6 Tips for Communicating BI Value to SaaS Customers

Jul 23, 2019

Nicole Hitner

It’s hard enough writing positioning statements and messaging briefs for a SaaS product you know like the back of your hand — where are you supposed to start when your company throws a third-party solution into the mix?

Data analytics is becoming an increasingly common requirement for SaaS offerings. Customers across verticals want quick, easy, reliable access to their data without having to wait around for a report from IT or watch the information grow obsolete in a file somewhere. Rather than build a business reporting solution from scratch, software providers source embeddable applications they can simply integrate into their existing products. It’s an efficient system, but it brings with it a host of new challenges for the SaaS marketing team.

Communicating the value of a data analytics or business intelligence (BI) solution to prospects and existing customers starts with understanding the problems BI is intended to solve. Sure, you might glean a general understanding of the benefits by going to the BI vendor’s website, but that copy will be targeted at you, the SaaS provider, not your end users. (And besides, no BI vendor is going to know your customers like you do.)

The optimal strategy, then, is to learn best practices around marketing BI-enhanced SaaS applications and apply those practices to your unique context. We’ve provided six tips to help you get started!        

#1: Ask for marketing enablement collateral.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. If your BI provider has a go-to-market kit or similar to share with you and your team, use it. There could be some helpful boilerplate copy to work from or at the very least a features list to explore. You’ll of course want to supplement such documents by working closely with Product Development to understand how your implementation of the solution will function, but it doesn’t hurt to ask up front if there’s something you might use as a marketing springboard.

#2: Nail the nomenclature.

Your BI solution will already have a name, as will all its tools and features — but that doesn’t mean you have to keep them! Embedded BI solutions are often white label, meaning you can customize them to look and feel like native parts of your SaaS solution. In many cases, you can edit in-application copy, changing things like descriptions, tutorials, tool tips, etc.

We recommend doing an audit of the application’s copy and adjusting any language that wouldn’t suit your audience. Be sure to give some thought to what you’ll call the application as a whole as well. 

#3: Know the BI user breakdown.

You know your users as they pertain to your core product, but how do they break down when it comes to data analytics? BI users typically fall into one of three categories: data consumers, data explorers, or data analysts (which for our purposes will also include data scientists). 

About 60% of BI users qualify as data consumers. This group might occasionally fiddle with a filter or sort a column but are otherwise unlikely to ever do more than run and read reports. 

Data explorers, which make up about 30% of users, are more adventurous and will go so far as to customize existing reports and occasionally create their own, given access to the appropriate tools. 

The final group, data analysts, make up just 10% of users. Building reports is part of their job description, so they will use BI daily, supplying their companies with more advanced analytics. 

Understanding this breakdown will help you target your messaging around certain features. It will also help you think about packaging and pricing, as many data consumers rely on data analysts for reports. Do you want your most basic plan to come with a read-only report library so that customers with more sophisticated data needs upgrade to a subscription that includes report authoring tools? Or would you prefer all plans to have report writing but restrict the number of data analyst accounts for each plan? These and other questions will hinge on your user demographics.

#4: Focus on feature benefits.

Effective marketers know the dangers of feature dumping, but it can nevertheless be tempting to list what a product is if you don’t understand what it does and why. Teams can avoid this pitfall by resorting to a feature benefit table like the abbreviated one for Exago BI below. If your BI vendor doesn’t have one for you, consider crafting one yourself. It will require more research, but the resulting table will help keep your marketing campaigns consistent and value-focused.

 

Exago BI features and benefits

 

#5: Write a future press release.

Here’s a useful tactic: during the BI integration phase, challenge your marketing team to craft a press release for the feature(s) you intend to launch. This can be a valuable means of identifying messaging issues early on. If you find yourself struggling to communicate a feature’s value, it could mean you’re still working to understand its functionality and use cases. Talking to your product team and/or conducting some user/market research could help iron out those messaging issues.

#6: Use existing mental models.

When introducing a new feature or technology, it helps to frame it in familiar terms. Spreadsheets, for example, often serve as a point of reference or “mental model” for BI users, so you might consider using that foundation as part of your value-based messaging. For instance, instead of writing use our reporting feature to get up-to-date insights, consider writing replace your data exports with live reports. This reframing inserts the application into the user’s existing workflow and more clearly communicates the value it has to offer.

With all these practices in place, you and your marketing team will be primed and ready for your SaaS product’s BI launch. The better you communicate your solution’s value — think expediency, convenience, dependability — to prospects and existing customers, the easier it will be to beat out the competition, increase sales, and reduce customer churn.

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