How to Transform Early SaaS Adopters into Advocates

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The catch-22 dilemma is one of the most difficult issues to solve in the early stages of a company.

You’re finding it difficult to acquire clients since you don’t have proof your SaaS product works. And you can’t measure your product’s capability since you need clients to provide feedback.

Luckily for SaaS founders, there is a solution: early adopters.

In the SaaS industry, an early adopter is someone willing to use your service at its infancy stage.

Pew Research reports that 28% of the US population considers themselves to be early adopters of technology. Thus, including early adopters in your funnel might benefit you in ways other than visibility. They can also help you improve your bottom line.

Early adopters are your primary data source and could become your most loyal clients. Hence, it is critical that you go above and beyond to please them.


Your Early Adopters


Remember this: customers don’t buy stuff. They buy solutions.

Early adopters are market leaders that understand the technological landscape in and out of their organization. They also have a better risk tolerance and an ability to see the possibilities of new technologies than the majority of their peers.

They may not always have money or be your consumers, but they can help you get your product in front of the right people.

Also, early adopters often have a problem and need a solution to remedy it.

Those are the first to target. They’re already looking for a solution. And thus, they’re more than willing to test out a new product from a SaaS startup.

But how would you ensure you can deliver your target audience’s desired result? Well, you need to start with a product-market fit.

Following the formation of your hypothesis about your target customers, the next stage is to understand their requirements. You want to find the precise needs that match a good market opportunity as you try to provide value for clients.

For example, you generally don’t want to enter a market if customers are exceedingly satisfied with the existing solutions’ ability to suit their needs.

When creating a new product or improving an existing one, you want to meet client wants that aren’t being satisfied adequately. Their “underserved” needs.

After that, it’ll be relatively easier to find clients who may be interested to try your solution. And once they see the value you offer, they might go out of their way to tell their professional peers about your amazing solution.

With enough time, you’ll slowly build your early majority. But don’t think for a second your task is complete. Far from it.

In fact, you’re just at the early stage.

Your goal is to transform these early adopters into customer advocates who will spread your product via word of mouth. And we all know how powerful that marketing aspect is.


Customer Advocates


You may be convinced that your product is the next best thing. But how can you be sure potential customers would agree? How do you ensure wildfire brand awareness?

Customer advocacy holds the key.

Customer advocates are your SaaS company’s cheerleaders. They are loyal consumers who will praise your SaaS company to anybody who would listen.

A Harvard Business School research found that a 12% boost in customer advocacy can yield 200% growth in revenue for companies.

What do they do? Advocates in SaaS are like walking billboards for your company’s message.
Advocate marketing initiatives boost lead generation, conversions, and revenues. And best of all, It’s free.

Customer advocacy is critical to hyper-growth. But advocacy isn’t automatic. You have to work for it.

Your first step is to find these potential advocates, then nurture them. Add value to their life to increase the chances of product adoption.

It goes without saying that client satisfaction and retention are critical for any SaaS company. Both these elements play an integral role in lowering customer acquisition costs (CAC).

No wonder, more than six out of ten firms are prepared to spend money on products and services that improve client satisfaction.

With so much choice nowadays, consumers rely more on word of mouth and peer referrals. So use this marketing channel to amplify your voice through a customer advocacy program.

Once you have a program in place, ask your advocates for referrals. Request them to write reviews on review sites or post social media queries. Invite them to speaking engagements or participate in case studies.

You must establish an environment that benefits your advocate. A $10 referral or points for using your platform are good examples.

The best way to encourage your advocates is to respond to their needs. That way, you’re signaling to them that they are heard and recognized.

Salesforce is a great example of a firm nurturing its advocates.

They used to run a campaign that can turn early adopters into strong evangelists. They would put them on stage and help them gain peer recognition, advancing their careers.

It was a win-win for both, and that’s how you build advocates. Salesforce grew largely due to customer advocacy.


Turning early adopters into advocates


Scalability is critical in SaaS. No scalability means no new clients. If your consumer base stagnates, you’ll be overtaken.

The task of converting early adopters into consumer advocates might be intimidating. But there are tips to help you get started.

Here are 10 tips to turn early adopters into advocates:


1. Find your advocates


To find advocates for your SaaS, start with the audiences you already have.

Begin by understanding your audience as they will be your biggest champions. This helps you create messaging that engages and resonates with people.

The best way to do so is through segmentation using market and SaaS sales research data.

After you’ve segmented your audience and identified your target advocates, dive further. There may be other information that could help you understand them.

Below are some methods in finding dream advocates in SaaS:

  • Focus on clients who mention your brand on social media. Follow the discussion thread generated by this content.
  • Inspect images taken with your brand in them.
  • Examine your product reviews. Take note of the customers who go out of their way to leave nice feedback or high ratings.
  • Analyze sales in SaaS statistics to identify active clients.
  • Examine your workforce for advocates. Who could possibly better promote your brand than your own staff? Employee advocates know your brand and the value it provides.


2. Check in Always


Your early adopters’ product will have a lot of bugs. While this is understandable given your initial product is still at its infancy stage, it may still annoy your early adopters.

To improve your product and its features, contact your early test clients and ask for feedback. Ask what isn’t functioning and the features that might help resolve their pain points.

Doing so will help in building their loyalty as they’ll feel their voices are heard. And as a result, they’re more than willing to give you more feedback that would further improve your SaaS product.


3. Establish a personal connection


As mentioned above, if you treat early adopters well, they will be your most loyal customers. Hence, constantly find new approaches to engage your early adopters.

Organizing customer team-building events is one such method. Most startups are so focused on other elements that they miss nurturing early adopter relationships.

After all, they’ve already made money out of these people. Surely the next step is to acquire more clients, right?

Wrong. Failing to nurture your relationship with your early adopters will yield to churn. As a result, you’ll end up losing your customer base to the competition.

To compete with rivals who use flashy and cheap prices, reverse the customer/seller roles.

To do so, you need to identify your early adopters’ certain pain points first. Then find out how your product or service could help overcome them. Your customer will likely stick with you for a long time when they feel that you are concerned with their needs.

And don’t worry if you don’t have any clients right away. SaaS entrepreneurs are sometimes discouraged when they discover that their competitors have a big market share.

But there are ways to turn this disadvantage into a competitive advantage. Making sure you help your early adopters outside of your product is one.

For example, you may promote their upcoming event on your social media at no extra cost. Or you could join their brainstorming session and contribute ideas.

Note though that maintaining this level of connection with all your customers will become difficult as you grow.

But in the end, you’d rather have a few loyal clients who stick with you through good times and bad than an enormous number of customers who quit at the slightest inconvenience.


3. Have a face-to-face meeting


Get off your desk. Attend conferences and trade shows to meet early adopters. You don’t need a fancy display to learn about early adopters’ demands and how they respond to new items.

You must engage closely with early adopters once you have them on your side. In an ideal world, you’d meet with them face to face to receive their input on how they use the product and what new features they’d want to see.

Meeting them in person is vital since you’ll be able to watch how they use the product firsthand, which is difficult to convey over the phone.


4. Give them something they can immediately use


Early adopters are ready to work with your product. They want something actionable.

Consider offering a discount or other incentives to entice them to test out the solution.

Early adopters bring in revenue, but they also provide valuable input. Use it to improve and expand your product’s market.


5. Optimize the product experience for important user personas


In a recent consumer study, over 2200 enterprise buyers said user experience is as essential as a product or service. About 83% would pay more for a wonderful experience. Another 77% would use artificial intelligence to enhance it.

With this in mind, SaaS companies should strive to deliver customized experiences based on customer choices and product usage trends.

Map the end-to-end journey of your customers. Then refine your primary target personas’ experience, from initial contact to purchase, usage, advocacy, and upgrade (or churn).

Building for strategic personas is crucial in SaaS because it stresses user-centricity.


6. Manage customer expectations


Every consumer has slightly different wants and expectations from your product as you go up. So, how can you maintain a high level of client satisfaction?

Throughout the customer journey, you must be upfront and set expectations.

Begin with your ideal customer profile (ICP). Ensure that your product and service offerings are diverse enough to fulfill their needs. You must set realistic goals.

Identifying your ICP, successful customers, and how to promote and sell to them might help you solve the consistency issue. Encourage your sales team to discover suitable consumers based on market trends.

The sales team must also set expectations for post-sale follow-up.

Your customers don’t want surprises. Thus, describe the consumer journey upfront. Be honest about how much a certain feature will cost. Even if this makes you appear more costly than the competitors in the near term. While this may result in a higher churn rate, adhering to your ideals is worth the risk. Customers will trust you if you deliver on your promise.

Nonetheless, not all customers are equal. So, you must produce diverse products. Most SaaS products today come with “good,” “better,” and “best” features and capabilities. Setting expectations with your service-level experience is similar. If someone signed up for the “good” features and wants the “best,” discuss what the latter looks like and how much it costs.

Finally, consider consumer satisfaction. Choose your preferred metric to measure customer satisfaction. It could be customer satisfaction (CSAT), retention, net promoter score (NPS), or something else. Customers can both buy your goods and advise you how to keep them coming back if you listen to them. When it comes to innovating and growing your business, figuring out what’s going right and wrong during the customer experience is crucial.


7. Promote customer-centric DNA


All hyper-growth companies are obsessed with their customers. A company’s founders must be deeply committed to customer-centricity. The founding team must set the tone for your customer satisfaction ideals.

What’s your north star? How will you run the company with a customer-centric approach?

Most successful hyper-growth companies are built this way from the start. Many companies have achieved hyper-growth by focusing on their customers’ demands. Adapting to their changing preferences, and empowering them also helped.

Establish a customer-centric team early on. This ensures that your customers’ voice is constantly heard.

Toast, a firm that helps restaurants scale, provides restaurant empathy training. This has brought customers to fireside conversations for the entire organization to hear.

A customer-centric DNA is about training, empathy, and bringing customers to the table. You’re telling the firm you care about their experience and want to pull them in.


8. Referral programs


Using referral programs to inspire brand loyalty among existing customers also helps in promoting your brand to new clients.

Begin by asking your customers for comments on your product. Entice them with your referral program’s potential incentives.

You can reward advocates who successfully suggest your brand to their network. Remember to train your team to get customers to become advocates.


9. Drive leads using live chat


Chatbots may perform well when you ask queries that can be easily retrieved from a database. For example, they can quickly answer questions like “What are your pricing plans?” or “How much is my current bill?”

However, they may struggle to grasp and respond to difficult queries. This is where live chat integration comes into play. The addition of a live agent or a human touch could make the process of addressing such queries much easier.

Live chat integration entails upgrading your chatbot system to accommodate live chat help from a human operator. This might happen when the chatbot’s functionality has reached its limit, when the user has been identified as a hot lead who requires a personal touch in order to convert more successfully, or when the client just wants to interact with a human.

To a large part, you can determine the relative strength of AI-based chatbots through its access to training data. The richness of the source content and the accuracy of chatbot replies are, as one might expect, directly related. Certain chatbots can even respond to inquiries based on the context of past discussions.


10. Prepare for future features


As the market and people’s demand change, a successful Saas solution requires new features and improvements. Keeping that in mind is vital to ensure your revenue stream remains stable.

So, how do you get ready for upcoming features?

First, develop your SaaS product with the understanding that it will need to be upgraded and expanded over time. If you let it sit idle, you will lose the power it provides.

Secondly, ensure that your SaaS platform is highly adaptable and that it can be readily integrated and synced with other systems. This will make it easier for any potential third-party developers to incorporate your SaaS product into their own platforms.

Lastly, go through consumer input, identify the most difficult issues, and address them thoroughly. Solving the most challenging problem will not only provide the greatest value to clients, but it will also make it harder for rivals to replace you.


The Value of a Customer Advocate


Turning satisfied early adopters into your customer advocates is a certain method to boost recurring income and customer lifetime value. When customers have a positive experience with your brand, it makes them happy.

Customer advocacy marketing, as opposed to traditional product marketing, enhances the probability of someone buying your solution.

Customers that are happy with your solutions become your best customer advocates because they can influence others through their social networks. They also make it a point to spread the word about their excellent experiences through videos, articles, and other social media channels. This increases consumer retention while attracting new ones.

We hope the tips mentioned above help you create your customer advocacy marketing plan. For more tips about growing your SaaS business, visit our blog today and let us help.


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Ken Moo