For those of you who may not be familiar with the concept of lifecycle marketing, I like to define it as sending the right message to the right person at the right time.
Tom Tunguz noted in this post, featuring Bill Macaitis, "The typical enterprise customer will have 10-30 interactions with a company before buying software. And because of upsell and cross-sell after the sale, more than half of the customer’s revenue potential occurs after the customer starts to pay." It is clearly critical that SaaS companies effectively market to both prospects and customers across this entire lifecycle.
However this is a difficult proposition, and to do it effectively marketers must understand the two speeds of modern marketing. This concept was coined by Jake Sorofman of Gartner to define the modern marketing landscape. In today's post, we're going to discuss how this concept can (and should) be applied to SaaS businesses.
The two speeds of lifecycle marketing
The first speed, "speed one," refers to time-sensitive campaigns capitalizing on social trends and new-product-feature announcements, and are ultimately geared towards driving the most qualified traffic through the funnel as quickly as possible. In the SaaS environment this can be best understood as a free trial or demo campaign to a highly qualified lead.
The second speed, "speed two," is a broader content strategy that will help attract and convert leads that are not yet ready to buy or enter into a trial. This type of marketing helps to fill your funnel with leads that are not as ready to buy, are still in the awareness or consideration phases and can be nurtured with engaging content.
As Sorofman noted, these two speeds have the power to amplify each other. But when used incorrectly they can cause diffusion and become less effective, just like two gears working in tandem.
So what does this mean for SaaS businesses?
SaaS marketers must understand that not every prospect is ready to enter into a free trial or request a demo and that to target the majority of your efforts around this would be a mistake. Instead, consider the entire lifecycle of the customer and enable yourself to be successful over short, delayed and extended sales cycles.
Think of it this way, in a traditional marketing and sales model that overemphasizes "speed one" marketing alone, leads will drop off over time, which may look like this:
However, in an effective lifecycle-marketing model, amplifying your marketing efforts between "speed one" and "speed two" allows you to capture revenue from leads that may have dropped off over the same delayed or extended sales cycles. This model may look like this:
Better yet, we can then illustrate the role of both "speed one" and "speed two" marketing in conjunction with sales over the course of the buyers' journey in this graphic:
Incorporating both speeds into your lifecycle marketing
What makes this type of marketing possible is the realization that not all visits, leads or even customers are created equal, and you have to listen to their behavior to know how to bucket them into "speed one" or "speed two," or even to identify ongoing upsell opportunities. Marketing automation and customer-success tools such as HubSpot, Gainsight or Intercom.io can all help you do this.
Here are three example scenarios where you can incorporate the principles of two-speed marketing:
Lead to MQL: "Speed two" marketing tactics are ideal for nurturing a buyer from a lead to a marketing- or sales-qualified lead. The decentralized and content-heavy nature of "speed two" campaigns are ideal to engage contacts over an extended sales cycle. Then, by analyzing their digital body language (viewing a pricing page multiple times, or using a pricing calculator) you can shift those contacts into a "speed one" nurture stream, encouraging them to sign up for a free trial.
Free Trial: With a clearly defined beginning and ending, a free-trial campaign is an ideal time for a "speed one" focused campaign that can be centered around the key features of your product and how it can help solve the pain points of the prospect. By analyzing common conversion activities and information gathered earlier in the buyers' journey (perhaps from your "speed two" efforts) you can then tailor the "speed one" messaging to the unique needs of your persona to drive higher conversion rates.
Customer Upsell: When a lead converts to be a paid customer, continually nurture them until they indicate they are ready to upgrade, then fire up the "speed one" upsell campaign.
Returning to Macaitis's points mentioned earlier, at Zendesk he recalled how they were able to market to customers using highly targeted product messaging and education around the solution that feature solved ("speed two"). Then once a similar feature was released, give the user free access to that related feature for a certain amount of time ("speed one").
At the end of the day, winning lifecycle-marketing strategies will be those that provide your leads and customers with the information they need, when they need it. By understanding the core principles and messaging behind these two speeds of marketing—and combining that with digital body language and product usage information—you can be sure that you're delivering prospects the messaging they need.