Dear SaaS founder: Here’s why you should have a SaaS community!
In this edition, we will talk about how SaaS companies are building successful online communities.
Welcome to my favourite season of the year! It’s monsoon and while some are feeling the monsoon blues, some are trying to figure out how half a year is already over!
My playlist has been updated to the feels of the weather. This song has been playing on loop for me ever since, so thought I’d let you enjoy a bit as well!
So hello from the other side!
Welcome to the latest edition of Community Assemble. In this edition, we will talk about how SaaS companies are building successful online communities. You will also find a guide on building the perfect SaaS online community, my favourite section — Community of the Week, and some other tidbits to read up on.
It has been an exciting month for us and we can't wait to share all that we have been compiling for you. As we bring this edition, we would love to hear your feedback and thoughts so far! Write back to us via mail, or Twitter.
I’m sure you already know that the Software as a Service (SaaS) market is growing exponentially! When we see the numbers, the market grew from $225.6 billion in 2020 to $272.49 billion by the end of 2021 and it’s only going to get bigger and better.
After my interaction with several SaaS founders over the past few weeks, most founders complained that the industry competition is too high and hence the cost to acquire a new customer has skyrocketed. One major input that I received and wanted to share is that some SaaS founders have found a way through this barrier, the most cost-effective way to rapidly build your SaaS product’s audience!
That’s building a SaaS community.
I’m not talking about a social media page or a Slack channel. I’m talking about a dedicated active, SaaS community using a white labelled platform — a treasured asset that sparks sustainable growth.
Over time, through a community, your customers and followers will become your brand advocates — providing customer acquisition and retention solutions. Let’s dive into the details and understand this better!
Why SaaS communities should be your new CA strategy:
1. Helps reduce Your CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost)
There are many ways to reduce your customer acquisition cost (CAC). One of the most organic solution is to build an online community.
If your community promotes a strong sense of inclusivity, it speaks a lot about your brand. As a result, potential prospects are more likely to buy your product or service.
The more user-generated content and activity within your community, the better your SEO will be — giving more brand exposure. In short, lesser resources are spent on advertising and content.
More members signing in to your community increases the rate of finding potential customers through the community itself.
2. Maximize New Acquisition Channels through Forums
Most of your customer questions and doubts are asked in the community. This user-generated content shows up on search engines when other customers look for similar queries. This increases brand awareness while reducing support costs at the same time.
Finally, prospective customers are bound to trust answers provided by other customers.
3. Drive Better Retention Rates
Communities keep your members engaged as they network with each other, also helping them form a strong relationship with your business. This engagement makes your brand stay in someone’s mind for longer.
When members receive reliable answers to their questions in a community — whether from other members or the management team, they’re likely to be satisfied and gain a sense of attachment to the community and brand. Ultimately, this increases customer retention rate in the long run.
4. Transforms Members to Brand Ambassadors!
When someone is an active member of a SaaS- community they eventually start identifying themselves with that brand. They will treat it like it is theirs, root for it and end up being your brand ambassador without you having to put much effort into other programs!
More brownie points to you if you give them some ownership of your community, such as the role of a moderator or community head, reducing the investments you need to pour into your community.
It’s all about psychology. People love titles, they like being praised and appreciated for their work. Give them a great title such as a “Community Evangelist” and they’ll advocate for your community with utmost pride!
Fueled by their title, active members are likely to create a ripple effect: they talk about your SaaS outside the community. This brings new members into the community. In turn, the new members will do the same and so on.
Bottom line: You can have your influencer marketing campaign done without actually having to spend for one!
5. Benefit from Better Product Innovation
The customers who form part of your online community can give immediate feedback on your SaaS products and services. So consider your community as a beta testing ground to receive quick updates and feedback. They’re the ones who are likely to use your product or service often and may be able to guide you in terms of what needs improvement.
An online community encompasses the entire organization in terms of systems and processes. This includes customer acquisition, success and support. A SaaS community will not only help you by solving support tickets through discussions and Q&As, but it also lets you build a powerful acquisition channel that is fuelled by user-generated content and promote a strong bond through networking.
This is easier said than done. Rome was not built in a day and the same goes with communities. So I will show you how to build an online SaaS community with a step-by-step guide.
Step-by-step guide for building an online SaaS community
1. Get Internal Buy-In
Your entire team needs to invest in the idea of the online community, being ready to participate in the same. All of your employees need to commit some amount of their time and resources to scale and maintain the community.
There needs to be a clear collaboration between departments. For example, your customer success team will have to know how to respond to specific queries in the community and even escalate concerns to the management team when needed.
2. Set up SMART Goals
It is crucial to set up goals in the form of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your community platform. A commonly used model is the SMART criteria. Your KPIs must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. All this should be aligned with your organizational goals.
Brainstorm and try to list down all that you want to achieve through the community. For example, what should be the ideal size of your community? How many leads are you expecting from your SaaS community?
3. Roles and Tasks Should Be Clearly Defined
There are several different components in an online community just like your product. Online community management includes many different tasks and roles. For example, who will be in charge of moderating comments? Who will manage the content? Who will take care of customer support?
This ensures accountability and keeps the community launch plan as smooth as possible.
4. Start With a Primary Goal
Goals relevant to SaaS communities are majorly divided into:
Customer retention and loyalty
Research and development
Although your community will eventually cater to multiple goals, it is always better to start off with a single primary goal and then gradually move towards the others once your community picks up its pace.
5. Choose a Platform (Community centre management software)
You can decide between a free or owned platform. An owned white labelled platform will take more time and resources but this will definitely allow more flexibility, and give an array of additional benefits.
There are plenty of platforms out there, so do your research well and conclude on one that benefits your organization the best. A few platforms that I have found interesting are Tribe, Discourse, Slack and Glynk (And I’m not just saying it because I’m part of it :D ). For me, Glynk works well for an organization that is looking for customization because, in the end, each company has their own identity and a platform should be able to meet those specific requirements.
6. Create a Community Launch Plan:
Now it is time for you to get to the most crucial part of the process. Your community launch plan must cover everything. To make things easy for you I have divided it into three parts:
Before officially launching your SaaS online community, ensure your team is well versed with the platform and the technical aspects of the software. They may need some amount of Knowledge Transfer. This will be more effective if you take them through a demo of the product. Make sure you conduct all of this before making the community accessible to the public.
A soft launch basically prepares your community for the final launch. So ensure that you feed your platform with some seed content that will initiate discussions. If needed you can also have seed users that make your community look active. Keep your community open to a limited audience. You can have a few trusted customers and/or all your employees initially. These seed users should be able to create most of the engagement. A soft launch will help to identify and fix any problems or bugs in your community. In addition, it will also help you get clarity on what else is needed for the platform before it goes completely public.
Once the soft launch is done, it’s time to promote your new community platform to your target audience. Use your website, newsletters, social media and sales teams to promote the new community and go all out with it.
7. Moderation is mandatory!
Online communities revolve around members interacting with each other and feeling comfortable in being their authentic selves, but there needs to be restrictions and guidelines around what can be posted and what cannot be accepted.
To get a deeper understanding of how you can have a great moderation strategy in place, you can look into this article that gives you all the insights - Moderation Mandates!
8. Onboard New Members
It is mandatory that every new member of the community undergoes an onboarding process. It can be as simple as a welcome mail along with guidelines and a code of conduct, or a detailed video explaining all that a member can expect from the community, this gives them a sense of the culture that the community runs on.
9. Integrate the Community with Your Product
The best way to capitalize on your community is to integrate your community with your actual product. For example, community discussions can become support tickets through peer-to-peer conversations that enable you to solve problems without involving the customer support team.
10. Promote Engagement and Implement gamification:
Seeding content is one of the best ways to kickstart conversations in a community. Furthermore, interpersonal relationships with members make them feel like they are a part of something bigger, encouraging them to be more active.
Introducing gamification features such as virtual leader boards and reward systems gives an additional push to be active in the community.
11. Create and execute the advocacy program.
People trust people. Users are more likely to believe another user if they share their personal experience with your brand and your product.
A community is an amazing platform to harness the power of interpersonal communications between members. This works as one of the most solid advocacy programmes your brand can possess.
With most SaaS customers spending significant amounts of time online, leveraging the power of online communities can give amazing results for your SaaS business. Now that you know all the benefits a SaaS community has, it’s time for you to get SaaSy with your business!
COMMUNITY OF THE WEEK:
This one is my personal favourite.
One of the earliest organizations that emphasise the importance of communities. Adobe has connected millions of users across the world through its community. It is a place to ask questions, find answers, learn from experts, and share your knowledge. Their community is used by people of all ages, cultures, and working backgrounds
Though they are mainly a support community, they also have a forum that encourages peer-to-peer discussions and knowledge exchange. They also let you connect with experts to get answers, share advice, and contribute ideas to shape the future of The Adobe Experience
SNIPPETS OF THE WEEK:
Hope you guys have a great week ahead. See you all in our next edition until then think community!
If you’re finding this newsletter valuable, consider sharing it with friends, or subscribing if you haven’t already!