Get Referrals for your SaaS Product Easily by Following this Guide by@vincentotieno

Get Referrals for your SaaS Product Easily by Following this Guide

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Vincent Otieno

Freelance copywriter for SaaS companies.

Imagine you’re going to purchase a SaaS product for your business. 

Would you trust online reviews from strangers on review sites like Trustradius and G2 or a referral from someone you know? Most people would trust the opinion of someone they know personally over any other form of marketing. 

When prospects learn about your product from someone who has already used it, their perception of your product shoots high because of the pre-established trust. While online reviews may be a way to create this perception of value in solving your prospects’ problems, word of mouth is more powerful especially if it is done voluntarily.

According to Nielsen, 92% of people who receive referrals from friends and family are likely to trust a brand compared to only 72% who may trust consumer opinions posted online. This statistic reveals that you should prioritize creating as many customer evangelists as possible because they are the most effective way to acquire loyal customers. 

Who are customer evangelists? 

These are customers who are so passionate about your product that they voluntarily share their experience with others both online and offline. 

In this end user era where prospects want to experience your product before they even sign up, customer evangelists are critical to get ahead of your competitors. They provide the assurance that your product will help your potential customers solve their problems more effectively than any other form of marketing ever will. 

So how do you create customer evangelists for your SaaS product? 

In this article, you’re going to learn: 

- Why customer evangelism is important for your SaaS growth.

- How to get customer evangelists for your product.

Why customer evangelism is important for your SaaS growth 

Regardless of the stage of growth of your SaaS, user acquisition and retention are critical for your survival. Both user acquisition and retention are primarily driven by the perception your prospects and existing users have of your product. 

If prospects think your product is valuable, they will sign up for a trial or become an outright customer. And if they don’t understand your product messaging or think poorly of your product, they will move to your competitor. 

If your existing customers are having a bad experience while using your product, they will ditch the product and may even discourage prospects from trying it. But if their problems go away after using the product and the experience is amazing, they may voluntarily convince their peers to try and buy your product. 

These are the reasons why you should prioritize customer evangelism:  

Reduced customer acquisition cost 

There are various ways to acquire customers, but most of them come at a cost. Customer acquisition cost (CAC) is the amount of money you spend to make someone new use your product. 

Customer acquisition cost is an important metric that you should track and control to avoid losing money for every new customer you acquire. Your aim should be to minimize customer acquisition cost as much as possible. Your CAC largely depends on the type of marketing channel you use to acquire customers. 

Examples of marketing channels include cold calling, cold emailing, social media marketing, paid advertising, SEO and many others. 

If two marketing channels bring in a relatively same number of customers but have different CACs, you should drop the one with a higher CAC and focus on the cheaper one. And customer evangelism has the least CAC because it relies on your customers to convince prospects to buy your SaaS. 

I may argue that customer evangelism has zero CAC because your existing customer is so impressed by the product that they voluntarily try to make their peers use your product. 

Increased customer lifetime value

Customer lifetime value (CLV) refers to the amount of money you can make off each customer during their entire relationship with you. If you want to drive growth and sustainability for your SaaS, your CLV should be higher than your customer acquisition cost. The bigger the difference between your CLV and CAC, the faster you grow. 

According to this study by Wharton School of Business referred customers are more valuable than non-referred customers. It revealed that the CLV of a referred customer is 16% higher than non-referred customers due to high profit margins and reduced churn. 

Referred customers are more profitable because they are a great match for your product. Your evangelists know that your product can solve the problem their peers are having and recommended it to them. These referred customers are in turn willing to pay for your product for as long as it makes their lives easy. You can see that customer evangelists bring in power users for your product at zero cost who in turn supercharge your SaaS growth. 

How to get customer referrals for your SaaS for free 

Word of mouth marketing is the most effective way to drive B2B purchasing decisions today according to BigCommerce. A B2B buyer would trust a recommendation from peers who have already experienced your product and got great outcomes.  

These buyers know that their peers are putting their reputation and relationships in line when they recommend your product to them. So, they wouldn’t encourage their friends to purchase your SaaS product if it wasn’t the right fit because doing that would only weaken their trust. 

Here are the ways you can create customer evangelists who will freely try to convince their peers to use your product: 

#1 Product/customer success

This is the obvious one that most companies recognize and do. Most SaaS companies already understand that they are in the end-user era where growth is primarily determined by the experience users have with your product. 

This type of growth is known as product-led growth. And in a product-led growth business, all your activities revolve around your product. Your marketing team may create awareness, but excellent product experience is how you acquire new users. If your users are impressed by how effectively your product solves their problem, they may tell their peers about it and encourage them to try it too. 

So, your main aim should be to get new users to meaningful value points faster. This way, they will upgrade, expand accounts and maybe even become your evangelists. 

How do you create excellent product experience? By aligning your team to focus on a single point of truth which is product-user interaction. When your team understands the needs of your ICPs, you will be able to improve the product features to create a better experience. 

#2 Product-led Content 

Even though almost every SaaS company produces content as part of their marketing strategy, most of them are doing it the wrong way and getting dismal results. To be successful in content marketing in this end-user era, produce content that shows how your product can solve your prospects' problems such that by the time they are done reading the article they become users. This type of content marketing is known as product-led storytelling. 

It involves creating sales pages that are disguised as long-form blog posts. So, each long-form blog post shows how a specific ICP can solve a specific problem using your product. 

When prospects who are having this problem consume the piece of content, they may sign up as trial users because they are experiencing your product solving their problem as they are reading. Product-led content is what has enabled Ahrefs to acquire an average of 2000 users every week. Their blog posts are so helpful that their readers convert into users after completing them. 

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Source.

You should invest in product-led storytelling if you want your users to tell their peers about your product for free. 

Creating content that shows how your product can solve your prospect’s problems is the first step to having a content strategy that drives word of mouth marketing. The next step is having a distribution strategy that effectively reaches your target readers in the channels where they hang out. These channels can be social platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Slack communities and sub-reddits. 

The final step is consistent execution for a sustained period of time. You never stop creating quality pieces of content and distributing them where your target readers socialize for as long as the internet exists! Most SaaS companies miss one if not all the three of these steps to successful product-led content strategy that results in massive word of mouth marketing for your product. 

#3 Events 

How can you make people talk about an event before attending it, then also talk about it and share their experience with friends after coming from that event? By creating a strong experience before and during the event. Doing that begins by changing your mindset about events. 

Most companies approach events to get leads. They are interested in the lead list of the registrants so that they can go sell them products. But if they think in a different way such as how they can create an incredible experience that people talk about with other people or share what they learned with other people, they may produce a great event. 

To generate word of mouth marketing using events, focus on how you do them instead of just doing them for the sake. 

#4 Community 

Whether you participate in the community or you own it, to generate customer evangelists you should be active, visible and help people within those communities to solve their problems in real time. 

Let’s say your product is an email marketing software that helps content marketers do effective email outreach to their customers. You can be in Slack channels and Facebook groups where content marketers hang out and share insights whenever they need a solution that matches your product. 

Identify communities where your buyers hang out and focus on building brand visibility and connecting with them by providing something valuable for free. Creating a community for your prospects and existing buyers from scratch is a better way to produce customer evangelists because you have more control. 

#5 VIP Customer Evangelist Program 

Few SaaS companies are already using this idea to supercharge their word of mouth marketing and acquire more loyal customers. It involves identifying power users who are already promoting your product without even asking them. Then doing a lot of great stuff for them such that it fuels their desire to continue telling others about your brand. 

Power users are individuals who interact with your product the most when compared to other customers. These are the users who are probably enjoying your product and can voluntarily try to convince their peers to also try your product.  

When you build a VIP program for this category of customers, you will power their urge to convince their peers to buy your product. Wondering what you can do for your power users? 

Identify their goals and provide things that can help them get there. 

Let’s say your buyers are content marketers. One of the goals of any content marketer is to build a brand and get recognized as a subject matter expert in their industry. You can organize an expense-paid event where content marketers come and network with their peers. In the process, they give keynote speeches that improve their perception in the industry.  

Final thoughts 

Getting new users without even spending a dime on acquisition costs should be your goal as a SaaS company. Referred customers are likely to use your product longer than non-referred customers because they are good product-fit. This in turn results in increased revenue and boosted SaaS growth. 

To get more referred customers, you need to focus on producing as many customer evangelists as possible. Customer evangelists are those users who are impressed by your product that they voluntarily try to convince their peers to also buy your product. 

You can generate more customer evangelists by doing the following: 

- Creating product/ customer success by making your product-user interaction the single point of truth. 

- Crafting product-led content strategy that aims to create content users love, then distributing it to places where they hang out while being consistent. 

- Hosting events with the aim of creating strong experiences that drive people to share what they learnt with their peers. 

- Being active, visible and providing helpful information in communities where your ICPs hang out. 

- Creating a VIP customer evangelist program that aims to do great stuff for your power users who in turn become more willing to tell their peers about your product. 

When you have many customer evangelists, your SaaS company grows quickly because you acquire users who actually need your product to solve their problems.  

Also published here.

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