Driving usage for online subscription products or SaaS offerings makes the difference between long-term success and a slow, painful failure. Savvy publishers are therefore spending more and more time and money to ensure the kind of heavy usage that leads to strong renewal rates and a truly sustainable business.
Usage is primarily a function of easy-to-use interfaces and how necessary the product is (is it “must-have” or “nice-to-have”?). Most products, of course, exist in a middle ground. They’re fairly easy to use, fairly necessary, and fairly well-used. This means most users can benefit from user training and support services.
In my days as Director of Account Services at Hoover’s, we saw that product usage correlated with renewals, especially for accounts in their first year. We found was user behavior typically locked in at 90 days after start of service. For clients engaged during that initial period, attrition was lower. We launched an entire customer success team focused on white-glove care for the initial 90 days. This team welcomed the customer, trained them on the product, and focused on solving real customer issues. The result: first year renewal rates jumped more than 20%!
At Information Evolution, many of our clients recognize the need to help customers early on in their lifecycle. One in particular has built an entire department focused on driving usage. Not only were they successful in driving up renewal rates, they significantly increased the pipeline of their most valuable type of prospects – referrals.
Whether you are trying to bolster renewal rates, upsell, or increase referrals, engaging your customers one-on-one can pay big dividends. Hand-written welcome letters, assigned account managers, and monitoring early behavior are great ways to drive engagement. People are busy and tend not to want “training,” but they’ll be glad if you help solve a practical problem they have. Focus your training on solving real problems and you’ll take a big step in engaging your clients.
There’s an added benefit to this type of deep customer engagement. Issues with interfaces, process flows, and even content offerings soon become obvious to the client success team. They can pass this information to the product team so versions 2.0, 3.0, etc. really make the product progressively better.