The world of SaaS is quite a unique place.
It is a special setting where technology meets art and where smart meets creativity. Together they drive innovation and help take businesses to new heights, but there is a dilemma. The final product of SaaS brand’s efforts is software. And the thing about tech is that although it often enables us to stay connected, there is a certain feeling of detachment to it. Therefore, it is easy to forget that behind every digital transaction, feature, and layout there are humans who make it all happen.
What’s interesting is that once people do recognize the humanity behind those screens, their perspective changes. Once the human factor comes into consideration, SaaS customers are often more likely to invest in certain products and services. They feel closer, more in touch with the companies that create these digital products. Truth is, there is power in human interactions in SaaS space. Why? Because humanity does wonders for business. Because customers crave it and respond to it.
According to a Business Wire report on networking interactions of marketing, sales, and customer services, 83 percent of U.S. consumers prefer connecting with humans over digital channels to resolve customer service issues.
Smile, You’re on Camera – Show the Faces Behind a SaaS Brand
The first and best way to show your customers that there are people behind a SaaS brand is, well, to show them. The marketing strategist John Hayes, says, “people buy from people they like.” Be there for your customer authentically, with your genuine personality and humanity. If you do, you’re well on your way to build a SaaS brand that is personable and relatable.
As for specific tactics for this strategy, Hayes offers tips such as showing faces on the websites instead of hiding behind corporate logos, personalizing emails using team headshots, networking in real life with fellow professionals and customers, and engaging with audiences on social media.
One great example of showing the faces behind a SaaS brand is the website of marketing software developer, Wistia. The page features photos of the team, the brand story, and detailed bios of the founders. The casual language of the website also prompts visitors to relate and connect with the brand.
Captivate with Words – Use the Magic of Storytelling
Some things are inherently human, and storytelling is one of them. This is why, whenever we hear someone telling a story, we immediately tune in (yes, eavesdropping is rude, but can you help it if the story is good?). It is why we love books and movies and why we remember commercials. After all, commercials are mini-stories for a more targeted demographic.
So it’s only natural that the tradition of storytelling has a place in the business world. If you have a captivating story, people will listen. Customer experience expert, Annette Franz, believes that stories are both great communication and a teaching tool. They engage audiences and inspire them. People connect with them, remember them and connect to the messages the tale brings forward.
As a SaaS brand, a company can tell a wide variety of stories.
This is US: The Brand Story
There are two ways to look at a brand story.
The first one is the history behind the conception of a brand. What inspired the beginning of a particular SaaS journey can pique customers’ interest. Have you ever found yourself reading the back of a tavern menu because it tells the history of the place? Or have ever you felt fascinated by the humble garage beginnings of now large conglomerates such as Apple and Facebook? Humans love learning about simple people like ourselves. The SaaS world is full of them, so it’s important to get the word out.
I want to tell you a story about the time I almost got kidnapped in the trunk of a red Mazda Miata. – Joe Gebbia
Interested yet? The quote above is the beginning of the story of Airbnb – Joe Gebbia, the co-founder of Airbnb, tells in his Ted talk about designing a brand for trust. It’s a great example of a brand story told right.
The second way for successful brand storytelling is essential, perhaps even more so than that of the brand’s ascension to success. It is about how the business is making a difference with its products and services. This type of storytelling comes with many names. Some call it customer success stories, while others go with the term “product-led storytelling”. Whatever the name, the idea is to highlight how a SaaS product makes a difference to the customer experience.
Here, AirBnB shines again. In 2013, the company reintroduced its brand story to focus on the feeling of home and the sense of community. As Matt Clemet from Nxtbook put it:
Airbnb knew they had to stop telling the story of a tech company, and start telling the story of a hospitality company – a hospitality company that encourages guests to, as the company themselves describe, travel ‘through the eyes of a local.
In November 2016, Airbnb’s focus on authenticity, eyes of a local, travel experiences became a full-fledged reality when they launched an “Experiences” feature on their app. Experiences allow hosts to offer tours, hands-on events, and other curated experiences to their guests.”
While AirBnB’s specific services aim to support their brand story message, A SaaS brand can also show the impact it is making, by sharing customer success stories that focus on specific problems customers face.
Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About: Customer Led Storytelling
Telling your and your customers’ stories in unique and creative ways is important. But there is nothing better than customer-led stories. Customers that talk about your business will attract more customers. According to Nielsen’s, a consumer report agency, 92% of consumers trust recommendations of someone they know over other means.
To encourage customer-led storytelling, providing unique, personal, and memorable service is, of course, the first priority. Other tactics include setting up a platform for feedback and reviews, staying connected and engaged with customers, collecting their personal stories and testimonials, and sharing it with the world. Once again, AirBnB does all of the above with its community stories page.
Get Social – Stress Online Presence
Speaking of communities, don’t forget about the place to be in 2021: social media. Various social media platforms are today’s equivalent of the town square. And let’s face it, if you don’t show up and shake some hands there, you might be left behind by the train of human connections. Staying current and active on social media, engaging with audiences, and providing value beyond the product your SaaS company is marketing can do wonders for brand recognition and lead generation.
The project management company, Trello, is a great example of a solid social media strategy. The SaaS brand gets bonus points, too, as it also incorporates storytelling into its social media campaign #WhereIsTrello. The idea is simple: Trello encourages users to tweet photos of their daily use of the software with a hashtag, bringing together its global community for a big “sharing and relating” party. What can be more human than that?
— Will Saunders 🌱 A better world, by design (@GoodWillStudios) September 13, 2018
A Little Party Never Hurt Anyone – Celebrate Together with Customers
When a new brick-and-mortar business opens, there is often a party. A classy open house with appetizers, or a grand opening celebration with balloons, whatever it is, the spirit of celebration always brings people together. So it seems unfair that the SaaS folks are missing out on the party action. One SaaS company agreed, and threw a party anyway, using it to promote the platform it marketed.
To introduce their services to the college population, Tinder hired dedicated campus reps. The representatives, tasked with organizing college parties, were inviting people and encouraging them to meet the specific requirements for entry. The guests had to download the app or find a date on Tinder, and bring it to the party. The strategy proved effective, as the app eventually went viral.
Is throwing a party not a viable option? Find other ways to celebrate and playfully engage with your audiences – offer an online game or host a competition. Gamification is an important factor when it comes to audience interactions. And, of course, everybody loves to play.
Can You Hear Me Now? – Communicate Like a Human
Business communications get a bit too formal sometimes. When we are not face to face, it’s easy to forget we’re talking to a human. So it’s important to keep communications personal and casual. This is especially true when it comes to digital transactions with virtually no in-person interactions.
Bringing humanity into digital SaaS communication will make your SaaS brand more memorable. It will help customers relate to you. And it will allow you to build strong relationships with clients. That, in turn, will result in repeat business, referrals, and higher revenues.
There are various ways to make connections through effective communication. Empathizing with customers, using interactive and intuitive technology, using the right tone, being honest and transparent, using humor, and, most importantly, listening to customers, can all bring them closer to your brand.
Customers are humans (surprise, surprise!); and if a brand wants to connect with its customers they must show humanity in their customer interactions. From open communications to celebrating and storytelling, utilizing the above tactics has helped many SaaS companies to show their humanity to the world and reveal the people behind the screens.