, you can send it in the same thread so the prospect can easily refer to the previous email.

Email 3: The break-up email with a lot of value (day 6)

How to write this email?

By now it’s very likely that your prospect registered your emails. Again, most of the time it takes 3 (or more) emails to get noticed. What to include?

  • State that you will no longer follow-up
  • State that you will be still willing to help them in regard to their problems in the future – as your business focuses on solving these problems
  • Send a free resource, such as a checklist, whitepaper, guide or your best blog post
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Sample inbound marketing automation

Why you need to think carefully about your inbound marketing automation sequence

Want to know how to effectively nurture your leads into buying customers? Having an inbound marketing in place will effectively educate and train your leads to receiving marketing messages from you and to accept that you will eventually offer value in exchange for money.

Naturally, there is a number of ways to construct a high-converting automation. Here is one way to go about it:

 

Download this automation sequence in a pdf format

GET IT NOW

Email 1: Deliver what you promised (day 0)

How to write this email?

Did your lead request a resource, premium content or something else?

At this stage, the most important step is to over-deliver what you promised in exchange for their contact information.

If they signed-up to your blog or newsletter, send them the best piece of your content you have to offer.

If your lead signed-up for a call with you, send a confirmation email and a very educational email or article related to your services and the contents of your future call.

 

Email 2 & 3: Educate and Endear (days 2 & 3)

How to write these emails?

These emails should focus on educating your customers about who you are as a brand.

  • What do you stand for?
  • What is your voice?
  • Why people love you?
  • Why should prospects listen to you?
  • Why should they follow you on social media?

Secondly, emails 2 & 3 should also include THE BEST content you have. You have a very limited time when you can persuade your leads that you are the brand they should listen to and get their information from.

 

Email 4: Great resource related to Email 1 (day 4)

How to write this email?

This email must be directly related to Email 1.

It can be a piece of information or a premium content that will complement the information in the email.

You leads are interested enough in the topic to leave their information, hence they are ready to consume more relevant content.

This email must be a no-brainer, value giving piece targeted at a very relevant audience based on the initial opt-in.

 

Email 5: Low-cost offer (days 4 or 5)

How to write this email?

By now you’ve communicated what your brand stands for, you showed that you are the expert in your niche through relevant content, and you kept your audience engaged via content over a period of time.

Now is the time to convert readers into customers. Do this by offering a great amount of value for a deep discount (cost: $1-$25). This so-called ‘trip wire’ will warm up your audience for larger purchases in the future.

 

Conclusion

People who opt-in and give their information should a significant level of trust. We are constantly bombarded with marketing information, offers and pop-ups. Value your leads. You already spent resources on acquiring the lead, now is the time to monetize.

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3 reasons why people are not downloading your app

So you built a great app, but you are not getting as many downloads as you expected. This is of course a valid reason for re-thinking your approach to marketing and delivering a product to the market.

 

In today’s article, we will look at 3 possible reasons why you are not getting enough downloads. Not meeting your goals and key metrics will have a significant impact on your revenue and popularity of your brand as a whole, therefore it’s essential to reconsider what is not working and why.

 

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that the sheer amount of apps added to app stores on a daily basis is pretty astonishing. On average, there is close to 2, 000 apps added to the app store on a daily basis.

 

As this research from Statista shows, the Android users can choose from more than 2.2 million apps, closely followed by the Apple App Store with around 2 million apps.

 

 

how to get more app downloads

 

Regardless of what market you operate in, it’s extremely likely that your app is not entirely unique, and someone is competing with you on some level.

 

If this is not the case, you need to figure out how to point people to your unique app and educate them on the value you provide. Either way, these tasks are not easy.

 

Apart from looking at the volume of competition, there are other reasons why you are not getting as many app downloads as you expected. It’s very likely you neglected some of these vital aspects:

  1. Your market research
  2. Not creating enough interest around your app
  3. Not optimizing your App Store

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1. You are not getting enough app downloads because your app is not good enough

Before you disregard this option, pause for a second and think about it. Is your app truly delivering a tremendous amount of value to your ideal customer?

 

There is the possibility that your app is not acquiring as many users as you want simply because it’s not good enough. This is the case for an overwhelming majority of apps. The creators simply fail to correctly identify the needs of their audience, and hence don’t create a solution suitable for their ideal customers.

 

How to do market research for your app idea

Determine who will use your app

Great! So you have an idea for an app. Although simply determining who will use your app sounds very basic, it’s important. You need to very clearly identify the most rudimental segment of the population who you aim to target. It would be impossible without this step to continue further.

 

How broad or niche do you want to go?

The next step you need to take it to identify how niche, how deep do you want to dig into your segment. Going deep into your niche can mean a variety of things. You will essentially target a specific group of people based on a common characteristic that will want to download your app.

 

If you are wondering whether this will limit your audience size, it will, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While you decrease the number of people you target, you also decrease the competition. More importantly, you are decreasing the number of unqualified potential users you’d normally target.

 

A large group of people is likely to have very varied interests, needs, and desirable outcomes. However, if you decide to target a smaller audience, you are likely to offer value and solution to more specific problems.

 

Identify trends more app downloads

You need to have a general idea of the current situation. In your market, in niches impacting you, but also in the world as a whole. Many aspects of the global economy are tightly interlinked, so keeping on top of trends is essential for competing.

 

Identify App Store trends

Your research and attempts to understand what is going on should start in the App Charts section of your App Store. App Charts are specific to your geographical location, however, it can be changed. Because this section changes relatively frequently, you want to regularly monitor this to keep on top of trends.

 

Next, you want to access the following sections and analyse what apps are performing the best:

  • Top grossing chart
  • Top paid chart
  • Your category
  • And of course, top free chart

It’s quite likely that you’ll see the same apps claiming the top spots for a significant amount of time. Try to search for app that has similar functionality as yours in this charts.

 

Identify trends outside the App Store

Apart from the App Store, you can also monitor what’s popular on the social media. Being present and active will help you to quickly identify what is popular. Given that the majority of segments of the population use some type of social media, you are very likely to tune in and gain valuable insight.

 

The second source of trends for your app’s features are platforms and groups where your audience hangs out online. These could be various niche specific forums or Reddit or Quora.

 

Next, Google Trends will allow you to identify long-term trends in popularity of topics, indexed by the search frequency. You can see what matters to people now, how it compares to historic data, and make educated guesses where will the trend go in the future.

 

You could do this for instance, and compare if people are more interesting in yoga (a very famous exercise in the western world for decades) or crossfit (a relatively new sport taken on primarily by the younger audience)

 

get more app downloads

 

Lastly, you should think about taking advantage of the larger, geopolitical and societal shifts. Combining various smaller segments can niche down your audience even further, but it will guarantee smaller competition and a very targeted set of features your app can offer.

 

For instance, think about the changes in society due to crises, influx of new cultures, statuses gained of various minorities in the world and so on.

 

Conduct a competitor analysis

Another step in your market research is competitor analysis. Firstly, you need to look at the features your competitors offer and how they compare to yours. There is a variety of techniques to visually map the execution of their features in order to find gaps and room for improvement and developing a superior solution application.

You want to look at their solution and ideally use it too. But don’t rely only on your opinion. Use data from other users to gain understanding of what is important to them and what isn’t. Aggregate app users’ reviews and do a content analysis to find out patterns in satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

 

rotation

 

If you are interested in how to do this, we described this process in our article about developing viral applications.

 

2. You didn’t create enough buzz around your app

An effective pre-launch strategy for your app will help you to gain traction from the start. The first few users are essential for creating a positive upward spiral that can last for a considerable amount of time, especially if you optimized your app for sharing.

 

However, if you didn’t spend enough time creating and executing your pre-launch strategy, the day of your launch was likely to be just OK at best, followed by a progressively lesser amount of downloads.

 

Aspects of an effective pre-launch app strategy

You need a strong, congruent message

Pre-launch is all about priming your launch. It’s about getting people excited about what you created. As we go through the pre-launch strategies, you will see that you will strive to occupy many communication channels.

 

Because of this, it’s important to have a strong, unifying and congruent message across all platforms. Your message of what you intend to deliver needs to be aligned across all touch points with your brand. The most common example of this is McDonald’s.

 

As you go to different McDonald’s, you know what to expect. Their message is the same, their values don’t change, and you know what to expect when you hear about them on their website, social media or the information in their store.

 

For more app downloads you too need to have a well-crafted message, matched to your audience, delivered consistently.

 

It’s never too early to start building a brand

Essentially, how you position your brand should define a lot of your subsequent activity. It is the core of your business, where everything else will be aligned in accordance. It’s very likely that you won’t be very enthusiastic to start writing down what your brand behind the app stands for, what values it holds and other (important) brand exercises.

 

That’s fine.

 

However, make sure that you start building an identity around your brand and app. One of the best ways to communicate your brand essence, and what you stand for in terms of service, quality and professionalism is producing high-quality content about your app. Having a blog prior to launch will highlight your expertise and attract potential users.

App Marketing Services: Brand Building

We offer pre and post-launch marketing strategies to build your brand value

Read more >>

It’s never too early to your email list

Once you attract people to your site through blogging, use this traffic and collect emails and other information from your visitors. Email lists hold an enormous value when leads are nurtured properly.

 

You can use landing pages and compelling calls to action to collect emails from potential app users, in exchange for a piece of content or premium features of your application. Using email lists as a way to finally announce the ‘big news’ about your aunch consistently leads to more app downloads.

 

Be active on social media

Social media channels present a very effective way to stay in touch with your audience. As you build your brand and nurture your leads, keep sharing information about your app. Priming people to having your app before it goes live will build up the anticipation. While you can use social media channels for ads to get more downloads, nurturing prior to launch is also extremely important.

 

Being active on social media will also allow you to test the most effective channels for your audience. This information will become even more important once you go live. You will be able to optimize the most effective channels for more app downloads.

 

Sneak peeks and teasers

Sneak peeks are great for creating hype. A great way to do this by publishing screenshots with explanations of functionalities your app will offer. This will show your audience what is waiting for them once they download your app. Emphasizing the value you receive, and highlighting how it’s solving your problem will make people excited about the solution.

 

You can also include behind the scenes sneak peeks to how your launch is coming along. This will build trust with your audience and provide an additional layer of transparency and genuineness to your brand.

 

3x your expected PR and media outreach

If you thought that writing just a few press releases and then hoping for the best will get your more app downloads, you are wrong. Many people don’t give PR the attention it deserves. You should focus on high-quality press releases distributed far and wide to as many relevant distribution channels.

 

There is a number of great free press release distribution services that will create buzz around your brand and lead to more downloads. Namely:

You should also tap into other places and publications relevant to your app. When writing a press release, you should have a firm understanding of what to write and how to get more downloads for your app out of it. The best practices for writing a press release are:

  • Have a great understanding of the audience
  • Spend time on writing a great headline
  • Make the ”who” and ”what” very clear
  • Provide background information
  • Include relevant information for the audience
  • Tell a compelling story
  • Use data, but package it in an enjoyable format

 

 

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3. You didn’t spend enough time optimizing your App Store

Good news, you launched your app! You are generating traffic to your App Store, but people are not downloading! One of the main reasons can be that your App Store is not optimized. This is when app store optimization comes into play.

 

Similarly to search engine optimization (SEO), ASO deals with understanding of the algorithms of App Store. There is a variety of elements you need to take into consideration. Here are the main elements you need to optimize to ensure that people will download your app, and not simply leave.

If you are wondering how to get more app downloads, you need to optimize the following:

  1. App name

  2. Keywords

  3. Description

  4. Icon

  5. App updates

  6. Screenshots

  7. Your app ratings

  8. Preview video

Luckily, we created a checklist which allows you to go step-by-step through each section to check whether you optimized your store according to the latest ASO practices.

 

Get The Ultimate App Store Optimization Checklist now for Free

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Conclusion

We went over 3 main reasons why the majority of apps are not getting enough downloads. If nothing else, this article showed that having a popular and useful app starts with research, and that it’s a continous process.

 

Here we showed mostly apsects that need to be taken care of prior to launching, but there are other post-launch strategies you need to keep working at.

 

Hopefully, you were able to go through this information and realize where you can improve. If you want to receive content like this in the future, make sure to sign up to our blog

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Did you do these mistakes? Were you able to correct them? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments section below.

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How to get more app development clients with outbound email marketing

We consistently see one repeating scenario when it comes to generating app development and b2b leads in general:

 

You have a great and experienced team, but generating more leads and closing more clients is increasingly harder. You are great at building well-functioning things, but you are not great at marketing your skills.

 

So how do you solve this problem? There are several b2b techniques you can try to implement for generating more leads for your business. In our last article, we discussed how you can use referrals for more clients.

 

Let’s look at a study about the effectiveness of b2b marketing channels from MarketingCharts. We see that email marketing is clearly the most preferred lead generation strategy.

 

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The reason for email being the preferred channel is not accidental. We are aware of the unique mix of inbound and outbound techniques an effective email campaign can include.

 

However, the reality is that many marketers shy away from cold email. Why? It’s caused by the sophisticated inbound marketing strategies that don’t force people to buy from you, but instead, they rely on your ability to attract people by the content you share. Sounds nicer than bombarding them with emails, right?

 

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While inbound marketing is a great strategy for generating app development clients, and it’s something we do here at App Marketing Minds too, inbound is a long term strategy (and expensive). Do you need to get new clients to your business this month, or this week? Outbound email might be the right channel for you.

 

To clarify, outbound emailing is not referring to spamming thousands of businesses. Firstly, there are regulations preventing email spam in pretty much every country.

 

Instead, we’ll show you how to reach out to relevant businesses through a personalized email, offering genuine value to their business.

 

You might ask, how can I offer value through a cold email? Cold emails are annoying!

 

You will give value to your recipients through the offer of your product and service. Based on your research, you will see who is suitable for your offer and who is not. This way, you will reach out only to people who will genuinely benefit from your services.

 

So why should you try outbound email marketing?

  • It’s predictable
  • Emails are scalable
  • You can continuously analyze and iterate
  • Emails can bypass the gatekeeper

 

In this post, we’ll look at the following ways to generate app development clients using email:

  • How to segment your target audience
  • Email copy optimization
  • Automating lead generation

 

1. Your audience of prospects for app development needs to be carefully segmented

 

It goes without saying that like with any marketing strategy, you need to know who you want to target. Putting the right offer in front of the right audience at the right time is the difference between a successful and a failed campaign.

 

Proper segmentation will allow you to niche down to your audience that provides the most return on your investment. You will also a the chance to A/B test different segments and see who is likes different kinds of offers the most. Knowing what segments drive your sales will allow you to scale your marketing efforts in the most profitable direction.

So how do you segment? You should have two processes for segmenting your potential clients.

 

Firstly, consider the following:

  • who are your current clients?
  • from what industries or verticals do your clients come?
  • what industries need apps now and in the future?
  • what current client segment is giving you the best ROI?
  • where is likely to be a big shift in demand for mobile apps? Example: Studies show that retail customers are highly dissatisfied with mobile websites, and that retail apps can convert up to three times more. This clearly shows a new trend where app development clients can be found.

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Secondly, you want to focus on a specific segment within that group of businesses. You can niche down based on:

  • Geography – focusing on one area and winning key app development projects will allow you to leverage social proof
  • Size
  • Their specialization

Lastly, you need to determine who to contact in the organization. Who has the power to make decisions about long-term projects, or who has access to people in a position to make decisions? The type of person that will be contacted by you will depend on the business and industry you want to target. But broadly, here are some ideas…

 

Who to contact?

 

  • The decision maker. This is the person that is directly responsible for making decisions about the project you want to propose
  • Someone above the decision maker. Especially in larger organizations, the CEOs might not have time to deal with you, so they will simply forward your message down to the appropriate person
  • Gatekeeper. You are most likely to find a gatekeeper’s email address. This is the person that has access to the decision maker.
  • Anyone in the company. These emails, usually sent at scale with little personalization don’t tend to work too well. Businesses receive a couple of these random emails per day, and are often deleted straight away.

 

You will spend time and money to segment your market, write email copy, and find the appropriate person to contact. Given all this, the last thing you want is for your email to go directly to trash and lose a possible client for app development.

 

Hence, you need to optimize your email copy.

 

2. Optimize copy

There is a lot of content about cold email out there on the internet. Some of it is excellent material, but a lot of the guides seem to go for a quick and easy ‘win’ with their audience. Marketers looking for information (and people in general) want quick answers to their questions, and even quicker fixes to their problems.

 

They want solutions, and they want them now. Hence, a lot of the content about email makes two huge mistakes.

  • Not enough information about subject lines
  • Email templates

How to create great subject lines to win more clients

If you really want to generate more leads for your app development business, you need to have your subject lines optimized. It’s simple. If your subject line is suboptimal, your email copy, research about each prospect, call to action, offer, the resources attached and even your website are completely irrelevant! The recipient simply won’t open your email if the subject line is not enticing enough.

From our outbound campaigns and from testing hundreds of different subject lines, here are the underlying factors of success that you need to do:

  • Personalize subject lines. If possible, include prospect’s name, organization and something specific about them.
  • Use questions. Intriguing questions will make the reader keen to find out more. Make sure the question is something your reader would want to know. If the question is irrelevant, you’ll fail.
  • Frontload benefits. If you target a segment of potential clients where the need for your app development solution is vital, stating the main benefits up-front in the subject line can work much better
  • Intrigue. Similarly to a question, make them want to know more. Common statements and variations of this can be: ‘we included you in our report’ or ‘this is what we found about [company name], ‘are you still making this mistake?’

 

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Creating outreach emails for app development leads

 

The ubiquitous amount of email templates you can find literally anywhere online are a good start. But never use the exact email template you find. Your emails must be unique and specific to your audience and offer.

 

Similarly to subject lines, all your previous efforts can fall just because of a bad email copy. Taking necessary time and testing is therefore absolutely necessary.

 

Here are the best practices for an effective email:

  • Personalize. Once again, include the person’s name, their company and information about them too
  • Get to the point. Nobody wants to read long emails! Let alone from someone they don’t know. The person reading your emails is most likely aware that you want to sell them something down the line. And people hate being sold to.
  • Keep it relatively short. Ideally, 3 short paragraphs of about 2-3 sentences each. Depending on how you approach it, you still need to communicate enough value so they reply. However, you should test the length.
  • Clear and simple call to action. There must be a very simple question (or statement) regarding next steps. You must keep it very simple and straightforward. Include date, time and how you want to contact them.
  • Social proof.  Did you conclude a project with someone relevant to them, such as their competitor or someone well-known in the industry? Tell them briefly about the project and the end result benefits.
  • Keep the next step extremely simple. Forget about calendar scheduling tools. Your prospect’s answer or the next step should be a very simple YES or NO. The more complicated the process will be, the more likely it is they won’t do it, or even acknowledge that they read your email. Your potential app development clients don’t know you and they haven’t receive any value from you yet. Why should they invest too much of their time into something you want to tell them.

The 2 biggest mistakes that are costing you more projects

Now, probably the biggest mistake with outbound emails we see is selling your app development services in the first email. This is a grave mistake. Closing and carrying out an app development project is not an easy and short process, and it’s very unlikely the prospect was thinking about building an app in the first place.

 

Because of this, you can’t sell your services straight off the bat. Instead, sell the next step.

 

This is tied to the second mistake we see. You need to make a statement of low commitment. The person reading the email doesn’t know you, and is not sure what to expect. Because of this, make sure to explicitly say that they don’t need to worry. You can include statements such ‘to see if there is a potential fit between us’.

This clearly communicates that they don’t need to worry about some sales person trying to make them sign a contract on the next call.

 

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3. Automating the process

The greatest advantage of using emails is the ability to scale for a mere fraction in comparison to other outbound techniques. What’s even better, outbound emailing tools are progressively more sophisticated.

 

The outbound process can be automated by using both, manual research and automation tools together. These are the steps in of the whole outbound process:

  1. Prospecting – finding the right people to reach out to
  2. Research – finding key information about the prospect, their company or industry news to use in the email
  3. Outreach – sending first and follow up emails
  4. Sales-hand off – a sales rep will respond to any questions via email or attend to the next steps described in the email

 

Prospecting

After you clearly selected who you want to target, you need to find your prospects. There is a variety of outbound prospecting strategies that allow you to find people based on their position, company size and so on. Try the following and test what gives you the best results:

  • Comprehensive lead generation tools such as leadspace
  • Tools for digging up information about a specific individual, such rocketreach
  • Or tools for sourcing prospects directly from the largest database of business individuals, such as salesloft

 

Research

Creating a well researched and personalized copy is going to boost your conversions. You will show that you are not simply spamming millions of people. Again, you will personalize it depending on the industry, but you might focus on aspects that would make them interested in your app development solutions.

You should dig out the information about the person, such as:

  • Name
  • Position
  • Their role and tasks they carry out
  • Their blog posts
  • Their media appearances

You need to find information about their organization too. For instance, the company news, media mentions and so on. Given that this information is crucial for your campaign, make sure to follow their social media channels, monitor their website or blog for relevant information, or simply do a Google search about their company.

 

Storing information about each prospect can be simply carried out in Excel or Google sheets. The next section will cover how to plug this information into an emailing platform, but for now, this is a great way to store information about potential clients for app development.

For example:

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Next, after you conducted research, you can also input the extra information you research to the sheet. Now it’s important to understand how will your emails be drafted.

 

You want to input the extra information in a way it will appear in a sentence of the actual email. For instance, the email will read:

 

Hi [FIRST NAME],

I really enjoyed your latest blog post about [CUSTOM INFORMATION GOES HERE].

 

As you see from the example, the information we put into excel must naturally flow into the sentence and not create any errors with the sentence’s syntax. So let’s imagine we want to mention a post about how to create viral loops. The sentence in the email can read: about ‘how to create viral applications’.

The information would be in the same way entered into the sheet

 

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Keep gathering data

If they respond to your email, keep on top of the news about their organization by creating Google Alerts. Think about how the information will help you to close an app development deal with the prospect. Setting up alerts is extremely simple and will allow you to use data in your favour when it comes to creating proposals and closing the deal.

 

Creating Google Alerts is easy, you simply enter the phrase you want to monitor on the web, and receive notifications when new information appears.

 

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Outreach

The next step is to send out the emails. Again there are many tools that can do this for you. Such as:

  • Outreach.io
  • Quickmail.io
  • Woodpecker.co

You can find many similar tools, they will differ in functionality and price. However, the process described above is a basic feature all decent outbound emailing tools will have.

 

You will be able to seamlessly integrate your own database of leads and information with these tools, so each email will appear as if it was sent to one individual, after a thorough research. The tools mentioned above will also allow you to create follow up sequences.

 

The outbound emailing tools will allow you to match the data from your cells with their email templates. So each prospect will receive an email with their name, organization and the information you researched.

 

Lastly, don’t leave any money on the table. This is why you need to follow up!

 

Follow-ups are extremely important, so make sure you do remind people that you emailed them. Again, do this intelligently with personalization, and testing the copy. Lastly, while checking up on your email is great for sales, don’t over do it. Remember that they didn’t opt-in for your mailing list, so space out follow-upw up emails and follow up to 3 times in the next 10-14 days after the first email.

 

Sales hand-off

Great, your potential client has responded and now it’s time to work towards your end goal. Set-up the reply address to be of people in charge of handling sales, and deliver on your promise explained in the email.

 

Remember to reply and follow up with them as soon as they show interest. Replying to b2b leads within the first hour can actually increase your conversion 7-times.

 

Lastly, plug your prospects into your CRM and start the lead nurturing process. Educate them about your services and app development, and how will your solution help their business.

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Conclusion

Sometimes the pipeline of hot leads dries up, even for very skilled developers. Because of this, having a process in place that will keep new leads coming in is vital, for survival and growth of your business.

 

Generating interest in this increasingly competitive industry is not easy, therefore feel free to reach out to us about any sales or marketing questions.

 

Do you have anything to add to this post? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

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How to generate more app development leads with referrals

how to get app development leads

At the very basic level, let’s try to reverse engineer how a successful app development agency can thrive and grow.

 

The end point is closing the contract. Before that, there was a proposal and consultation calls. However, none of these would be possible without leads in the first place.

 

Businesses need high-quality leads, preferably also at high quantities. I assume you as professional know this.

 

Research shows that 68% of b2b marketers still struggle with lead generation. And this is particularly the case for small app development studios or new developers.

Today we’ll consider a very effective strategy that will help you to get more app development leads.

 

This is one of those blogs where you really want to pay attention.

 

Why?

 

Because closing more app development deals is essential for the survival and growth of your business.

 

How to generate app development leads through referrals

 

It’s very likely that you heard about referrals before. The ubiquitous use of referrals as a traffic source can be quite annoying, especially if you are new.

 

Many perceive this advice as useless because it often falls into the category of ”ask your friends and family”. If you happen to have a new Amazon store, then sure, asking friends and family for few discounted purchases and reviews to kick-off things is good.

 

But realistically, asking your friend or family if they want to have an app developed for them is pretty far stretched. Especially if you aim to charge adequate prices and create a quality app with the potential to go viral.

 

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We’ll demystify referrals as a traffic source by providing you with a quite simple strategy. Marketers don’t tend to fail their campaigns because of their lack of information. On the contrary, we have too much information. Marketing fails due to the lack of effective execution.

 

You need to start using referrals. And this study shows why:

  •        Referred customers have higher lifetime value
  •        Referrals close faster
  •        Referrals have higher conversion rate

app development leads

Asking for app development referrals

The first step in this simple strategy is to overcome your fears of asking. You probably know that you should ask your past clients for referrals. But you never reached out to them to close more leads for app development.

 

Ask yourself why this is the case, when leads are essential for growth.

 

Some people simply don’t like to ask, be rude or simply it’s not their way of doing ”things”. This mindset is, to say the least, not ideal for growing your business.

 

The 3 things to do in order to overcome the fear of asking for referrals:

– understand that referrals are a genuine source of leads used by the majority of businesses

– you need more projects to survive, let alone grow

– automating and optimizing this process will make it predictable and less ‘scary’

 

The preferred way of asking for referrals should be via email. Unless you are very skilled at handling phone calls and insist on calling, emails can be optimized and tested for future success.

 

When it comes to the actual email, remember the following:

1) Be direct. The truth is that people are busy. And nobody has time, nor they want to make time to read long-winded emails. Especially if it’s not about them. Be direct and express what you want, in a tactful way.

 

2) Be personal. Personalized subject lines and email copy always outperforms generic email content. Make sure you address the recipient directly.

 

3) Be specific. You should be specific in 2 things. Firstly, you should shortly allude to their experiences with you and how great everything turned out for them. Secondly, be specific in the great solution you provided for them and others, and ask whether they know someone who has a specific set of problems that you can directly address. This can be based on the verticals or other market segments you focus on.

 

4) Don’t make it complicated. Remember you are asking them for something. The easier way to do it should be just contacting you via email with the basic information of your potential new project.

 

5) Offer incentives. As always the What’s In It For ME (WIIFM) rule applies. It’s true that are more likely to send a potential client your way if they were happy with your solution. But this is not always the case. Work out a sensible commission fee to act as an incentive for them to refer you a new client. People are driven by financial incentives, and if you do close a new app development client from their referral, everyone will be happy. Depending on your margins you can offer a fixed fee or percentage of the project value. This comes down to how much time and money would you normally spend for attracting new leads.

 

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Last words of advice

Depending on your culture and the way you nurtured your clients before, during and after the project will influence your interactions.

 

There isn’t a ‘winning’ template for generating app leads via email referrals. But all successful outreaches follow the principles we outlined above.

 

Conclusion

Referrals are incredibly important and effective for generating new business. This is particularly true if you are stuck generating leads through other sources.

 

The aforementioned study also showed that despite the effectiveness of referrals, only 30% of businesses have a set process.

 

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Don’t be one of them. Follow the process described and reach out for more business. Close more projects by leveraging your great work and relationships you built. Savvy entrepreneurs are likely to have wide networks of connections who will want your solution.

 

Like with any strategy, you need to work and optimize your outreach. From emails to negotiating terms. However, the proof is in the pudding.

 

Businesses using referrals grow faster by 11%, so persistence, strategy and great quality of work is the key. Have you used referrals to grow your app development agency? Comment below, we’d love to hear!

 

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[Infographic] How to create a viral app

In addition to recently publishing great blog posts on how create a viral application through the viral loop and choosing the right pricing models, we are bringing you this amazing infographic! 

 

You will discover the following:

  1. How to do your research before creating a winning app
  2. How to provide your users with great user interface (UI)
  3. How to design a viral loop
  4. What incentives for sharing you should offer to your readers
  5. Who to reach out to pre-launch and also after you launched your app

If you want to receive more great content such as this in the future, be sure to sign-up for our blog!

 

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Paste the code below to your site and share this infographic

 

We are continuing to educate our readers on how to market their application. Make sure to be first to receive new content, such as this newly released App Store Optimization checklist.

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