5 ways for SaaS companies to drive end-user adoption
Cloud-based tools are the future of business. Gartner projects that in 2020 companies will spend $155.7 billion on SaaS and PaaS capabilities, and the number will grow to $209.1 billion by 2022. This shift from traditional software to cloud-based platforms has fostered new dynamics in B2B buying.
A subscription service contract—marked by recurring payments and renewals—enables organizations to have the latest SaaS technology. It also reduces switching costs and creates more opportunities for customers to jump to other providers. Additionally, the success of products like Slack and Zoom shows that employees are more frequently empowered to use the tools they want. IT departments are starting to conform to this new norm versus dictating the software programs employees must use.
In response, many software companies have started to explore strategies that focus on driving product usage by end users. When end users derive value from a product immediately, it easily can become part of the organization’s day-to-day activities, reducing the chance they will consider switching to a competitor.
Which is why we’ve put together our top five recommendations to help your SaaS organization increase end-user adoption. Based on our work with leading technology-as-a-service companies, we’ve found these approaches to be key difference makers in product longevity.
Build a cloud-first product that is intuitive
It’s no surprise that small, cloud-first startups have succeeded. One of the key reasons they have seen high adoption into enterprise accounts is that they have created products with the goal of alleviating end-user pain points at their core. This makes their products easy to use and facilitates organic adoption (with or without the help of IT teams). If you are not in a position to rebuild your product, invest in customer research to deeply understand end-user challenges, and leverage your marketing efforts to be specific about how you address them.
Grease the deployment tracks
The longer it takes to get a product up and running in your organization, the longer it will take for end-users to start using it. A deployment process mired with technical difficulties and support calls will develop ill-will with your core technical audience. Make sure you have mechanisms in place to make it easy to implement the new tool, particularly if you know your product is complex to deploy. Examples include ensuring deployment documentation is available, easily discoverable and at the right altitude to help IT avoid common hot spots. Additionally, you can make sure there are dedicated engineers to help guide IT through deployment.
Help IT gain executive buy-in, not just for purchase, but for use
Getting executives on board during the purchase process is step one. Step two, which is often overlooked, is getting executives to support the IT department by adopting the product themselves and promoting that usage across the organization. An executive’s level of usage and promotion has traditionally been a great indication of the success a product will have across an organization. As a result, many SaaS companies are evolving their content strategy to be more thoughtful around supporting the IT decision-maker and administrator by providing them with the tools and resources they need to successfully engage their executive team.
Execute data-driven engagement marketing
Leverage telemetry data to create personalized marketing programs. Telemetry data can help your organization build 1:1 relationships with end-users and set benchmarks across your customer base for marketing to leverage. While these are valuable tactics to explore, they won’t work well unless you’re coupling this with customer behavior insights. This information will not only help you be more targeted in driving usage but will also provide a rich platform to know your customers.
Revisit the sales process
With low product adoption and usage being a key indicator of churn, it is important to examine your sales process to ensure that the right expectations are set upfront with customers. This will help pave the way for a quick deployment and ramp up usage.
Organizations should ensure that the business need and expected value that the customer has specified during the buying process is documented and shared with anyone focused on driving success at that account after the sale is complete. A step up from just documenting their need and expected value is to begin defining the deployment and customer success plan during the later stages of the sale so that customers, and anyone supporting them, can hit the ground running post-sale.
Customer success-focused cultures drive accountability across the company for customer results. Your goal should be to have your whole company aligned and motivated towards driving product usage, which is a key factor in retention because it’s in the best interest of everyone for retention.
To learn how to think about customer success more holistically, watch our recent webinar Winning with experience-focused customer success.
About the Authors
Brooke Bors serves as Engagement Manager at PK. She has dedicated her 15+ year career to advocating for customers and building the infrastructure, tools, and strategies to help worldwide firms better connect with and serve those customers. She’s led global teams inside customer success and advocacy organizations, facilitated executive workshops and planning meetings, and built customer advocacy and feedback programs from scratch. At PK, she works with some of the world’s most customer-obsessed technology brands to build durable, differentiated customer strategies and programs.
Lisa Schlichting is a Principal at PK and has spent the past 15+ years helping B2B technology companies leverage customer behavior and market insights to develop the most effective routes to customer acquisition and adoption. Lisa has worked with several of the world’s largest, Fortune 500 technology companies across Go To Market strategy, Customer Experience and Insights, Sales and Channel Strategy and Customer Success.Tags: Cloud, Cloud adoption, Cloud Deployment, Forbes, Go-to-Market, SaaS, The Cloud