The thrill of founding a SaaS startup and hiring the team has passed. You’ve acquired your first customer and hired your first employee. All the efforts of your company are pushed to the limit, yet you feel like you’re falling behind.
Besides, there is an alarming statistics which makes you sweat even more:
“If a software company grows at 20% annually, it has a 92% chance of ceasing to exist within a few years.” (Tomasz Tunguz)
Limited budget and human resources make the survival task much harder. You need something to hit your goals and you need it fast. We’ve got a solution. No magic wands, but very close to them: a multi-tool to boost your efforts — an academy.
Because it’s perfect for startups. It can be built online via SaaS platform to provide a cost-effective and time-saving customer education of potential and current users of your product. You’ve heard many times that knowledge is the key to success. Let’s see how exactly your company may benefit from integrating an academy into your company’s strategic goals.
Building up of Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is what most companies find the hardest to achieve at the start. It’s like a 10-minute pitch when your client needs some fast proof why you’re so great and whether you’re worth the time.
Academy fits great for that. It’s not a vast manual or even a knowledge base. It’s an interactive online course comprised of lessons explaining your product’s main features and use cases. It’s easily adjustable and you can even display the time for each lesson so your client will see how much time he will spend on it.
Thus, your customers get valuable content — basic information about your company in concise and easily digestible form.
That’s what makes you stand out at once since time is what people treasure most now.
According to Forrester:
“The majority (66%) of adults feel that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer experience.”
So, what’s the exact benefit for your company?
- fewer calls to customer support as customers will find the answers to all the basic questions within your courses. They may serve as a primary source of information even if no questions have arisen yet. For instance, Hubspot makes a lot of useful tools for marketing managers. To help them integrate these tools into their practice faster they created Hubspot academy. It is comprised of a series of free online training courses for marketing managers where they can study by themselves guided by experienced tutors;
- faster onboarding process for marketing department since your academy explains step-by-step which problems your product may solve and thus creates immediate engagement through customer education;
- shortened sales funnel since clients already know the main features of the product and sales managers may focus only on those issues which customers consider difficult. You may add the function of quizzes to your academy and thus you will know which questions were not answered by your customers and your sales managers will immediately see what worries them and try to resolve it.
When resources are scarce, cost-effective tools are among your priorities. For low-funding startups, the academies are just perfect for their sales processes.
According to Tomasz Tunguz:
“SaaS companies invest between 80% and 120% of their revenue in sales and marketing in the first 5 years of their existence”.
So, let’s see how the academy can help in terms of sales:
- it reduces your cost per lead because if you have it you need fewer touch points to close the deal;
- it promotes up-selling and cross-selling since you can make a course about some of the advanced features (included in more expensive packages) of your product and how to properly use them, invite your current customers to it and — bingo, they will be enticed much easier into a new purchase taking into account previous positive experience.
- it increases your customer LTV since the academy keeps your clients involved in new courses and as a result, it makes them more loyal;
- it enhances conversion rates since customer success team tracks those clients who have left the academy at some place and may catch up with them and improve your customer retention rates;
For instance, Reply.io, engaged in training its customers to create successful email campaigns, compiled several courses for various levels of their users, starting from the basic and up till proficient.
According to RJMetrics:
“The average SaaS business generates 16% of its Annual Contract Value (ACV) from upselling to existing customers”.
The number of clients that decided to leave the academy course may be measured by one more very important SaaS metric: customer churn.
Reducing customer churn
Winning a new client is hard. Losing him after it is twice as stressful. That’s one of the most painful metrics for a SaaS startup which has a huge impact on its growth.
According to Forenterpreneurs:
“If your Net Revenue Churn is high (above 2% per month) it is an indicator that there is something wrong in your business; this will become a major drag on growth.”
Bigger companies sometimes consider acquiring as many users as possible to grow faster. But if they neglect customer success their users will leave much earlier and it will hit the revenue anyway. The best approach for startups is a maximum focus on customer success supported by a deeper insight into SaaS metrics. It will help evaluate if their indices are growing or they need to make some adjustments.
When your client is still hesitating between the pros and cons of the potential purchase such academy’s function as statistics may help you. AcademyOcean, for example, tracks learner churn rates for every lesson within every customer education course.
Customer success team will see which concepts of your product your users find most confusing and contact customers to explain them better. It will bring you a triple value:
- your customers feel like solving their problems is your priority;
- your clients will be contacted in the time since you will see when they stopped using academy and may ask why. It will save you from risk staying with one or two biggest clients and losing the rest;
- your clients feel empowered with a knowledge you share which raises their self-esteem;
If you’ve done everything properly your customers will eagerly move to the next step — brand loyalty formation.
Brand Loyalty Formation
That’s one of the most rewarding stages and academies drive your company here much faster and in the most natural way:
- academies mentor your users by teaching them how to use your products and customers pay back with loyalty;
- academies issue digital certificates to those who have completed the course and customers may share their success over social media and thus promote your brand even more. For example, Salesforce issues badges for those who completed the course which you can show to your colleagues and friends:
By the way, sometimes each course has a verification page. If your course is public then after anyone gets on this page he will be invited to the course at once. That is, the more certificates you issue, the more new users you attract.
Sometimes on your climb to the top, you feel discouraged by multiple tasks that you face so often. All the more important is to have something on your way up to make it easier, faster and, hopefully, trouble-free.
As for your customers, according to Wantedness:
“63% of customers choose the brands which exceed expectations across the entire customer journey ”