Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Pat Romanski, Ambuj Kumar, Shelly Palmer, XebiaLabs Blog, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Cloud Security, @BigDataExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Driving SaaS Customer Acquisition with Success Metrics

Is it possible to apply SaaS customer success metrics to customer acquisition?

As a SaaS business matures, the importance and value of SaaS metrics increase. Most SaaS businesses begin their journey down the SaaS metrics path by tracking recurring revenue in relation to customer acquisition costs. After building a solid customer base, churn becomes a priority. These fundamental SaaS metrics are all apparent in the standard SaaS profit equation below.

SaaS profit =
current customers x ( avg recurring revenue – avg recurring cost )
– new customers x avg acquisition cost

saas customer acquisition metricsHowever, it quickly becomes apparent that fighting churn requires a SaaS metrics toolkit that digs significantly deeper than simple financial metrics. Operational metrics are needed that connect day-to-day business reality to financial performance. It is this realization that gives birth to the new Metrics-driven SaaS Business as it discovers the goldmine of SaaS customer success metrics and predictive analytics that enable it to eliminate churn before it begins.

But what about the other half of the profit equation? Is it possible to apply SaaS customer success metrics to customer acquisition? The answer is most emphatically yes! Prospects are merely future customers, and their success lies in the purchase of your SaaS product. It’s a SaaS best practice to provide a seamless customer experience from visiting your website to trial to purchase to use, therefore the metrics used to describe this process should be seamless as well. In all cases, the goal is to help customers become happy users of your SaaS product, i.e., successful customers. SaaS customer acquisition is merely SaaS prospect success.

saas customer success metrics kpi dashboard

Customer success metrics are equally applicable to SaaS customer acquisition,
because prospects are merely future customers whose success lies in purchase.

This is the third post in a series inspired by my ongoing collaboration with Bluenose Analytics that explores the new Metrics-driven SaaS Business based on emerging best practices in SaaS customer success metrics. The last post discussed the promise of SaaS customer success metrics for churn reduction and upselling. This third post examines their use in SaaS customer acquisition.

Improving Trial Conversions
Marketing automation vendors built an entirely new software category based on the idea of facilitating purchase by helping B2B companies engage more effectively online with the New Breed of B2B Buyer. Unfortunately, marketing automation products focus all their attention on trying to get prospects to read your content, not use your product. Reading content is good, using product is better. Online trial is a foundational SaaS best practice and improving trial conversion is strategically important to many SaaS vendors. Fortunately, SaaS customer success metrics offer as much potential to increase trial conversion as they do to reduce churn.

saas customer success metrics root cause analysis

The same statistical methods used in customer success can be applied to customer acquisition,
only we are looking for drivers of purchase rather than drivers of churn.

Trial is the moment where the SaaS vendor establishes that always-on communication channel to the SaaS customer through the product. Prior to trial login, customers are just cookies and email addresses. After trial login, product usage can be monitored and every click can be associated with an individual customer. Trial forms also collect key customer demographics that can be used in predictive models. In fact, The Metrics-driven SaaS Business uses these same models to decide exactly what questions should be asked on a trial form, i.e., the ones that can be used to best predict and facilitate purchase! Using SaaS product usage data to create predictive purchase models is SaaS lead scoring done right.

Reducing Acquisition Costs through Metrics
Moving along our SaaS profit equation, we come to one of the most important SaaS financial metrics for every SaaS vendor: customer acquisition cost. Keeping customer acquisition cost is line is essential to the financial success of every SaaS business, because customer acquisition eats cash. The lower your customer acquisition cost, the sooner you get repaid for your upfront investment in acquiring a customer, and the sooner you can reinvest that money in acquiring yet another one.

saas customer acquisition is saas prospect success

Tweet it!

By now you should be able to guess exactly how SaaS customer success metrics can be applied to reduce customer acquisition costs, because they are essentially similar to the methods for improving customer success efficiency. First we need to identify the key predictors of purchase. For example, our analysis of product usage data may indicate that prospects that use the product every day of the free trial can usually be converted with a single phone call, whereas those that stop using it within the first week are twice as likely to convert if we can get them to attend an instructional webinar. Now what SaaS account manager wouldn’t love to have that little jewel of information?

As with our customer success organization, the key to reducing acquisition costs is to embed our predictive models into the daily sales activities. The process is the same. First we create descriptive models to identify the root causes of why prospects do and don’t purchase our product. Then, we use these models to create KPIs at the trial account level that reps can use to guide their daily activities. We can also create alerts when specific trigger events require a reps attention, such as increased or decreased product use of a particular kind. And, finally, we can automate communications within the product itself to facilitate purchase.

Improving Onboarding with SaaS Customer Success Metrics
Onboarding a new customer is where customer acquisition and customer success meet. Most SaaS customer success professionals will tell you that inadequate onboarding at the beginning of a contract is one of the key drivers of churn at the end of the contract. In addition, onboarding can be an expensive and time-consuming task for more complex SaaS products. The Metrics-driven SaaS Business understands the strategic impact of onboarding and applies SaaS customer success metrics to streamline the onboarding process and reduce onboarding costs.

Where are your new customers getting stuck? This is the primary question of the onboarding challenge, and I can think of no better indicator than product usage data. Whereas acquisition and churn KPIs were largely focused on predicting future events, onboarding customer success metrics are looking at the here and now, as in “Why is this customer stuck right here, right now?” By drilling down on this question, we can identify root causes and predictive indicators of onboarding failure that can be used by both customer success reps and product managers to streamline the onboarding process.

Driving Customer Advocacy and Viral Growth through Metrics
At the beginning of the SaaS customer lifecycle, SaaS customer acquisition and SaaS customer success first meet in onboarding, but at the end they meet again in viral growth, where life begins anew. Up until now, we’ve explored a number of ways SaaS customer success metrics can be applied to eliminate problems: stopping churn, reducing service costs, improving trial conversions, etc. At the top of the capability pyramid, The Metrics-driven SaaS Business uses SaaS customer success metrics to create opportunities, not just resolve problems.

The same techniques we used to identify customers who might churn can be used to identify customers that will never churn, customers that love us, and customers that will recommend us! By applying SaaS customer success metrics to identify advocates, we can improve our bank of potential sales references, customer testimonials, case studies and user group leaders. Many organizations use methods like Net Promoter to measure customer advocacy, and these are good ideas for SaaS businesses as well, but only SaaS businesses can complement these qualitative measures with quantitative customer advocacy metrics based on actual product use.

saas customer success metrics product usage data

By applying SaaS customer success metrics to identify advocates,
we can improve our bank of potential sales references, customer testimonials,
case studies and user group leaders.

Enabling viral growth through sharing is a common SaaS product design best practice. The main idea is to encourage customers to create work products, such as documents, charts, projects, etc. that are integral to the SaaS product experience, and then share those work products with non-customers with whom they need to collaborate. Understanding and facilitating the activities that lead to sharing is strategic goal of the Metrics-driven SaaS Business, because viral sharing leads to viral revenue growth.

More Stories By Joel York

Joel York is an Internet software executive and popular SaaS / Cloud blogger at Chaotic Flow and Cloud Ave. He is well known for his work in SaaS / cloud business models, sales and marketing strategy, and financial metrics. Professionally, he has managed global sales and marketing organizations serving over 50 countries, including local offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and India. He holds degrees in physics from Caltech and Cornell and received his MBA from the University of Chicago. Joel York is currently VP Marketing at Meltwater Group and Principal at the Internet startup consulting firm affinitos.

@ThingsExpo Stories
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, will discuss how by using...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CAST Software will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CAST was founded more than 25 years ago to make the invisible visible. Built around the idea that even the best analytics on the market still leave blind spots for technical teams looking to deliver better software and prevent outages, CAST provides the software intelligence that matter ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ruby Development Inc. builds new services in short period of time and provides a continuous support of those services based on Ruby on Rails. For more information, please visit https://github.com/RubyDevInc.
As businesses evolve, they need technology that is simple to help them succeed today and flexible enough to help them build for tomorrow. Chrome is fit for the workplace of the future — providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will take a look at various options as to how ChromeOS can be leveraged to interact with people on the devices, and formats th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Yuasa System will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Yuasa System is introducing a multi-purpose endurance testing system for flexible displays, OLED devices, flexible substrates, flat cables, and films in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and healthcare.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SourceForge has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SourceForge is the largest, most trusted destination for Open Source Software development, collaboration, discovery and download on the web serving over 32 million viewers, 150 million downloads and over 460,000 active development projects each and every month.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
As popularity of the smart home is growing and continues to go mainstream, technological factors play a greater role. The IoT protocol houses the interoperability battery consumption, security, and configuration of a smart home device, and it can be difficult for companies to choose the right kind for their product. For both DIY and professionally installed smart homes, developers need to consider each of these elements for their product to be successful in the market and current smart homes.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will discuss how from store operations...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, will lead you through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He'll look at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering ...
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.