We live in an era of distraction and extreme competition complementing each other.
The moment a SaaS app isn’t responding, users have got a handful of others to spend their time on. It’s the case with B2C products.
Consider another main user base of SaaS products — business teams. They don’t even have time to wait. And, the technical issues are just one of the many cases as to why users leave.
Sometimes the reason might be lame, and occasionally there might be no reason at all. Well, users have emotional high and low states.
Here, what does help is hooking your users to your product. It prevents the risk of customer churn. Learn the top 5 ways to ‘hook’ your SaaS users.
Why should you hook users?
SaaS products are like homes with doors that are forever open. Users have the option of leaving whenever they wish. Subscription-based revenue models have enabled this.
The SaaS industry is driven by product-led growth. If the SaaS company is a solar system, the product is the sun. Everything revolves around it. Free trials and freemiums have fueled this.
Your product is the first and last priority, right from acquisition to retention. It has to withstand such an ecosystem. So, you have to build a product that doesn’t only deliver a great experience, but also hook users to it.
Products that orient themselves into the habits of their users can stop fearing competition and distractions. Hook framework, (suggested by Nir Eyal in his book- Hooked) is one way to sustain building the products for this PLG era.
For example- Amazon Alexa is a virtual assistant technology. Here’s how it uses the hook framework to build user habits.
You can use this hook framework at different levels in the user journey.
Top 5 Hacks to hook your SaaS product users
1. A right start
8 in 10 users say they’ve deleted an app because they didn’t know how to use it-Wyzowl
Users don’t have enough time to offer a second chance. Onboarding is your time to prove yourselves.
A great onboarding experience is like an anchor — your first shot at hooking users. Onboarding is the initial hook that should make your users an association between your product and a critical moment (like, when they are trying to solve a problem).
In regards to the hook framework, you should focus on triggers, action, reward, and investment.
Triggers are the starting point of the hook. Here, they can be onboarding mail or notifications. These should align in terms of the message they convey. All the triggers should prompt the same emotions about the product’s purpose.
Trigger leads to action.
Action should be easy to complete and remember. It’s the key to making the process repetitive. Attach this action with any form of reward, for example, a congratulatory message on task completion.
Next in the framework is the investment part. Add investment to user efforts. Once they put in effort and time into one product, would they prefer doing it all from the beginning, in another?
But onboarding can’t be too complex. Find a sweet spot between effort and ease. This is where you should put forth product value.
Remember: Hook them in the beginning, or watch it become a curveball task later on.
For example Pinterest. The account setup itself is a hook, where users are let to explore images (hunt), create a pin (collect/curate), and share it with their friends (tribe).
2. Quicker aha-moments
Your user can see small victories and might get hooked.
But what if they pause and seek real value?
You cannot let your users come this far to stop and question the value. Even if they do, they must quickly resolve the doubts and get back to using your product.
And, for that aha moment must happen way earlier. Making it a part of your onboarding process is better. Aha-moment-driven onboarding is designed to make value realizations happen alongside accommodation.
Example: Headspace-Onboarding is accompanied by personalized questions and by the end, there’s a recap where the aha-moment occurs.
Onboarding aims at establishing the product as a ‘first-come to mind’ sort of solution. Aha moment is where you prove that your product as a solution is worthy. It’s better when you combine both.
Early value realizations are the real hooks. Quicker aha moments can ensure your users’ prolonged stay.
But make sure your users reach aha-moment smoothly. Aha moment doesn’t happen if you bombard users with many functions. It will only overwhelm the users. One or two value realizations are enough for initial times. The rest can wait to surprise the users later and exceed their expectations.
3. Offer something new
What might seem to be the right product experience and features might change with time. That is the dynamic nature of the SaaS product market. You have to stay agile.
Even though users are inherently resistant to changes, they always look forward to it. And to keep them engaged and satisfied, product improvements will be your trump card.
Improvements involve introducing new features as well as tweaking the existing ones. In most cases, users demand it. And hence offering them the new additions/changes is proof of how much you value them.
New features are exciting. But, they should serve the purpose of hooking the inactive ones without alienating the existing active users. Just make sure you do the messaging and announcement part right.
New features should serve as a cherry on top, not a newly added flavor that ruins the cake’s taste.
For example, Instagram users have been asking for an update where all users (not just the verified users or ones with a certain number of followers) will be able to share links on stories. Instagram rolled out that feature in October 2021.
4. Reward the users
Happy users stay. But what makes them happy?
Product value and product experience? Definitely yes. Well, there’s one more thing— the feeling of accomplishment.
Users seek gratification for their actions. And, when they receive it, they keep coming back to your product for more. Rewards are how you can establish this loop and eventually end up on the hook.
Rewards might become predictable and zestless eventually. But variable reward structure maintains the mystery factor. Maintaining a variable reward pattern in your SaaS product glues your users firmly.
In the case of Headspace, it rewards the user for 15 streak sessions with a free subscription for a friend. It also gives users badges for streaks.
5. Listen to users
Users are the ones to give verdicts for your product. Verdicts, here, are purely based on personal likes and dislikes. So, how do you meet their varied expectations?
By accommodating and implementing what their opinion suggests.
And how to decipher their expectations exactly? By asking them directly, in most subtle ways. In short, feedback through surveys, ratings, customer interviews, etc.
Well, you can implement their feedback only after validation and verification. However, asking for feedback accounts for a great advantage— making users feel heard.
Moreover, acknowledging suggestions and feedback is a hook that turns SaaS users into your SaaS business advocates.
And, does it happen on a one-time basis? No, you have to incorporate user feedback into the product development and management process. Make it a continuous process.
The SaaS business landscape is very competitive. And, scaling a SaaS business is also a complicated process. You will need a perfect plan — be it with acquisition, retention, activation, etc.
But there is one solution to all of these complexities. It’s building a product that’s hard to take out of users’ lives.
This is why you can make use of hook elements in every aspect — development, management, launch, marketing. Ensure everything loops back to the product value. But there’s a line that you shouldn’t cross. You have to use hooks to improve users’ lives better. Not stagnate them.
It’s not rightful to use hook frameworks with the only purpose— product/ business welfare. It should be more than just focusing on these two. You have to use it authentically and truthfully.
Well, with more power comes more responsibility!