The Commonwealth of Massachusetts recently passed legislation prohibiting texting while driving. I’m hoping they’ll soon outlaw texting while walking.
I just came back from a short, but harrowing drive that took me past our town’s high school, just after the end of the school day. The scene reminded me of old episodes of Mr. Magoo - kids fixated on the small screens of their mobile phones, thumbing away furiously on the mini-keypad, while wandering obliviously across heavily-trafficked intersections.
On behalf of all my fellow parents and drivers, I wanted to yell, “Look up! There’s a real world out here, and if you’re not careful, it can really hurt.”
The same advice applies to marketers. You need to look up from the screen and talk to customers and prospects to understand what’s really going on. It can be too easy to focus entirely on what's happening inside your company. I know; I've been there. But as one particularly useful marketing course I've taken explained, “NIHITO”: “Nothing interesting happens in the office.”
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) should make it easier for marketers to avoid this hazard and closely observe customers’ behavior. Because customers are using the application online, it’s possible for marketers and others to see exactly what they’re doing. Though you need to be careful about observing individual behavior, you can see, in aggregate, which features customers are using and which are they avoiding. You can see periods of peak demand, identify particular kinds of users, and see other useful patterns. Along with whatever other analytic tools you're using, this information on product usage can be extremely useful. Don’t ignore it.
Executives at companies that have made the transition from an on-premise application to a SaaS solution point out that one of the most valuable benefits they’ve gained is a better understanding of their customers’ behavior and needs. They have established a much closer, ongoing relationship and a built-in feedback loop. They can much more easily track what's working and what's not.
The result is better focused product development, more attentive customer service, and more effective marketing. For the business, it means greater efficiency, lower customer acquisition costs, and higher renewals.
It also means you’re less likely to make mistakes. Or if you do make a misstep, at least you’ll see where you’re headed before you stumble into real danger.