5 Ways for SaaS Companies to Drive End User Adoption

Author: Graham Mills
10 / 10 / 2016
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Organizations everywhere are switching to cloud-based tools to run their business. In 2016 alone, Forbes projects that companies will spend $12 billion on SaaS and PaaS capabilities, and that number will grow to $55 billion by 2026. While transitioning from traditional to subscription service contracts enables organizations to have the latest technology, it also reduces switching costs and creates more opportunities for them to jump to other providers. Additionally, the success of products like Slack show that employees are often empowered to use the tools they want. IT departments are starting to conform to this new norm versus dictating the programs employees must use.

In response, many multi-national software companies have started to explore strategies that focus on driving product usage by end users. When end users derive value from a product immediately, it easily can become part of the organization’s day to day activities, reducing the chance it will consider switching to a competitor.

From our work with technology as a service companies, here are our top five recommendations to help your SaaS organization increase end user adoption:

  1. Build a cloud-first product that is intuitive. It’s no surprise that small, cloud-first start-ups have succeeded. One of the key reasons they have seen high adoption into Enterprise accounts is that they have created products with end user pain points at their core. This helps make their products easy to use and facilitates organic adoption (with or without the help of IT teams). If you are not in a position to rebuild your product, invest in customer research to deeply understand end user challenges, and leverage your marketing efforts to be specific about how you address them.
  2. Grease the deployment tracks. The longer it takes to get a product up and running in your organization, the longer it will take for end users to start using it. A deployment process mired with technical difficulties and support calls will develop ill-will with your core technical audience. Make sure you have mechanisms in place to make it easy to implement the new tool, particularly if you know your product is complex to deploy. Examples include: ensuring deployment documentation is available, easily discoverable, and at the right altitude to help IT avoid common hot spots, or have dedicated engineers to help guide IT through deployment.
  3. Help IT gain executive buy-in, not just for purchase, but for use. Getting executives on board during the purchase process is step one. Step two, which is often overlooked, is getting executives to support the IT department by adopting the product themselves and promoting that usage across the organization. An executive’s level of usage and promotion has traditionally been a great indication of the success a product will have across an organization. As a result, many SaaS companies are evolving their content strategy to be more thoughtful around supporting the IT decision maker and administrator by providing them with the tools and resources they need to successfully engage their executive team.
  4. Execute data-driven marketing. Leverage telemetry data to create personalized marketing programs. Telemetry data can help your organization build 1:1 relationships with end users and set benchmarks across your customer base for marketing to leverage. While these are valuable tactics to explore, they won’t work well unless you’re coupling this with customer behavior insights. This information will not only help you be more targeted in driving usage, but will also provide a rich platform to know your customers.
  5. Re-visit the sales process. With product adoption and usage being the new indicator of churn, it is important to examine your sales process to ensure that the right expectations are set up front with customers. This will help pave the way for a quick deployment and ramp up usage. Additionally, you may find that incentive plans need to be revisited with the sales organization and channel partners in order to drive the behavior you need around usage.

 For more reading about user adoption and shifting to a cloud-based subscription model, subscribe to our blog. If you have a specific question related to your business, please contact our Cloud Go-To-Market Team.

About the Author

Author: Graham Mills 

Graham Mills is a consultant with experience in go to market, customer experience, and customer retention strategy. His work has helped corporate and non-profit organizations better understand the customer journey and meet the customer’s needs.

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