In the SaaS startup world, the idea of “build it and they’ll come” is the easiest way to fail.
If you’re a SaaS startup entrepreneur, it’s not enough to focus solely on finding product/market fit, you also need to know the different distribution channels and begin testing them. After all, this is one of the ways to experience growth.
According to Jason Lemkin, “Growth in qualified leads, lead velocity, month over month, is by far the most important metric, if you have a sales-driven model.”
Truly, the success of every SaaS startup lies in the customer lifetime value.
If your customer is happy with your solution, they’ll stick to your brand and even refer others to you. And you can drive SaaS growth throughout the customer lifetime cycle.
For this singular reason, you need to start testing different marketing channels as you’re reaching product market fit. This gives you an edge over your competition.
This is so critical, because how and where you acquire customers are important. Don’t ever think that all customers are created equal. Because they’re not!
Salesforce, a SaaS company leveraged some of the distribution channels that you’ll come across below to acquire paying customers and build their brand.
When you test different channels, trust me, you’ll be able to know which channels convert new users into loyal customers.
You don’t want to waste money on new customers, since it costs 5x as much to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones.
Retaining customers is an important metric, which helps you achieve all your SaaS startup goals. Sadly, if you churn customers, it will affect your revenue and valuation in the future.
Why is the focus on Customer Retention?
Top performing SaaS startups are shifting their focus and investments from customer acquisition to retention. And you should too.
According to a global study by Forbes and Saithru, companies that focus on retention are nearly 50% more likely to achieve long-term profit and build a strong customer strategy.
So right off the bat, you need to have a customer retention strategy in place. Why? Because…
a). Happy customers buy more: Yes they do. According to Rob Markey from the Harvard Business Review, “Low churn and high loyalty scores usually mean that customers feel good about your company. They like doing business with you.”
And because they feel good, they will stay longer. As a SaaS entrepreneur, you have a role to play, in making it easier for customers to act on the great experiences you offer them. It’s no longer about the products, but the experience which you bring to the table.
b). Retained customers refer others: When happy customers stay longer and buy more, the chances of referring others to your business are high.
But for that to happen, you need to develop the right loyalty program that will spur them into action. A little nudge (in the form of incentives) can motivate your customers to tell others.
c). Retained customers increase revenue: To lose customers is to lose money. A list of “hacks” on how to increase revenue from existing customers may not cut it.
What you need is a deep relationship – connect with them at their own level. Listen more than you talk. Spend time with them. That’s how to drive engagement.
Apptegic defines “customer engagement” as the by-product of a customer’s time and attention and your product.
d). Satisfied customers push your brand to spotlight: Don’t you want your brand to gain more traction, and possibly become a household name?
On your own, it would take you several years of hard work, financial investment, and so much more. But your happy customers can make it easier. Here’s a guide to help you turn your customers into brand advocates.
Important SaaS metrics You Need To Track
Before we dive into the proven customer acquisition channels that you can use to grow your SaaS startups, let’s consider a few SaaS metrics that are critical to your success. Keep them in mind.
i). Cost of Customer Acquisition (CAC): Basically, CAC refers to the price you pay, including the resources and time, to acquire a new customer.
It’s calculated by dividing the total costs of acquisition by total new customers, within a specific time period. Knowing how to calculate cost of customer acquisition is important – because it influences your CLV (customer lifetime value).
Here’s the simple formula:
ii). Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): There’s no way to know how long your new customer will be with your brand. So the CLV is usually a prediction of the total value that your business will benefit from the relationship you’ve built with a customer.
Customer Lifetime Value is usually stated as a periodic value.
Here’s a simple formula for calculating CLV:
For example, a SaaS startup could say “this customer’s 6-month CLV is $261%” based on certain parameters, and how satisfied the customer is with your product at the moment.
iii). Revenue churn: Do you know that Churn is the scariest threat to your SaaS startup success? Sure it is!
Salesforce experienced a 2.5% average monthly churn rate in the previous 12 months. As you would expect, this affected their revenue dramatically.
It’s better calculated as a Monthly Recurring Revenue Churn (MRR churn). So what does it mean? Well, in respect to SaaS business, it’s a measure of lost revenue.
More often than not, it’s usually expressed as a whole number. According to Lighter Capital, when you understand MRR Churn, it can help you determine the extent of the effect of lost customers on your revenue.
iv). Customer churn: Is this SaaS metric important? Absolutely. Unfortunately, not too many SaaS startups measure it. But you should.
Customer churn is the reason why you’re losing money in your SaaS startup every single day. Here’s how to calculate it.
No matter what you call it: customer churn, customer attrition, or customer defection, we’re saying the same thing. It simply means the loss of a customer.
Just like the customer lifetime value which you can’t be 100% certain, customer churn is best predicted as well.
Let’s consider a few theories:
a). Getting traction: You may have a great product, but that’s only the beginning. As Weinberg recommends: “You need to research what distribution channels to use. This channel must suit your vision, because that’s one of the ways to drive customer growth on the long run.”
b). The 50% rule: This rule is not a fancy term. It helps you strike a balance between product development and gaining traction. When you put the same amount of time and attention to these two processes, you gain invaluable insight that will drive growth in your SaaS business.
c). Bullseye Framework: When running a SaaS startup, before you talk about growth, it’s important for you to know where you’re currently along the path of growth. The Bullseye framework will help you determine your traction channels – and will keep you focused on your ideal customers.
According to Brian K. Balfour, the Growth Leader and Founder of CoElevate, you can group your SaaS growth phases into three. This will help you gain more traction, and understand what inputs you need to make in every phase. The 3 phases are:
- Creating a product that people want
- Market the product that people want
- Scaling your business
Typically, these phases will act as your framework as you look for customer acquisition channels that suit what you’ve created.
c). Critical path framework: Making your traction goals clear and realistic is important. Why? Because when you do, the critical path framework takes effect – to help you stay on the line and ensure that you figure out your bottlenecks and achieve your traction goals.
In this path, you do nothing other than tasks that will help you achieve your target. So it helps you to maximize your resources and work on your core priorities.
With all of these in mind, here are 13 SaaS customer acquisition channels you can start testing today:
1). Search Engine Marketing
Every subscription-based business model needs to leverage search engine marketing, particularly Google AdWords.
If properly done, you would get good results. Interestingly, paid ads are 56% more profitable than social media, which roughly has a 44% ROI.
Sujan Patel, a SaaS startup entrepreneur and founder of ContentMarketing.io uses Google AdWords and other social media advertising plaforms to acquire new customers, amplify his content, and build a stellar brand.
Alongside other SaaS marketing experts, they offer lead generation advice, and majority of them revolve around paid search ads.
After reading a lot of success stories, do you think that paid search advertising will work for your SaaS startup?
Knowing when paid search will work for your SaaS startup will help you invest wisely, based on experimentation, not guess work.
Ada Chen Rekhi, after building a consumer gaming portal at Mochi Media (which was acquired last year for $80 MM), has some insightful thoughts to share in this direction.
According to Ada, the only premise to using paid search (especially Google AdWords) as a customer acquisition channel is when this expression proves true:
- LTV > CAC
That is, the lifetime value (LTV) of your customer should exceed the cost of acquisition (CAC), if you want paid search to bring you good results. Otherwise you’ll be wasting money.
As SaaS entrepreneurs, what we really care about is cost of acquisition and conversion rate. Because when potential customers enter our funnel and sign up as trial users, and then move on from trial period to paid, it means that your framework is working.
But if after the trial period elapses and users do not become paid customers, you need to fix your system. Sadly, you’ll be losing money on Google AdWords or any paid search.
Before you start any paid search campaign, though, you need to estimate how much it would cost to acquire a new customer, and the price of your product.
For example, if you’re promoting a $97 subscription-based product and you estimated the CAC based on the auction and competition on Google AdWords for your target keywords is $120, would you still do paid search?
Well it depends. Because in a SaaS model, you don’t look at the immediate returns, but your focus is on the LTV (Lifetime value of a customer).
So you may likely lose money to acquire the customer, but still recoup your cost and still profit in a 2 – 6 months timeframe, assuming there’s zero churn and zero operating cost on their $97/month.
So to give you a definite answer to your question, “does paid search work for SaaS startup?”
Yes it does. But you need to understand how it works, by determining the product cost, and calculating the CAC against the LTV.
2). Targeting Blogs
Blogging has come a long way. A lot businesses have and still use blogging to generate leads and grow in different ways.
Yes starting a blog is easy, but making it work for you as a distribution channel for customer acquisition is a different ball game. To get started, you need to think of your SaaS customer lifecycle as one big funnel. Why?
Because each of the stages in the funnel depends on the other to function effectively. For example, the adoption stage needs the implementation stage to be successful. This chart from Service Source illustrates it better:
Good news is, through blogging you can cater to potential customers at every stage of the funnel. It doesn’t matter how complicated the needs of the customer may be, blogging can help you.
According to HubSpot, 88% of B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than companies that do not, and 82% who blog daily acquire customers from their blogs.
As a startup that offers landing page solutions on a subscription model, Unbounce has acquired more and better customers that sticks to the brand through blogging. How?
By creating value for customers.
The blog is hugely active and each post generates well over 200 social shares and 20+ quality inbound links. This shows the engagement that each post brings.
In the words of Unbounce’s Co-founder, Rick Perrault, “We started marketing the day we started coding. And we’ve pretty much built the whole business on inbound marketing.”
While the coding was still ongoing, the marketing team were busy studying the target audience, identifying their needs, and creating irresistible content that provides enormous value for readers.
The truth of the matter is, blogging is hard.
Any startup entrepreneur or marketer who doesn’t have the zeal to put in long hours to create valuable content, or outsource content creation to experienced freelance writers will likely not acquire customers through the blog distribution channel.
However, in addition to using other customer acquisition channels, you need to take blogging seriously. Because by creating useful content consistently, you will build trust with the customers whom you acquired through paid search and social media advertising.
Blogging may not produce results in a month or the first 3 months, but when you’ve created helpful content that Google indexes and users shares, you’ll start acquiring new customers. And it will not stop.
3). Speaking Engagements
Are you ready to boost your brand behind the microphone, and persuade new customers to try your solutions?
In growing your customer base, you may not go door to door to convince potential customers, but you can consider speaking gigs. Why not.
A speaking engagement is basically an opportunity that you have to speak in front of 10 to 20,000 people for 10 minutes to 3 days. There are no rules here.
A speaking engagement can be in a small scale (where you do a presentation in front of 2 – 10 clients or students), or large scale (where you’re teaching or speaking to a large audience).
One of the reasons why speaking engagement is effective in getting new customers is because it’s a blend of inbound and offline marketing strategy. In other words, you’re using inbound strategy to communicate your ideas to offline customers.
Of course you can still reach your target audience using technology tools and platforms, but nothing beats human touch. More importantly, buyers crave it.
A research study by Neosperience found that 45% of customers require person-to-person contact in the buying process.
When you’re speaking to an audience, your success lies in your ability to move the audience from attention to engagement. According to Olivia Mitchell, “engagement is more important than attention.”
Mitchell argues that you already have the attention from the start. To a large degree, that’s why people enrolled for the conference. You didn’t bring them from their houses, they came on their own accords. That’s attention.
Your role is to nurture this attention and move them to the engagement phase where everything happens. That’s where you can pitch your idea, presell your product, or ask people to sign up and try your new software.
Speaking to an audience that’s closely related to your product, topic, or idea that you have will produce the best results. Don’t just accept every speaking opportunity. You need to create an acquisition plan first, says Ryan Gum. Here’s how to do it:
a). Define your audience: Before speaking to an audience, you need to know who they are, and how to communicate to them better. If you’re going to sell to them (in most cases you should), you need to know them.
If you’re a SaaS entrepreneur and you’re looking to acquire new customers to your landing page software, you’re better off speaking to an audience that understands and builds landing pages for their campaigns.
b). Define your goals: Once you have known your ideal customer profile, the next step is to define your goals. What do you want to achieve? Is it free trial users, website visits, paying customers, sales?
Of course you need to abide by the S.M.A.R.T principle for setting goals, but stick to 1 or 2 goals at every given time when speaking to an engaged audience.
Since you’re probably meeting the audience for the first time, don’t ask them to buy, but offer them free gifts and encourage them to sign up to your email list, or try your service for 14 days at no cost.
From there, you can nurture and convert free trial users into paying customers.
c). Define your acquisition funnels: Have you defined the various paths/stages that potential customers will pass before getting what you promised?
When speaking to an audience, you need to specify how simple or complicated the steps are. If you don’t do that, even if you persuade people to your website, they may end up not signing up. Because the process is too complex.
And of course, you need to know your metrics. It’s not enough to say “I want more signups.” Trust me, this is unrealistic because you’re not definite. Instead, you could make plans to acquire 100 free signups, assuming you’re speaking to hundreds or thousands of targeted attendees.
However, if you’re just starting out you may not know the right metrics to focus on. Or how to define it.
If that’s the case, you can learn from other successful startups. For example, GrooveHQ conducted a SaaS Conversion Survey to determine the key metrics of various startups. Here’s the result from 1500 responses that’s used as a benchmark:
Above all, don’t forget to track everything from day one, assuming that you’ve a few more days to speak to the same audience.
4). Email Marketing
Though old, email marketing still delivers dramatic results. For every $1 invested, email marketing yields $38 in ROI. This graph from VentureBeat’s State of Marketing Technology 2015 shows you how email outperforms other marketing channels.
As new marketing channels are constantly emerging, the existing channels are gradually changing. Most of the channels are no longer as effective as they used to be.
Take a look at this graph from CoElevate, you can see the slow decline in terms of effectiveness of some of the marketing channels that startup entrepreneurs use in the past 5 – 10 years.
People can’t do without emails.
Shockingly, research study by Textually found that 39.0 of Americans check their emails 1 to 3 times daily, and 33.8% check their email throughout the day.
So you can see that your email to potential customers has more chances of being opened and read. The more useful emails you send, the more trust you’ll establish with your prospects.
Before you can successful use email marketing for your SaaS startup, you need to understand the 2 types of emails:
- Email autoresponders
- Lifecycle email
Email autoresponders are used to acquire new customers by offering a free valuable information.
For example, ideal customers can sign up to take your email course, download a free trial of your software, or become a premium member for the first 3 – 14 days.
The purpose of this email is to convert prospects into customers.
On the other hand, lifecycle emails are used to retain current users or customers who are already paying or actively using your service.
You’re using email autoresponder messages to build relationship with users who aren’t ready to become customers yet.
You could send free emails with a new customer service lesson (assuming you’re software solution helps marketers to simplify their customer service solutions).
Use the email course to educate and build trust with your subscribers. When the email course is over (7 days is the typical timeframe), try to sell the user without pushing them too hard.
5). Content Marketing
Can you acquire customers to your SaaS business using content marketing?
Yes you can.
The Content Marketing Institute defines “content marketing as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Content marketing aims to sell the idea of a product, whereas traditional marketing is pushing its way to sell the product. What a wrong approach?
If you want to convince your prospective customers that your brand is trustworthy, you don’t need to advertise to them. Instead, get to know their pain points, and create valuable content that answers their questions.
If you succeed at creating engaging content in a variety of ways, then your content becomes the ad.
Consumers are sick and tired of interrupting ads. They want content. In fact, 73% of people prefer to read series of articles from a brand than traditional ads.
Bear in mind, though, that content isn’t limited to articles and blog posts. If you want to reach a different kind of audience, you need to create other types of content that converts:
- Long-form blog posts that are engaging and actionable.
- Informational guides
- Instructional videos that answer people’s questions
- Digital products, such as downloadable ebooks or PDFs, free tools, whitepapers, and more.
These content doesn’t have to live on your website. You can contribute to other meaningful and active blogs in your industry – with a link back to your pages.
6). Viral Marketing
In viral campaigns, you’re using the inputs and efforts from other people to acquire new users and customers.
The good news is, you don’t have to market or convince those new customers. In most cases, you don’t even see these audience.
Yet, they can become loyal to your brand simply because they trust the person who shared, tweeted, reviewed, or recommended your content.
It’s possible to create a viral campaign once, and reap the rewards for months or even years to come. It may not cost you money, but time.
For example, Ashton Kutcher was the first person to hit the 1 million followers on Twitter mark. It was a defining moment in the history of social media, and proves just how much potential Twitter has to grow any business or individual’s reach.
Now, SaaS startup brands can create and leverage on viral campaigns to acquire new customers as well. Let’s discuss briefly the various ways your content, idea or product can spread:
i). Incentives: You could reward your users if they refer their friends to sign up to your website. It’s the strategy that Dropbox uses to grow into a $4 billion dollar company.
ii). Embedding: If you can make your product embeddable on other people’s social profiles, websites, new users will find it easily and sign up. Companies like Typeform and Wistia are actively using this to acquire new customers.
iii). Word of mouth: You can simply increase the spread of your viral campaign, when users tell others to sign up. But for that to happen, you must offer tremendous value.
7). Offline Ads
I did mention that traditional advertising is gradually being abandoned, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work when effectively executed.
As you begin to test different marketing channels for your SaaS startup, you’ll likely come up with this truth:
There’s no right or wrong customer acquisition channel for SaaS startup. The approach that works best for me is right.”
Placing offline ads on newspaper, Yellow Pages, magazines, radio, television, and the like, can help you reach your customers who don’t find information online. These people prefer and trust offline print media more than online ads.
Always remember that your copy plays an important role here. Print or offline ads is rated 46% effective compared to other B2C paid advertising methods.
Big brands still rely on traditional offline ads. However, the results are quite different.
For example, SaaS companies like Marin Software invested 48% of their budget on marketing and sales, (which consists of inbound marketing and offline ads) and saw a 29% growth year-over-year.
Whereas, Tableau also invested 53% of its budget on the same marketing and sales, and saw a 78% growth year-over year.
8). Social and Display Ads
It’s no secret that millions of active users are on social sites. A huge percentage of these users are your ideal customers. By advertising on Facebook for example, you can reach your target audience without spending so much money.
Here’s a typical ad from a SaaS company – Optimizely.
If you target people with relevant social display ads, you can bring them to your landing page – and channel them onto your marketing funnel.
Social and display advertising will yield significant results, if you incorporate retargeting. According Josh Pigford, founder of Baremetrics, “social retargeting for Baremetrics has resulted in $650 for every $6 spent on customer acquisition.”
Yes you can deploy a social media and display ads advertising on a relatively low budget. If you’re aiming for a modest LTV, then you also need a modest CAC (customer acquisition cost). This is where social media can be of help to your SaaS startup.
To bring it into perspective, you need a dedicated landing page when advertising on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media platform.
You don’t want to send clicks to your SaaS homepage, but a highly-relevant and persuasive landing page – where they can subscribe to your email list first.
BidSketch, SaaS proposal building application, redirects users to its optimized page, and uses a unique style to ask for prospect’s email address before they can start the free trial:
You could give away coupon codes, free trial opportunities, or a 3 – 7-day email course to your audience, when advertising on social media. Other lead magnets that have proven to work include:
- Ebooks and articles
- Checklists and templates
- Video training
- Fremium membership
- Free tools
Social and display advertising is tricky. You need to be creative and understand your audience to make it work.
Don’t just throw money at a generic audience. It’s the quickest way to fail at facebook advertising.
Instead, create a Lookalike Audience from your conversion pixel. And optimize for Website Conversions, among other proven ways to grow SaaS customers with Facebook ads.
9). Engineering as Marketing
Are you ready to build free tools that acquire customers?
As a startup entrepreneur, one of my favorite books, “Traction” by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, highlighted 19 traction channels or distribution channels that startups can use to acquire new customers.
One of the most underutilized traction channel is Engineering as Marketing. That’s a fancy term, but the impact will overwhelm you. You should seriously test it out.
If you’re concerned how top digital marketing brands and SaaS startups gain more traction to become the go-to resources online, then you can be assured that Engineering as Marketing is their secret weapon.
It’s proven to be very effective when properly executed. HubSpot’s Marketing Grader is a good example of Engineering in Marketing.
In a nutshell, Engineering as Marketing is the proven marketing strategy whereby a SaaS company build a free tool specific to its core product.
You know Moz, don’t you?
Well, Moz offers advanced SEO and inbound marketing solutions to help businesses and websites gain more visibility online. But this solution is expensive – and not a lot of startups can afford it.
To eliminate objections, Moz created the Open Site Explorer, a free tool, that helps bloggers and website owners check how many backlinks they have gained, the domain authority, and other metrics.
With this free tool, Moz is able to convince SaaS startups, SEOs, ecommerce marketers, top brands, small businesses, and freelancers who want to gain more traction online to sign up and become paying customers.
You can create a free tool to acquire new customers or retain existing ones. However, if the tool is able to achieve both feats, you’ll build a thriving SaaS business.
Pablo, a social media tool from Buffer, which enables you to engaging images for your social media posts in under 30 minutes is another form of Engineering in Marketing. It caters to Buffers new and existing users – and helps other marketers.
This tool is relevant to Buffer’s core product – social media sharing app. You should consider developing a simple free tool that your target audience can use every day.
When you’re a SaaS business model, you need to bear in mind that product, support, revenue model, and marketing – are closely tied together.
You can’t separate one and expect people or the media to give you attention. If your product is great, but customer support sucks, no distribution channel can help.
So to gain publicity for your SaaS startup, you should ensure that the important aspects of your business are addressed. Once it’s done, you can use unconventional approach to ignite free publicity.
Start by creating a resource or report that people can’t find elsewhere. For example, Salesforce created State of Marketing Research 2016, where they surveyed 4,000 marketing leaders worldwide to reveal how the industry is changing.
As a result, thousands of websites referenced the report and linked back to Salesforce. The SaaS company also brought in new users who signed up to use their sales CRM software. How sweet?
11). Affiliate Programs
Here’s how it works: You reward your existing users/customers who are spreading the word about your product or service. In the digital marketing space, the most common type of reward is money (it’s usually a 50% commission rate).
However, in the SaaS model, you can reward with premium services, or you can reward your affiliates by simply paying them for the referral.
Lyft and Uber both utilize the first type of affiliate rewards. They don’t pay affiliates money for referrals, but reward you and whoever you refer credit towards a free ride.
When you launch an affiliate program, you’ll find that influencers, bloggers, consultants, and even competitors will promote your SaaS product in order to get the reward (money or other valuable incentives).
Although affiliate programs are free to participate in (e.g., Shopify is free to promote), but most SaaS companies allow only their premium members to promote their products as affiliates. Moz and LeadPages are typical examples.
But when you start an affiliate program, make it open to everyone. That way, you’ll increase your chances of getting more traction, and acquiring new customers that affiliates will refer you. You could launch yours via Clickbank or any third-party solution.
12). Offline Events
If you’re not ready to wait to attend trade shows, you can utilize offline events. Yes you can host your own event. It’s not as hard as it seems. You can start by bringing people of like minds together on meetups.com.
To make it easier, if you already have a community on your blog or social media, you can invite them over. Anywhere between 20 to 500 people is a small-scale event. As long as you can make impact – you’ll get new customers.
If you’re the one hosting the event, avoid boring people with long sales pitches. Of course you need to share the passion or idea behind your product, but don’t be too desperate to get people onboard.
If you have the wherewithal, you can fly experts to come speak at your conference. This would have a multiplier effect, because these experts will in turn promote the event, invite their own audience to attend, and help you promote your business.
Trust me, you could organise fun contests at your event that will engage people.
For example, Lengow, a product feed management SaaS startup uses the Startup Spotlight Contest, where they encourage attendees and speakers to make the most of it by promoting their participation online via various channels.
Direct selling may not work for every SaaS startup, but if you’re offering a high-ticket product, you can leverage “sales” as a tool for customer acquisition.
When it comes to sales, you have a responsibility to reach out to the right customers, wherever they may be. As you begin to answer their questions via content marketing, you’re positioning your brand to be trusted.
All the inquiries that you receive, no matter how important or irrelevant they may look, address them. That way, you’re preparing your prospects to listen the moment you convince them to buy your product either now or in the nearest future.
Try to remove every objection on the way.
Ideally, reach out to decision makers in organisations and companies that you’re targeting.
These are the people who can buy into your product without waiting for approval.
Direct sales is hard, hence I always recommend that SaaS startups build a level of trust with potential customers first, nurture them, quality them, and convert them into customers.
Focus is your key. Once you’ve tested and proven a particular marketing channel to be effective, then it’s time to mine every piece of value from that channel.
As there are different stages of the customer lifecycle, you need to test different channels to see which one is most suitable.
For example, offline events may not be viable when you’re starting out and needs to recoup your investment.
You might want to begin with paid advertising (both search and social), while gradually nurturing your prospects and existing customers through blogging and email marketing.