Came across a tweet this morning that led to an interesting and informative opinion post by Treb Ryan of OpSource titled Meet "Generation SaaS" (thank you @jasonaverbook). The post talks about the fact that the younger generations have grown up "wired" – i.e., grown up with the Internet and all the cool functionality it brings.
According to Ryan, "Users go online to manage their fantasy football teams, use Weight Watchers software, purchase music and so on – they expect a similar level of functionality from their enterprise SaaS apps, including the following":
- Multitenancy – Vendors must offer the ability to have all users work on a single version of an application. Users simply can't share data if there are different applications running – it makes a challenging situation much more challenging. It stuns me that many vendors are trying to offer SaaS apps without multitenancy.
- Integrate-ability - Multitenancy also enables vendors to integrate applications through standard Web interfaces. Users want to create SOAP, RISC and other interfaces to facilitate integrated programming. This integration capability also allows channel partners to better customize products for a user's particular needs.
- Independent Trial & Purchase - Users must be able to visit a vendor's site, download an application and install it without assistance from anyone at the vendor. The SaaS Generation wants to download, test and evaluate a proof-of-concept immediately.
- Online Sales & Marketing – The cost of sales is one of the biggest costs of any software business model. Generation SaaS doesn't appreciate salespeople or a drawn-out sales process. Online marketing focuses on attracting attention and qualifying prospects who have downloaded free trials – not massive campaigns to build reach.
- New Media - As recently as five years ago, we spent a good deal of time courting the print media. Today, we focus on 6 or 7 key bloggers in our space because we find most of our customers are getting their information from these outlets. As times change, it is important to stay in touch with the online communication options that matter most to Generation SaaS buyers and users.
- Online Meetings – Face-to-face interaction is still important to Generation SaaS workers. Our company still runs one major conference a year but holds the remainder of our user events online in the form of twice-monthly Webinars. Attendance at these events is increasing as users find it harder and more expensive to travel.
Although I'll have to place "Integrate-ability" in the jargon bucket, since "integrability" is the better world, this is a very important list for HR software suppliers large and small (and there are a lot more small to mid-market on-demand delivery players out there than you think there are).
And of course what really struck me were the "online sales & marketing" and "new media" bullets. I'm not so sure about free trials (they've been a mixed bag for us), but you could give out comp accounts to key influencers and let them chat it up. Start using social media marketing, content and networking to spread the word without force feeding prospects (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, search-optimized press releases, blogging, webcasts, podcasts, white papers, research reports and so many more). Let your prospects and customers do the talking, but make sure you participate in that conversation – good and bad.
Courting key bloggers and other social media influencers is critical today. To be found online you need to participate online more than any other traditional marketing/PR activity (return on cost alone should be reason enough). Our latest vendor HR marketing report validates that practice for the third year in a row.
We recommend that you follow the integrability of online marketing and PR:
- Get your house SEO (website) in order first (sadly so many HR suppliers don't).
- Develop and distribute your key messaging and regular best practices content via direct marketing email and search-optimized press releases.
- Blog, comment on related blogs, create webcasts and podcasts that are pertinent to your space, offer best practices content via RSS feeds to your prospects.
- Participate in social media marketing and social networking – be part of your conversation because you can't control it anymore.
- Be part of the HRmarketer Community (you knew that was coming).
As mentioned in the last post, Jonathan Goodman, HRmarketer's VP of Sales and Business Development recently stated:
"Companies large and small are reworking their marketing budgets with many shifting resources to SEO and online marketing over other traditional (and costly) marketing activities. My advice to HRmarketer members and clients is do not give up your online marketing and SEO efforts. You risk losing ground faster than ever as companies across the board invest more in this channel."
Post by Kevin Grossman (join me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn)
Labels: HR suppliers, marketing and PR, On-Demand, online marketing, SaaS