Being better than your competition certainly helps with customer acquisition, but sustaining growth is where specific tactics and strategies come in to keep up the momentum. For later stage companies who have raised millions and have a ridiculous valuation, how do these companies continue to stay above the noise, fend off competition and expand their customer base?
Janine Pelosi, head of marketing for Zoom Video Communications, a high-end cloud and hosted video conferencing company that has raised $100 M in Series D funding by Sequoia Capital and has a $1B valuation, are continuing to actively listen and respond to customer’s needs. In the last five years, Zoom has gained over 750,000 business customers with a 215 percent YoY growth in usage.
In an interview, Janine talks about some of their tactics and strategies used to keep the customers coming back to their site at Zoom.US and choosing their high-end products.
Offering a fremium option with basic features to get customers to try their product is a common move for startups. Later stage companies are catching on and using the same tactic – and it’s working.
“We provide a full-feature, high-quality freemium offering, and that has driven viral growth of a customer base that uses that free product. Our marketing strategy in large part targets that customer base with the intention of converting them to paying users. We engage our freemium users with email, webinars, events and other activities. We've also focused on building awareness and validation in the enterprise using advertising, digital targeting, content, and analyst relations. These activities support our quickly growing sales force, which we've scaled across key verticals,” Janine said.
Implementing Customer Feedback
Without staying close to your customers and understanding what they need, companies run the risk of missing out on innovation opportunities and staying ahead of competition.
“We stay very close to our customers, collecting their feedback via social media, email, regular Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys, and our support and sales teams. Our leadership team actually receives firstname.lastname@example.org emails so our CEO gets this unfiltered feedback (he'll frequently email back – and the email recipients are often incredulous that it's actually him). We created over 200 features this year, most of which were done at the request of, and in close cooperation with, our customers,” Janine said.
Getting Above the Noise
Whether you’re a niche product or enterprise, you have to get above the noise with your message that builds awareness and trust with current and potential customers.
“Because we have a very strong product, our marketing strategy is a little more clear-cut than that of our competition. We focus on raising awareness using straightforward messaging and design that gets to the core of what the Zoom experience is about, such as our “Meet Happy” campaign. We also create opportunities for people to get hands-on experience with our products. When people experience Zoom for themselves, the noise disappears. Finally, we have a fresh, approachable, and candid voice. Our customers trust us,” Janine said.
Expanding Your Sales Team
If you’ve just raised capital to expand your development and sales team, make sure that you have the right skill sets in place to help you grow while keeping the pulse on your customer’s needs.
“We have hundreds of engineers working to perfect Zoom across all platforms, and we’ve always directed significant resources to the work they are doing in product development. [For later stage companies, my advice is to] scale your teams carefully. Even in hypergrowth, you need to be thoughtful about who you hire and when. Also, use your executive and product leadership in your sales process when needed. They can make a big impact in your dealings with your prospects and customers. Finally, stay focused. We have so much opportunity coming our way, it forces us to prioritize and focus on the most important things,” Janine said.
Keeping tabs on your customer’s needs can only help in the effort to innovate and iterate to stay ahead of the competition.