There is quite a big discussion around how SaaS vendors can increase conversions into their offerings. It goes without saying that any SaaS product must have a strong presence on the internet (temporarily, setting aside other ways of promotion) and so a number of visitors is expected to land on the product page. They will read about the product, go through the brochure etc. But how will they be “intrigued” to take one step forward and actually use the product/service?
In this post, I deal with the increase of the conversion rate and not the increase in actual number of hits or visits in the web site. The latter falls in the jurisdiction of marketing experts and SEO’s. The conversion rate, however, is another story: it is about increasing the fraction:
[Customers that adopted the product] / [Total Prospects]
(Preferably, by increasing the numerator of the fraction instead of decreasing the denominator!)
So, what are the specific measures or techniques that a SaaS vendor can take in order to increase that number? Let’s have a look at the most important of them:
· Explanatory product-specific site with lots of resources: Your company web site is not enough for what you are trying to accomplish: get new customers, through the internet without previous engagement by pre-sales consultants (that’s what SaaS is all about, if you are seeking to make money, right?). A new site (or micro-site, if you wish) would do the job better than the usual “our company-our products-our vision-contact us” corporate web site. Plus it gives the notion of an increased investment from your side, to build it.
Make sure that the site includes small videos, demonstrating some specific aspects of the functionality of the system. They must be focused on one specific business process, e.g. how you setup a new customer order, how do you issue a sales invoice. Focus on the strong points of your software, within that specific process, e.g. stress the fact that the invoice is issued automatically from an order with a click of a button, or other similar stuff.
· Testimonials page: Another very important piece of that product micro-site is the testimonials page, in which prospects will see how exactly others like them have been benefited by the adoption of your application.
If it is possible, organize these testimonials by industry, so that prospects can easily find testimonials closer to their business case and model.
Consider including video-testimonials which are easier to follow, but take good care that their quality and speaker’s articulation is good enough.
· Offer a free trial period: A free period is a period in which potential customers are able to work with the product (full-scale or partially, it doesn’t really matter, in my opinion) and see if it actually fits their needs. Also, it will give them a first-hand user experience, let them evaluate the user interface and – most important – identify areas of low coverage of their specific needs (in other words, areas that will require some customization, enhancements, new reports etc.). That last point is very important because it will add a “number” in the TCO that they are planning/willing to take. A product that will give them this opportunity (to test for themselves) will increase the probability of adopting, since the customization effort will be – to some extent – known beforehand.
Free periods are also technically feasible to offer: The software is on the cloud and so it costs little or nothing for the vendor to provide this option. This was not the case back in the “old days” when one had to see a system demo by a trained pre-sales consultant, buy the software, install it in the premises and then start customizing it. Therefore, since the technical capability is there, it is the market that drives us, vendors, to “not say no” in this option.
· Offer a subscription-free period: After customers are engaged with the product, it is a good practice to offer a subscription-free period (at least, one month), so that any last doubts are resolved. A trial period gives the opportunity to use the product in real life and identify gaps, on the job. The subscription-free period gives the additional advantage that even if unexpected problems occur (during the first days of “Production” operation) the customer hasn’t paid any money, yet, even though he has probably signed a contract.
· Actively engage with the customer: During that free trial or subscription-free periods, vendors have to make sure that they engage with the customer; they offer support, try to identify problems and mis-uses and give a “heads-up” to the customer and in general try to be “one step forward”. This is very important because, even if your self-explanatory site says it all, your price list is attractive and your user interface is exceptional, you can’t avoid some user’s mis-using the system or not being able to quickly absorb/digest all of its potential. So, even after a very quick and easy self sign-up process (we’ll talk about that in the next post), you just can’t leave the customer alone.
An additional reason for it is that this engagement will be a first glimpse on your company’s user support process (which will undoubtedly be appreciated!)
Stay tuned for more conversion-increasing techniques in the next post. Till then, take a second look at your product site…
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