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The Competitive SaaS Market: How to Gain and Retain Customers

I've had countless conversations with SaaS providers to discuss the major challenges they face as a business, and specifically, what metrics they track. I expected to hear a similar story from providers, that their top priorities were security and performance, followed closely by features and functions and competitive pressures. While providers agree that these are all important aspects of their overall solution, and are ultimately required to be monitored for the optimal delivery of their applications to the end users, they see their two major challenges more generally: customer acquisition and customer retention. 

Due to the nature of SaaS applications, potential customers are all over the world. The benefits of SaaS are numerous and offer a very attractive case for adoption. SaaS applications are immediately available, require no capital costs for the end user, and frequently come with the option of month to month payments - making the barriers to try a new application really low. However, these benefits also pose challenges to SaaS providers - customers are able to easily try out different providers and go with the one that best suits their business needs, at little to no extra cost. For SaaS providers, this can make customer acquisition incredibly expensive and time consuming. Providers may start out as a small company, within a local region, but can be stretched thin very quickly from sudden increases in requests for a proof of concept (PoC) from all over the world.

Due to the diverse field of SaaS offerings, most customers have a short fuse for the PoC, meaning rapid on-boarding - the capability to get new or potential customers up and running almost immediately - is a must. The most successful SaaS providers have essentially automated their on-boarding systems, drastically simplifying the trial process for customers.

For a customer, their only focus is getting their application online as quickly as possible. They really don't care about upstream issues, and aren't going to consider challenges that arise from configuration, multi-tenant application and security requirements like SSL certificates. Here's where Akamai's application delivery optimizations shine. With a set of APIs dedicated to SaaS Providers, Akamai makes it fast and easy for a SaaS Provider to onboard new customers to their platform. Akamai has drastically reduced the complexities involved in the on-boarding process, making the process as a whole much quicker and more efficient.

Now that new customers have had an easy time integrating applications, the next step is retaining those customers past the SaaS growth ceiling (customer acquisition rate divided by percentage churn rate) to see value from the relationship. Here's where Akamai truly sets itself apart - the global reach of Akamai Intelligent Platform, which spans more than 175,000 servers in more than 1,300 networks in 100+ countries. Having the world's largest and most advanced CDN platform on your side ensures you can deliver the high quality performance your customers expect, anywhere in the world, coupled with security solutions to ensure they're protected from any malicious actors. This strong suite of capabilities has helped over 180 leading SaaS companies running on the Akamai Intelligent Platform maximize customer retention, reduce churn, and grow profits.

For more on the challenges facing SaaS providers and key criteria for deploying a successful application delivery platform, read the Akamai e-book "The Big Book on SaaS Application Delivery" here

1 Comment

Neat read. For me, it is important that you follow through with whatever you promised to your customer when you were just only selling your product. You also have to keep your service up-to-date with all the trends happening (because you know, technology). Keep them satisfied and always try to meet their needs and demands as much as possible. You could also provide them services from SaaS experts/support teams (e.g. Lirik - http://lirik.io/) which can then maximize their user experience.