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PORTFOLIO

We pride ourselves on bringing a fresh perspective and effective marketing to each project.

  • PCI Compliance: Keeping Your Ecommerce Business Secure

    PCI Compliance: Keeping Your Ecommerce Business Secure


    The immense growth in ecommerce over the last two decades has demonstrated just how much people like the ease and convenience of shopping and buying online. Ecommerce has given people almost limitless options and the scale at which people are embracing online shopping continues to grow substantially every year.

    But with more transactions happening online, there is also a greater risk of consumers’ financial information being compromised. These data breaches can be immensely costly for ecommerce businesses with the consequences ranging from fines to chargebacks to lawsuits to higher insurance premiums. In addition to these costs when fraud does happen,17% of online shoppers surveyed said they didn’t complete a purchase because of security concerns, which is a huge missed opportunity for online merchants.

    With such significant costs, it’s little wonder why the payments industry has developed and mandated strict security standards. While some call PCI compliance standards overly-onerous, they have become required for merchants who want to accept payments online. They not only protect consumers from fraud, they also protect the companies who have to pay for the fraud.

    The High Costs When You’re Not PCI Compliant

    Non-compliance by merchants can lead to fines ranging from $5,000 to $500,000 and cancellation of a company’s ability to process payments. Along with fines, companies can also face substantial lawsuits and insurance claims from customers and other businesses.

    Target is a good example of just how costly security breaches can be. A massive breach of their customers’ credit card and other information in 2013 has resulted in over $162 million in costs (and counting), a 46% drop in net profits and 11% drop in stock value. That is not even counting anything they will have to pay from lawsuits. Unfortunately, it only takes one incident to damage your reputation and compromise your ability to conduct business in the future and Target is still recovering from this breach.

    12 Principals of Data Security

    The PCI compliance standards are complex and continuously changing. It’s important to note that compliance is an on-going process and safeguards need to be continually assessed and tested for risks and vulnerabilities to your network.

    The payment card industry data security standard (PCI DSS) contains 12 principles that companies must abide by:
    • Install and maintain a firewall to protect cardholder data
    • Don’t use vendor-supplied passwords
    • Protect cardholder data
    • Encrypt cardholder data that is transmitted across public networks
    • Ensure that systems are protected against malware and viruses
    • Maintain secure systems and applications
    • Restrict those who can access cardholder data
    • Authenticate those who access system components
    • Restrict physical access to data
    • Monitor access to network resources
    • Test security systems and processes
    • Maintain a policy that addresses information security

    The Process to Be PCI Compliant

    Becoming PCI compliant is a 3-step on-going process. First, companies must assess their assets and processes for handling payment card information and analyze them for vulnerabilities. Next, companies need to remediate and fix any vulnerabilities found. A major component of this is not storing cardholder data unless you need it. The last step is to compile, report and submit the remediation records and compliance reports to the acquiring bank and card brands you do business with.

    All merchants fall into one of four levels based on their transaction volume over the past 12 months.

    RequirementActionLevel
    Less than 20,000 online transactions per yearSelf-assess & Annual Network Scans4
    Between 20,000 to 1 million online transactions per yearSelf-assess & Quarterly Network Scans3
    Between 1 million and 6 million online transactions per yearSelf-assess & Quarterly Network Scans2
    Over 6 million online transactions per yearHire independent assessor – Quality Security Assessor1

    Once you have determined your merchant level, your company must do the proper assessments and then submit proof of compliance with the attestation of compliance (AOC) questionnaire. To verify PCI Compliance, the PCI DSS uses your AOC and network scans.

    Staying PCI Compliant

    It’s imperative that companies meet PCI standards to protect themselves and their customers from security breaches. More than 70% of PCI compliant companies reported they felt substantially more secure than if they were not compliant and 67%of companies are actually planning to increase spending on PCI compliance in the near future.

    As ecommerce continues to grow, PCI compliance is more important than ever to protect relationships, reputation and revenue. While adapting to the changing standards can be challenging, it is well worth the effort.
  • 4 Ways to Re-engage With Users Whose Trials Have Expired

    4 Ways to Re-engage With Users Whose Trials Have Expired


    There’s no doubt that free trials are an effective strategy for companies looking to acquire new customers. According to Totango, 44% of SaaS companies offer a free trial in the hope that once users get a taste of the value offered by a service, they will be willing to sign up for the paid version.

    But most of the time, trial users don’t sign up for the paid service. While there are a number of things you can do to convert as many users as possible before your trial ends, it’s important to not give up if that doesn’t work.

    Here are four ways to entice your lapsed trial users to take a second look at your service.

    1. Offer Non-Financial Incentives

    Incentives are another tactic to consider when re-engaging expired trial users. These can be non-financial (e.g., buddy sign-ups, increased service level) as a way to get them back on board. Focus on keeping incentives simple and engaging enough so that users actually feel compelled to do what you want them to do: sign up for a paid subscription.

    2. Offer a Discount

    Some may need an extra little push to sign up and upfront discounts can help more price-sensitive users get onboard. When offering a discount, make it for a limited time and remind them of the full value of your service.

    3. Extend Your Trial Period

    If your trial ends and a user still hasn’t converted to a paying client despite your best efforts, consider extending the trial period (the extension should be informed by the initial trial period). This gives users another opportunity to re-engage and better understand the value you provide. Also, providing this ‘extra’ value through more free trial time may create goodwill with some customers who may be more willing to consider paying for your service.

    4. Ask for Feedback

    Not converting a trial user to a paid user during a trial is unfortunate but it also provides an opportunity to reach out and ask customers why. You can then address their reservations in a more personalized way, making them more likely to convert to a paid user. If you go the survey route, make sure it’s simple, friendly and leaves participants with a positive view of your company. Even if they didn’t convert during your trial, they may be interested again in the future and you want your company to have a positive lasting impression if they do.

    Consider soliciting feedback via email or, even better, text. Text messages are an almost guaranteed read with 99% of all text messages being read including 90% within 3 minutes. Compare that to the 22% average open rate for emails.

    Although re-engaging a user after they have finished their free trial can be tricky, it can be worth the effort. Some users that value your service will be eager to sign up when their trial is over. For those that don’t sign up during their trial, they may just need reminding of your value or an added incentive.

    But while these methods are good for getting users to pay for your service, they can also lower your perceived value with prospective customers. So be aware that the offering incentives, discounts or an extended trial period is a strategic decision that needs to align with your product and brand.
    Converting Trial Users Into Paying CustomersImage Map
  • Optimizing Prices with the Price Sensitivity Meter

    Optimizing Prices with the Price Sensitivity Meter


    Whether you’re launching a new product or optimizing the price of an existing one, the Price Sensitivity Meter (PSM) is a great way to get feedback on price ranges. From its relatively low cost to its ease to administer, this particular method of price research has several advantages over alternatives when you’re faced with the challenge of finding the best price.

    How It Works5

    The Price Sensitivity Meter uses open-ended survey questions to predict the sensitivity of customers to different price points. A description and/or visual of the product is displayed and four questions are posed about what the responder thinks is too expensive; too cheap; a bargain; or a little high but still worth considering. For products where prospective customers may not have any experience, it can sometimes be prudent to include a scale of prices to ensure respondents have a general idea of the price landscape.

    The Value of the Price Sensitivity Meter

    Unlike other methods, the open-ended questions used by the Price Sensitivity Meter allow for more
    variation and detailed answers. The results capture the range of prices your sample considers
    acceptable and the data you collect can be graphed for easier visualization.

    The optimal price is usually considered the point at which the number of respondents who believe the
    product is too cheap is equal to the number that say it’s too expensive. That’s not to say that you must
    choose that particular price point. You can still remain competitive by choosing a price point within
    the competitive range determined on your graph.

    The range of competitive prices is determined at the low end by the intersection of the “too cheap” and “expensive” curves and at the high end by the intersection of the “bargain” and “too expensive” curves. From within that range of prices, you should be able to determine a price point that will be effective with your target market. However, keep in mind that the Price Sensitivity Meter is just a tool and you can only know definitively if your pricing is right by testing with real customers.
    graph

    Why Knowing Price Sensitivity is Important

    People tend to consider three main things when they are shopping: price, quality and value. It’s important to recognize the value-perception of your product because your price needs to mirror it to successfully attract customers. Therefore, when users see a higher price, they will automatically look for more value from your product and brand and visa versa.

    However, there are some that say the Price Sensitivity Meter is too simple to effectively help with pricing products. They claim the methodology is questionable and open-ended answers by respondents may produce unreliable results with some potential customers saying a lower price than what they are actually willing to pay.

    With that said, the Price Sensitivity Meter can be a useful starting point for further analysis and shouldn’t be done in isolation of other research. The real value this technique provides is providing a range of the perceived value of your product without having to guess or rely simply on competitor pricing. Your product and brand are unique and you need a price that matches your perceived value amongst your users. Failing to do that can result in you losing out on significant revenue.


  • Finding the Right Price Through Price Laddering

    Finding the Right Price Through Price Laddering


    With a 1% improvement in price optimization boosting operating profits by an average of 11%, it’s clear that finding the right price for your Software-as-a-Service product is critical for success.

    But to avoid under or overpricing your service, you need to know how customers perceive its value. Many firms struggle with how to figure this out and simply mimic the prices of their competitors. But if you simple copy what your competitors are doing, you risk losing out on significant revenue for your unique service.

    While the best way to arrive at an optimal price is continual testing with real customers, price laddering offers a way for companies to research what their price point(s) should be in order to maximize revenue.

    Price Laddering

    Products or services are worth as much as customers value and are willing to pay for them. Accordingly, price laddering involves asking potential customers about their likelihood of buying a product or service at one or more price points.

    To start, respondents are given a single product or service and asked to state their likelihood of purchasing it at a specific price on a 10-point scale with 10 being extremely likely. For those who respond with a likelihood that is less than desired (usually 7 or lower), users are asked to reconsider their likelihood of purchasing as a lower price. Typically, no more than three price points are used in a single test. The results can then be used to calculate the ‘take rate’ for each price point tested.

    Traditionally when testing different price points, companies needed to coordinate costly focus groups and repeat the price sensitivity experiment for every price point. But by exposing respondents to a single concept at more than one price, businesses can take advantage of the fewer resources price laddering requires and reiterate testing throughout the product’s lifecycle.

    Implementing a Price Ladder

    When conducting a price laddering test, you need to ensure that a price point is chosen, above and below which respondents will be tested, and that the prices (or rungs of the ladder) are spaced relatively equally.

    As an example, a company may want to test $79.95 a month for their subscription service. In this case, they could begin testing at a price of $99.95. Respondents whose intention of purchasing is less than 7 would then be re-tested with a price of $79.95. For those that still answer less than 7, they would be presented with a price of $59.95.

    If 20% of all those surveyed indicate they would be likely to subscribe for the plan at $99.95 a month, the remaining 80 recipients would then be retested at the next lowest price. If 10% of that group showed intent to purchase of 7 or over, the take rate for the price point of $79.95 would be the total take rate of both rungs, which in this case would be 28%. This is based on the assumption that, given a customer’s likelihood to buy a product at one price, their intention to purchase will most likely remain the same with lower price points.

    Complexity arises when different market segments are attracted to different features, which often results in a tiered pricing structure. However, even with multi-tiered pricing structures, companies can better know their product’s value by using price laddering.

    Don’t Use Price Laddering in a Silo

    Price laddering is a great tool to ensure your product’s price roughly aligns with its perceived value to prospective customers. However, keep in mind that you can only be sure of what prices work best by actually testing with real customers. Accordingly, price laddering should be used in conjunction with all the data you have available when making decisions about your service’s price, especially your real sales data.


  • Growing Revenue With Negative Churn

    Growing Revenue With Negative Churn


    Successful software-as-a-service companies work hard to minimize every kind of churn to keep their recurring revenue streams growing. But there is one kind of churn that’s an exception: negative churn.

    Despite sounding like it could have a negative connotation, high negative churn is actually very positive for recurring revenue companies. This is because while other types of churn measure the loss of subscribers or revenue in a certain period, negative churn instead indicates net revenue expansion from your existing subscriber base.

    What Negative Churn Means

    While some take churn as inevitable, many SaaS companies are now striving for negative churn and using it as a key performance indicator that can be used to better inform revenue projections and customer lifetime value.

    Specifically, negative churn means that the recurring revenue from plan upgrades and add-ons more than offsets revenue lost from customer unsubscribes or downgrades. So, the more negative your churn, the stronger your recurring revenue growth, especially when combined with new customer acquisitions.

    Here is a formula for calculating churn as a percent of your net monthly recurring revenue:

    Untitled

    As an example, a company has $100,000 of recurring revenue (MRR) at the beginning of the month. By the end of the month though, churn and downgrades equal to $5,000 result in MRR only being $95,000. However, a major push for upsells and cross-sells has resulted in $10,000 in expansion revenue from existing users. Here’s the math:

    Example - Negative Churn555
    Example - Negative Churn777
    Example - Negative Churn999
    Example - Negative Churn1000 copy
    Therefore, their churn as a percent of their net monthly recurring revenue is -5% meaning that their revenue from this group of users is actually higher month over month. Remember that a negative result means that your churn rate is negative and the higher the negative churn rate, the better.

    Getting to Negative Churn

    Acquiring new customers to replace revenue lost from high customer churn and plan downgrades is costly and difficult. Luckily, churn is not inevitable and you also have the opportunity to increase revenue from your existing customer base by offering more value.

    Therefore, the best way to achieve negative churn is to prevent customers from unsubscribing while also finding ways to increase the value available to customers, so that they are willing to pay more.

    A few quick strategies to ensure your customers stay subscribed over the long-term are a streamlined onboarding process upfront, providing ongoing tips on how to get the most out of your service and having multiple ways for customers to reach out to get support when they need it.

    Once you have your customer churn under control, you can focus on increasing your “expansion revenue.” Expansion revenue is the amount of revenue generated above your initial selling price. As more customers upgrade and purchase cross-sells, expansion revenues can increase significantly and begin to exceed the (hopefully) smaller amount of revenue lost from customer churn. Make the process to upgrade or buy a complimentary product as simple and easy as possible. Also, use your customer data and market research to determine what elements of your platform to further develop so you can keep providing more value to your customers.

    Stay Valuable

    It can be hard and costly to consistently acquire new customers as your company matures. Accordingly, your revenue growth should not rely solely on acquiring new customers. Tapping into your existing customers to boost recurring revenue should be core part of your growth plan. And the best way to do that is to maintain a service that provides ongoing and increasing value.

    When negative churn is combined with new customer acquisitions, your company’s revenue growth can really take off.

  • What You Should Consider Before You Discount Your SaaS Product

    What You Should Consider Before You Discount Your SaaS Product


    At first glance, discounting your SaaS product can seem like a great way to undercut your competition and take a greater share of your target market. But there are other implications you have to consider before you lower your price relative to similar products in your market, especially those with the same general feature set as you.
    While lowering your price can be good for initially boosting signups and getting more customers in the door, it should not be done in the absence of an overall and ongoing strategy to be a least-cost service. Many companies are successful with this least-cost model with the lower revenue generated per user offset by more users overall.

    But this pricing scheme has to align with a company’s longer-term strategy for their product, brand and price. Companies looking simply to increase the number of initial users with a cheaper price with the intention of moving to a high pricing tier later on will face added challenges. These include lower value perception of your product, increased churn and, likely, lower revenue. So, when deciding where your price is going to fit initially in your market, consider the long-lasting impact on your product, company and brand.

    Lower Prices Attract More Price Sensitive Customers

    If you lower your price, you first affect the type of users you attract. While you’ll likely get more customers than if you keep your price higher, many of them are likely to be more price sensitive. This is an advantage over higher priced competitors until you want to raise your own price.

    Compare this to the customers you may have attracted with a higher price. They are looking for more value and are usually willing to pay for it. They are more likely to have researched their options and are more committed to sticking to a high-value, higher priced product. Alternatively, price-sensitive customers will likely place a lower value on your product and be more likely to churn as soon as they feel like they are not getting sufficient value, especially if there is a price increase.

    Either method to reach the same amount of revenue is fine, but you need the overall strategy to back up your pricing scheme. Lower price models usually need to acquire at least 5 customers to reach the amount of revenue that one high paying, longer-term customer generates. Consequently, if you’re positioning as the low cost provider, you need to be able to attract and support substantially more customers. Conversely, if you’re positioning as a more premium service, you need a product with superior functionality and support.

    Changing Value in the Eyes of Customers

    A product is worth as much as a person is willing to pay for it. But how do people judge how much they’re willing to pay for a specific product? When it comes to SaaS, the value perceived by customers usually isn’t linked with the actual costs to deliver a service. Rather, customers may shop around to see what other competitors are offering to get a sense of a fair price for the features being offered.

    But interestingly, users are often most heavily influenced by the first price they see with every subsequent price being judged against it. If your price is low compared to most, customers will likely perceive your product’s value as less and it can be difficult to overcome that initial impression.

    This causes a problem if you want to increase your price, perhaps to more closely match other competitors. Customers will be accustomed to valuing your service at a certain lower level and many, especially more price sensitive customers, will unsubscribe, increasing your churn rate. So, be careful if you start at a low price to attract more customers and then decide to substantially raise prices to a more competitive level for your product. You may encounter more resistance and more churn because your users don’t perceive the value of your product as matching the value you are now asking them to pay even if you are comparable to a higher-priced (but higher perceived value) competitor.

    Lost Revenue

    Lower prices, lower value perception and higher churn all add up to lower recurring revenue. While underpricing can produce short-term gains in terms of the number of users acquired, there are better ways to attract new and higher quality customers if you want a more premium brand, product and pricing scheme.

    Subscription companies can opt to be a least cost option with mass distribution or they can price higher and position themselves as a higher value option. Either pricing approach can be successful with corresponding strategies. But temporarily discounting a price to get a number of customers initially will likely mean you’ll face additional challenges if you increase prices down the road. 

    The SaaS Pricing Challenge: Getting StartedImage Map

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