Software-as-a-Service or SaaS businesses often have difficulty with customer retention and brand awareness. Since their products are intangible and customers never permanently purchase their software solutions, it can be tough for users to associate a SaaS brand with a core product. This, in turn, makes it hard for SaaS companies to form emotional connections with their target consumers.
However, building an online community for your SaaS business could overcome this limitation and help you see massive improvements to customer retention and more. Let’s break down how you can build an online community as a SaaS enterprise.
Why Build an Online Community for Your SaaS Business?
There are many reasons why SaaS businesses can benefit from online communities, including:
Better Information About Target Consumers
An online community allows a SaaS business to gather more information about their target audience, helping to optimize marketing campaigns and develop better software for their core consumers.
As your audience engages on a community platform, you’ll get unfiltered, raw feedback you can use to improve your offerings over months and years. Such feedback may also help you adjust your pricing as needed.
Optimized Customer Acquisition Cost
An online community can significantly help you optimize your customer acquisition cost or CAC. If you cultivate a positive community that says a lot of good things about your brand, getting new customers will be cheaper because they will:
- See that you have a thriving online community, making your brand more interesting to join.
- Assume your products are betted and worth more than SaaS services without a community.
Bolstered Brand Awareness
Even better, an online community for a SaaS business can improve the public’s brand awareness of your company. Again, having core consumers talking positively about your brand can do wonders for improving the reputation of your business across the Internet.
You get this benefit without necessarily having to put more money into advertising, too. With the right online community, a prospective customer searching for the right keywords could find your community’s forum or website, become aware of your brand, and decide to make a purchase without you having to spend a single dollar on them specifically.
Leverage Customer-Created Content
The best online communities will eventually produce high-quality, customer-created content you can use in your advertising campaigns. Even if you decide not to use the content for ads, searchers will still stumble upon it. And people are more likely to believe user-created content about a brand rather than content created by the company itself.
Improved Customer Retention Rate
With an online community, your SaaS business could see an improved customer retention rate. It’s harder for customers to leave a brand if they have several friends they’ve made over a few years or if those friends are still using the SaaS products in question.
The improved customer retention rate will boost your revenue and help your SaaS business thrive as clients continue to subscribe to your services.
Greater Customer Loyalty
A SaaS business’ online community can improve customer loyalty across the board. By joining a community, humans as social creatures are more likely to feel loyalty and appreciation for the brand as an abstract concept.
If you build up your brand’s online community, even disappointed users may be less likely to pick an alternative service or brand.
Perhaps most importantly, an online community for your SaaS business will likely help you generate more sales and yield improved profits for years to come. Your online community will:
- Ensure that current customers continue paying for your software.
- Bring new customers into the fold.
- Spread the message of your brand.
All of these benefits could result in significant revenue increases, especially if you build your brand wisely and with the right goals from the beginning.
How to Build an Online Community
With so many benefits to building an online community for your SaaS business, there’s no reason to wait. Fortunately, you can get started with just a few steps.
Define the Community First
Firstly, be sure to define your community and its broader purpose before launching it. For example, is your community meant to:
- Help spread brand awareness?
- Drive further profits for your SaaS products or services?
- Define your brand to potential clients or buyers?
- Something else entirely?
By defining your community and its objectives, you’ll be able to set the right metrics and identify when your SaaS community has grown to the right size.
Determine KPIs to Track
Speaking of metrics, you’ll need to determine several key performance indicators or KPIs before launching your community. These KPIs will help you determine whether your community is growing properly and on track to reach your organization’s sales and brand awareness goals.
Some example KPIs to track include:
- Customer engagement with your community website or platform.
- Customer purchases after being referred to your brand by your community.
- Customer retention before and after your community takes shape.
- Customer membership after your community is implemented compared to the previous total customer count – this will tell you whether your community helps drive sales and whether community members are more likely to make purchases consistently.
Assign Community Managers – Make Community Growth a Priority
Any good community has to have the backing of its primary organization or product. That’s your SaaS business! So, be sure to assign several of your employees as community managers. Even better, you can tell all of your employees that growing the community and ensuring it lasts for years to come is a top priority.
When your employees and brand engage with your community, you grant it legitimacy and give members a reason to continue to engage with it. Why would you join a community for a SaaS product if the developers of the said product never participated on the forums, for example?
Community managers in your company can also assist with moderation (see more below). Don’t forget to use good time tracking software to ensure your employees spend the right amount of time on community building instead of wasting time elsewhere.
Choose a Community Platform
Next, you’ll need to pick a platform to host your online community stably and consistently. You can choose a free or paid platform, but both approaches have pluses and minuses.
Free platforms are cheap, but they don’t necessarily come with extra features unique to your brand. Furthermore, they are not usually owned by you, so the platform developer or owner could decide to pull the plug at any time and fracture your community in an instant.
Alternatively, a paid platform, like an app or forum that you develop yourself, is owned by your company. This is excellent for long-term community growth and engagement. You may also decide to use several platforms simultaneously, such as social media like Facebook in conjunction with a community app. This approach gives you the best of both worlds and helps you reach as many people as possible.
Create Moderation Guidelines
Any worthwhile community has to have moderation guidelines, like rules about how the software can be used or restrictions about the kind of language tolerated. Moderation helps keep the space clean and efficient. It also prevents bad actors from ruining your brand’s engagement efforts or associating it with unsavory ideas.
You can and should have at least one of your employees act as a community moderator. It will ensure that all the discussions that take place adhere to your brand’s image and broader objectives.
Make a Launch Plan, Then Execute
Now it’s time to create a community launch plan. This involves:
- Ensuring that your team is familiar with your community platform and software. Make sure any training that may be necessary is completed before launch.
- Using an email marketing platform to advertise to your target audience.
- A soft launch where you populate the platform with quality content or tutorials before your main audience arrives. Then invite a few core brand ambassadors or customers to the app or online platform to start using it.
- Promoting your community to get more people to join in and start engaging with your brand.
Offer an Onboarding Process
As more people join your community, consider launching an onboarding process, which should include a tutorial, a welcoming post, and directions to community guidelines. This will help make transitioning from outside to the inside easier for all new members.
Building an online community for your SaaS business could be one of the best ways to bolster brand engagement, help you improve customer retention, and receive many other advantages. Fortunately, launching an online community is easier than ever – come up with a plan, leverage social media, and grow your community for incredible success in the future!