SaaS Tattler Issue 54

August 14, 2015 Paul Philp

Issue 54 – Customer Success Meets Growth Hacking

The SaaS 2.0 Tattler is a hand-curated newsletter compiled weekly to bring you interesting insights on the SaaS and customer success industry. If you enjoy what you read here, please consider forwarding it to others. New reader? Subscribe.

Over the past couple of years, the SaaS business model has given rise to two entirely new roles. The first, Customer Success, specializes at the bottom of the revenue funnel. The second, Growth Hacker, specializes at the top of the funnel. I have written frequently about the customer success role in the past, so I thought we could explore the SaaS growth hacker role this week.


Growth Hacker is the new VP of Marketing

Andrew Chen popularized the term Growth Hacker in his famous post,Growth Hacker is the new VP of Marketing.

The new job title of “Growth Hacker” is integrating itself into Silicon Valley’s culture, emphasizing that coding and technical chops are now an essential part of being a great marketer. Growth hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional question of “How do I get customers for my product?” and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph. On top of this, they layer the discipline of direct marketing, with its emphasis on quantitative measurement, scenario modeling via spreadsheets, and a lot of database queries. If a startup is pre-product/market fit, growth hackers can make sure virality is embedded at the core of a product. After product/market fit, they can help run up the score on what’s already working.


How 9 SaaS Companies Hacked Their Growth

Growth hacking is now a core element of most SaaS businesses’ go-to-market strategy. KissMetrics has a great overview of How 9 SaaS Companies Hacked Their Growth.

3. Piggyback on free marketing platforms.

Who did it? Airbnb.

Airbnb wanted to sell a product that Craigslist also sold — vacation homes and rentals.

How can you compete with something as massive as Craigslist?

There’s an expression “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” So, Airbnb growth hacked their way into Craigslist, using the massive platform’s huge reach to expand their own reach.

When a user added a listing to Airbnb, they were prompted to add the listing to Craigslist, too. Of course, this required a bit of coding ninja skills. (Craigslist doesn’t have an API.) But Airbnb did it, and jumped on a mega platform to boost their growth.

They couldn’t beat Craigslist, but they could use Craigslist to their advantage. So they did.


Lessons in SaaS Startup Marketing from Hubspot

Hubspot was one of the early pioneers of Growth Hacking with it’s iconic ‘Blog Grader’ tool. Brian Balfour runs Hubspot’s growth hacking operations today. He recently gave an Ask Me Anything session to share his lessons learned and best practices.

Another helpful way to think about this concept is through the two speeds of modern marketing, a concept first coined by Gartner’s Jake Sorofman. In this framework, we can think about speed-one marketing as the product/brand-focused, direct-response techniques that are targeted toward a shorter sales cycle. Speed-two marketing becomes most effective over longer sales cycles, where leads experience more nurturing before purchase.

This can be visualized by bucketing a B2B sale into three distinct groups: a short sales cycle, an extended sales cycle and a delayed sales cycle. We can see, direct-response/speed-one marketing tactics excel over the short cycle, while speed-two techniques become increasingly effective over extended and delayed cycles.


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Retentioneering is the new Growth Hacking

What do you get when you cross customer success and growthhacking?Retentioneering!

Retentioneers bring an entirely new discipline to growth teams. They are more important than growth hackers — because who cares how many people you can bring in if you can’t retain them. They understand activation and retention, and talk about churn so much they actually churn butter. Drip campaigns are their favorites, only topped by a perfectly timed push notification.

A growth team without a retentioneer is just a leaky bucket. So go out and hire your retentioneers today!


Interesting SaaS Tools for Growth Hacking

ChartMogul – SaaS Analytics for Stripe, Recurly and Chargify

Popcorn Metrics – Visual setup for user event tracking

Positionly –  Inbound Marketing Tools

Norbert – Find Anyone’s Email

Pitchbox – Influencer Outreach and Content Marketing Platform


Additional Reading

Companies will not be successful unless their customers are successful. Customers don’t buy products and services just because they are cool but because they functionally help them get things done better than the alternatives. Looks like Customer Success is Not Just for Farmers Anymore.

Despite the advantages that come with SaaS adoption, a good number of organizations still find resistance. Omri Erel offers a few solutions to tackle SaaS Adoption Challenges Facing SaaS Vendors (and their Customers).

Have you ever found yourself asking “How do I build a billion-dollar business?” Tien Tzuo details how he answered that question in The Climb: How to Build A Billion Dollar Run Rate.

Does churn keep you up at night? Our 10 Tactics to Quickly Reduce Churn white paper offers insights, tips and guidance that can be easily put into action.


If you enjoy what you read here, please consider forwarding it to others. New reader? Subscribe.

Want something added to the SaaS 2.0 Tattler? Let us know! And let us know your take on the SaaS 2.0 Tattler in general. We’d love your feedback.


#SaaS Tattler - #CustomerSuccess meets #GrowthHacking w/ articles by @andrewchen @Kissmetrics and more!
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