January 9, 2019 | Karen Hartsell

Tips on How to Connect Your App to the Right Customers

For a developer, there’s nothing more exciting than having a great idea and then bringing the idea to life by building an app, one that helps small businesses run more efficiently and effectively. The development process, however, is just beginning. You now need to figure out how to get your innovative solution in front of the right people, also known as apps marketing.

I, along with several Intuit Developer team members, shared some specific ideas about how to do this during QuickBooks Connect San Jose and Toronto during the Developer Sessions, and I’m passing these tips on to you today.

Connecting Your App with the Right Customers

Does connecting your app with the right customers seem like a daunting task? It doesn’t have to be. Below are three tips that will help you tap into the customer or accountant psyche as he or she navigates the marketplace. The tips also help you deconstruct the marketing funnel and create a budget-friendly customer acquisition strategy that will get results.

  1. Start with the Customer

What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Or, for our purposes, the app or the customer? I would argue that the customer comes first.

Let me explain.

When you start with the customer, you’re focusing on what they need in order to grow their business. When you find out what they need, you can create a solution to meet it. Here at Intuit, we call starting with the customer “customer obsession”, which means digging into the insight or result that makes no sense and focusing on the outlier—the information that doesn’t fit—which leads to knowing the customer better than they know themselves.

To do this, we begin by looking at a day in the life of small business owners. Each day requires them to be the ultimate utilitarian, which means using practical, functional methods for accomplishing their daily tasks. In essence, performing an efficient juggling act that never ends.

Their tasks fall under the categories of Customer-Facing, Not Customer-Facing, Run the Business, and Grow the Business. They’re responsible for taking orders, scheduling, invoicing, social media, expansion, taxes/bills, investment planning, and so much more. They also have four modes: Delivery Mode, Marketing Mode, Operations Mode, and Planning Mode. Small business owners must somehow simultaneously jump from category to category and from mode to mode.

It can be physically and mentally exhausting. And don’t forget emotional. They worry about doing tasks correctly, such as payroll. And they tend to rely on workarounds as their workflow. The inefficiency, and the resulting stress, becomes a possible deterrent to their success.

Eliminate the complexity and the noise by starting with your target customer. Learn their specific needs and make sure your small business SaaS app meets those needs. This ensures faster and easier decision making on your part, providing clarity that will drive action.

This leads to my second tip.

  1. Go Behind the App Marketplace Curtain

Did you know that 70,000 users browse the apps tab in the app marketplace looking for ways to save time and to improve efficiency? To say that’s a lot of users is an understatement. However, not all users are created equal. They fall into two categories: 55% are Seekers and 45% are Browsers.

Seekers are looking to address a latent need. They’re often looking for something specific and exhibit high intent to buy.

Browsers need validation and/or need to see value. They don’t have a compelling need, but they are looking to be more efficient.

Regardless of their category, Forrester research says that 43% of site visitors today go immediately to search boxes. This includes QuickBooks Online (QBO) users. What do they search for?

The customer search vocabulary spans a very wide spectrum. They may look for a Product/App Name (Square, PayPal, Stripe, Shopify); Job(s) (Inventory, CRM, Payroll, POS); Tasks (import, invoice, budget, fund, scheduling); Features (geotagging, employees, multi-location time tracking, OCR, assembly inventory); Industry (church membership, law firm billing app, consulting time tracking); and Miscellaneous (E-signatures, for sales forms, shipping labels, scanned attachments).

They also look for trusted recommendations, especially among Browsers. Steve Jobs said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” This is true according to a Salesforce study, which cites 26% of revenue on eCommerce sites are attributed to personalized recommendations.

To help you get your app in front of the right customers, Intuit provides ‘right for me’ recommendations. The science behind surfacing these recommendations is matching latent customer needs to quality apps. When users input their Clickstream data, QBO profile, business profile, connected app activities, and app profile, the QBO algorithm produces a prediction, or a matching app for what they’re looking for.  

Ultimately, your goal is to list your app in the most relevant categories using the words and phrases your target customer would use as they search for a solution to their problem. You also want to encourage reviews and recommendations by those customers. By doing so, you cast a wide net that will hopefully catch the attention of both Seekers and Browsers.

With this tip in mind, let’s move on to the third one.

  1. Demystify the Marketing Funnel

Marketing is always on the ‘to do list’ for growing businesses. In fact, 68% of partners want to improve their marketing, but the problem is, it’s at the bottom of their list. Getting your app in front of the right customers means you need to make apps marketing a priority.

As you do, you may feel a bit overwhelmed by the traditional marketing funnel and its terms. Renaming the funnel levels may help clarify the process.

The first term is “Awareness”. This can be replaced by “Know”. Do your customers KNOW how to find you? Are you speaking your customers’ language (see tip 1) and are you in the right categories (see tip 2)? When you fill out your QuickBooks Online App Listing, you need to make sure you find your best categories. Then, as you continue your marketing efforts, you need to provide context and motivation.

Context and motivation provide the customer with a compelling reason to take action as well as teaches the customer something new about their business needs and challenges. For example, with a throwback to the iPod, do you market your MP3 player as able to provide storage for 1GB of MP3s or do you tell customers they’ll have 1,000 songs in their pocket? Do you use the term “financial management” or do you say “budget”? How you market yourself to potential users is how they will know you. Make sure you convey a message that informs the user about your app and what it does.

The second level in the marketing funnel is “Interest”. This can be replaced with “Like”. Do your customers LIKE what you have to say? Is your headline description optimized for their challenge and can you demonstrate that you will solve their problem? For example, instead of marketing your Vitamin as a Vitamin, you could call it a Painkiller. You’ve now created a sense of urgency in the customer, who will be more likely to prioritize a painkiller. You’re sending a clear message that their pain point is being immediately addressed.

In QBO terms, it’s like writing “Easy receipt and expense tracking integrated with QuickBooks” vs. “Stop wasting time with manual data entry – automate your expenses today”. Which one will convey to the customer that you’ve solved their problem?

The third level is “Consideration”. This can be replaced with “Trust”. How can they TRUST your app to solve their problem? Do you have reviews or testimonials to build trust? You should. And the more the better. One review provides a return of 10% and 50 reviews delivers 30%.

The fourth level in the marketing funnel is “Evaluation”. This can be replaced with “Try”. Do your customers TRY your product? Do you have a trial? If not, you should consider creating a video to demonstrate your product.

Finally, we reach the end of the funnel with the fourth level: “Purchase”. This can be replaced with “Buy”. Do your customers convert to BUY your product? Steps to help with conversion include providing an onboarding experience that walks the user through the first use and personalizing the experience to make it relevant to them.

But wait—there’s more!

The traditional marketing funnel adds “Loyalty” and “Advocacy” after the user purchases your product. I replace the fifth level of Loyalty with “Keep” and Advocacy with “Refer”.

Do you KEEP your customers past 90 days? You need to think about how to keep your customers as well as increase your 90-day retention. How can you keep your churn rate low? Are you addressing negative reviews? Don’t sweep the negative under the rug; addressing the problem and moving forward will go a long way in keeping your customers loyal.

And do your customers REFER others? Ensure that you make it easy for customers to refer your app. Also remember to prompt your customers for reviews and testimonials.

Utilize the Tips, Achieve Success

Let’s recap the three easy things you can do today to set you on the road to success:

  1. Make sure you start with the customer. List your app on Apps.com in the most relevant categories using customer-friendly language in your title and description.
  2. Understand the marketplace mentality and encourage reviews, addressing any negative ones immediately.
  3. Make marketing a priority and make it easy for the customer to learn more about your solution with a demo video or free trial.

Success is defined as getting your app in front of the right customers and working your way through the marketing funnel until they buy and remain a loyal, referring customer.

If you have questions about these tips or about partnering with Intuit Developer, contact us. We’d love to hear from you. And don’t forget to check out our blog for more insights, including how to get the most out of our QuickBooks Connect events and QuickBooks Online API Best Practices.

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