10 Growth Hacking Epiphanies From a Customer Success Genius ft. Lincoln Murphy (@LincolnMurphy)

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazdesky).

On January 13th at Inbound.org, Lincoln Murphy, Customer Success Evangelist at Gainsight, and Founder and Growth Hacker at Sixteen Ventures, said “Ask me anything.”

The four things that he LOVES to talk about (“won’t shut up about, actually,” as he puts it) are the same four things I LOVE to talk about:

  1. Customer Success
  2. Growth Hacking
  3. Content Marketing
  4. Conversion Optimization

If you missed Lincoln’s AMA, then I’ll wrap up the session’s highlights for you.


Lincoln Murphy’s January 13th Ask Me Anything on Inbound.org — Highlights

First, why you want to ask Lincoln Murphy anything:

In the past nine years, he’s helped more than 300 SaaS companies grow faster than duckweed (a pond-dwelling plant with superlative reproductive skills) by optimizing the Customer Lifecycle. Lincoln Murphy is also one of the top thought-leaders in Customer Success and Growth Hacking for the SaaS industry, and his Twitter feed contains a Master Class in web marketing. Recent Twitter gems include “You keep saying ‘price point’ … Just say ‘price.’” Right? Stuff of genius.

Note. These are not all the questions and answers, and some questions and answers listed here have been shortened. To read the full text, click here.


Pricing

Q. What are some good indicators you’re undercharging?

A. It’s hard to know for sure, but…

  • You aren’t making money
  • You can’t afford marketing
  • Everything seems expensive
  • You’re charging less that all of your competitors
  • Your market refers to you as a toy or otherwise doesn’t take you seriously
  • You’re eating ramen noodles in a shared dorm in a non-ironic way and you’re 35 years old
  • You don’t know what your product is worth to your customers
  • You want to be low-touch
  • You complain about not having money, even though you have a lot of customers
  • Your churn is 0%
  • Your sales cycle is 3 minutes
  • You’ve never had anyone complain about the price& ever

Q. Should you do a pricing page on its [sic] own or put the pricing on the homepage with the rest of your SaaS product details?

A. The general rule for me is the less complex your product and the more your customers are already sold on what you do — the quicker you can present a price to them AND expect that they’ll take action on that.

Q. How important is it to nail your price proposition before launch? Is it safe to best guess and adjust based on feedback/onboarding metrics?

A. Try to get pricing as right as possible out of the gate. That said, pricing is not a set it and forget it event. . . . Whether it’s to better align with your customers (always a good reason), or because you left money on the table (most companies start out by pricing too low, not too high), or because you want to segment your pricing tiers to reflect more accurate use cases, your pricing will evolve over time.

Q. Price changes — Your feeling on grandfathering clients forever in to their current price point or giving them a window of time until they are moved to the new pricing based on their current plans?

A. If you raise prices, you grandfather current customers in at the current rate. If they ever stop being a customer and want to come back, they’ll come back at the new rate.

If you lower prices, you should lower prices of existing customers, too, unless you want some sort of revolt. Never underestimate spite as a driver of business decisions! That means if you lower prices for new customers but not existing customers, some customers may leave — even if they’re happy with the service and otherwise have no complaints and regardless of switching costs… because they hate you now. So keep your current customers in mind when you do things like change your public pricing.

When it comes to grandfathering, though, one thing I try to do is have a way to eventually get people off of grandfathered plans… usually, that involves some incentive to move to the new plan (maybe a big, but time-limited discount)… it’s not required, but I like dealing with as few grandfathered folks as possible. Something to think about at least.


Growth Hacking

Q. What are some channels someone can look into to really get engrossed in and learn about growth hacking?

A. Join http://growthhackers.com and just start absorbing all of the content there. And then as quickly as you can find something to grow. Go to work for a company in a GH capacity, join a startup, start a startup, start a website and sell something and use GH tactics to grow it. Volunteer to GH a charity campaign. I don’t know how to become fully engrossed in Growth Hacking without actually doing it at some point.


Leveraging Content

Q. How can you use content and social media and generate traffic and generate more leads over time?

A.

  1. Content and Social are two different things and — while thats obvious — it helps to keep that in mind.
  2. Think of it more like Content and Distribution, where social media is the distribution modality if thats what makes sense for your audience. Use the appropriate distribution channels to reach your customers. That’s all that matters when it comes to distribution (vs. leveraging a channel that you’re used to or good at).
  3. If content is part of distribution — guest blog posts, email drops on other peoples lists, etc. — then you want to have pillar content that those pieces link back to on your owned properties.
  4. Your owned content is key. No algorithm changes at Google can change that. No policy changes on social media channels can change that.
  5. Everything you do should revolve around that content in some way.
  6. And that content should be surrounded by Calls to Action to opt-in to your email list, sign-up for your Free Trial, request a Demo, sign-up for your email course, etc. etc. Whatever the appropriate CTA is, that content should drive people to take that action.
  7. Use social channels that are where your audience is to distribute and amplify that content, but ultimately drive people back to your content.
  8. And also use your email list to drive people back to your content.
  9. But a good rule of thumb is to spend 90% of your time promoting content and only 10% of the time creating the content& regardless of the channels you use.

Q. Do newsletters still work, or is it best to stick with blog posts?

A. Most blogs that have a ton of traffic (and social shares) do so because they have a newsletter that they use to promote their content. Yeah, maybe they didn’t start out that way, but they used the blog (and still) do to grow the list, and then used the list to promote the blog. Circular.


Lead Conversion

Q. What kind of identifiers/actions can we use to qualify leads which come through our blog (pre signup)?

A. Look at the topic of the post they signed-up on and use that to infer where they are on the awareness ladder (or in the buying cycle, sales funnel, etc.) If it was tactical and product-centric, that might mean they’re later-stage and you maybe reach out or put them into a lower-level nurture track.

If it’s earlier-stage content — more higher-level stuff that’s not tied to your product or even taking tactical action — they may be too early so you put them into an earlier-stage nurture track to get them to a point where they become interested in solving the problem with your product.


Customer Success

Q. What are the MOST important aspects of user experience that affect overall conversions?

A. Everything we do should help the customer toward their Desired Outcome, which itself has two inputs: Required Outcome and Appropriate Experience. The Required Outcome is the thing they have to achieve/accomplish/do/etc. … but how they do that is also important. What the “doing that” feels like to them, how they’re emotionally affected by the process, etc. All of that matters. Just allowing them to achieve their Required Outcome but with an inappropriate experience will not lead to a feeling of success. So the most important aspect of a good UX is understanding and solving for their Desired Outcome.

Q. If you had to narrow it down, what specific data/metrics do you think are most crucial for SaaS companies to look at when making decisions about how to improve conversion and customer success?

A. This is one of those annoying answers that starts with “it depends.”

But it does… it depends on the maturity of the company, the goals of the company at whatever stage of maturity they are, etc.

In the early days you may be more focused only on net new customer acquisition. Later, you may realize you need to keep your customers. Then you may realize it’s not just about keeping them, but growing their use and expanding their revenue. Then you may discover that getting your customers to be advocates for you is the thing you should focus on.

That said, two metrics that are almost always something to keep in mind are:

Customer Acquisition Cost and how efficient it is.

Churn and measuring it the right way. Separating avoidable from unavoidable churn, figuring in only customers that could churn to get your actual churn rate (those that can’t churn due to contracts shouldn’t count), and keeping customer and revenue churn separate (but measuring and acting on both).


Want more?

This AMA session with Lincoln Murphy was packed with excellent questions — no dumb questions in this crowd! To find out the answers to such brain teasers as “What are the first steps a SaaS company should take when creating a Customer Success initiative?” and for Lincoln Murphy’s super simple, yet detailed answer to “Give me a roadmap for B2C lead conversion best practices” — you’ll just have to read the thread yourself.

I hope these highlights help you on your Inbound Marketing journey! But if you’ve got more questions, stay tuned for the next AMA we host at Inbound.org.


I’m available for a limited number of SaaS consulting retainers, writing engagements, and I offer Twitter curation + growth (500–1,000 or more followers / mo.) with an authentic approach so that your feed doesn’t look like everyone else’s.