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, a community I was part of both personally and professionally, recently announced its end, after a lengthy decline. There are plenty of people who saw this coming, but are still saddened to see a vital part of the content marketing world go away.

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There are many post-mortems being written about what people think went wrong with .

In Dharmesh Shah’s Farewell to post, he attributed its decline to their foundational purpose becoming obsolete. “We felt there was a need for a ‘Hacker News for Marketers’.

though the concept of a community is compelling — the core use case of user-curated marketing content is not. My suspicion is that it’s because the way people find and share content has changed a great deal since ’s inception.

”Ed Fry, former General Manager, cited the “evaporating cooling effect” as a culprit:“A social phenomenon where the people who stand to offer the most benefit the least (and vice versa), so they leave unless there’s an incentive to stay. So the only true participants are those with another agenda (self-promo etc.

”In fact, Ed Fry says he saw the writing on the wall when founding members stopped being “weekly active users.

”This, incidentally, is something all of us community builders — who are busily recruiting thought leaders — have to consider. What are those thought leaders getting out of the community?The Network Effect BreakdownThe “network effect” happens when more people join a community and increase the value everyone gets from the community.

But that stops working when everyone in the community is there just to post self-promoting links — which is what ended up happening.

But… worked kind of like a marketplace where everyone was promoting their products — to each other. Communities that bring in both sellers and buyers work; they work especially well when they give the sellers and buyers a platform to communicate with each other openly and form relationships. For me, this is about emotionI’ve been thinking about how to use emotion to drive communities, and that’s what — for me — was missing as an member and contributor.

If we get an emotional reward from participating in a discussion, we’ll want to participate and start more discussions.

If we’re concerned about the future of the planet, we are motivated to recycle. What emotions motivate your members?It’s a question well-worth asking.

I’ve been working with sort of an emotional cause-and-effect framework for community building recently that I’ll summarize here:When building a community, start with a purpose — what you want to achieve with the community. Decide which behaviors you need members to perform to meet those goals.

Then — this is the part I’m fascinated with — find out which emotions will drive those behaviors, and then…Figure out how to set the stage to generate and amplify those emotions. measure what happened, analyze it, and iterate accordinglySome communities make us feel good — they’re loaded with emotional payoffs. When I contribute to some online communities, I feel appreciated and valued.

When I participate in other communities, it’s about feeling the camaraderie of like minds, or sharing inspiration.

Other communities make us feel a little anxious — and that serves a purpose too. If we don’t take action and contribute to solving X problem, the world/humanity will be worse off for it.

That negative, fear-based emotion also generates action and a reason to come back again and again. And then there’s the sense of pride, and doing the right thing, that comes with purpose-based communities where you’re banding together to create positive change. Emotions =/ JustificationsYou have to interview / have conversations with your most active members to find out what emotions motivate them — and then strategize ways to amplify those emotions to strengthen your community.

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During an interview, a member might say they share advice because they want to be seen and recognized by others. They might say they want to see how other people react to their posts, or they might say they want to appear as an expert.

This is useful information, but it’s a justification for what they do; it’s not the emotion that drives the behavior. You need to push beyond these answers to uncover how they feel when they perform these actions.

Successful communities (and marketing strategies) aren’t built out of Spock-like logic.

They evolve and grow out of human needs to be accepted, appreciated, and feel part of something larger than ourselves. For me, that’s what was missing from a membership perspective.

My question for you: What emotional payoffs do your community members get?Too often as marketers, we consider churn a bad thing. So we design our SaaS offboarding process in a way to trap our customers into staying.

You can use offboarding to your advantage by discovering why customers weren’t meeting their desired outcomes. Lincoln Murphy, a customer success consultant, explains:“The beauty of the SaaS business model is that you have visibility into the behaviors of your customers… and you should use this to reduce your SaaS churn rate.

Specifically, you should be looking for signs that your customer is getting ready to leave and then do something to stop it. ”SaaS offboarding is a gut-wrenching reality check to serve your customers better.

Below are five ways to add transparency to the process. Set the Stage with an Offboarding WorkflowMaking it difficult for customers to cancel their services is a big no-no.

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On top of that, they may spread the unpleasant news with their social network of friends and family members. To prevent the public embarrassment, your team should build an offboarding workflow or cancellation workflow.

It’s a sequence of steps that a customer must take to cancel their SaaS subscription. When users want to delete their accounts, they land on a multi-option workflow, allowing them to select a reason for cancellation. This offboarding workflow mitigates churn by offering a solution to the customer. It also gives your team essential feedback to understand why customers churn.

That way, you can go revisit your onboarding process to fill in any gaps in users’ expectations. Educate with Customer SuccessOnce users sign up for your product, you can’t leave them stranded as they attempt to figure out your platform.

Focusing on customer success entails educating users every step of the way. Of course, your team wants to be proactive, providing users with video tutorials, ebooks, and one-on-one support.

Alan Gleeson, a B2B marketing consultant based in London, adds:“More established SaaS businesses with enterprise clients will typically have a dedicated team whose job is to ensure that new account signups are onboarded successfully, and that the application is delivering value. They will also identify and nurture internal champions, who can facilitate up-selling and cross-selling, leading to negative churn.

”Customer success should play an integral part in offboarding, too. You don’t want to kick users to the curb just because they want to cancel.

You may have to address why they feel their current needs aren’t being met.

Or you may highlight their alternative options if they decide to churn. This educational approach puts the customers’ needs first. Because you never know, the user may decide to buy from your SaaS business again.

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What’s not okay is failing to prepare for cancellations.

Some users will want to deactivate their accounts immediately, and others will want a full refund. While some user scenarios may call for a case-by-case review, most cancellations should follow a standard guideline.

The key is to create a cancellation policy and make it easily accessible to your customers—without the unnecessary hassle. Before developing a policy, you’ll want to consult with a local business advisor or legal professional.

Their expertise will ensure you’re not violating any laws and are adhering to common business practices. The next step is to find a happy medium between your company and the customer.

How can you maintain a viable business and satisfy your customers’ expectations?Whatever the policy, you want it to be accessible to the customer before and after they make a purchase. Post it in a visible area on your website and include the policy somewhere within your app.

Here’s an example from PushAssist:Close the Loop with Feedback EmailsSome SaaS companies treat churn like a taboo topic. If they don’t talk about it, maybe it won’t be a real issue in the future.

Well, that’s the wrong mindset to possess in offboarding. Consider churn a chance to have an honest conversation with your customers.

Depending on your business, this communication may happen over the phone with a customer success rep or via a live chat platform. While these methods are useful, it may trap the user into providing an immediate response.

)Email marketing helps close the feedback loop with churning customers.

You can send a message inquiring about their experience with your product. You also can send multiple emails—without being annoying—if a user fails to respond. Baremetrics doesn’t shy away from asking customers why they decided to cancel.

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You want to bake your goal of reducing churn into your overall business strategy.

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This undertaking translates into prompting new users to tell you why they signed up for your product, monitoring usage data to understand the most frequently used product features, and giving users a chance provide candid feedback after churning. With that information, you open the doors to knowing your customers’ pain points sooner.

Julia Chen, former content marketing manager at Appcues, offers her insight:“As long as your product is solving the pain of a customer, there’s a chance that you can keep this customer or get them to come back after they’ve canceled.

That’s why it’s so important to have active conversations and to understand what drives their behavior. ”Combating churn means taking a proactive approach to talk with your users.

It also requires transparency on how you will use those conversations to their benefit. Rather than concealing the value-added process from users, be frank and take them along for the journey with blog post updates and in-app notifications.

Improve Your Offboarding ExperienceIn offboarding, your team can learn how to help both current and future customers. It’s an opportunity to reevaluate your path to achieving customer success.

Take advantage of churn by collecting insight in the offboarding workflow. Just make sure you offer transparency throughout the whole process.

Customer Success teams are expanding – not just in size, but in scope. New roles are emerging as CS is maturing as a specialty, specifically roles like Customer Success Operations (CS Ops).

At early-stage startups, Customer Success Managers will find themselves covering this function, but as the company grows, it can be extremely valuable to separate this function into a dedicated role within CS to help scale up. What does a Success Operations Manager do?Think of “Success Operations” as a product that promises to optimize processes for its customers, i.

CS Ops managers establish a baseline of productivity using metrics like net MMR churn and how difficult it is to learn about new product features.

They talk to CSMs to learn what pain points they face in their day-to-day responsibilities and observe how processes currently work.

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CS Ops managers look for consistent issues across the whole Success team, break the issues down into manageable components, and create solutions with measurable results. “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

DruckerUsing the information they’ve gathered, CS Ops managers may build tools like custom dashboards, or establish automatic workflows among software platforms to make the CSM’s job easier and help them be more productive.

A CS Ops manager will “onboard” CSMs, teaching them how to use the new tools at their disposal, and check in frequently with their “customers”. In short, Customer Success Operations managers are responsible for providing tactical support to the rest of the Success team, helping them improve their KPIs and their efficiency. Qualitative data gleaned from online customer reviewsNumber of referrals and recommendationsHuman-to-human interactions can make or break those scores, generate referrals or cancellations, and either fuel word-of-mouth growth or silence it.

But before you break out your old copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (a classic for a reason), I’d like to talk about why I’m reading more articles now on “soft skills” as they apply to customer service, customer success, and customer experience. “So let’s uncomfortably call them real skills instead. Real because they work, because they’re at the heart of what we need to today.

Real because even if you’ve got the vocational skills, you’re no help to us without these human skills, the things that we can’t write down, or program a computer to do. ” – Seth GodinGuest post by Victoria Greene, e-commerce brand marketing consultant and freelance writer.

Subscription-based businesses have to stay relevant, continually deliver value, and basically – give their customers every reason to stay.

And yet, SaaS companies like Spotify, Adobe, Akamai and Shopify nail it.

I took a deep dive into the key features, benefits and strategies that make these tools so great – ideas any founders can apply to strengthen their startups. Spotify Freemium models aren’t for everyone – in fact, many experts advise against them.

But when your product is effective and addictive, Freemium can really work.

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It’s effective at delivering what music lovers wish for – an enormous variety of music from every country and every era, and the ability to curate custom playlists.

But when you’re using Spotify to set the mood for your dinner party, meditation session, or to get in the zone for concentrated work – ad interruptions are painful. When you introduce a bit of pain that can be easily removed (with the swipe of a credit card) to enjoy nothing but the perks? Freemium models work very, very well.

But a big part of Spotify’s success is that addictive quality – which doesn’t happen by accident. The company records, analyzes and uses a tremendous amount of user data to generate suggested tracks, create mood-themed playlists, and create new platform features.

Take heed of their example and look for ways you can respond to your user’s onsite signals. SaaS Takeaways: and addictive, with a subtle element of easily removable pain.

Mine user data for potential new add-ons and service features your users will love and that will set you apart from the competition. Adobe Adobe products, like Photoshop, used to come in a box, and once you bought that version, you owned it forever.

Well, that model stopped panning out (too many pirated copies?), and they went subscription-based. After they’d already established themselves as an industry ‘must-have’ tool.

What makes Adobe Creative Cloud a ‘must-have’? Not just the fact that so many people grew up using it, but also because the file types are widely accepted. And, with the subscription model, every update adds strength and functionality, which calms some of the irritation from those who’d rather buy once and own by constantly adding value.

Now anyone, regardless of whether they use a Mac or PC, can access the latest digital design tools for one price.

You can even save your design presets across multiple devices, allowing you to jump right in from wherever you are. The key takeaway from the Adobe model is its usability across a range of devices, without compromising on performance.

Take steps to level the playing field in the same way if you want to become a household name. SaaS Takeaways:Syncing is important — if you become the industry standard, you’ve nailed it. And becoming the industry standard isn’t necessarily about your branding, UI, or UX — it could be down to things like compatibility with other devices and file types.

Abode strongly pushes creative partnerships, showing support of their artists and creators.

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Akamai Akamai (Hawaiian for clever) has been a stalwart in the tech industry since its conception (despite the death of one of its founders on 9/11).

One-third of the world’s top 500 companies use Akamai systems to protect and distribute their data, but content distribution networks like Akamai also give small business startups access to the world stage, providing customers in different continents with super speedy, responsive sites Looking for professionally written essay at discount prices? You are at the right place. Writers Help UK has helped more than 5000 students with quality essay writing task..

For example, at the 2008 Olympic games, Akamai brought high-quality live streaming of all events to 225 networks worldwide. And for Airbnb, Akamai helps users feel at home with personalized language and location-based content.

SaaS Takeaways:Focus on developing early partnerships with brands, as they could become super valuable referrals in the long run. Landmark customers and partnerships such as BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Nintendo, Airbnb (and even Adobe) give Akamai prestige.

Akamai has been slowly expanding their offerings as their market matured. They are known for their quality and security — sometimes slow and steady wins the race.

Shopify In comparison to other shopping cart services, Shopify offers high levels of customer support, and Shopify has been largely successful at creating a community around its SaaS product. Its extensive range of apps allow users to set up automated marketing, inventory management, and recordkeeping tools.

This makes the process of creating an online store seem almost fully automated — and they put a lot of money and effort into serving the ecommerce entrepreneurs of the world. A vibrant user community like the one Shopify enjoys helps solidify ties between the brand and its users.

Shopify has also harnessed the latest tech to expand their product offering. Kit, Shopify’s AI marketing coach, offers customer-success oriented advice on topics like composing Facebook posts and effective email marketing.

SaaS Takeaways:The critical takeaway from Shopify is that customer service matters if you want to stand out. You can attribute more value to your product by merely letting people in on the ‘tips and tricks’ of the trade.

Good customer support is also a great way to build a thriving community of users who are in it for the long haulBe on the lookout for ways to expand your product offering by filling in customer success gaps. What do customers need to know to be successful with your product?As well as looking inwards at your own processes and brand, opening up your eyes to the wider SaaS world is a wise move.

Keep an eye out for emerging brands as well as household names in order to give yourself the best possible chance of success.