Understanding Consumer Behavior: A Deeper Dive into the Software Buying Experience

A customer’s buying experience often influences how a SaaS company improves its solutions to fit its market’s needs. But the value of this experience, along with buyer preferences and expectations, can quickly change over time. Possessing an intuitive understanding of customer purchasing behavior can give you an edge over your competitors and improve the execution of your marketing strategy.

We have seen various emerging trends in consumer behavior in recent years, such as increased reliance on e-commerce platforms to make purchases, stronger relationships between B2B customers and tech vendors, and preferences for more humanized products and services.

In order to maximize the opportunities these trends have presented SaaS business, let’s start by reflecting on some of the following key points:

Customer Data and the Buyer Persona: A Crucial Piece of the Inbound Marketing Puzzle

When it comes to understanding your customer, data is key. Even if you cannot analyze all of the data right now, building a robust customer information database can yield tremendous dividends over time. The data will help ensure your buyer persona is accurate and set the foundation for a well-targeted (and highly successful) campaign. These are some of the key pieces of data you’ll want to track:

  • Buyer demographics: Collect personal information such as age, gender, current location, civil/marital status, annual household income, and family size. Knowing about their personal background enables you to craft a more relevant buyer persona. However, you should also be wary of getting “too personal” in your data collection. While this information can be valuable, collecting it clumsily can generate ill-will with your customers and potentially even a negative headline in the press. Make sure to adhere to relevant best practices in the collection, and secure storage, of your customers’ most sensitive information — you’re just one data breach away from becoming the next cyber-security horror story.
  • Educational background: Find out where they went to school, the course of study they took, and their highest educational attainment. To the extent you can identify specific institutions or regions, this information can help your sales and marketing teams leverage existing connections within those academic communities.
  • Professional background: Your customer’s job title and role — whether they’re consultants, holding a managerial position, or working part-time. Ask about their specific skill sets and whether they are required to meet performance metrics as part of their position — helping your clients meet their numbers, will help you meet yours.
  • Company industry: In which industry does their current company belong, and what type of service do they provide for their clients? Their answers to these questions will help you gain insight into how your business can efficiently penetrate your target market.
  • Company size: Gather information on how many employees your customer’s company has, as well as how much estimated annual revenue they generate, and this will guide you towards the right direction in creating your lead-capture forms.
  • Challenges: What are their specific pain points? How do they want their problems addressed? This is particularly important for SaaS companies to understand because the impact of their solutions may depend on the individual concerns of clients from the top down.
  • Organizational hierarchy: Is your customer a key decision-maker in the company or are they newly onboarded? If they’re the latter, how many people do they consult before making a purchasing decision? Similar to understanding a customer’s performance metrics and challenges, understanding their role within an organization can help you assist them in making the case for a purchase. Lower-level staff will need to justify expenditures to their managers, while executives will need to explain the overall value of their technology decisions to their boards and investors.
  • Shopping preferences: Going back to their personal preferences, determine the online resources your customers often use in researching a product or service. Is it through social media reviews? Forums or blogs? This understanding will help you develop a strategy to boost your visibility on the platforms that your targets frequently utilize.

The points above are just some of the topics you should consider when identifying your target audience and building an effective campaign around their behavior and individual preferences. Now, let’s further get into the mind of a customer and take a look at their primary motivations for buying SaaS products.

Mapping How Businesses Buy Software

B2B buying is at a turning point and is expected to grow significantly in the near future. In a report by enterprise software application provider SAP, 49% of respondents said  their main reason for shifting to digital buying is imminent cloud migration. More importantly, the customer experience continues to be shaped by the speed, efficiency, and transparency that software solutions provide.

With this in mind, here are the factors that have a significant impact on the software-buying experience:

  1. The SaaS model helped the software industry to shape customer experience.

The emergence of SaaS positively affected the way marketing and sales teams operate and boosted customer experience in more ways than one. The software industry as a whole has adopted strategies from SaaS as it flourished, such as the introduction of new pricing models and providing high-quality customer support on-demand.

  1. Information can now be accessed in real-time.

Now that customers rely heavily on reviews and information found through search engines and social networks to evaluate a SaaS product, there has also been a shift in the way vendors and buyers interact. They can communicate in real-time without delays — it’s a win for both parties as the customer gets the information they need, while the vendor is one step closer to closing a deal. The expectation for seamless communication is likely to grow, and proper planning and investment should be made to match increasingly high customer expectations.

In a past session with us for last year’s Ascent Conference, Jeremey Donovan, head of sales strategy and sales operations at SalesLoft, reiterated the importance of using multiple touches across multiple solutions to engage potential buyers. “If you are prospecting, make sure you use phone, email and social [media],” Donovan suggests.

  1. Customer expectations have reached a whole new level.

B2B software customers expect only the best experience when buying software — full stop. At the rapid rate at which the SaaS space develops, SaaS companies must be able to adapt at pace and truly understand how their customers define their buying decisions. And in an era where customers are completing their purchases while barely interacting with the vendor (as a result of free trials), how can companies meet these growing expectations?

Does it stop at free-trial signups? No, it doesn’t. While an easily accessible free-trial signup page would draw potential buyers in, that doesn’t necessarily make your actual service easy to use. Again, software buyers are discerning now more than ever, so make sure to address any setup or configuration issues your software may have so as not to increase your churn rate.

Final Thoughts

Understanding consumer behavior and the factors that influence it is vital in attracting and retaining long-term customers. Doing so also steers you in the right direction and helps you ensure that even as you experience exponential growth, you don’t drift from what’s really important giving the best value to your customers. 

Interested to learn more about understanding buyer behavior? Register today for our 2021 Ascent Conference happening on October 6-8, and gather insights straight from the best thought leaders in SaaS.

 

Photograph by Crablinks Interactive via Unsplash.

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