Hands up if you have too many customers.
I didn’t think so. Every business owner I know would love to have more customers, dedicating significant resources to sales and marketing to keep a steady flow of customers coming in. Unfortunately, even if a company has plenty of new customers signing up, that’s no good if just as many people are leaving out the back door. For some companies, their customer intake is more like a revolving door than a funnel.
The cost of acquiring a new customer is a lot higher than the cost of retaining an existing one, (typically five times higher, according to some sources), so it makes sense to keep your customer churn rate as low as possible. If you don’t, you’ll end up spending much more on sales and marketing than you have to.
But how exactly can you reduce your customer churn rate? What are the best and most effective methods? We spoke to seven experts to find out what tactics and strategies should be at the top of your list.
What are your top 3 Approaches To Churn Reduction In 2019?
Director of Marketing & Creative at Thinkific
At Thinkific, we’re seeing the most successful companies drastically reduce churn in 2019 by using online courses to provide customer education. Whether you’re looking to improve product training, customer onboarding or establish yourself as an authority, online courses make it easy to engage and support your customers. In 2019, every saas company should be considering how they can use education to attract new customers, reduce churn, and drive significantly more revenue.
Here are the top three ways we’re seeing companies use online courses to reduce churn and drive revenue in 2019:
1. Platform and industry training
We’ve seen that offering product training and industry courses significantly helps to reduce churn.
Hootsuite, the world-leading social media management platform saw an overall 8% reduction in churn after launching their online learning site, Hootsuite Academy, on Thinkific. The academy offers free social media certifications and product training to hundreds of thousands of students worldwide.
Since launching the academy, Hootsuite has also seen a 150% increase in NPS for customers who have completed the online courses. With only 6 employees making up their education team, Hootsuite is able to drive massive positive change in customer engagement and retention across the organization through online courses. You can learn exactly how they did it here
2. Customer onboarding
Online courses can also help streamline your customer onboarding process. Later, a popular Instagram scheduling tool increased their customer retention by 320% with their onboarding course hosted on Thinkific.
The company wanted to better educate their customers on how to use certain features and achieve business success using their platform. They later converted an often-used webinar into an online course and saw a 320% increase in customer retention, a 467% increase in the adoption of new features, and a 368% increase in paid plan purchases. You can learn exactly how they did it here.
3. Membership and community growth
Online courses can also help you build and own a community based around education in your category. Providing a high-touch online space for customers to interact and receive support dramatically helps decrease churn.
Thinkific’s membership and community features provide an opportunity for your customers to share best practices and ideas. SaaS companies can leverage online community formats to gain customer insights and increase engagement.
Email Marketing Expert & Copywriter @ EmailThatSell.com. Jack is a B2B SaaS lead generation expert who focuses on growing his client’s MRR via powerful cold email campaigns. He lives (and surfs) in San Diego, California.
Here are my 3 approaches to churn reduction this year:
1. Build a ridiculously helpful product
Do your customers truly need (and love) your product? If not, keep at it.
Creating a “crave-worthy” product is the #1 best thing you can do to reduce churn this year — and always.
(Easier said than done, but it starts by talking to your customers.)
2. Onboard like a pro
How many of your customers drop off before their first billing cycle?
A painful amount, right? Luckily, that’s where a flawless onboarding experience can help.
Use email, notifications, and video to guide new users from tire-kicker to lifelong fan.
3. Fix your “sticking points”
Where (and when) do most of your customers churn?
The famous 80/20 principle applies here, big time. So dig into your analytics and identify your “top 2 churn scenarios”.
(If this is unclear, set up a few exit interviews with your past customers.)
Last, the hard part: Fix these major problem areas using customer feedback, surveys, and analytics until your churn is under control.
Georgiana is a SaaS Marketing & Growth Advisor at Elevate and co-host of the SaaS marketing workshop series, Forget The Funnel. She’s been working with SaaS companies like Unbounce, Appcues and Sprout Social since 2009 and launching and building B2B and B2C brands online since Y2K was a thing.
Here are my ways of reducing churn:
1. Identifying Activation and Engagement as customers’ success milestones.
The vast majority of SaaS companies I work with haven’t identified a meaningful measurement of when a customer truly “activates” within their product — tipping over the fence from being in evaluation mode to seeing value, and understanding how your product can help them.
Additionally, it’s critical to measure when a customer becomes “engaged” — reaching continued use that shows value is being delivered consistently. I’d first tackle churn by identifying when these critical leaps of faith happen in your customer’s relationship with you, and then by improving those pieces of the customer experience to encourage more customers to make that leap.
2. Identifying Promoters from Detractors.
An even simpler lens to look at your active customers (based on meaningful measures of engagement, of course) is through their NPS. It sounds basic, but if you can segment your low-NPS and high-NPS groups, you can then address their specific needs more effectively.
3. Giving them what they want (duh).
Learning what makes each of these groups tick with interviews and surveys is incredibly powerful (and often overlooked in favor of acquisition-focused research).
Not only can you tackle churn, but expansion and monetization too. Gathering enough insight from these customers, you can deliver experiences inside and outside of your product to turn them into Lifers.
Gen is the Founder of Retainable, helping B2B SaaS companies reduce churn to grow recurring revenue faster and more efficiently.
1. Create Your Retention Funnel:
Lots of companies know what their acquisition funnel looks like, mainly because it is easier to define the milestones of cold traffic, warm lead, all the way through to conversion. Improving customer churn can be improved by applying the same framework, except once a customer signs up.
How do you define the Aha! Moment of your product? What behavior or metrics define a customer that has adopted your product as a regularly engaged user? When have they hit the point of being a long term customer? The answers to these questions can be points in the retention funnel, and measuring and monitoring this regularly can help companies understand where there are significant drop-offs in retention that can be addressed.
2. Personalize Your Onboarding:
Customer onboarding should not be a one-size-fits-all process (unless your product has one primary use case). How can you segment your different customer personas in the onboarding, and provide solutions to new customers as quickly as possible? Related to the point above about the funnels, delivering value to your customers as soon as possible can significantly impact engagement, and therefore retention rates.
3. Segment Your Customer Base:
Not all customers are created equal. Consequently, different segments of users will have different Lifetime Values. So approach retention efforts with a triage mentality of sorts: address the needs of the most valuable customers first, ensure that they have on-boarded and continue to get value from the product before allocating resources to customers with a lower lifetime value.
This segmentation can be based on Plan Type, acquisition source, product, etc. Tagging customers in your CRM or email system is a quick and effective way to create segments.
Head of Customer Success, OWOX BI
- First of all, we’ve integrated a Health Score to measure value and track the dynamics of the Client’s projects. Today the score counts different parameters, including product usage, engagement with the service, Support issues, and the way our Customer Success team communicates with the clients. Every touchpoint is in place, and all functions are run automatically, providing us with the actual lead measures of the client’s churn.
- Secondly, we’ve tried a new way to calculate the Churn Rate itself; we still keep tracking about 4 different sets of churn logic which allows us to see the momentum rate or look at more strategic value. But, the main Churn Rate is now quite simple to calculate, and everyone within the OWOX BI Team can easily understand it and keep top of mind, while performing their daily job tasks.
- Last but not least, we are focusing on our customers and treat them in a very individual way. Working in B2B is still working with people, and so we are trying to be not only a supplier but a partner. This personal treatment of every project is the main value for every member of our fantastic Customer Success Team.
Chief Instigator @ SaaS Academy, danmartell.com Dan is an award-winning angel investor, having invested in 35+ companies like Intercom, Udemy, Hootsuite, Unbounce. Today he’s an executive coach focused exclusively on B2B SaaS working with the founders from ClickFunnels.com, Proposify.com, Carrot.com, and many others to help scale their businesses.
1. Instrument your metrics.
Most SaaS Founders have no clue what cohorts of customers are actually churning and at what rate. They don’t know when they enroll, what plan they’re registering, they just know – as a whole – every month they’re losing revenue. So, the first thing you need to do is make sure you measure those metrics to be able to “slice and dice” your churn.
2. Set up a proper cancellation process.
This isn’t always a popular recommendation, but in the early days, if you truly don’t know why customers are canceling (and not using your product is not a great enough reason), then you need to avoid this narrow where customers can autocancel their subscription. I’m not saying “make it hard for them”, but I am suggesting maybe they email you, so you can at least have that conversation about why, what was missing, how could you make that product better, etc. And over time you take those responses, feed them into the product roadmap and then instrument options they can choose when they self-cancel through your product.
3. Increase your switching costs.
If your product is as easy to switch to as just using another product, then it’s gonna make it really hard for you to retain your customers. You’ve got to start thinking about features that have your users committed to the product, and that could be from a data entry point of view, from a configuration point of view, from workflow – but you need to increase the switching cost to your customers.
Expert in subscription membership retention. Increasing your recurring revenue through membership growth. Husband, dad, triathlete, FSU fan and member herder. Author of the book, ‘Retention Point’
1. “New member on ramp to get members excited about the benefits you are delivering.”
2. “Write all communication about the member, rather than about what you deliver.”
3. “Make your value the feelings you deliver, not the stuff.”
Thanks to all our experts for their generosity with their time and knowledge!
Battling high churn rates may be an ongoing battle but—as you’ve seen—there are plenty of tactics and strategies you can use to win that battle. The important thing is to stop stresing and start taking action.
Whether it’s optimizing your onboarding process or investing in customer education, find the strategy that best suits your situation and give it a try!
One of the best ways to reduce churn is keeping your customers happy, and that all starts with the first email you send them. If you’re reaching out to prospects or responding to inbound leads, Reply makes it easy to automate all your emails, while keeping it personal. Take it for a spin with a 14-day free trial today.