5 Invite Hacks to Drive Rapid Growth

invite a friend or 7 5 Invite Hacks to Drive Rapid GrowthWhen was the last time you invited your friends or co-workers into an app after you just signed-up for the free trial?

When was the last time you imported your address book right after you opened an app for the first time?

Right.

So why do you expect your users and customers to behave differently?

Unless you have specific intel indicating they will share your app with everyone immediately after first interacting with you (like, for instance, my Mom is your target audience), then you should probably assume they won’t.

And if you sell to a B2B Audience, you should double-down on that assumption.

Here’s why and how to overcome that…
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The Myth of Unavoidable Churn

Screen Shot 2014 12 09 at 10.05.51 PM The Myth of Unavoidable ChurnWhen it comes to customer churn, there are two kinds: avoidable and unavoidable.

But I guarantee that the amount you label as “unavoidable” is actually much smaller than you think.

I know, but…

“Most of our churn is out of our control, so it’s unavoidable”

“We sell to SMB and in that market churn is inevitable.”

Accepting that churn is inevitable since x% of companies fail every year is like saying why workout, you’re just gonna die anyway.

But the excuses continue…

“We have a low price, so of course we have high churn.”

“We sell to [a certain market segment] so of course churn is high. That’s just how this works.”

“We sell to a very transient market, so of course churn is inevitable”

Unavoidable. Inevitable.

To paraphrase a monologue from this Seinfeld episode:

seinfeld low churn meme1 The Myth of Unavoidable Churn“No matter how desperate we are that someday a better customer will emerge, with each notice of cancellation, we know it’s not to be; that for the rest of this sad, wretched pathetic quarter, this is who we sell to, to the bitter end. Inevitably, irrevocably; low churn? No such thing.”

The catalyst for this post was what Gainsight CEO Nick Mehta said on a webinar the other day on Budgeting for Customer Success in 2015 (check out the archive here), so I thought I’d invite Nick to elaborate on this a bit since SO MANY SaaS – and other types of companies – make this costly assumption.

Take it away Nick….

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Desired Outcome drives Customer Success

Desired Outcome try again 2 Desired Outcome drives Customer SuccessSo… what does Success look like for your customer? That’s the question that’s at the base of my wildly popular “The Secret to Successful Customer Onboarding” article.

But it’s not actually a very good question. What does “success” look like for your customer? What does that even mean? Unless it’s a hard ROI, that’s a tough question to answer.

So I always found myself moving to different ways of phrasing basically the same question. And when you do that – when you have to say “in other words,…” next time just start with the “other words” and move past the confusion.

So now I ask about your customer’s Desired Outcome… but even that easier-to-understand concept has it’s nuances. Let me explain…

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The Secret to Successful Customer Onboarding

the best way to onboard new customers 300x201 The Secret to Successful Customer OnboardingCustomer onboarding has come up a lot lately, which is great since having a poor onboarding experience for your customers can pretty much kill your growth… if not your business.

The first in-app experience your customer has with your product sets the tone for your relationship, and if it’s confusing, overwhelming, or otherwise puts up barriers to achieving success (or at least recognizing the value potential in your product), you’re in trouble.

As I say all the time, the seeds of churn are planted early, and those seeds are planted deep if your onboarding experience for new customers or your prospects during a free trial is terrible.

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7 Sanity Checks for Sending Cold Email

Screen Shot 2014 09 22 at 7.06.26 PM 7 Sanity Checks for Sending Cold EmailEmail Prospecting, the once-secret method (still) used (to great effect) by the hottest companies to get the attention of the biggest enterprises out there – even if all they talk about publicly is inbound marketing, adwords, and social – is no longer a secret.

Thanks to folks like Jill Konrath, author of Snap Selling, Aaron Ross, author of Predictable Revenue, and Steli Efti from Close.io, the cat’s out of the bag that sending emails to people you’ve never met before in order to get their attention and get your product in front of them doesn’t just work… it is often required and can be super-effective.

This isn’t to say that blogs, social media, AdWords, etc. aren’t useful… they’re ENORMOUSLY useful to accelerate deals, elevate and educate various personas at your Ideal Customers, etc. But it is to say that these methods may not be the way you reach potential customers initially, especially in the early stages of your existence. And in some cases, they may not be how you reach your potential customers ever.

Now, after they know about you, as a result of outbound “cold” email campaigns, or once they’re a customer to drive loyalty, your blog, white papers, webinars, infographics, and marketing website etc. are super-valuable; just sometimes not at first…

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The Correct Way to Handle Annual Pre-Pay Renewals

annual renewals 300x256 The Correct Way to Handle Annual Pre Pay RenewalsGetting customers to pay up-front for a year is great… the challenge comes 12 months later at renewal time. There are four ways to do renewals, but only one right way.

This came up on a recent Clarity call with a SaaS founder, and since annual pre-payments are often the go-to funding source for many early-stage B2B SaaS companies or those bootstrapped companies – regardless of stage – that have chosen to forego any serious external funding, I thought it was important to discuss publicly.

While that up-front money from annual pre-pays is great, when it comes time to renew those customers, well, that’s where things get tricky.

I’m going to help you make that less tricky.

First, let me take a quick step back and cover a couple of basic ideas.

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10 Growth Hacking Lessons from Dodgeball

growth hacking dodgeball 10 Growth Hacking Lessons from DodgeballI hit Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight, right in the gut.

And then I took a hard shot to the chest by Gainsight’s New Business director.

Working in a startup is rough, lemme tell ya.

As Nick and I stood on the sidelines during this company outing – battered, exhausted and laughing – watching the remaining players trying mercilessly to eliminate each other (and have fun at the same time), Nick turned to me and said:

“You should write a blog post on what Dodgeball can teach us about Growth Hacking.”

So, looking for any excuse to rest – this wasn’t just dodgeball but TRAMPOLINE dodgeball – I came up with a list of 10 lessons (5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts) you can, in fact, take from Dodgeball and apply to Growth Hacking.

Okay, here we go.

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Save your Free Trial from the Bots

free trial bot Save your Free Trial from the BotsAt the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, a security research duo showed how they built a cryptocurrency-mining botnet by leveraging cloud platform services – like Amazon Web Services, Heroku, or Google App Engine – using only Free Trials and Freemium accounts [PDF].

Cue the overly-dramatic sky-is-falling music as we mourn the demise of SaaS Free Trials and Freemium (remember, it pays to be clear on the various uses of “Free”).

I know a lot of entrepreneurs, founders, executives, and product marketers at SaaS and Cloud companies will read that Wired article and say to me – since I’ve been quite vocal about not being a fan of requiring a Credit Card to get started on a Free Trial – “See Lincoln… not having a credit card wall opens up our system to abuse!”

But they’re wrong… and here’s why.

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