Big picture retention plans are vital to reduce customer churn, but this week we’re diving into the nitty gritty of a technique you might not have put much thought into: monthly customer digests.
What’s a monthly digest? In essence, it’s a summation of a user’s interaction with your product over a period of time. It could be time spent, milestones hit, the features they’ve used over that period, or tips and tricks based on their interactions.
Essentially, it’s a chance to proactively reach out and remind customers of the different ways that your product or service enriches and streamlines their life and workflow.
It may not seem instantly intuitive as to how this technique can reduce customer churn, but you might be surprised. Let’s dig in.
The Monthly Cadence Works to Reduce Customer Churn
Let’s start with the timing. Most likely, your SaaS business bills monthly, meaning that customers feel the investment they’ve made (and a lighter wallet) at the same time every month. This is a great opportunity to show off the range of ways that they benefit from your service at the same time as they feel the sting.
Think of it this way: when we use a product consistently, it can become so ingrained in our workflow that we barely think about it anymore. We take it for granted that we can edit an image with a professional-grade service, say, or chat instantly with our teammates.
Alternately, maybe a customer is just getting through the onboarding process and this is only the first or second time that they’ve paid for your service.
In both of these situations, monthly digests can be a reminder of the value that they are already getting from your product, as well as a tool for investing them more deeply into it.
Consistent engagement can come in a lot of forms (i.e. newsletters and live chat), but none are as closely timed to financial anxiety as billing statements.
Here, you have the chance to step in, break the numbers down, and essentially offer your take on their ROI. Pretty cool, right?
So how do you turn your monthly billing into a retention tool? Breaking down the value of your service comes down to understanding your customers and their needs.
Chances are, you have a few pain points that your SaaS business is already focused around in its marketing and sales pitches. Use these as a starting point as you communicate exactly how your tool is already working and can continue to work for your customers.
Time spent is the first metric by which we as consumers judge the tools we use everyday, but there are a range of quantitative values that speak to our relationships to the tools we use.
These could be anything from the number of messages sent and received (for communication tools, i.e. Slack, Skype, ActiveCampaign, etc.) to the number of resources created (Photoshop, Canva, Presi).
These numerical values can be helpful because they feel concrete. Keep in mind that low usage numbers don’t look great for your product, so consider only using these metrics for customers that have crossed a benchmark level of engagement.
Luckily there are a ton of qualitative ways that users judge engagement, and these connect with customers in a different way.
Most products have certain milestones in the ways that users integrate them into their daily workflows. Essentially, monthly digests can reduce customer churn by “gamifying” the process of getting to know a tool.
Bunchball defines gamification as “the process of taking something that already exists – a website, an enterprise application, an online community – and integrating game mechanics into it to motivate participation, engagement, and loyalty.”
Monthly digests can celebrate milestones in a way that gives customers the satisfaction (and endorphin rush) of completing a challenge- i.e. rethinking milestones as achievements.
An alternate way to think about monthly digests is as a continual extension of your onboarding process. Remember: informed customers that have mastered your tool are far less likely to consider another service that they’ll have to learn from scratch.
Breaking down the features that they are and aren’t using, as well as offering helpful tips and tricks for expanding their vocabulary within the product invests them more deeply into your service.
Long-term users often find a handful of features that suit their needs, and may not realize or fully understand the broader suite of tools you offer.
Likewise, beginning users may or may not understand the complete feature set of your product, even after they’ve completed your onboarding process- especially when new features are released. A simple breakdown of their current usage with suggestions (“Have you tried our new XXX?”) can give them a sense of wider applications of your product.
The beauty of monthly digests is that they are a proactive form of communication. Too often, businesses try to reduce customer churn only via reactive techniques- i.e. reaching out to a customer after a CS complaint.
While these methods are vital to success, they only really work when there is a clearly identifiable problem.
Many customers churn not because of glaring issues with a service, but because of a thousand smaller questions and dissatisfactions.
Businesses that communicate proactively understand that they can prevent issues before they ever crop up. Engagement, in other words, is about more than preventing customer churn. It’s about building long-term fans of your brand that value your product and feel valued by you in return.
Let’s Get Positive
It’s easy to get really negative talking about churn, forever focusing on the hazards and the leak-points in a business. But, it’s really about building the kind of positive experiences and relationships that can sustain your SaaS business while providing the optimal value to your customers.
If you’re seeking to reduce customer churn, making it a positive experience will benefit you and your customers more in the long run.
Positive, proactive thinking on your end seeps through to the customer, and you might be surprised at the ways that this shift in mindset can change your approach.
There’s an old idea in advertising that any form of communication is a chance to market your product. When we talk about retention, you’ve already passed that initial point of sale. But as a SaaS business, you have to continue to sell, month after month, through the entire lifecycle of the customer.
Understanding this is key to building the kind of proactive approach to communication that will remind your customers again and again why they chose you in the first place.
Your customers took a chance on you- help them make the same choice over and over.