5 Creative Ways Cloud Software Companies Can Market Throughout The Customer Lifecycle

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Posted: June 26, 2013 | Lifecycle Marketing

Cloud technology has revolutionized the way we develop, deploy, and buy software. As a result, consumers and businesses alike have revised their expectations of software providers and demand a different customer experience- calling for significant changes in R&D, but also in Sales and Marketing.  As tech marketers, the Cloud presents us with the opportunity to take our customer relationships to a new level and better understand and respond to their experiences as they interact with our software and people.

Marketers who are willing to step up their game will embrace Cloud and engage in strategies like those below to transform the customer experience.

1. Engage throughout the customer lifecycle

In the Cloud world, marketing cannot cease…or even slow down following the deal-close. Due to the subscription-based nature of Cloud software contracts, Marketing needs to have a longer term and continuous view on engaging the customer relationship. Instead of a linear buyer’s journey, the Cloud necessitates a cyclical journey with customer retention and upsell as the primary drivers. As a result, it is important that Cloud marketers work to determine new ways to reach their customers, both in-application and through other (potentially even non-traditional) channels.

Cloud Game Changer: Build new marketing programs targeting customer retention via subscription renewal and contract expansion.  Consider every transaction an opportunity for interaction.

2. Trigger offers based on product usage

Product usage data presents infinite opportunities for marketing in-product (e.g. upcoming customer events, user groups, training) and via email/mobile offers and communication to users that are timely and relevant.  This type of marketing also tells you when a customer is not using your product, so when you notice that there has been a decline in usage you can reach out to the customer and target them in your software application.

Cloud Game Changer:  Customize your marketing emails with account specific usage data. This shows your customers that you are paying attention to their habits and understand their business case.

3. Integrate offers into your software trial

“Thanks for the demo but I’d like to drive.” Instant gratification has become ubiquitous in a society driven by on-demand software, TV, information etc. The self-service trial is, therefore, a powerful differentiator for Cloud software as customers can immediately take it for a test drive. With that said, Marketers would be remiss not to view the free trial as an opportunity for meaningful engagement during the trial period and follow-up offers.

Cloud Game Changer: Offer support to qualified prospects based on usage data (or lack thereof) during the trial period. Perhaps they need a 30 minute phone chat or online training session to get them started.  

4.  Aggregate user data for the ultimate customer insight

Traditional software is a black box when it comes to gathering data on customer usage and accessibility. Having access to the customer’s systems might be a challenge. Multi-tenant Cloud software enables you to have an individual or aggregate view on the user experience.  Ensure customer privacy by anonymizing and  aggregating data.

Cloud Game Changer: Unearth business development and product development opportunities by analyzing trends in user data across your entire customer base.

5.  Embrace operational transparency

“Downtime” is a word often dreaded and feared by cloud service providers as customer satisfaction and future sales are highly dependent on maintaining uptime and consistently meeting Services Level Agreements (SLAs).  Many cloud service providers see this as a chance to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and establish trust and credibility with their customers. There are many companies that are committed to Operational Translucency and publicly share their status and history.

Cloud Game Changer: Publish a “trust” page for your cloud solution and make it publicly available and leverage it as part of your marketing and sales arsenal.

Are you a marketer in the Cloud technology space? What other techniques are you using to reach customers throughout their entire lifecycle?

Related Resources

Celia Brown is Director of Customer Experience Marketing at SAP. Before SAP she led demand generation and customer success programs for Boomi, a cloud computing company recently acquired by Dell. Celia received her Bachelor's Degree in Organizational Psychology from the University of Michigan and a Master's Degree from George Washington University.

Read Celia's Blogs

Marketers who embrace the Cloud will better understand and respond to customer experiences @celiabrown

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