“Learning as much as you can about your customers and delivering the best, most appropriate experience to them is still paramount here”, said Georgiana Laudi, Growth Advisor & Co-founder of Forget The Funnel, on SaaStock’s How-To Series.

Last March, we all saw slowed, inconsistent growth. You were no longer able to rely on, or feel super confident about your existing marketing strategy.

Your existing customers were probably no longer looking for your solution and instead you had new customers coming your way. This called for plenty of learnings and iterations.

To ensure you are ahead of the curve and are adding value to your customers at all times, you should be doing social listening.

You need to make sure you are embedded in the communities where your customers are, where they are talking about their problems and their challenges and learning about what changes might be taking place in the market.

Only then will you be able to think of ways that your solution might actually address these problems that you’ve never really thought it could.

Learn more ways to adapt your marketing from Georgiana. Watch the full video on our YouTube channel. You can also read the full transcript below 👇

Will Brightling

Welcome to SaaStock How To Series, in which we aim to answer questions posed by our community. I’m Will Brightling, VP of sales at SaaStock, which helps companies get traction, grow and scale. And scale through our community, conferences, content. Today I’m joined by Gia Laudi, who is a SaaS marketing expert and growth specialist. She’s also founder of Forget The Funnel. So Gia, the question posed by our community today is how to adapt marketing.

Gia Laudi

How to I adapt marketing. Yes. This question has been popping up a lot lately. My answer has definitely changed since March, because in March it was stop everything, suspend all campaigns and reevaluate everything. But I am going to assume that the majority of people here have already done that and have already done a little bit of evaluating of their current campaigns and programs and have turned off the stuff that isn’t working well. But before I get into the answer, I did want to say thank you for having me. Thanks for having me here.

So to get into it, really the important thing I think that stands out that is still true. It was true in March, it was true in January, it’s always been true. But learning as much as you can about your customers and delivering the best, most appropriate experience to them is still paramount here. The difference is that your customers have very likely changed. So there’s three scenarios that I’ve found most SaaS companies are in. They’re either in total famine mode. So they may be in an industry like in-person events where things had to halt and new strategy is needed. So they’re starting from the ground up. There’s a few industries where that’s happened. Education, when all schools shut down and things like that, those types of industries.

Then there is the total feast, which is like Slacks of the world, the online collaboration software tools that are absolutely drowning in demand and are trying to catch up with that demand and address that demand more effectively and more efficiently. And then there’s the vast majority, every time I’ve run this poll, it’s been usually about anywhere from 65% to 75% of us fall into this middle category of slowed, inconsistent growth and not really being able to rely on, or feel super confident in the current strategy.

So in any one of those scenarios, my answer is the same. Although what you’re looking for and how you’ll lean on, what you learn is a little bit different. But I’ll focus on this slower and inconsistent growth group just because that’s the vast majority. So your customers likely are not looking at you through the same lens. And this is the customers that you’ve always been or, and what is often I’ve seen happening a lot, is that completely new type of customer is coming to you. And if those two things are true, then everything that you’re doing, all the marketing that you’re doing is not going to just perform at the same levels that it was before. And you’re going to need to build a new strategy to adjust and you’re going to probably have to learn and iterate, learn and iterate. And the best way to do that obviously, is to learn from customers and develop a really strong hypothesis about what you could implement and what you could test. And then run those experiments, see what works and then keep going.

So there’s a couple of very low barrier ways because I know when I say, “Customer research.” Everybody’s like, “Yeah. Nobody’s got time for customer research. We got to move yesterday. This is a really urgent thing and I’m never going to get buy in for research.” We hear that all the time. But the type of research I’m talking about is actually really easy and really quick and doesn’t need to be this massive… I’m not talking focus groups and I’m not even necessarily talking in depth interviews with dozens of customers necessarily.

First thing you should be doing is doing some social listening and making sure that you’re embedded in the communities where your customers are, where they’re talking about their problems and their challenges and learning about what might have changed since before everything happened in March. So, what are the differences between what they were saying in January and March? But really starting to listen to March and on, what are power people describing their problems and the challenges they’re now having? And listen to more than just the challenges that you used to look for, look for additional challenges and ways that your solution might actually address things and problems that you’ve never really thought it could. So social listening is probably the first thing you’ll want to do.

The next thing you’re going to want to do is a website survey, which, once you’ve got it up and running, there’s nothing for you to do, there’s no job there. You can go back to what you were doing before and let it run for a little bit, depending on the amount of traffic that you get, obviously. How quickly you get responses will differ. But generally you’re looking for about 25 to 50 responses so that you get enough where you’re feeling confident and you see good patterns emerging, but not so many that you’re spending a bunch of time trying to parse through a bunch of responses. You get to the point of diminishing returns after a certain point. One of the companies that I was working with got enough responses in a day. Other one takes two or three weeks. So it really depends on the traffic and the response rate and your audience to how likely they are to complete surveys versus not.

That survey, really what you’re looking for in that survey is the level of awareness. So is this somebody looking for a solution for the first time? For instance, a company who’s recently gone remote. So are they shopping around, they looking at all of the options and this is the first time? Or are they looking to replace an existing solution? Or are they looking to improve or add on to an existing solution? So finding out that level of awareness is really important because it will help. You can imagine how that will impact the messaging and strategy you would take with your website.

You would also try to find out, of course, how they’re currently solving the problem. Are they solving it the manual way with spreadsheets? Are they using a competing software or are they using some sort of alternative solution? A combination? And then also what are they looking for most in a solution? And this is where you would give them a multiple choice option to choose what is the single most important thing they’re looking for in a solution? And you can imagine that the answers to these questions would give you a lot of fodder for how you should be changing the messaging and strategy on your website, let alone your marketing.

So I would really be focused on adjusting the messaging on your website first and foremost, before going out and running new campaigns. I would even wager that the current campaigns that you have running, you could maybe pause for the moment because if your website is not doing its job, you’re just wasting money. So adjusting strategy on your website is probably the first thing that I would do. And I say that with a massive caveat, because it’s not actually the first thing that you should do. The first thing that you should do is be thinking of a product strategy. But since the question is about marketing in particular, I am focused on that part.

That said, there is also some other really easy research that you can do to learn about how, not only your website could be adjusted, but even potentially your onboarding if that’s something that you’re focused on. If you have a freemium model and you’re running marketing, you might be responsible for the freemium experience for your customers. A lot of marketers are. So if that’s the case, then sending a single email question, and this doesn’t have to be automated or super fancy, but anybody who’s recently signed up for your product, sending them an email saying, “Hey, what led you to sign up today? We know that things have changed in the world for our customers. We’re really looking to learn. If you could tell us what led you to sign up today we’d really appreciate it.”

And then if they answer your email, your single question email. And they answer, and they have a somewhat interesting response or something that you haven’t heard before, then ask them if they’d be willing to get on a call with you and then take it that next step. And if you could do five to 10 of those, you might be very surprised by what you learned. You might see some really clear patterns coming in that you can then let the rest of the team know, “Hey, we’re seeing a lot of these people coming in the front door, so to speak. And they are expecting this when they getting the product. They’re expecting this type of solution.” And that can really help the product team, the sales team, the customer success team.

And then the other group that I would look to learn from is the group of customers who have recently activated in your product. So if they’ve used your product in any sort of meaningful way, they hit that activation point, and that looks different for every customer, or I’m sorry, for every product. But if they’ve recently activated, so they’ve taken that first moment, they’ve hit the aha moment, so to speak, inside of your product, email them what was that moment that you knew this was going to be the right solution for you? And the answer to that question is liquid gold. Similar to the, what led you to sign up question, it will let you in on, what was the difference maker for them? And do I see any patterns there?

So those three places, really four if you’re doing the social listening, will give you so much information and so much ideas or allow you to develop really powerful hypotheses about what might work better for your customers right now that you can influence not only your website and your marketing campaigns, but also your onboarding experience and help you activate customers a little bit better.

And honestly, from there, I would say the biggest challenge that I have seen come out of it, and this is what I will basically end on, is that the biggest challenge is not learning from your customers because that’s relatively easy. I’ve explained, a single email question, a survey on your website, you can get so much good information. Get a couple of customers on a call, obviously. But I have found that once that’s happened and you have learned what customers are looking for now and a solution that would work for them, the biggest challenge tends to be changing the mind of the leadership team or the founding members, which started the company with a very clear and decisive idea about what they were trying to do. And that mindset shift for the leadership team can be very hard.

So bear that in mind, recognize that they are your audience of very few, yes, you are trying to appease the customers, of course. But once you learn from customers and develop a hypothesis that you think is really sound, that’s your next audience, and you really do need to consider how risky it is for the business to change course. For instance, I see a lot of companies wanting to go freemium right now, which is a big business decision. So bear that in mind, remember that your leadership team is the other audience that you need to account for, because it can be a difficult mindset shift for leadership.

Will Brightling

Gia, that was really insightful, loved that. Is there anywhere maybe our listeners could find you if they had any other questions?

Like I mentioned, we’ve tried to address this question in particular with Forget The Funnel over the past couple of months, of course, because we’re hearing all the same questions that you guys are. And we’ve run a couple of live Q&A’s on this topic, a few in a row actually. And one in particular, we got really into the nitty gritty with the questions that you should be asking. And we do have a template basically for an email outreach and even a series of questions that can be asked for interviews. So I could definitely share some of those links with you that will help people basically take this to the next step. And hopefully that would be helpful. I would definitely encourage everybody also to check out Forget The Funnel because we talk about this stuff all the time, obviously. Marketing, growth that’s where our heads are at every single day.

Will Brightling

Amazing. Okay. Thanks a million to you.

Gia Laudi

Okay. Thank you.