Cloud computing services are three words that most business professionals are now used to hearing at once. The 21st century, where the evolution of the world of business has been bringing along changes to everything about how an enterprise functions, all the operations are shifting to online platforms from the offline database. eCommerce and e-networking are two of the most important components of online operations that are playing major roles in the expansion of sales. Along with that, the system of computers is also changing.
The biggest change is in the form of SaaS. Software as a Service or more commonly called as SaaS is a way of providing companies with an online software licensing and delivery model instead of offline computer pre-install method.
Just like how various online subscriptions work, from Netflix to Amazon shopping, SaaS is usually based on a similar subscription model and is also called an on-demand software. Some might call it like a rental service where the user himself doesn’t exactly pay but borrows the service from a provider. It is gaining a huge amount of popularity due to the various following advantages:
1) Low cost – Completely online and subscription based, this model saves sellers from overhead transport and installation costs hence, in turn, reducing the selling price for the product. Usually, you have to pay 15-20% as maintenance and support fees if you buy an offline model. Those costs are completely avoided in SaaS.
2) Scalability – Since it is based on an online model, it is usually a feature that is available for expansion and extended usage. There are usually different packages which can be subscribed and then it is flexible and open to change as the business grows.
3) Accessibility – The online model makes things very simple. Anyone with a computer and a decent internet connection can subscribe and access their software whenever and wherever.
Everyone ranging from finance to Human resource employees is now using SaaS in their departments. Not only these reduce the cost of installation but also require lesser IT infrastructure to be maintained in the long run. Moreover, the service is very easy to procure and available in the markets which makes it a good deal for companies looking to reduce their financial burden.
It is probably because of all these advantages and the high market demand that new companies providing SaaS models are popping up around the world. Moreover, SaaS sales were predicted to grow by 23% in 2018 to reach a value of 72 billion dollars. Furthermore, Tapping this high-growth market is a win-win situation. However, SaaS models and the success of your company during providing the same depends on various other factors.
In a market with high competition and high user base, it is vital for every SaaS provider to have these following 5 essential features:
Once you have your company, branding and its web domain sorted, it is time to focus on hosting because a one-second delay in page response of your website due to bad hosting can reduce customer views by 11%. Basically, you have to understand that SaaS is a service that is being provided via the internet to individuals who do not need any infrastructure or hardware directly. Hence, it is your responsibility to keep your service running, for your customers to access it.
Firstly, if you want to focus on your core service and avoid the headache of hosting, you could use VPS or Virtual Private server plans. The biggest advantage of VPS is that it is usually scalable with unlimited disk space as compared to sharing servers. Siteground is a good bet when it comes to VPS cloud hosting. You could also go for shared cloud hosting where you will find some offers with unlimited bandwidth if you are operating on a small scale.
However, this would limit your options for future expansion. The best would be Hostgator, which gives a high uptime. However, opting for a host that is not scalable is a risky bet since SaaS as an industry that is constantly rising, not being able to expand your reach would be disastrous during the growth period. To conclude, With approximately 1.94 billion websites in the world, your website needs the right hosting plan to function smoothly and survive in tough competitive markets.
Every customer has his/her own preferences and places to be in. Social media is one place where every individual, especially the millennial generation would be found. Hence, As a startup founder or leader of your SaaS model, it is vital for you to have updated social media profiles for yourself and your company. Social media includes a profile on Facebook, Twitter, sharedkedIn in the most standard methods of functioning.
Not only you must create your profiles but also put relevant regular updates. An active Facebook profile is beneficial since 43% of B2B businesses have acquired a client through Facebook only. Imagine the benefits of other social media platforms. However, at times it might be too much to keep up with. You have a company to run and a social media profile would become the least of your priorities during a crisis. But, never don’t ignore it completely. The least you can do is use tools like a Canva graphic and make uploads to be in the game via minimal effort.
Facebook retargeting is another approach to grab the customers that have bounced away from your website without making any purchases. It sends them alerts or offers links to provide an incentive for purchase. In fact, it has been found that for some SaaS companies, a return of investment worth 1824% happened via Facebook retargeting. You can also use the trendy and new Webinar approach. This not only ensures regular touch with your customers but also ensures that they keep coming back to your app or software and realize how improvement is taking place. It makes them notice and observe the changes and updates as it takes place.
Don’t forget to get yourself listed on top citation sites. This will provide your business huge exposure.
However, instead of live Webinars which have a host of problems like sound and WiFi issues, you can use Intercom or Screenflow to have recorded webinars with live Question and Answers (Q&A) chats. You can furthermore increase your social media presence by using tools like Upinfluence or Tapinfluence to find social media influencers that you can tie up with for video content. It has been found that influencers deliver 11 times higher return on investment as compared to standard digital marketing.
3) Backup and Archiving
Like every human being and every company in the world, your SaaS company needs to be treated carefully when it comes to data. To err is human and any natural technical or hardware disaster can lead to the loss of all your data, customer information, software updates and future strategies in an instant. Especially considering how 140,000 hard drives fail in the US, each week, your data should not be taken for granted.
Here is where Backup comes into play. You can use Backup to have a copy of your original existing data or work saved, which can be accessed later in the time of crisis to restore the loss of data. This basically means your valuable work exists in two places at once. Backup is furthermore important as it has been seen that 60% companies that face data loss and are unable to recover data, they shut down within 6 months. You can use NetApp’s Cloud backup service which also covers granular data. You can also use Solarwind’s MSP Backup and recovery which provides local backup storage, private key encryption and flexible recovery for your data.
On the other hand, Archiving along with Backup is another necessity. Archiving is when you separately store data or emails that you don’t require or come back to on a daily basis. For example, you archive your emails and delete them from your actual inbox folder. So archiving means your data exists safely only in one place, available for access later in the long run if the need arises. You can use ArcTitan for email archive or website screenshot backup by Stillio. Read this detailed guide on how to archive website for getting better idea.
4) Customer Service
What you most note and understand is that most of the SaaS feature that you will be providing would be found in the market. It is also possible that other providers might have a better experience than you in the number of years served or the number of clients served. It is because of these reasons that you need to properly map your products with distinct features commonly called as USPs or Unique Selling Propositions.
Considering how after one adverse experience with a company, 51% customers won’t do business with the company again, it is a good start to focus on this aspect of your SaaS company. Stay in touch with your customers using various tools can not only ensure customer retention but will also boost your customer circle via word of mouth, as 77% people willingly recommend companies to a friend after good customer experience. For starters, ensure that you reply to any doubts or queries via mail or any other medium, at the earliest possible hour.
A customer filing a complaint is already worried, don’t make things worse for them by a late reply. Also, according to a study by Oracle, 9 out of 10 buyers abandoned or left service providers due to bad customer support experience. For starters, you can always use emails to stay in touch and send in surveys. However, this would be a time taking process and would require a good amount of attention due to its long term benefits. You could even provide live support services in your system using chats by Olark and have the support link on your website using apps like Zendesk or UserVoice.
Also, a section called Frequently Asked questions portal on your website would be a great idea to solve all the minor questions of your customers. An automatic or personalized ticket generation using Freshdesk, which would be answered and solved within 24 hours by your workers has proved to be wonders for a quite few of them. Moreover, your social media handle could allow for a complaint generation or messaging feature using tools by LiveAgent. Most of these suggested tie-ups to get customer services sorted have free trials, so make sure you test and find out what exactly do you need and what works best for your customer base.
5) Customer relationship management (CRM)
For future customer retention and understanding the impact of your social media presence, website functioning, and customer service potential, Customer Relationship Management is what you need to look at. Usually, as a SaaS company grows, it collects bundles of data about its customers and services. This data, using Data analytics is used to improve business and customer relationship for driving cross-sales. You could always look at CRM providers like Microsoft, Salesforce, SAP or Oracle that capture a whopping 42% of the CRM market.
You could also use PipeDrive which is available in 13 languages and covers your contact history, emails, and import/export data to provide adequate information about long-term and short-term prospective customers. Moreover, considering how fast the CRM market is growing, 12.3% in 2015, it would not be difficult for you to find any CRM provider to outsource your customer relationship operations. Another factor would be the vitality of social media data to understand the influence of your profile and the views it gets.
Some of these services are slightly burdensome, some easy to manage, some that are standalone and some that are interrelated. You could also look at invoicing, accounting and your payment system to ensure smooth operations. Working towards the improvement of these essential aspects for your SaaS company would not only generate greater revenue but also put you at par with, if not ahead of existing top market companies. Always remember the primary goal is to first retain all the existing customers first and then look for new leads. A study says, increasing customer retention just by 5% would increase profits by at least 15-20% and you certainly don’t want to miss out on the extra chunk of profits!