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Employees across your organization send emails to prospects, customers, vendors, partners and job seekers every day. As a result, your employees’ email signatures are a reflection of your company. You likely already know this, so you probably have an existing template that each employee fills out with their own information and uses as their signature. […]
B2B SaaS growth can be an intricate puzzle. Growth requires going beyond customer acquisition — though that’s an important element of success. It requires communication, retention, teamwork, alignment, and so much more. But that doesn’t mean it’s a puzzle you can’t solve. Today, we’re going to dive into some of the secrets of growth that fall outside the normal discourse of lead generation and team alignment. Read this post and you’ll be ready to start putting together the pieces.
1. Understand Your Niche
Ready-to-use SaaS products service a specific need — they’re more enticing than creating software or purchasing an in-house product, and versatile enough to offer a comprehensive solution but still specialized enough to provide a unique value proposition. For these reasons, SaaS products, when correctly marketed and sold, can be in extremely high demand. And it’s hard to be successful as a SaaS company if you spread yourself too thin. In other words, if you try to offer a wide range of basic functions rather than a limited range of exceptional functions, you may overextend.
For every SaaS company, there’s a balancing act that needs to occur in order to be successful. To find your niche, consider the level of competition in your target segment, how penetrable the market is and if your product offers anything new (or addresses a different audience). Constantly re-evaluating your market and your product’s position within that market is key to growing in the right direction.
2. Nurture a Strong Partner Network
Nurturing strong relationships with businesses that leverage your product is a great way to increase revenue without spending more money upfront. But cultivating strong partnerships requires time and energy, so it’s important to focus your efforts in the right place.
First, determine the traits you’re looking for in a co-marketing partner. How many customers does your ideal client have? What size is their company? What industries do they serve? You should also ask yourself what types of partnerships you want to avoid. Learn more about what potential partners do and how best to approach them. For any partnership to be successful, it must be viable and mutually beneficial — whether that means revenue sharing or some other indirect benefit. If you identify possible challenges upfront, it will be easier to adapt your model accordingly. Partnerships can be either low-touch or high-touch; advocate partners require less interfacing than do strategic partners who are working with you to achieve a common goal — though both types of partnerships offer unique value.
While no other business is going to do all of your promotion and selling for you, it may significantly extend your reach and customer network. Kissmetrics’ partner network helped them increase their user base by 1,000 percent in six months. They transformed from a small B2B startup into a recognizable industry player and name.
3. Connect key Business Metrics to Product Development
One of the best ways to ensure that you’re keeping your customers satisfied and creating the best product for your target market is through agile development in small increments. The beauty of cloud-based SaaS products is the ability to perpetually update and test out new features on an active customer base. This ability allows you to solve for challenges in real-time, as long as you keep careful tabs on the evolving needs and pain points of your customers.
Tracking key business metrics can give you a better sense of whether your product is being used as intended. What functions are used most frequently and what features aren’t gaining traction? What are possible reasons for this experiential gap? Customer satisfaction surveys and outreach are also great ways to evaluate the effectiveness of your product in order to make the most essential improvements. They key with metric and feedback driven growth is constant testing and reevaluation: customer needs are perpetually changing, and the best tech responds to those changes in real time.
4. Teach Prospects How to Succeed
SaaS products are meant to be easy to use and efficient, which, in business, equates to time and money saved for your customer. In order to ensure widespread adoption of your product, it’s important to teach customers how to use it to the greatest effect — whether that’s through consultation services, in-product chat features, blog posts, new feature tutorials, training videos, email workflows or certification courses.
These customer support services should focus on delighting and empowering customers, but should offer more value than simple operating instructions. The most effective and “sticky” educational features teach prospects how to be better at their jobs, in addition to teaching them how to use your software platform successfully. After all, even the most innovative software isn’t a cure-all— it’s a tool intended to accentuate strengths and enable users, but it cannot stand in for talent and industry expertise. What better way to ensure customer loyalty than to offer your customers all the tools and information they need to succeed in their position? Drawing the link from your product to real strategies and human processes gives it greater staying power and relevance.
For example, Hubspot offers a “Hubspot Academy” feature, a section of their SaaS platform devoted to helping customers grow and become more savvy, successful marketers.
As you can see, there are a multitude of ways to grow your SaaS business, from sales and marketing alignment strategies to KPI creation and connection with the product. With the secrets outlined above on your side, you’ll be a step ahead of your competition right out of the gate.
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Today’s marketers are constantly looking to adapt on the fly, remain data driven, and learn not only the most cutting-edge techniques, but also the most effective ones. Account-based marketing can help you achieve all three goals. If you’re a marketer looking to implement account-based marketing within your organization, and aren’t sure what you might need structurally in order to move in that direction, we’re here to help.
Inbound marketing can be the demand generation engine behind your revenue team, but implementing an account-based approach can drive that machine to run at the next level. We’re not saying one methodology is better than the other, but if you can run your inbound AND account-based efforts in tandem, you’ll be running one powerful system.
We won’t discuss how to execute ABM’s famously creative, “land and expand” style campaigns in this post, but we will set you up for success when looking to add ABM to your marketing strategy.
This is not an exhaustive list, but here are four critical items to be mindful of:
- Your ideal customer profile
- Organizational account-based mindset
- Clean and aligned CRM data
- Reporting infrastructure
The Profile (NOT Persona)
The ideal customer profile can unequivocally be called the cornerstone of ABM. It’s different than a buyer persona, and is built on firmographics. But how do you get there?
Analyze your current customer base. Which accounts have been your most loyal and have the highest lifetime value? What makes them so profitable for you? Examine the trends. Most companies have a general, qualitative idea of what makes an account a great fit for them, but we suggest taking this idea to the next level of granularity. Is your organization effective at closing startups? Do your products/services lend themselves to serving customers in the health care space?
Once you identify where your key accounts are by examining patterns in your customers, use those data points to create a list of criteria that define what your ideal accounts are. Here’s an example:
- Company size: 1 – 30
- Industry: Health care
- Website tools: Google Analytics
- Marketing automation: HubSpot
No matter where your marketing and sales teams stand currently, you’ll be faced with some adversity in driving adoption of an account-based approach. Establish a mindset across your company that focuses on firmographics (demographics about a particular company) rather than exclusively on persona-based pain points. Certainly don’t neglect where your leads are feeling pain — we still want to help them with those pains! Nevertheless, when adding ABM to your programs, direct focus toward customer profile realities like industry, company size, etc. from the earliest stages of the marketing process to help drive alignment.
Are your business development reps targeting particular job roles in their outreach? Are they segmenting their leads by persona? If so, they’re not too far from having the mindset they need for ABM. Segment their leads by criteria that you’ll find in your ideal customer profile!
Define the ideal customer profile and distribute this profile in writing to the sales AND marketing teams. Be sure to take their feedback on this profile and give your teams a voice in the process. Transparency breeds cooperation as well as alignment. After all, both teams are focused on the same thing: bringing in new customers!
You may end up realizing that your CRM simply doesn’t have these critical firmographic data points right now. Perhaps your team hasn’t been quite as vigilant as you might’ve hoped…
Don’t fret! These are data points that you can have your team go out and get via LinkedIn and other online sources. Make the effort twofold: yes, you should be getting account data to create your ideal customer profile, but you should also be thinking about adjusting your marketing and sales processes. Your goal is to be able to continue to get this information — and report on it — going forward.
Running inbound in tandem with ABM poses some database challenges. One such example is when a contact moves lifecycle stages. You’ll need to ensure that the company lifecycle stage moves in parallel and then pushes out that same stage to all related contacts on that account.
Tying your contacts to the appropriate account, and, more critically, to the right opportunity/deal, is critical in order to follow the touchpoints that marketing has hit on a given account.
In the end, every executive team wants to see ROI. Keep a close hand on marketing spend when utilizing an ABM campaign, or you won’t be able to see the impact your marketing team has on actual revenue.
Measuring marketing attribution during ABM campaigns can seem like a difficult hoop to jump through as well. Defining what type of attribution model you’d like to follow from the get-go is crucial. Choose from the following:
- Multi-touch (U-shaped, W-shaped, Full path, etc.)
Fortunately for marketers everywhere, we don’t have to do attribution alone. Our friends over at Bizible provide the insights into the multi-touch models that many demand generation professionals desire — all while tracking to revenue.
ABM doesn’t only impact your marketing team. When you implement ABM, keep an eye on your sales team’s close rates and sales-cycle length. Is the sales cycle slowing down because of targeted accounts making it down the funnel? Are you closing more deals because the account-based approach is more targeted? These metrics will provide justification for your account-based efforts, and further align marketing and sales teams who have clear, transparent and shared definitions of the ideal customer profile.
Implementing ABM can seem rife with obstacles — especially if you’re integrating ABM with inbound. But it’s not all challenge after challenge. By addressing the four building blocks in this post, you’ll set your teams off on the right course, and you’ll be able to continue to diversify your marketing strategy while practicing organizational agility.
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