Mapping out your customer journey stages empowers you to optimize each step for a satisfying experience that promotes higher retention. In this blog, we’ll look at how the customer journey has been reconceived around the image of a flywheel that integrates both the pre-sales and post-sales steps in the process. Then we’ll break down how you can deliver value at each of your customer journey stages to promote higher customer retention and brand advocacy at the end of the process.
Mapping the Stages of Today’s Customer Journey
The SaaS business model has transformed contemporary understanding of customer journey stages. Before the rise of SaaS, the customer journey was typically viewed from a marketing and sales perspective, as represented by the image of a funnel marking the steps from brand awareness to a sale. This approach separated the pre-sales buyer’s journey from the post-sales customer journey.
But from the SaaS customer’s perspective, pre-sales and post-sales experience are all part of the same experience of your brand, and both figure into the customer’s decision whether or not to renew their subscription of your product. At the same time, the customer’s global experience of your brand determines whether or not they become a brand ambassador championing you to other potential customers.
From this perspective, satisfying one customer generates new customers in a cyclical fashion. To better represent this, the modern customer journey has been reconceived as a flywheel rather than a funnel. The stages in the flywheel encompass all steps in the customer’s journey, both pre-sales and post-sales:
- Awareness: a prospect becomes aware of your brand and the value you offer through one of your marketing campaigns
- Consideration: the prospect interacts with your product seeking more information about the value you offer
- Conversion: persuaded of your brand’s value, the prospect makes a purchase and becomes a paying customer
- Onboarding: your new customer takes initial steps towards experiencing the value they expect from their purchase, such as creating a username and password
- Adoption: your customer begins deriving practical value from using your product
- Renewal: your customer decides that the value you provide makes it worthwhile to renew their license or subscription
- Expansion and growth: your customer increases the value they derive from their initial purchase by adopting advanced features or purchasing additional products
- Loyalty and advocacy: the value your customer derives from your brand persuades them to remain a loyal customer and to share the value of your brand with others
The journey is conceived fluidly, in acknowledgment of the fact that customers may engage in multiple stages simultaneously rather than sticking to a single sequence. For example, a customer who is in the process of onboarding may be considering whether or not to increase their licenses based on their onboarding experience. This illustrates why an effective approach to customer journey management must take into account the customer’s entire experience, not just one component.
With this in mind, let’s look at some strategies for automating each stage of this process in order to deliver maximum value and ensure that the customer enjoys a satisfying experience throughout their journey, promoting higher retention and brand advocacy at the end of the process.
In the awareness stage, the value you deliver should communicate the expertise you offer as well as your ability to solve your market’s pain points. You can raise brand awareness among SaaS buyers through a number of channels:
- Advocacy from your existing customers
- Reviews and testimonials mentioning your brand
- How-to blogs, articles, and videos addressing your market’s pain points
- Whitepapers and e-books addressing pain points
- Industry reports showcasing your expertise and ability to provide valuable information
When producing content, focus on the value you offer your audience. Using a marketing automation platform can help you increase the efficiency of your content distribution. Totango’s Spark platform has an assortment of SuccessBLOCs that allows you to create customized automation for every stage of the customer journey.
In the consideration stage, your task is to persuade buyers that your brand offers enough value for them to consider trying it out. The best way to do this for SaaS buyers is to offer a free trial so they can experience your product directly. This provides a product-led experience that empowers the customer to verify the value of your brand for themselves.
To bring buyers to a point where they are interested enough in your product to register for a free trial, you can use a number of tactics to deliver preliminary value:
- Demonstration videos
- Email campaigns that are activated during the set-up stage of a free trial
- Product webinars
- Case Studies
- FAQ guides
Seek to deliver enough preliminary value to persuade prospects of the value of investing in a free trial. You can automate this stage of the process by using your integrating Totango with your CRM platform to track marketing touches with prospects who have engaged with your website and deliver content relevant to where they are in their pre-sales journey.
In the conversion stage, your task is to persuade buyers that the value your product offers solves their pain points better than competitors, effectively enough to justify the cost of purchase and outweigh any potential risks. A satisfying freemium experience plays a key role in making this case. You can enhance the value of a free trial by providing customized touchpoints and content relevant to the customer’s individual needs during the course of their freemium experience. Content that can enhance the freemium experience includes:
- Drip campaigns featuring how-to tips
- Product demonstrations
- Tutorial videos
The Totango Spark platform’s Freemium SuccessBLOC provides tools to help you automate the process of guiding freemium prospects along the journey to becoming paying customers. Key performance indicators let you track the progress of freemium users along their journey, allowing you to trigger customized actions designed to deliver relevant value.
In the onboarding stage, the value you seek to deliver is empowering the customer to begin using their purchase as they transition from the pre-sales into the post-sales process. You can help make this a smooth transition by taking steps such as:
- Assigning account managers to new customers
- Setting up a post-discovery call to set customer goals
- Delivering new customers instructions on how to complete the onboarding process so that they are not confused about what steps to take next
- Providing time-based support materials that guide customers through the onboarding process, such as demonstration videos, tutorials and FAQ pages
- Tracking customer progress toward onboarding completion
The Onboarding New Customers SuccessBLOC helps you automate standard onboarding procedures to help you guide customers through a successful and satisfying onboarding experience.
Onboarding is just the beginning of the customer’s post-sales experience of your brand. In the adoption phase, customers either continue to engage your brand as active users or lose interest because of the perceived lack of value. Deliver value that promotes active use of your product by taking steps such as:
- Discussing usage goals with customers to identify what they hope to get out of using your product
- Using KPIs to track usage and ensure that customers are getting the value they paid for
- Providing content that targets your core and most sticky product features
- Creating how-to videos and webinars which answer customers’ most frequent questions and showcase how to use new features
- Segmenting adoption engagement with different types of customers and individual customers based on their usage patterns and needs
Totango Spark includes a number of tools to help you promote a successful adoption experience. The Outcome Success Plans feature helps you and your customers set and track progress towards mutually agreed-upon adoption goals. The Increase Customer Adoption SuccessBLOC provides you with insights into customer adoption and helps you implement best practices that guide customers through the process of unlocking more value from your product.
A well-designed onboarding experience should guide customers naturally towards a renewal of their subscription or license. Efforts to promote renewal should begin early since many customers make the decision whether or not to renew as much as six months before the expiration of their contract. You can promote renewal by delivering value during this critical time through means such as:
- Setting up email drip campaigns to promote autorenewal
- Reviewing accounts that are coming up for renewal to evaluate and ensure return on investment
- Tracking customer health score during the renewal phase and flagging at-risk accounts for intervention
- Sending surveys to elicit feedback and remind customers of the value they’ve been receiving from your product
- Providing customized how-to guidance to customers with support needs
- Following up over the phone with customers to check on satisfaction
- Requesting testimonials about value customers have received from your brand
The Ensure Customer Renewal SuccessBLOC helps you implement the right KPI measures and practices to make sure your customers renew their subscriptions.
7. Expansion and Growth
In the expansion stage, customers increase the value they receive from your brand by adopting advanced product features and making cross-sell and upsell purchases. An effective expansion strategy should include steps that encourage customers to derive additional value from your brand, such as:
- Tracking customer feature usage to identify which advanced features might be relevant to customers, and alerting them to these features
- Providing content such as whitepapers and tutorials which showcase new or advanced product features and how to use them
- Highlighting how advanced features tie into use cases which illustrate their practical value
- Extending customized cross-sell and upsell offers to customers based on their purchase and usage history and needs
- Inviting customers to view demonstrations of new features and product releases
The Upsell and Expand SuccessBLOC helps you proactively manage your upsell process, increase its efficiency and identify emerging upsell opportunities.
8. Loyalty and Advocacy
Customers who have journeyed successfully through the retention and expansion and growth stages are in a position to become loyal repeat customers advocating your brand’s value with others. You can encourage loyalty and advocacy by taking steps to enhance value for customers in this stage, such as:
- Tracking Net Promoter Score to identify your most enthusiastic promoters and taking special care to nurture these accounts
- Providing a digital community where customers can share their experiences with others such as Trustpilot, G2 and Trustradius
- Providing learning opportunities where community members can interact with each other and invite new prospects
- Offering incentives for bringing in new customers
The Voice of the Customer SuccessBLOC is designed to help you track customer sentiment and invite promoters to become references and digital brand advocates.
Make Each of Your Customer Journey Stages Count
Today’s customer journey map replaces the traditional image of a sales funnel with a flywheel which includes the entire pre-sales and post-sales range of your customer’s experience. Delivering value at each step in the process promotes consistently satisfying experience throughout customers’ experience of your brand, encouraging greater customer retention and brand advocacy.
The Totango Spark platform includes tools designed to help you automate best practices that maximize value at each stage of your customer’s journey. Experience for yourself how Spark can help you deliver consistent quality to your customers throughout their journey with your brand.