User engagement is the key to sustaining growth for SaaS companies. If you want users to consistently log into your platform and use it regularly, it’s essential that you develop an SaaS marketing strategy that emphasizes user engagement through education and entertainment. Not only does this help boost user satisfaction, but it can also help your company improve customer retention.
Below are a few different strategies that SaaS marketers can use to effectively improve user engagement.
1. Use triggered messaging to send relevant and timely communications.
Communication is an important part of building and maintaining lasting relationships with your customers. Though you may already be sending different types of messages to your customers, such as email welcome messages or product updates, you can use data to help you make these messages even more relevant. Triggered messages allow you to use the information you gather about customer behavior to provide more personalized communication with users.
For example, let’s say that based on customer data, your company has found that new users who do not log into their account within 5 days of signing up are most likely to cancel their subscription. You can develop triggered messages to send to these customers after just 2-3 days of inactivity that encourage them to log back into their accounts. Similarly, SaaS marketers might use triggered messages to provide timely help and advice, such as an email that is sent to customers 2 days after registration providing helpful hints for using the platform or links to video tutorials.
Here’s a triggered message I received from SpyFu.
While routine marketing emails may seem interruptive because they may be irrelevant, triggered email messages tend to have a more positive impact on customers. Since the messages are triggered by specific actions that the customer did or did not take, these messages are more relevant and thus, more beneficial to the customer and more likely to promote engagement.
2. Engage customers through the in-app chat feature.
After working in SaaS marketing for years, it can be easy to forget how challenging it can be for a new user to navigate your company’s platform. Many customers may not be familiar with SaaS technology and may have a hard time successfully using the platform or getting the most out of its features. This frustration can often cause users to give up or move on to another SaaS product they may believe is easier to use. In addition to sending triggered messages with helpful tips, tutorials, and advice, you can also engage these users through in-app messaging to help provide ongoing assistance.
In-app messaging is effective because it allows you to speak with your customers one-on-one, helping them solve their greatest challenges. In addition to providing direct assistance to customers, you can also use the chat feature to find out which features new users are finding most difficult or asking specific questions about their experience. You can then use the information that you gather through these conversations to create interesting and relevant content that is helpful for users who are having similar issues.
It is important that your team respond to customer questions and concerns quickly and in a friendly manner. Many users will become frustrated if they have to wait too long to get their questions answered. During business hours, try to respond to chat messages as quickly as possible. If you’re unable to provide instant online support, make sure that customers know you will be addressing their message by sending an email with an estimated timeframe for a response. It’s also best practice to be friendly and personable in your in-app messages (or really any customer communication).
3. Offer free training.
Depending on how complex your software is to operate, you may want to provide free training for new customers. These training sessions can help users better understand how to navigate the platform and get the most out of your SaaS product’s features. There are a few different ways that SaaS marketers can structure free training sessions. One of the easiest ways is to develop a free webinar that helps coach users through the process. The webinar can be pre-recorded, but you may want to include a live session at the end to address any user questions.
Basecamp, a cloud project management company offers live Q&A classes for prospects. Check out the screenshot below.
SaaS companies that offer enterprise packages may want to go beyond just free webinars and online presentations. In order to engage and retain these big budget customers, you might provide a one-on-one training (either online or in-person) to help the customer better understand the value of the product.
Specialized trainings can be tailored to the company’s needs and how they plan to use the software. You might also consider providing these customers with extended access to support personnel for any additional training or questions.
By offering free training, you are increasing the value of your product for users. In addition, this training provides the perfect opportunity to build stronger relationships with your customers. By increasing user engagement in this way, you can work to reduce churn while also learning more about what makes your customers tick.
4. Develop educational tutorial videos.
Continuing education is a vital part of SaaS customer engagement. In addition to free trainings and webinars, you can also create video tutorials as part of your SaaS marketing strategy. While you will still want to provide the typical educational assets such as blogs, e-books, and guides, you can also use video tutorials to engage your audience. Videos are stimulating and allow you to clearly and simply communicate your message to users faster than you can in text. Videos are also easier to consume on mobile devices, allowing users to quickly and conveniently access your training videos on demand.
Basecamp, a project management company came up with a series of tutorial videos to educate prospects. Check out the screenshot below.
If you want to produce video tutorials that are engaging, you need to think about what your customers most want to learn about your software. Consider what your customers greatest challenges typically are when they start to use the platform. Also, think about which features your customers will find most useful and create content around these topics. In addition to the topics that you choose for your video tutorials, it’s also important to consider how you plan to structure the content. To keep users interested, use storytelling methods that will help draw them in and make your content interesting and helpful.
5. Encourage users to take goal-focused actions.
Customers are more likely to engage with your SaaS product and company if they are using it to progress toward a goal. When SaaS customers are actively working toward an achievable goal, they will become more motivated and eager to use your software, which encourages regular engagement and interaction. However, you cannot place the responsibility of goal tracking on the customer alone. You will want to consider ways that you can incorporate goal progress into how the platform is used.
For example, games often use goal progress to keep users engaged. As a user reaches the next level of the game, they might earn a badge or attain a higher ranking. Though this is most easily applied to gaming applications, it can also be used for other types of software as well. Consider how Audible, an audiobook service, gives users badges for different activities such as listening to audiobooks during a certain time. The Fitbit exercise tracking app employs a similar strategy by giving badges to users who have taken a certain amount of steps and alerting users to when they have met their personal goals.
These types of simple, goal-oriented actions can help you keep users engaged with your software as they move closer to achieving their goals.
6. Provide user incentives.
User incentives are another great way to keep users engaged with SaaS products. By providing different incentives to the customer for using the software, you can help influence their behavior, getting them to engage more often. SaaS marketers may be tempted to provide standard incentives like free company swag. However, a keychain or tote bag is not the most powerful incentive for users to engage with your software in a meaningful way. Instead, consider which incentives will help serve a real purpose for your customers.
The types of incentives that you offer will depend on your specific SaaS offering as well as who your customers are. You can offer frequent users the opportunity to try new features before anyone else and provide vital feedback that informs future operations of the platform. This not only gives users the chance to try new features before they make their way to the platform, but it can also help them feel like they play an important role in deciding how the platform works.
Another effective user incentive is joining a special online community of other active users. For example, Sprout Social has an All Stars Program that allows active users to be a part of the company’s brand advocacy community.
Users who are a part of the program can chat with Sprout Social team members and other advocates on the community’s private Slack channel and enjoy other incentives such as insider info and exclusive online badges. Even something as simple as a private Facebook group for active users can be an effective and affordable way to encourage users to engage with your platform, company team members, and each other.
7. Get feedback to help make improvements.
The truth is that no matter how useful your SaaS product maybe, customers will eventually leave if they start to get bored with your software. If you do not strive to continuously improve your SaaS offering by refining software features and adding new features over time, customers may start to feel that the product’s value is dwindling, which leads to decreased engagement. To help increase the perception that your SaaS product continues to be valuable to your customers, your company will need to release new versions of the product or provide new features that help add value for your customers.
What role do SaaS marketers play in this improvement process? They can help identify what improvements need to be made through their interactions with customers. One way to identify areas of improvement is by monitoring social media channels for brand mentions. By seeing what people are saying about your SaaS offering online, you can better understand what the public perception of the product is and where improvements might be made. For instance, if you see that users are often commenting or complaining about a glitch, you might bring this to the development team’s attention so that the problem can be fixed.
Similarly, you can monitor industry discussions to recognize new areas of opportunity. What are industry influencers and your software users saying about your industry’s SaaS capabilities? What new features do they want? What advancements are they looking forward to? Gathering this information as part of your SaaS marketing research can help your company identify opportunities for future features or software upgrades.
In the end, it’s important to remember that engagement = retention. If people aren’t using your platform, it could be because they are not engaged. It’s essential that SaaS marketers try out different user engagement strategies to find the most effective tactics for improving customer retention. You can use the SaaS marketing strategies above as a starting point for experimentation. Choose one or two of the strategies above and watch as your engagement rates steadily improve over time.