9 Reasons I Won’t Buy Your SaaS Tool

9 Reasons I Won’t Buy Your SaaS Tool

I am a tool addict, I want to play with every SaaS tool out there and I try as many as possible (seriously, I’ll demo anything).

I inspect the features, see what is possible, look for use cases and check out integration opportunities for business processes.

Improve Churn – 8 Ways to Over Deliver On User Expectations

Improve Churn – 8 Ways to Over Deliver On User Expectations

Over the years I’ve analyzed hundreds of tools to see how they will help businesses. From this experience, I’ve developed a sense of what B2B buyers need to be successful with a product.

I hope you’ll see these things from a customer’s point of view and they will help you preemptively reduce churn.

Let’s get started…

Help Me Succeed Quickly (Time to WOW)

I purchased your tool to solve a problem I have. You should do this as quickly as possible. I’ll accept that you need details to personalize my account if you present a profile form, but this should feed into providing me with a better experience, not just helping your additional business goals. When I reach success with your tool, I’ll be satisfied with my purchase and likely to be a loyal customer. Appcues did a post about shortening your time to WOW where they also talked about the importance of this idea. How to do this: Answer these two questions and then work with your developers to make success a primary goal in your tool.

  1. What is the goal?
  2. How quickly can we help the user accomplish the first steps to this goal?

For a CRM I need to be organized. I need to import all of my information quickly, and if your platform automates any features such as highlighting opportunities for sales, that should be accessible on my dashboard. A SaaS Doing This Right: Contentmarketer.io (a former tool by Sujan Patel) immediately lets you enter a blog post to see who has shared a link. Very quickly I see how the tool works and what it does for me, now I can use this information for my business.

Concise & Immediate Onboarding

Layovers or onboarding wizards should be simple and point out the few things I need to know to get started. Onboarding should be short, the user wants to get started. At most offer 2-4 slides in a wizard and let them be done.

Do not give me a walkthrough of every feature you offer, this is not the time for that. A new user needs to see the promise you’ve offered in action as quickly as possible to seed their interest for future usage.

A SaaS Doing This Right: Ramen.is

Ramen quickly surveys the new user and directs them to the important aspects of their product. I would recommend using a wizard from Chameleon and making a slide of each section of the onboarding process.

 

Simple and Thoughtful Navigation

While onboarding should offer the initial information a user needs to get started, navigation also plays a major role.

For instance, don’t use fancy descriptions (like you see in Contactually’s teardown) for starting a project or task, use language that makes sense.

A SaaS Doing This Well: Close.io

Close brings users to an initial/example message from CEO Steli Efti and they immediately understand what they are looking at.

By looking at the screen a user quickly acclimates to the language on the platform and gets to work, because it makes sense. You can learn more about Close in my site teardown of their marketing.

 

Delayed and Useful Onboarding

Instead use in-app tools like Ramen or  Pendo.io (whose marketing I recently analyzed) to share those features with me through in-app messaging.

It’s great if the user can easily make their way around the tool, but let’s be honest, they will also need  messages about not-so-obvious features.

Onboarding should last up to a couple of weeks. This doesn’t necessarily require a daily email but keep reminding people of the opportunities to fix their pain by using your tool, especially if there is a free trial.

Regularly, over several weeks of time, you can also offer features that haven’t used or optimized. A decent installation of Mixpanel with an integration of Intercom will make this easy. However, keep personas in mind when arranging these workflows so that users get highly personalized and relevant information.

A SaaS Doing This Right: Quuu.co Is a tool that automatically shares hand curated content to your social media accounts, helping you stay relevant without a lot of time invested into finding pieces to read.

Three days after signing up the following email is sent. This is a great example of timely email onboarding where they include tips on the best way to use Buffer with Quuu’s curation.

 

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Reliability, Uptime & Speed

As a customer of paid tools, features should work flawlessly (unless you are in beta). When problems do arise users expect an apology and estimate of downtime so they can schedule accordingly.

In general, paid beta users are a bit more patient but a product should always offer realistic uptimes. A post by StatusCast helps you see how this can cause reputation damage with customers.

Product Updates

Updates mean more value for users so they are usually acceptable, but it’s good to offer a heads-up about upcoming maintenance. Additionally, give people in-depth information about how to use new features, so they can optimize their performance.

A SaaS Doing This Right: Trello does this beautifully on their blog with an in-app tool tip. The notification is easy to see, yet non-intrusive and adequate information is always available.

Another Example: Hotjar

Below is an email from the VP of Marketing at Hotjar. This shows how they are improving their product to continually help users understand their customers (a goal of the product).

Accessible Tutorials & Knowledgebase

Users should have access to a library of tool resources. This includes videos, guides, tutorials, and a knowledge base. It’s best to have access to everything but feel free to remind me of the popular reasons to visit. Interestingly, Nuance study revealed that 67% of the people surveyed would rather use self-support options instead of talking to someone to get help.

Example: Convert

They have a support knowledge base with several topics to help you get started.

Convenient Access

People are on the go and need access to the tool everywhere. During email onboaring remind users about apps for other devices.

It’s nice to offer integrations they can use with the tool, as well. And if you have a browser extension make that known so people can get the most of their investment.

Example: Buffer

Buffer almost immediately introduces a new user to their browser extension. Installing the extension makes people more likely to become long time users of an app, and initiates the Hook model by Nir Eyal.

While they do this via email, an in-app message could be more effective. Here is their email about the extension.

Customer Support & Success

Highly important in today’s Customer Success Era you’ll want to ensure the success and useful support of every user. Obviously, a paid user should get preference in the support queue.

You should also have a system in place that allows for quick support answers, like Groove. Realistically, people want responses in minutes, but it is understandable to take up to a business day.

Example: HubSpot

HubSpot does a great job of responding to support very quickly. At inbound.org many community members shared their support expectations from HubSpot. They put the bar high, and their users definitely appreciate it.

Summary:

By better understanding what is expected of SaaS users you can provide solutions for their biggest pain points and offer customer success that surpasses others on the market.

Let me analyze your tool and marketing to help you better align your product and message with buyers’ needs and expectations, order your analysis today.

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How B2B Buyers Shop for SaaS Tools

How B2B Buyers Shop for SaaS Tools

The more you know about your buyer and the steps they take before making a purchase, the better right? Then you’ll likely find it useful to read this story about how I found the best email marketing product for my latest client.

The Problem: Client Needed A New Email Marketing SaaS Product

I was asked by a client to help them improve their email marketing efforts. They have several thousand members on their email list but have put very little effort into using email to meet their business goals.

They were interested in the ability to easily segment sends based on existing data in addition to anything else the tool could collect to help them segment with even more specificity.

Since I had done similar work at Inbound.org I was approached for help. Today email marketing tools can segment based on a wide variety of information:

  • Pages visited
  • Number of visits
  • Past event attendance
  • Profile information
  • Source visited from
  • Last visit by date, and more.

The client’s situation was such that they already had Act-on. It could handle some of what they wanted to do, but the cost was around $2,000 a month and other important features were missing.

Having analyzed and used hundreds of tools over the years, I knew the features here were introductory at best.

The user experience was poor, it was difficult to navigate, and the analytics reports didn’t offer adequate email reporting.

Additionally, they had heard about other tools they could use with more advanced features for segmentation, any they wanted to know what would work for their budget, and hopes for a more sophisticated email strategy.

The Contenders: HubSpot, Autopilot, Act-on, and Hatchbuck

From our discussion, I had two tools they wanted me to research, one of which was HubSpot. They wanted to know if they should make the jump to HubSpot for the site, email, reporting, etc. It’s a major product with many features and it integrates with several tools.

I decided to investigate whether HubSpot would be the right fit because the client had mentioned it multiple times and wondered if they should migrate to the all in one solution. I already have an extensive history of using HubSpot with many clients so I decided to check this first.

I also knew the introductory price for the main package started at $800 a month, and the client seemed comfortable with that. I also knew the email feature was packed with advanced options for segmentation. It seemed like an obvious win.

But, when I went to HubSpot’s site I realized the tool would be at least $2,200 a month due to the size of the client’s list. I then checked the client’s website to see what technology it was run on.

They were already using WordPress, and as I actually prefer that over HubSpot’s content management system, so I began to doubt whether it was the best solution unless we could only get those advanced segmentation email features there.

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Investigating Autopilot for Email Marketing

I had actually heard of Autopilot before, so when the client mentioned the tool, I put it on the short list to research.

At first, I realized the price was close to $700 a month, or $1200 a month with A/B testing, it sounded close to HubSpot until I realized their price was $2,200 for the current list size. Now, $700-$1200 wasn’t too high.

I had signed up for a free trial to see what the tool does and didn’t ‘get’ it from the onboarding. I’ll be honest, I’m very particular about onboarding and I want it to be extremely easy for me to get started.

Looking back there wasn’t anything awful about their onboarding, I just didn’t enjoy it.

I’ll give you a free analysis of your onboarding, here.

I got a short list of emails from the client and uploaded it to Autopilot to test the platform. I started a journey, which is their name for workflow, and began designing a simple email send for the client.

Within a few minutes, I realized it was very simple to segment the main list, build journeys, schedule emails, etc. Many of the features are very similar to HubSpot’s email features, with several options to segment your list. What I liked, even more, was that Autopilot offered a 30-day trial.

I could only send 100 emails but in this case, I didn’t need to send any I just needed to see if it would work for the client. So after a couple of attempts with the tool, I realized this was a great contender for the client’s needs.

Side Note: While I didn’t love Autopilot’s onboarding I enjoyed their free trial and thought it was a perfect example of when and how companies should use free trials. They allow a user to design an entire journey that includes multiple email sends based on actions, time, visits, etc.

 

 

By only allowing 100 emails to be sent they give users a taste of deliverability without giving free access to excessive usage that can cost the company a lot of money.

Could Hatchbuck Be The Right Tool?

There was another company I researched during this time. I googled “email marketing segmentation” and this company showed as a comparable tool to HubSpot, in the ads section.

They market themselves as a lower cost HubSpot option, and their pricing starts under $100 a month so I was surprised that I would need a demo and walkthrough to even SEE the software.

Very disappointing. From a marketing point of view, I think they should at least let people set up a free account to see what if any features work the way I need them to. From a SaaS business point of view, I found it crazy such a low-cost product makes you work with sales on a demo before you can use it.

I emailed their support to see if they had a demo account because I had very specific needs, and if this could work for my client it would save them a lot of money. I told them I did not want or need a demo with a salesperson because I had specific needs and I spelled them out.

I needed a tool that allowed me to work from one database of leads to segment the leads into smaller lists, to be able to segment based on pages visited, actions taken on the account, scheduled emails, etc. I got a response to watch a recorded demo and that, of course, I could segment my leads into smaller lists, but nothing in regards to the specifics about how leads could be segmented.

I felt I had clearly wasted my time investigating their company if I couldn’t get an answer to my questions. At that point, I went back to work on a trial project in Autopilot for the client. A couple of business days later I was sent an email from Hatchbuck pointing out that I hadn’t yet watched their demo and they were following up to see if I was still interested.

Now, I know sales can be pushy, but to actually point out that they were ‘Big Brothering’ me?! And in all fairness I found their demo on Youtube before I contacted them, it didn’t answer my question, I didn’t need to watch it again.

The Tool That Meets My Client’s Requirements

As you can probably tell, I chose to go with Autopilot. It’s a very powerful tool for email marketing and I was happily surprised that it was incredibly easy to use once I put in some effort. I still think they could use a little help with onboarding. I do want to point out that the search was never about price alone. Had I suggested to the client that HubSpot would be best for their needs, I know they would have taken my recommendation.

How SaaS Companies Can Use This Experience to Grow

What I think SaaS companies need to understand from this is how I researched each product. I went to each site as someone ready to buy, and ready to spend a lot of money in doing so. I wanted to know what worked, how it worked, if it did what my client needed, and what the price would be. Here is a quick track of how everything unfolded:

  • Client emailed about email marketing needs
  • Discussion with client about needs and current solution
  • Investigated current solution to see what was missing
  • Investigated 2 tools the client was interested in using
    • Looked at price
    • Analyzed features and compared to needs
  • Investigated 1 additional tool found through search/ads
    • Contacted
    • Watched demo video
  • Proceeded with trial at lowest cost/best features company
  • Presented trial project and tool of choice to client

Why is all of this important to your SaaS company? The more you understand your buyer’s motivations and needs, the better you can deliver a solution that works for them.

Today people know that one email tool can work very differently from another, so we try multiple tools to see what we like, what awesome features there are, and what has a price that is comfortable. Especially in the marketing world, SaaS companies need to meet industry expectations.

Additionally, the SaaS world isn’t a place that can easily ignore their competitors. I understand companies that don’t want to give their competitors a lot of thought because they are too busy innovating, but when you don’t know what your competitor is up to you can’t be sure you have the best options for your target market.

So pay attention to what other tools are doing, keep new technologies and features in mind, and give prospects (like me) the information, time, and path to success with your tool.

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My Favorite Freelance Marketing Tools

My Favorite Freelance Marketing Tools

Every now and then I like to put out a post of my favorite tools. It gives me a place to reference tools if I change devices or want to share with others. Enjoy!

Paid Freelance Marketing Tools I Use

Buffer $- I happily pay for Buffer every year because I use it to share to Twitter and Linkedin.

Quuu $- I paid $25 for a lifetime subscription through AppSumo, best $25 spend ever. Curates content for your Twitter & Linkedin, or whatever social media accounts you want.

Quuu Promote $- Pay to have one of your articles shared on the Quuu network, there are thousands of members, and probably a hundred categories, you can’t beat the cost per click for sharing here.

Dropbox $- I pay for personal photos to be uploaded to my Dropbox, but I use it for business, too. I choose Dropbox because I’ve tried many others, and the speed is better with Dropbox. Can’t sit around all day waiting for uploads.

Lastpass $- $12 a year and I don’t have to remember my passwords. I can see my passwords when I’m out and about, on the app, and my husband can use my accounts on our other computers.

Nimble– I tried at least 20 CRMs when coming back to freelancing. I wanted to make sure I stayed in touch with the right people, could see email from within the CRM, could keep track of work, could add tasks, and could get data from social. $25 a month.

Staying Connected

Franz– Cool tool for Macs, you can add all of your messengers and they are in one tool on your computer. It works by bringing in each messenger through the web version, so it’s similar to a browser, but it’s a lot nicer than scattered programs, and it unifies your notifications.

Slack– I have my own channel, some pretty cool people are there, and I get free advice from other experts, what could be better?

Hip Chat– Use it for work, one of the companies I’ve recently joined uses HipChat.

Zoom– Video chats with the team. Use it through multiple companies because I’m remote!

Skype– Yes, I can’t believe people still use this either. But they do, and for vide0 (ick) meetings. Otherwise I leave it off because it makes my computer run slower than any other program I’ve ever tried.

Hangouts– People use this for video too, but it’s free, has chat and works seemlessly with Google Calendar.

Calendar Google– Because eventually we are all run by the clock and this is the most used calendar I’ve ever come across.

Organization & Task Management

Trello– Keep my thoughts organized, brainstorm. Work with a company who takes all of their guest blogging through Trello, so I follow that board as well.

Asana– Once I figured out the best way to use Asana, I can’t leave. I will never leave. Even when the company I work for the most right now uses another tool, I am using Asana for freelance writing and Home tasks.

Basecamp– It’s a nice tool, keeps you organized. One thing I don’t like when compared to Asana, is every time you want to look at something else (a task, discussion, etc) you have to load a new page. Time consuming.

Workflowy– For braindumps, make all the lists you want, so easy to use and there’s an app for your phone.

Writing & Data

Google Docs– Even when I try to use another program like Quip or Draft no one else uses them and I have to revert to G docs. I don’t love it, but it gets the job done, and it’s free (well, except the data Google collects about me, but who’s counting that?).

Sortmylist– Whenever I need to clean up, or sort a list quickly, this is my go-to tool. It adds numbers, cleans white space, and keeps a cache of what you’ve sorted unless you erase it.

Quip– My preferred way to write, use spreadsheets, and keep track of documents. G docs has an awful organizational system, Quip has a beautiful organizational system. If they just imported all of your G docs files, I could see a lot of people moving over.

Thesaurus.com– For copywriting and freelance writing.

Google Spreadsheets– I love the data sorting, making pretty graphs, and abililty to use spreadsheets for everything. Hack- once you name a spreadsheet, it goes in your history and you can just start typing the name to pull it back up. So easy.

Communities

Quibb- Usually startup news, but loads of smart people are active here. I follow Nir Eyal and look at whatever is on the home page.

Twitter– I don’t follow a lot of people, so I try to keep up with those I do follow. I also follow some great lists.

Medium– Love the stories and points of view you don’t find anywhere else. Wish I didn’t have to see sports related articles ever on Medium, 🙁

Linkedin- Been very active here. Once you find great people to connect with, and follow, like Ian Lurie, it’s a great platform to get news and network.

Facebook– Some of my friends from past clients are active in a chat group, so I visit with them there. Otherwise I only use it for personal relationships. I have secret settings for everyone I know professionally that I set on Facebook, it allows me to accept people as friends even if I don’t know them well, yet keep my personal info private. *Don’t be offended if we are friends there, or not, I have kids, have to be careful.

Inbound– Yes, I used to work here. I love the community, meet a lot of people here, and the networking opportunities are insane!!

Reddit– Joined some of the marketing subreddits, to start network there, especially after reading about how Sol Orwell turned his involvement on Reddit into a 7 figure business.

Chrome Extensions

Colorzilla– Chrome extension that shows me the hex color of any point in my browser. I’ve used it for years, and while I’m not a designer it comes in handy for using on Canva and other sites.

Awesome Screenshot– Take screenshots in your browser, and edit them. Or, take images you already have and edit them, save them, and upload to share.

MixMax (Email)- I had issues with HubSpot’s tool that tracked emails, so I got this. I love it, it lets me add templates, groups, tracking, and has a lot of other features. I like that it works with your calendar to easily set up meetings. You can only use it in Gmail though. Most will appreciate that it integrates with Giphy.

One Tab– Chrome extension, collapses all or some of your tabs, to save you memory as you work through them. Easy to open the tabs back up.

Twitcher– Easily switch from one Twitter profile to another, through a drop down list. Super easy.

Buzzsumo– I use this to see what other great content is available on a topic before I write about it. Others use it to find great content to read and share. Love the tool. I use the extension to see how many shares a post has, when I want to pitch content promotion for someone.

Datanyze– Find anyone’s email address for free with Insider (ext), this is awesome for cold emailing.

Grammarly (Writing)- If you write and don’t want to look like an idiot, use Grammarly. Yes, others are nice, but this is the best I’ve found for what it corrects.

Zest (Reading)- A chrome extension where you can share GREAT (only the best is accepted) marketing content. I find a lot of phenomenal content here.

Highly.co (Reading)- Highlight what you read online, in Pocket too. Finally!!

Email

Unrollme & Roll ups- Using Gmail you can unsubscribe to hundreds of newsletters and publications at once, it’s awesome. For those you want to keep, you can add to a rollup and the news comes in one email for each rollup.

Paying & Finance Applications

Paypal– I use this to get paid for a lot of gigs, it’s easy since it works with my bank account and a debit card. I hate the fees though. It’s nice that a lot of companies are starting to use Gusto so people can get paid right in their bank account.

Bill– Two of my clients use this to pay, it’s nice because there are no fees and it goes directly to my bank account. Their invoices suck, and the interface is pretty confusing.

Freshbooks– My preferred way to send invoices. I have a free account still since I don’t want to pay $120 a year, doesn’t that seem like a lot, to send 5–6 invoices a month?

Credit Karma– Buying a house, watching every little thing that happens on my credit. Learn how to improve your credit here, too, updates your scores from 2 bureaus once a week.

Credit Sesame– Updates your score once a month and sends a bazillion emails, but I like that it explains what the break down of your score is, the percentages of what matters, etc.

Reading Tools

Blinkest– $60 a year to get loads of non-fiction books summarized for you to read in 15 minutes or so. I love this service.

TED– I like to expand my mind by watching videos of experts sharing their passion and new ideas. Brene Brown is here, Simon Sinek, and many others.

Kindle Cloud– Reading from my computer. I use the app on my phone. You can’t go wrong with the option to try the first chapter of nearly every book for free.

Notes- On my phone and Macbook air. Love how easy it stays updated.

Pocket– Whenever I want to check a link later, I use Pocket. I get to read from my phone, etc. I even put things in pocket specifically to read them without all of the distractions of a website. Some websites are really wide, too, and that makes it hard to read, not so on Pocket.

Feedly– To stay on top of all of the blogs I need to read. There are many, many, many blogs.

Devices- Computer, Tablets, Phone

iPhone- 6 plus, soon to be 7 plus once it’s available, 64 GB.

iPad- 2, regular size, nothing special, but nice to read on.

Macbook air- best computer I’ve ever had. Light, fast, enough space, and a mac, nothing better. (OK, so the screen is a little small, but the resolution makes it just fine).

Apple watch- it’s nice to have for a few things.

I’m an Apple addict. 🙂 apple.com/store

My Own Site

WordPress– My website is on WordPress, I don’t that will ever change, it’s my favorite platform.

Favorite plugin- Elementor, a page builder. I love it more than Visual Baker. It’s free and works amazingly well. The user interface is perfect.

Site5– For hosting

Entertainment At Work

Pandora– Because 80’s rock keeps me awake when my mind wants to sleep. I am NOT a morning person.

Youtube– I use this when I have a specific artist or song in mind and I know I like the video. Other times I use it to watch funny moments from The Office or Parks and Rec.

Coffitivity– I work at home, and we homeschool, we have thin walls, you can see where this is going. It’s loud here ALL OF THE TIME. I hate phone calls because of it, and I’m quick on the mute button. So to drown out some of the noise, this works really well. Also FREE!!

Miscellaneous

Product Hunt– Addicted. It’s not just the daily lists of products either, I use this to search for any tool I need. I wish I could search from my browser.

Smile at Amazon– Shop at Amazon and some of the proceeds get donated. You choose the charity that gets your proceeds. I’m all for animals, so I think it goes to the ASPCA.

I’ll try to update as I change tools. Looking forward to what you like about my list in the comments.