Reading Time: 32 minutes

We work with and build partnerships with thousands of marketing agencies at Agorapulse and when we asked them what they struggle with the most, the number one answer was always how to grow and scale their agency.

But when we drill down, we find that the problems, and the solutions, change as agencies grow.

New and boutique agencies struggle with messaging, targeting, and lead nurture. It’s a near-constant battle to keep the pipeline filled and the next project client coming onboard.

As agencies grow, however, they often change their revenue model to a recurring proposition, which is a great help to cash flow. But that introduces a new challenge to agencies: churn.

If you’ve got a problem with too many customers canceling or not renewing, how do you reverse that? How can partnerships help?

That’s what we’re covering in today’s episode of Partnership Unpacked.

Welcome back to Partnership Unpacked, where I selfishly use this time to pick the brains of experts at strategic partnerships, channel programs, affiliates, influencer marketing, and relationship building… oh, and you get to learn too! Subscribe to learn how you can amplify your growth strategy – with a solid takeaway every episode from partnership experts in the industry.

And while we often talk about partnerships as a growth channel – leveraging affiliates or influencers, for example, to introduce our brand to new audiences – there’s another terrific application for partnerships. And that is to increase customer satisfaction and stickiness, and thereby reduce churn.

What does that mean? How does it work for marketing agencies? What are some examples?

That’s exactly what our guest today, Rachel Nulman-Schapiro, is going to talk to us about.

Rachel is an ambassador to small business and agency communities for vcita, a tool savvy agencies are using for everything from client management to email marketing. She’s in a position to help and advise them because she’s been in their shoes, having started a marketing agency of her own in college.

And today she’s going to help us understand how to leverage partnerships to reduce churn and keep our cash flow positive.

Partnership Unpacked host Mike Allton talked to Rachel Nulman-Schapiro about:

♉️ Whether it’s truly possible to have partnerships with paying clients.

♉️ How agencies can leverage partnerships.

♉️ How to measure the ROI of client partnerships.

I’m in the business of relationships and it touches everything and it impacts everything.

Rachel Nulman-Schapiro

Learn more about Rachel Nulman-Schapiro

Resources & Brands mentioned in this episode

Full Notes & Transcript:

(Lightly edited)

How Agencies Leverage Partnerships To Combat Churn with Rachel Nulman-Schapiro

[00:00:00] Mike Allton: We work with thousands of marketing agencies at Gora Pulse, and when we ask them what they struggle with the most, the number one answer was always how to grow and scale their agency. But when we drill down, we find that the problems in the solutions change. As the agencies grow, new and boutique agencies struggle with messaging, targeting it, lead, nurture.

It’s a near constant battle to keep the pipeline filled and the next project client coming on board. Now, as agencies grow, however, they often change their revenue model to a recurring proposition, which is a great help to cash flow, but that introduces a new challenge to. Churn. If you’ve got a problem with too many customers canceling or not renewing, how do we reverse that?

How can partnerships help? That’s what we’re covering in today’s episode of Partnership. Unpack.

This is Partnership unpacked your Go-to guide to Growing your Business through partnerships quickly. I’m your host, Mike Alton. At each episode unpacks the winning strategies and latest trends from influencer marketing to brand partnerships and ideas that you can apply your own business to grow exponentially.

And now the rest of today’s episode. Welcome back to Partnership Unpacked, where I selfishly used this time to pick the brains of experts at strategic partnerships, channel programs, affiliates, influencer marketing, and relationship building. Oh, and you get to learn, too. Subscribe to learn how you can amplify your growth strategy with a solid takeaway.

Every episode from partnership experts in the industry. And while we often talk about partnerships as a growth channel, leveraging affiliates or influencers, for example, to introduce our brand to new audiences, there’s another terrific application for partnerships, and that is to increase customer satisfaction and stickiness, and thereby reduce churn.

What does that mean? How does it work from marketing agencies? What are some examples? That’s exactly what our guest today, Rachel Norman Shapiro is gonna talk to us about. Rachel’s an ambassador to small business and agency communities for Vita, a tool that savvy agencies are using for everything from client management to email marketing.

She’s in a position to help and advise them. She’s been in their shoes having started a marketing agency of her own in college, and today she’s gonna help us understand how to leverage partnerships to reduce churn, and keep our cash flow positive. Hey Rachel, welcome to the show. Hi,

[00:02:37] Rachel Nulman-Schapiro: Mike. Thank you so much for having me.

I’m so excited for our conversation today.

[00:02:41] Mike Allton: My pleasure. Let’s start by talking a little bit about Vata, for those who may be unfamiliar with the SAS company. [00:02:47] Rachel Nulman-Schapiro: Absolutely. So was founded in 2010, so that’s quite a while ago. We sort of started out as an online scheduling tool, and then over the years developed more into an all-in-one business management for small businesses.

So our vision is to really help, you know, small businesses enjoy everything technology has to offer. So instead of running their business with a pen and paper, or out of a notebook or maybe an Excel sheet, they get an application where they can manage. Their bookings, their payments, their crm, their client messaging, their email marketing and everything from one place where, you know, they don’t really need to be super tech savvy to use it.

So we do have relationships directly with small businesses, but most of our business is generated via channel partners. And we work very closely with many marketing agencies worldwide. They sort of work with us in different ways. Some of them are just distribution partners, so they’ll resell our software to their customer.

But what we’ve been doing over the last couple years is actually working as a platform partner for many agencies. So agencies will kind of use the foundation of our platform, of our solution and kind of build their own SaaS offering on top of it and then deliver that to their clients. So we’ve got some agency partners doing some really interesting things with our software.

[00:04:01] Mike Allton: How fascinating. Now your role as an ambassador to small businesses and agencies, what does that entail exactly? [00:04:09] Rachel Nulman-Schapiro: So, as you mentioned, I actually, in my previous life, I co-founded an agency that served the small business community. We were doing everything from website building to social media and seo. It was kind of before the days of the real influencer marketing, but we were kind of doing it before it was called influencer marketing.

And we had, you know, it was just such an incredible journey for me to be on. And although I did end up moving into. You know, more of the tech industry. I’ve always kind of still held on to that, just to those memories and, and everything I’ve learned on that journey. And when they came, the opportunity to join V Cita four years ago, I was so excited to be able to sort of connect those two worlds and go back to working with the agencies and the small businesses, but do it in a place where I can really empower them with technology.

So I kind of have two hats on one side, I have kind of a direct. Relationship with the small businesses we serve. I kind of help them with understanding how the product can deliver value. So I do a lot of content projects and webinars just on helping our users kind of understand how to customize the platform to their needs.

Me and my team work very closely with our partners, our agency partners. We do the sales enablement. We train partner sales teams on how to talk to their small businesses about the platform, how to provide customer. On the platform. So I really kind of have this one interface with the small businesses where I also learned a lot, and then I’m able to share that knowledge with our partners and help them really make the most of the partnership with VC now.

[00:05:38] Mike Allton: That’s so cool. Yeah, we don’t honestly do anything quite like that at a Gopal. So this is all very much new to me, and I know many of our listeners are wondering, okay, how does this actually work? So could you tell us how does our partnership with an. Actually work. [00:05:53] Rachel Nulman-Schapiro: Sure. So what we do basically is we kind of provide our software to the marketing agency and they don’t use it for themselves.

So it’s not necessarily a C R M they’re gonna be using to manage their own customers. They resell it to their customers. So if you’re an agency and you’re serving the small business community and you’re doing things like building websites, Running these lead gen campaigns, what you can do is kind of plug those services into our platform and then sell this entire platform that includes website building, review management, seo, lead gen, as well as CRM and ongoing business management, all sort of under.

One umbrella and we do it under like a, in a white label arrangement. So our partners kind of sell the solution as their own. So that’s sort of how it works. Just in terms of, you know, and I know know this is a common, I know other SaaS companies do this as well, and I think what really. Kind of makes V Seeta stand out is the fact that we’re sort of partner first.

So besides providing the solution which the agency sell, we also give, you know, our partners this whole sort of set of services. So for example, I mentioned my team that does the sales training, uh, and you know, professional services. We have developers that work for some of our partners, so that’s kind of the blueprints of it.

Every partner’s a little bit different, so you know, every partner ends up kind of with their own unique solution. But yeah. But that’s, I guess in a nutshell how it works.

[00:07:17] Mike Allton: That is so cool. I love that. It’s actually got me thinking honestly about, you know, ways that I could develop that as a channel partner program.

You know, with Agorapulse, we work with agencies, but typically it’s just us selling them access to our tool, and then they add their clients there. Sometimes they refer their clients and the clients pay us directly, you know, but it’s not that formal program like what you have. So that sounds really interesting.

Let’s get into some of the specific ways so that agencies can use partnerships to reduce churn, starting with diversifying services. What does that mean exactly, and what are some examples you’ve seen with the agencies that you work with?

[00:07:53] Rachel Nulman-Schapiro: Sure. So this is true to, I guess, any SaaS solution that’s gonna be sold by marketing agency, cuz it’s basically, if you’re an agency and you’re introducing a SaaS offering, kind of expanding your proposition, you’re basically looking for more things that you can sell to your existing customer base.

So I guess that’s kind of by default in additional revenue channel. You know, you just got more things to sell to the people you’re already selling to, and what it really means is just expanding. Proposition and being able to deliver additional value, of course, at an additional cost. And what we very often see with partners is that they go from being, you know, a platform or an app where the small business is gonna be.

You know, editing their website once a month or checking out their SEO dashboard, maybe, you know, once in a week or getting these notifications about leads that are being captured, but just all around, not all that much engagement. You go from being that to being the platform that’s being used for the very.

Kind of basic core business activity. So every time a customer receives a message, every time a small business gets a booking, every time a small business is gonna issue an invoice, you know, those kind of every day, day in day out activities, they’re gonna be using the platform delivered by the agency.

You know, they’re gonna be logging into the agency’s platform. So we’re kind of seeing this. Super sharp increase in engagement and in perceived value. You know, suddenly an agency goes from being an agency that built a website to this organization that provides the foundation of the small businesses every day business, you know?

And then that also creates a very solid base for upsell, cuz suddenly the customer is there in the platform. Basically every day, multiple times a day. And that’s a great environment to introduce additional services and say, you know, hey, we’re launching this, you know, influencer marketing service next month, or we’re running this special promotion where you can get into marketing automation.

We know that’s something you’ve never done before and you can introduce these offerings in the platform. And what we’ve seen from partners is that it just kind of gives them a really. Space to engage with their customers and provide these additional offerings. And they’re able to do it in context, right?

So it’s not just, oh, hey, you know, we’re offering this service Now. It’s more like, Hey, you know, I see you’re getting a lot of traffic to your website, but it looks like a lot of these leads aren’t converting. So let’s see what we can do together to help you transfer more of those leads into actual paying.

[00:10:21] Mike Allton: I love that cuz this is actually something that comes up every single year. We do this huge agency summit in June and it’s focused on helping agencies grow and scale their businesses. And one of the common purposes of the content that we put out there is to help agencies do just this, diversify their services.

You’re an SEO agency, great. Come to this event and they’re in social media. Your social media agency. Great. Come to this event and learn how to offer remote. Video production, but that tip you just added at the end was that ability for the agency to see what their existing customers, where they’re already trying to pursue some success and maybe they’re struggling a little bit, and that creates an opportunity for you as the agency to step in and say, Hey, I saw you doing this.

That’s something we can help you with. We’ve got this extra service here.

[00:11:06] Rachel Nulman-Schapiro: Absolutely brilliant. It’s kind of like you’re getting into the sales funnel with them. So as opposed to having that handshake where you’re saying, all right, you know, I got you your leads via the website or the social media campaign, or whatever it is I’m offering, it’s, you know, here’s the lead.

Let’s see what we’re gonna do about it. You know, here’s an email campaign. We can send this lead on your behalf, or here’s a platform you can use to send that lead. You know, the first message, something that was really a game changer for us is when we rolled out a feature with push notifications. It sounds so simple, right?

But what we did was we work with a lot of agencies that build websites, and they had this thing where there were leads coming in via these websites, and these leads weren’t being seen by the small business, by the small business customer. Sometimes days. So you know, a roofer or a plumber gets a form submission from a website and they’re gonna call a week later and be like, oh, hi, you completed something on my website.

And the person on the other side is gonna say, What are you talking about? Like half an hour later I was already on the call with the next listing in Google. So what we did was we kind of helped the agencies notify the business. As soon as that lead came through, they get a push notification to their mobile saying, someone just converted on your website, you gotta get in there now.

You know, call this person, make that sale. And you know, this is something that really. Agencies just kind of showcase their success. You know, they go from just being this delivery tool for leads to something that actually generates real business, real money in the bank for the small business.

[00:12:41] Mike Allton: And that’s a huge key right there.

Being able to prove your worth, prove the impact that you’re having on your client’s business, that’s gonna help that retention for sure. Now, when an agency is partnering to expand services like this or using other channels, how do you measure roi?

[00:12:57] Rachel Nulman-Schapiro: That’s a great question. I think it’s actually a really, it’s a really simple answer, but it is, you know, something I come across very often when I’m speaking to some of our partners, some of our agencies, you know, you’re kind of in this business, and I know because I’ve been on that agency side myself, where everything is measurable, right?

Nothing’s done. Just sort of like, In the dark anymore. You’re accountable for every single click, every single traffic source. You know exactly what the net value of the services you’re delivering are. And I think that’s a really great kind of framework to be in, where everything is measurable. And as an agency, like I know from our partners, sometimes there’s a lot of concern when they’re introducing or rolling out a new service, cuz it’s kind of like we do what we do and we do it so well and we’re the.

And suddenly we need to, you know, diversify our revenue where we need to address this churn problem, and we need to integrate this additional service into the very core of our business. And luckily, when partnering with SAS providers, measurements are actually. Really, really easy because what SAS isn’t always available with other tools is when you’re a SaaS provider, you just by nature have access to data and you know exactly how many people are using your platform, how many people are engaging, you know, how long the average session is, how much they’re paying you, what the upsell potential is.

It’s all kind of just there. So it’s really easy to see, you know, once you’re up and running, it’s really easy to see how much revenue you’re actually driving from. You know, new service you’re rolling out, and luckily very often with SAS providers that are open platforms like vta. And what I mean by that is that it’s not just like a product that comes off the shelf, it’s a product where it’s kind of built in a way where from day one, it’s very, very easy to seamlessly integrate with any existing solutions that the agencies offer.

And this, by the way, is a tip I always give to agencies that are looking to partner with. Providers from, from any industry, you know, for any purpose. It’s always a good idea to find a SaaS solution where, you know, look on their website for a developer’s hub, look on their website for technical documentation.

That is gonna be an indication that this is a platform where integrations are possible. And it’s not just this like closed. Box of a product that you’re gonna end up selling as this standalone offering, and it’s not gonna talk to the other services or platforms you deliver and it’s just gonna create, you know, all this overhead.

And then that’s, you know, a tip for EV when you choose a SaaS provider for any purpose and specifically in cita. But that’s something we invest in a lot in just being an open platform where partners can really make their solution their own and plug in any additional services and we can integrate with anything they’re already offering.

So when it comes to roi, you know, first of all, the investment is usually lower than it would’ve been if it was a kind of closed off the shelf product. It doesn’t have all that overhead. Usually we can even go to market with partners with them several weeks. So it’s not like they’re gonna invest months and months of time and talent and you know, just.

Building the business model for what we’re gonna do together. And when you try looking at return again, it’s actually pretty easy because you’re able to see, all right, you know, this is the revenue I’m making from selling subscriptions to this platform. And we actually have a lot of product monetization opportunities within the platform.

So just an example is that we have our own native payment processing service, which agencies love because every. Needs to get paid, right? Every small business customer needs to get paid, needs to send out invoices, and we know that there’s this growing interest among small businesses in online payment processing.

In fact, we ran a study two years in a row in the small business community. It’s a survey we launched sort of towards the end of every year. And what we found was is that there’s a pretty consistent growth in adoption of in, in technology in general within the small business market. I think it was about 30% of participants.

Oh, sorry. No, it was 30 participants spent more last year. Than they did the year before, and 50% of small businesses anticipated that this year they’re gonna be spending even more. So that’s kind of a space where we know small businesses are gonna be spending. That’s just kind of in general about the adoption of technology among the small business market.

But specifically, payments is always up there. You know, it’s always. First features to be adopted when we get these new small businesses using the platform because every business needs to get paid and getting paid online is about three times faster than it is offline for these small businesses. So they’re able to get that money in the bank that much faster.

It helps them manage, uh, their cash flow. It helps them invest more in growth. It helps them kind of invest more. Sometimes even in marketing, have that, you know, additional buffer, which allows them to invest more in their marketing. And what we do is we actually offer the agency to kind of join us in the payment processing service.

So now the agency is offering their small businesses this online payment processing solution that they can use instead of something like PayPal or Square. And it’s branded as the agency’s. Processing service and the agency will enjoy processing fees, obviously. So that’s just an example of how agencies are able to monetize, uh, partnership with vCita.

And I know something else that’s very common with obviously the vCita, but also with other SaaS solutions, is that there’s. Sort of an additional monetization opportunity with selling paid applications within the platform. So you can, as an agency, you can say, you know, Hey, I’m gonna sell this new app. I’m gonna integrate an app for, you know, creating uh, really easy graphic design for Instagram stories.

And you can sell that as an app on the platform and charge, you know, whatever it is, $20 a month. And that’s just an additional opportunity to monetize the platform cuz the user is already there. It’s where they’re managing their. And you can introduce, you know, these services. So just back to the question about roi, at the end of the day, the agency’s looking at a dashboard where they can see exactly, you know, how many subscriptions they’ve got per users that are using this platform, what does that additional revenue from the monetization opportunities look like?

So payment processing or paid apps, or whatever it is. So the bottom line is pretty visible and obviously, you know, the investment, as I mentioned, isn’t super high. So in general, you know, with SaaS partnerships, Normally pretty easy to calculate.

[00:19:23] Mike Allton: That is so powerful, and I love the fact that you included the time to go to market.

That’s actually a critical component with a lot of agencies, a lot of the tools that they’re thinking about implementing that doesn’t get addressed until sometimes it’s too late. All of a sudden, you know, they’ve invested in a tool and they realize it’s gonna be six months before they can actually use it and bring it to their clients and, and their target audience.

So, Friends, we’re talking with Rachel about how agencies are able to measure the ROI from their partnerships, and I’ve got a few more questions I want her help with, but before we move on, let’s hear about how a Agora Pulse can help businesses and marketing agencies measure ROI from another channel.

Social media,

it’s the arc of triumph. Can you imagine if you’re in charge, you’re the CMO of marketing Paris, what are your main channels? The arc of Triumph. There’s the Eiffel Tower, there’s the Louv. Those are your channels you’re gonna use to drive tourism dollars in. Okay, now, but you’re not the CMO of Paris.

In fact, you’re the CMO of your company product service. So what are your main channels? So I’m gonna guess there’re things like paper click, maybe Trade Joe’s events, maybe content. Those are all pretty predictable, right? Let me ask you this question. Are you treating social media as a main channel? By the way, only 1.8% of you today measure social media and can prove an ROI in that investment.

HubSpot and Gartner say, social media’s the number one channel to invest in this year. Are you doing it? If not, I can tell you why you’re not doing it. Because you don’t have the tools, you don’t have the mentality, and that’s okay. We’ve got you covered. You changed the mental. We’ll give you the tour of Gore Pulses, tracks all the ROI for you.

One place to manage all your social media activity, your number one channel, change your success, treat social media as a channel one CMO to another. My name is Daryl. I’m with the Gore Pulse. I’ll talk to you soon.

All right.

Let’s bring Rachel back on. Rachel, I want you to help us understand another way that. Agencies can reduce churn. It’s about staying top of mind with their clients. And you suggested that there was a way that they can use technology to address.

[00:21:36] Rachel Nulman-Schapiro: Sure. So there’s a really great metric we use in sas, which is Engagement Score.

And what we basically do is we’re gonna calculate activities that are happening on the platform, right? Because we know when the user is on the platform, we know what they’re doing In the VC day example, we know that they’re doing things like, you know, writing to leads that have just landed in their CRM or booking appointments with them, or collecting payments from them, or sending them contracts that they can sign.

And you know, with other. I’m sure there’s, they know how to count their activity kind of score as well. And what happens is, is we’re able to kind of determine the level of engagement at any given time and we’re able to sort of bucket users according to their behavior within the platform. And we’re able to say, you know, these users, these guys are super engaged.

You know, they know exactly what they’re doing. What we should do is we should just, you know, continue nurturing them and engaging them and giving. More ideas of how they can leverage the platform. But then on the other side, there might be users that are completely disengaged and users that you know, haven’t logged in for a while.

And I know with like just coming from the agency world, you know, I’ve experienced that as an agency professional where sometimes you have these accounts and it’s just sort of not clear what their level of engagement is because you know they’re getting their leads or maybe they have their website up in the air or you’re running a campaign for them.

But you’re not really sure you know what’s going on, are they, are they talking to the leads and catching for them? Are they even thinking about updating their website? You’re sort of in the dark and I think what SAS really sort of gives you the eyes on the users. You’re really able to understand those levels of engagement and then create a plan.

So for example, what we do at vCita is we have this whole sort of automated alert system where we’re able to tell when users. Dropping out of adoption. So if someone was super engaged on the platform, but then suddenly is slowing down, the customer success manager that’s assigned to that user is gonna get a red flag and say, you know, Hey, this person has been less active.

You know, maybe they’re just on vacation, you know, sipping their cocktail at the beach or something. But maybe they’re actually becoming less engaged in the platform and maybe they’re thinking of moving over to a competing solution, or maybe they’re just not seeing the value and then it’s just very likely they’re gonna end up churning.

So we kind of have the ability to see churn before it happens, and then get in there, get in front of the customers, and be able to see, you know, what’s, what’s going on? How come you. Why haven’t you logged in for several days? You know, I’m sending you these leads, or is anything happening? Are you in touch with these people?

Or is, am I bringing you real value? And very often those conversations are able and, and it doesn’t even have to be a conversation, you know, it can be a phone call, but it could also just be an email that goes out automatically. It could also just be a popup somewhere where we’re basically getting in front of the user and saying, you know, hey, You’re paying for this service and we want to deliver the value we promised and let’s make sure that happens.

And that’s a way we’re able to really bring a lot of users that are sort of on their, what we call slipping away, on their way out, bring them back into the engagement pool. You know, keep them engaged, keep them close to us, make sure they don’t churn, and make sure they don’t move over to our competitors.

[00:24:51] Mike Allton: It’s so funny cuz at the outset of, I think pretty much every show I say that I’m selfishly bringing these people on. To help me, and it is so true. I’m not a marketing agency. I’ve with a Agora Pulse, we’re a SaaS company, so everything you’re saying is great for marketing agencies, but it’s also a hundred percent true at a Agora Pulse.

We’re paying attention to our users, how they connect, how many social profiles and, and that sort of thing. And we have an engagement score and we know exactly. Really how many things they need to do within their first 30 or 60 days in order to know whether or not they’re going to be likely to become a paying client.

But where we are dropping the ball is 6, 12, 18 months from now. Are they still engaged? Are they still using the app? Are we reaching out via email, text messages, even phone calls? In fact, that’s gonna be my next question and you answered it. Brilliant. Use whatever these methods make sense to reengage that customer to check in with them, make sure they know that you’ve got new features.

Make sure they know how to use the tool, make sure they’re happy. And I think a lot of people might be afraid, honestly, whether it’s a small business owner or a CEO of a SaaS company, afraid to reach out to a customer that seems like they’re distancing themselves from you. Kind of afraid that, oh, if I say something that’s just gonna make them hit the cancel.

That much faster. Do you agree with that?

[00:26:09] Rachel Nulman-Schapiro: Yeah, I can relate to that. That’s actually something we sometimes think about when we send out like a really huge email blast that we know is gonna reach people that haven’t been engaged. And it’s kind of like, what if this just reminds them and they’re be like, oh, you know, I don’t, I don’t need this, I don’t want this.

And I think it’s there. We have to address it. It is a concern, but at the end of the day, And I can say this on behalf of both the small businesses we work with directly as well as the small businesses, we help our partners manage. So our partners, the agencies, small business customers. More often than not, these people really want to get the value they signed up for, you know, more than they wanna leave or cancel the subscription.

They want to get the service they, you know, they, they’re paying for, they want to get those additional leads. They want to get their assistance with growing their business. You know, these people, small businesses. What I’ve learned over the years is that, you know, small businesses are really passionate about what they do.

You know, the reason they went into business is because, you know, they obviously love. Could be a beauty salon or a landscaping business, or a lawyer, or a doctor, or a vet or a dog walker. Doesn’t matter. You know, they chose this line of business because they have a passion for what they do, and they wanna see their business succeed.

And what we do is we speak to them in their language. You know, it’s not about, you know, oh, please don’t cancel our service. It’s about. Hey, you know, you have this dream and you signed up for our service because you wanna pursue that dream, you wanna grow your business, and we’re committed to helping you do that, and let’s see how we can make that work for you.

And something incredible. I, I’ve recently learned when speaking to our director of customer success and I, I truly, you know, I’ve been at the company for over four years and I didn’t know this. Is that some of the users will go through again. And this is, uh, just, I know it’s a little complicated because we have our small business users that we serve directly, but we also sometimes serve, we, we sort of have customer success as a service for some of our partners and we’ll do, our customer success agents will do customer success on behalf of the agency or in, in another scenario.

Sometimes we just. The customer successes, the agency’s customer success team. So there’s like different, different types of partnerships. But what we always do, whether it’s us or them or us training them, is uh, there’s this great practice where on the very first onboarding call we ask, you know, Hey, what, what are you trying to achieve?

What is your goal? And then that goal is documented in our crm. So we know to say you. This person, this business is interested in opening their second location, or this business is looking to, you know, expand their customer base by 50%. Or this business is looking to introduce a new service and make, you know, make more money out of that.

Hmm. And we’re able to then, you know, kind of work with them on this goal. You know, Hey, you say, say something like, Hey, you know, given up now. Is gonna just move you further away from that goal that you told me that that second location you told me about, that new service you wanted to launch, you know, let’s, let’s not give up yet.

Let’s work together towards getting you to that goal. And we really see this as a, as a joint journey. You know, whether it’s us with the partner or us with the, with the small business, we, we feel committed to that goal and we wanna work hand in hand with the small business to make sure they’re able to, to, you know, reach, to get what, what brought them to sign up with us to begin.

[00:29:25] Mike Allton: That is such smart advice, and I just kind of wanna underline it for everybody listening, because it applies no matter what it is that you’re doing. If you’re talking to a prospect, existing client, whether you’re an agency, a small business, or what, if you’re talking to somebody, one of the first things you should be asking in that conversation is, What’s your purpose?

What’s your goal? What are your objectives? What are you hoping to accomplish here? And then write it down so you can remember it and refer back to it. Because particularly if you’re a consultant or something like that, that’s something that should be leading everything else that you do with that particular client.

So I love that. Now, there’s a third tactic to reduce churn that, that you had told me about before. It’s called, it was involving data signals. How does that.

[00:30:08] Rachel Nulman-Schapiro: First of all, the whole adoption score mechanism is based on data signals. So it’s based on, you know, understanding the increase or decrease in level of engagement, or we actually score different activities.

So like viewing a lead alert is whatever, two points. But then. Sending them a message is four points, and sending them an invoice is six points. So we’re able to kind of pick up on these signals, on these levels of activity, and then that’s how we calculate the score. And then something else we do is, you know, beyond the kind of just tracking of.

The adoption level is also the level of exploration and discovery of services within the platform. So what, what we sometimes see is someone will come in and they’ll have, cuz we work sometimes with, uh, what we call intent. So we have someone comes in with an intent and they’re like, okay, you know, I have this whole platform, but all I really want is just the online scheduling.

You know, I know that I can collect payments or maybe I don’t even know. But anyway, I came for scheduling and that’s what I’m gonna be doing. And that we know is, is not, you know, necessarily an indication for churn, but we know for a fact that this user is gonna be less entrenched in the platform. You know, they’re gonna have a very narrow use case, which is gonna put them at higher risk of churn.

And what we do is we’re able to sort of profile these users according to their usage patterns and, and the fact that they might just be using a very, very slim portion of the product. Again, this is something we do with our direct small businesses and also for the users of our partners. So, Agents for cus small businesses that are agency customers.

We have this whole, it’s kind of like a, we call it like the brain, it’s like a marketing automation brain where we see, you know, which features and functionalities are being used by the small business. And then we’re able to automatically the customer success. Team doesn’t even have to monitor this. It happens automatically.

We send them information and sometimes even just educational materials about the features they’re not using. So we can say something like, Hey, you know, you added this widget to your website and that’s great and you know you’re getting these form submissions, but did you know that you could actually configure this?

And it’ll enable your website visitors to actually schedule their first call with you so they don’t have to submit a form. They’re just booking their call, or they’re submitting their document, or they’re placing their first deposit or whatever it is. We’re able to recommend, you know, features that. That are already in the package, that the user doesn’t even, it’s not even really an upsell.

It’s kind of just, you know, you have this, why not use it? And we do this, there’s a couple of different criteria we look at. So of course we look at usage. You know, what, what is it that you’re using and what is it that you’re not? But we also pay a lot of attention to who the business is, you know, what is their business?

Vertical. We, we work, we know that a lot of the marketing agencies that work with us are sort of vertical agnostic. They serve different industries, so they’ve got, you know, their roofers and plumbers and landscapers and cleaners, and they’ve also got their hair salons or nail salons, and they’ve got their tax professionals and their notaries and their lawyers.

And we’re, we’re able to build sort of an, an experience for each one of these industries. And we know, for example, now it’s. Tax season or post-tax season prior to tax season, we know that these small businesses are gonna wanna send out their paperwork to get signed. So if they’re not doing that, we’re gonna have a campaign that’s sent automatically, specifically to tax professionals saying, Hey guys, you know what tax season is coming up?

You’ve got this feature that can just save you a lot of back and forth with your customers, cuz they can submit and sign their paperwork online and there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t use it. And all the other tax professionals like you are using it. And here’s how to do that. And we use emails and sometimes we use tutorials.

So it’s really very much about product education as well.

[00:33:59] Mike Allton: Guys, listen, Rachel is doing this fantastic job of painting this beautiful picture of how the seat is able to walk alongside their customers and pay attention to what they’re doing and what they’re not doing, where those customers are missing opportunities to succeed.

And I want to go for you listening. Take it a little bit higher level, because if you’re not using vcd, you might be thinking, okay, well that doesn’t help me. I don’t, or I’m not in that line of work, which is cool. That’s. Think about the things that you currently offer today as a product or a service, and figure out how you identify which products or services your customers, your existing customers are not taking advantage of.

Right? Maybe you’re a consultant and you’ve got two or three areas where you typically provide consulting services. Okay? Cool. Go in your email management system and start flagging your existing clients and add a tag. For the services that they’re not using, and you can set up easily email sequences and workflows that go out to the people who are tagged with the services that they’re not currently using, and make sure they’re aware of how else they could be benefiting.

And that’s very automated, very hands off. You could obviously take a much more manual. Hands-on approach and look very closely at the kinds of things that they’re doing. Listen to your consulting sessions. Pay attention to your clients who are using your apps and your services, and watch for where they’re not making full use of your business.

And step in and be helpful and be mindful of how you can make their businesses succeed as a result of greater use of what you’re offering. Love what you’re talking about, Rachel. This is f. I’ve got just one more question

[00:35:35] Rachel Nulman-Schapiro: as you’re speaking. I just have this anecdote I feel like I have to share. Please. I, I’m a woman and in, in my thirties, and obviously those two criteria make me targeted on social media advertising by many, you know, services and companies that offer all kind of like dieting services.

So I get, I kind of get targeted in this pool of people that are interested in, you know, whatever it is, you know, healthy living and fitness and cleansing and all that stuff. And I actually just saw this reel on Instagram of this dietician that was talking about how so much of your diet and just maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

You know, you always think about the things that you’re eating. So like, oh, I, I ate this and I ate this, and I ate this. But so much of it is actually about the things that you, aren. Eating the fact that you didn’t have that, you know, chocolate cake, or you did have the chocolate cake, but you had enough to to keep you satisfied and not the whole cake is very much.

Kind of parallel to how we look at adoption, and I think this is advice that we can give, like you said, anyone, regardless of if you see it as the type of service that they’re interested or not, is that how much of retention and stickiness and maintaining those customers and building that customer lifetime value isn’t even so much about what they’re doing with your platform.

It’s so much of it is what they’re. Doing that portion. They’re not leveraging, you know, that phone call, they didn’t join with their account manager. Those leads that are piling up and they’re not taking advantage of whatever line of business you’re in. I’m sure you can kind of imagine what that looks like on your end, but so much is, is exactly in that space of what’s not happening.

[00:37:13] Mike Allton: It’s so true and it’s such a challenge today. It’s in fact, it is such a challenge for us as human beings to think about what’s not happening, that they’ve labeled it survivorship bias. During World War ii, there was a problem where planes were being shot down at an astronomical rate and. They didn’t know what to do.

They knew that there was something mechanical that they could change about the way the planes were designed to help them not get shot down quite as much, but they didn’t know what, so they brought in a mathematician, and the mathematician did a bunch of research and study and ended up giving them recommendations on where to put additional plates of armor on the plant.

Say, Hey, you need to protect these areas. Because that’s where they’re getting shut down and the people in charge at the Air Force, they were looking at these recommendations and it didn’t make sense to them because the mathematician was recommending that the armor places where when they looked at the planes that were coming back and were just riddled with bullet holes, it wasn’t those pace.

It was other places on the plane where the surviving planes weren’t being. The problem was the planes that were crashing were getting hit in other places. So they were looking at these planes coming back riddled with bullet holes and thinking, okay, that’s where we need to put more armor. And the mathematician said, no, no, no, no.

Those are the surviving planes. They’re not the ones that need your help. It’s these other planes that you’re leaving behind, they’re the ones that need more help in these other areas. So it’s, it’s hard for us to think about and it’s, it’s so cool that a tool like Vata can actually help us by triggering using, you know, algorithms and such and say, Hey, your clients are at risk because they’re not doing these things.

Right. Fantastic. Be thinking about that from your own business. Those of you listening. So my last question for you, Rachel, cuz we’ve kind of touched on this a little bit, but we haven’t really come out and said it. How have relationships played a role in the work that you’re doing with these agencies?

[00:39:11] Rachel Nulman-Schapiro: Oh my goodness.

So we’re pretty much in the business of relationships. I’m in the business of relationships and it touches everything and it impacts everything. And I kind of, the way I look at it is I see there’s sort of three layers of relationships here. So there’s the relationship between, in this case it’s VDA and, and the agency or you know, any SaaS company or agency that are working together.

And that’s where I like to say we’re, we consider ourselves to be. Customer obsessed. So we work really hard to create a solution that works really, really well for our partners. And that comes, you know, on, on sort of the different layers of business, on the business level, on the go-to-market level. On the technical support level.

On the engineering level. So like, just an example is that we just completed our final round of adjustments to our roadmap for H 1 20 20. And the reason it takes us so long is because our partners are so heavily involved in our roadmap and on shaping the future of our product. So there’s that one layer of relationship between the agency and vda, and then there’s the relationship between the agency and the small business customer.

And we do a lot of heavy lifting there as well. So like all that automation, all that stuff we talked. That’s all the service we deliver to agencies so they can deliver to their businesses. So we’re sort of engaging with those small businesses on behalf of the agency and we’re kind of maintaining the relationship between the agency and the small business.

You know, increasing the agency’s perceived value, keeping the small business more engaged and more adopted on the agency’s solution. That’s a service we deliver to our partners as well. And then the third layer is actually the relationship between the small. And their customers. So at the end of this whole kind of supply chain of services is a person that’s just trying to, you know, book an appointment for their kid with the doctor, or trying to take their dog to the vet or trying to book their next consultation, you know, for, for their retirement planning.

And they get to do that in a. Great and seamless and you know, digital with the business they work with because that business is using a digital solution to run their business. So they’re able to like, you know, log into a portal and just fill out a form instead of waiting on the line for half an hour or actually, Leaving their house and driving 20 minutes to get to an office to talk to someone or, or, you know, struggling to work their fax machine to send a document.

They’re able to do all those, all those actions are able, they can complete online and at the very, very end of it, if we real boil down to, in my opinion, what vCita does is we seeta helps the small businesses. Build better relationship with their customers and nurture their customers and, you know, convert more of these website visitors or leads from social media into repeat business, into relationships that serve them over years, you know, into both money in the bank as well as.

You know, customers that they continue engaging with year after year. You know, I was just, I actually just had a chat with a, uh, tax professional that uses vda and she was telling me that she’s got customers. She’s been with VDA for almost seven years now, and she has customers that have been working with her year in year out.

Because she uses the platform because, you know, they, she offers, you know, that easy online scheduling experience, payment submission of paperwork. That’s what keeps her customers close to her. And when I heard that, to me that was just so satisfying. Cuz to us, really, it’s all about, you know, helping these small businesses build these great, sustainable businesses that generate revenue, that are stable, that keep them happy, that keep the agency happy, and at the end of the day, keep us happy.

[00:42:51] Mike Allton: Absolutely love that. Thank you so much for sharing, particularly that anecdote about the tax preparer. That’s fantastic. Richard, you’ve been amazing. This has been such a fun and informative interview. Thank you. Can you tell folks where to connect with you and learn more about you and vCita? [00:43:06] Rachel Nulman-Schapiro: Absolutely.

Mike, thank you so much for hosting me. This has been so much fun. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve also, you know, I always love talking. If you connect with me on LinkedIn, Rachel Melman Shapiro, VP product Marketing at vda, you’ll see that I have a sentence, I don’t know, it’s not my bio. It’s kind of like that little description on the top of LinkedIn where I said, I love talking.

I love people and I love tech, so I love talking to people about tech. So I really enjoy this conversation. Thank you so much. I’d love to connect with y’all on LinkedIn and have you know further conversation of how we could potentially work together. If you wanna learn more about vda, you can head over to vda.com.

What you’ll see is a website for small businesses. So it’ll talk about the solution and you know it’s highlight for small businesses. You’re gonna wanna look for the partner page, it’s on the main menu. You can navigate to it, and that’s where we talk about our partnership program and specifically how we work with marketing agencies.

And we’d love to be in touch and talk about how we can work together towards helping you reduce churn with your small business customers and generate that additional revenue.

[00:44:07] Mike Allton: Fantastic. We’ll have all the links in the show notes, and that’s all we’ve got for today, friends. But please do us a favor. Make sure that you subscribe to the podcast partnership unpacked on Apple, and leave us a review.

We’d love to know what you think. Until next time, see you then.

Thank you for listening to another episode of Partnership Unpacked, hosted by Mike Alton. Empowered by a Agora Pulse, the number one rated social media management. Which you can learn more [email protected]. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe on your favorite podcast player. Be sure to leave us a review.

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