Today’s SaaS customers are savvy.
Old marketing tactics don’t excite them. And features disguised as benefits are easily recognized.
As technology evolves, consumer behavior changes as well. Buyers expect quality products backed by efficient service.
This is an opportunity for your business to experiment with new strategies and cater to customers differently.
“As marketers, it’s essential to pay attention to consumer behavior and to be creative within the constraints of each marketing channel we use,” states Ash Read, content crafter at Buffer.
Start selling like it’s 2016, not 1916. Here are five things you should know about today’s customer.
1. They Research First
Adweek reports that “81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying.” With access to more information than previous generations, consumers are taking the time to do their homework.
Customers want to know if your product is actually worth their money and time. And to gain that insight, they look for reviews.
Products reviews are vital in online shopping. They offer an honest perspective from a current customer’s experience.
Take advantage of this trend. Post reviews from customers on your product pages. Consider creating case studies to showcase how customers benefited from your services.
Unbounce offers their prospective buyers a collection of case studies. Below is a snapshot from the website:
“Businesses that want to generate leads online should focus on making their websites a top destination for information with custom content. People use search engines and social channels to learn about items before purchasing, whether they’re shopping for themselves or their businesses,” states Lauren Kaye, marketing editor at Brafton Inc.
And potential buyers aren’t just interested in learning about your product. They want to learn about your whole brand.
How are you treating your SaaS employees? Do you use locally sourced suppliers? Are you donating to charities on an annual basis?
Your brand’s overall image is important to buyers. So, make your company’s information readily available.
2. They Desire Quality
Quality, results-driven products will always outweigh more features. People want reassurance that your services will do more good than harm.
Customers possess explicit and implicit performance expectations. That includes anything from specific product features to service benefits.
For example, if your software experiences an outage, will the problem be solved in a few hours? And do your offer 24/7 customer service?
Quality is a win-win situation. Consumers receive what they desire. And your business has the opportunity to charge customers more.
“Customers desire the best product and service quality and are willing to pay a premium for it. High reliability is assumed,” says Ken Dooley, founder of Madison Productions.
For quality to exist, your entire team must be on the same page. Inform employees on how their actions impact the customer.
“Transparency on quality measures helps create buy-in on quality management and enables employees to understand what role quality plays in how they do work, how they can impact quality, and its effects on their customers’ satisfaction. Transparency breeds accountability at the most basic level…”, writes Holly Lyke-Ho-Gland, research program manager at APQC.
Quality is dependent on the customer’s perception. Figure out what they want. Then, work with your team to create a transparent strategy.
3. They Demand Speed
SaaS customers want solutions to their problems today, not tomorrow. With next day shipping and one-click subscriptions, buyers consider speed a minimum standard.
This benchmark holds true for customer service. And buyers are accustomed to using fast communication tools.
“Today’s customers are media agnostic, having grown up using the phone, email, Web chat, IM, and social media interchangeably. They are comfortable, and may even prefer, communicating online versus face to face or over the phone,” writes Laura Bassett, director of marketing at Avaya.
Some businesses consider speed a downfall. But your customers may think differently.
Zendesk found that “69% of participants associated their good customer service experience with the quick resolution of their issue.”
To encourage speedy response times, Facebook also offers brands an opportunity to earn a page responsiveness badge. Companies that respond to 90% of their received messages within five minutes get the designation.
But offering fast service isn’t a new strategy. Innovative businesses have always strived to perform better.
“Forward thinking companies realized how much customers hated being on hold while waiting for a service rep that they invested in technology that would automatically call a customer back when it was their turn,” states Shep Hyken, a customer service expert.
So, start responding to your customers’ questions in a timely fashion.
4. They Prefer Consistency
Trust is the foundation of all relationships. The same is true between your company and customers. Buyers want to know that your website won’t disappear after they swipe their credit cards.
Plus, consistency eliminates brand confusion. And builds upon your previous success.
“By maintaining the same branding across all your resources – both online and offline – your customers will be able to recognize you much faster and will, hopefully, start to show loyalty to your brand,” says Kelly Haggard Olson, creative content strategist at Blue Zoo Creative.
Research shows that “45% of a brand’s image can be attributed to what it says and how it says it.” Consumers prefer a consistent brand experience, whether talking to a salesperson or shopping on your website.
Beth Pop Nikolov, content strategist for Venveo, offers a good analogy:
“When you’re getting to know a person, you start to develop opinions, ideas and assumptions about them based on your interactions. If they are dressed in a business suit one day, bermuda shorts and a ratty T-shirt the next and then a scuba diving suit another time, it may be hard to nail down exactly who they are and what they are all about.”
Align your marketing and sales team to ensure the same messaging is communicated to consumers. Talk with your customer service reps to streamline quality across all channels, including live chat and email.
Give your customers the trust they deserve. Be consistent.
5. They Seek Novelty
Boring isn’t cool anymore (and it never was). SaaS consumers want one-of-a-kind experiences to share with their colleagues.
Adding novelty to your marketing mix demonstrates creativity. It sparks customers’ interests and gets them to pay closer attention to your brand.
Sid Bharath, an entrepreneur and growth hacker, states, “We all want new experiences. We want to see new places, meet new people, and use new products. So don’t stop creating something new. Create new products, create new features, create new content, and give your customers new experiences.”
Build originality directly into your company. For instance, how can you enhance your loyalty program?
Coffee maker Nespresso entices their loyal customers with personalized orders, delivery, recycling and customer-service options.
“Put a smile on their face and in their heart. You can do something special for their child, their parent, and their pet. Make them laugh, thank them in a showy way for a major purchase, have a contest or a drawing for something fun that they could share with family and friends,” says Sydney Biddle Barrows, New York-based business consultant.
Go the extra mile. Surprise your customers with your latest product or a free trip to your next conference. Give them an experience worth sharing with others.
Know Your Customer
Customers are smart. False promotions or useless features don’t fool them.
Learn how to meet your customers’ needs. Make product information readily available. Offer quality that can’t be found elsewhere. And give them a unique experience.
Be in the now. Know your SaaS customer.
About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.