SaaS Marketing Insights https://www.47insights.com SaaS business leaders share how to grow Tue, 03 Dec 2019 01:35:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3 SaaS Marketing Insights is an interview show where we ask SaaS founders, CEOs, marketers and investors about the lessons they’ve learned in their quest to grow their companies. Hosted by Paul Stephenson, Founder & CEO of SaaS marketing agency, 47 Insights. 47 Insights yes episodic 47 Insights paul@47insights.com paul@47insights.com (47 Insights) 47 Insights Inc SaaS business leaders share how to grow SaaS Marketing Insights https://www.47insights.com/wp-content/uploads/itunes.jpg https://www.47insights.com TV-MA Weekly Ep. 47: Reverse Interview with Paul Stephenson of 47 Insights https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-47-reverse-interview-paul-stephenson-47-insights/ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 12:00:01 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1763 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-47-reverse-interview-paul-stephenson-47-insights/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-47-reverse-interview-paul-stephenson-47-insights/feed/ 0 In this tongue-in-cheek episode SaaS Marketing Insights editor Breandan McGhee interviews 47 Insights Founder & CEO Paul Stephenson on SaaS marketing challenges and the future of this podcast.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 47: Paul Stephenson, 47 Insights

In this tongue-in-cheek episode SaaS Marketing Insights editor Breandan McGhee interviews 47 Insights Founder & CEO Paul Stephenson on SaaS marketing challenges and the future of this podcast.

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Episode 47 Transcript

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In this tongue-in-cheek episode SaaS Marketing Insights editor Breandan McGhee interviews 47 Insights Founder & CEO Paul Stephenson on SaaS marketing challenges and the future of this podcast. In this tongue-in-cheek episode SaaS Marketing Insights editor Breandan McGhee interviews 47 Insights Founder & CEO Paul Stephenson on SaaS marketing challenges and the future of this podcast. 47 Insights yes 45:35
Ep. 46: Maximizing Conversions with Ben Jesson of Conversion Rate Experts https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-46-maximizing-conversions-ben-jesson-conversion-rate-experts/ Mon, 23 Sep 2019 12:00:08 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1725 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-46-maximizing-conversions-ben-jesson-conversion-rate-experts/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-46-maximizing-conversions-ben-jesson-conversion-rate-experts/feed/ 0 Ben Jesson and fellow co-founder Karl Blanks spawned an industry in 2006 with the creation of conversion rate optimization and its scientific testing methodology. Since then, Conversion Rate Experts has helped many of the leading SaaS companies across the globe to maximize their results. Learn how Ben got started, and what he thinks about the future of SaaS businesses and conversion rate optimization.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 46: Ben Jesson, Conversion Rate Experts

Ben Jesson and fellow co-founder Karl Blanks spawned an industry in 2006 with the creation of conversion rate optimization and its scientific testing methodology. Since then, Conversion Rate Experts has helped many of the leading SaaS companies across the globe to maximize their results. Learn how Ben got started, and what he thinks about the future of SaaS businesses and conversion rate optimization.

Check out the Conversion Rate Experts’ book: Making Websites Win (profits to charity).

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 46 Transcript

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Ben Jesson and fellow co-founder Karl Blanks spawned an industry in 2006 with the creation of conversion rate optimization and its scientific testing methodology. Since then, Conversion Rate Experts has helped many of the leading SaaS companies across ... Ben Jesson and fellow co-founder Karl Blanks spawned an industry in 2006 with the creation of conversion rate optimization and its scientific testing methodology. Since then, Conversion Rate Experts has helped many of the leading SaaS companies across the globe to maximize their results. Learn how Ben got started, and what he thinks about the future of SaaS businesses and conversion rate optimization. 47 Insights yes 46:51
Ep. 45: From Engineer to Growth Marketer with Vinima Aggarwal of GetSetGo Marketing https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-45-engineer-growth-marketer-vinima-aggarwal-getsetgo-marketing/ Mon, 05 Aug 2019 14:09:24 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1539 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-45-engineer-growth-marketer-vinima-aggarwal-getsetgo-marketing/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-45-engineer-growth-marketer-vinima-aggarwal-getsetgo-marketing/feed/ 0 Starting out as an engineer in Silicon Valley, Indian emigre Vinima Aggarwal has transitioned, via a spell in product management, into a growth marketer with her consultancy, GetSetGo Marketing. In this episode she explains the reasons for the change in her career direction and her experience working in both the US and India.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 45: Vinima Aggarwal, GetSetGo Marketing

Starting out as an engineer in Silicon Valley, Indian emigre Vinima Aggarwal has transitioned, via a spell in product management, into a growth marketer with her consultancy, GetSetGo Marketing. In this episode she explains the reasons for the  change in her career direction and her experience working in both the US and India.

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Episode 45 Transcript

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Starting out as an engineer in Silicon Valley, Indian emigre Vinima Aggarwal has transitioned, via a spell in product management, into a growth marketer with her consultancy, GetSetGo Marketing. In this episode she explains the reasons for the change i... Starting out as an engineer in Silicon Valley, Indian emigre Vinima Aggarwal has transitioned, via a spell in product management, into a growth marketer with her consultancy, GetSetGo Marketing. In this episode she explains the reasons for the change in her career direction and her experience working in both the US and India. 47 Insights yes 19:35
Ep. 44: Marketing a SaaS Product Portfolio with Tom Kincheloe of SureSwift Capital https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-44-saas-product-portfolio-marketing-tom-kincheloe-sureswift-capital/ Mon, 29 Jul 2019 13:49:22 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1467 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-44-saas-product-portfolio-marketing-tom-kincheloe-sureswift-capital/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-44-saas-product-portfolio-marketing-tom-kincheloe-sureswift-capital/feed/ 0 With more than a decade of experience in online marketing, Tom Kincheloe joined SureSwift Capital as part of the acquisition of B2B SaaS product, MailParser. In this episode Tom explains how he oversees marketing and growth for a portfolio of over 30 online businesses, many of which are SaaS. 

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 44: Tom Kincheloe, SureSwift Capital

With more than a decade of experience in online marketing, Tom Kincheloe joined SureSwift Capital as part of the acquisition of B2B SaaS product, MailParser. In this episode Tom explains how he oversees marketing and growth for a portfolio of over 30 online businesses, many of which are SaaS.

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Episode 44 Transcript

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With more than a decade of experience in online marketing, Tom Kincheloe joined SureSwift Capital as part of the acquisition of B2B SaaS product, MailParser. In this episode Tom explains how he oversees marketing and growth for a portfolio of over 30 o... With more than a decade of experience in online marketing, Tom Kincheloe joined SureSwift Capital as part of the acquisition of B2B SaaS product, MailParser. In this episode Tom explains how he oversees marketing and growth for a portfolio of over 30 online businesses, many of which are SaaS.  47 Insights yes 24:51
Ep. 43: Conversion Copywriting with Laura Lopuch https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-43-conversion-copywriting-with-laura-lopuch/ Mon, 22 Jul 2019 12:00:13 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1390 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-43-conversion-copywriting-with-laura-lopuch/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-43-conversion-copywriting-with-laura-lopuch/feed/ 0 Laura Lopuch started out as a litigation paralegal who dreaded making calls. So she developed a knack for writing persuasive  emails instead. This led her to a new career specializing in emails for SaaS companies. In this episode she explains the dos and don'ts of cold outreach email.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 43: Laura Lopuch, Conversion Copywriter

Laura Lopuch started out as a litigation paralegal who dreaded making calls. So she developed a knack for writing persuasive  emails instead. This led her to a new career specializing in emails for SaaS companies. In this episode she explains the dos and don’ts of cold outreach email.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 43 Transcript

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Laura Lopuch started out as a litigation paralegal who dreaded making calls. So she developed a knack for writing persuasive  emails instead. This led her to a new career specializing in emails for SaaS companies. Laura Lopuch started out as a litigation paralegal who dreaded making calls. So she developed a knack for writing persuasive  emails instead. This led her to a new career specializing in emails for SaaS companies. In this episode she explains the dos and don'ts of cold outreach email. 47 Insights yes 29:25
Ep. 42: Conversion Copywriting with Lianna Patch https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-42-conversion-copywriting-lianna-patch/ Mon, 15 Jul 2019 12:00:07 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1374 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-42-conversion-copywriting-lianna-patch/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-42-conversion-copywriting-lianna-patch/feed/ 0 Lianna Patch is an experienced conversion copywriter who aims to inject a little humour into every SaaS product she works with. In this episode she outlines how humour in copy can be used as part of coherent client acquisition and retention strategy.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 42: Lianna Patch, Conversion Copywriter

Lianna Patch is an experienced conversion copywriter who aims to inject a little humour into every SaaS product she works with. In this episode she outlines how humour in copy can be used as part of coherent client acquisition and retention strategy.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 42 Transcript

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Lianna Patch is an experienced conversion copywriter who aims to inject a little humour into every SaaS product she works with. In this episode she outlines how humour in copy can be used as part of coherent client acquisition and retention strategy. Lianna Patch is an experienced conversion copywriter who aims to inject a little humour into every SaaS product she works with. In this episode she outlines how humour in copy can be used as part of coherent client acquisition and retention strategy. 47 Insights yes 27:35
Ep. 41: Automating Demos with Greg Dickinson of Omedym https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-41-automating-demos-greg-dickinson-omedym/ Mon, 08 Jul 2019 12:00:11 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1369 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-41-automating-demos-greg-dickinson-omedym/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-41-automating-demos-greg-dickinson-omedym/feed/ 0 A veteran of the tech startup scene, Greg Dickinson spotted a problem with software demos and built a company to solve it. Omedym is a platform that enables prospects to search and find the information they need within a video demo. Greg explains how his solution works and how he is marketing the product.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 41: Greg Dickinson, Omedym

A veteran of the tech startup scene, Greg Dickinson spotted a problem with software demos and built a company to solve it. Omedym is a platform that enables prospects to search and find the information they need within a video demo. Greg explains how his solution works and how he is marketing the product.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 41 Transcript

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A veteran of the tech startup scene, Greg Dickinson spotted a problem with software demos and built a company to solve it. Omedym is a platform that enables prospects to search and find the information they need within a video demo. A veteran of the tech startup scene, Greg Dickinson spotted a problem with software demos and built a company to solve it. Omedym is a platform that enables prospects to search and find the information they need within a video demo. Greg explains how his solution works and how he is marketing the product. 47 Insights yes 26:49
Ep. 40: Conversion Copywriting with Sophia Dagnon https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-40-conversion-copywriting-sophia-dagnon/ Mon, 01 Jul 2019 12:00:31 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1364 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-40-conversion-copywriting-sophia-dagnon/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-40-conversion-copywriting-sophia-dagnon/feed/ 0 After a degree in Archaeology and a move from the UK to the US, Sophia Dagnon started her career writing blog posts for just $2 apiece. This eventually led her into SaaS and conversion copywriting. In this epsiode she oulines her process for getting the best outcome from copy.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 40: Sophia Dagnon, Conversion Copywriter

After a degree in Archaeology and a move from the UK to the US, Sophia Dagnon started her career writing blog posts for just $2 apiece. This eventually led her into SaaS and conversion copywriting. In this epsiode she oulines her process for getting the best outcome from copy.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 40 Transcript

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After a degree in Archaeology and a move from the UK to the US, Sophia Dagnon started her career writing blog posts for just $2 apiece. This eventually led her into SaaS and conversion copywriting. In this epsiode she oulines her process for getting th... After a degree in Archaeology and a move from the UK to the US, Sophia Dagnon started her career writing blog posts for just $2 apiece. This eventually led her into SaaS and conversion copywriting. In this epsiode she oulines her process for getting the best outcome from copy. 47 Insights yes 26:45
Ep. 39: Ecommerce Automation with Charles Palleschi of Spark Shipping https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-39-ecommerce-automation-charles-palleschi-spark-shipping/ Mon, 24 Jun 2019 12:00:38 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1350 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-39-ecommerce-automation-charles-palleschi-spark-shipping/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-39-ecommerce-automation-charles-palleschi-spark-shipping/feed/ 0 Charles Palleschi always knew he wanted to start his own SaaS business but his route to founding Spark Shipping, an e-commerce automation software solution, was anything but straightforward. In this episode Charles explains the problem his software solves and provides insights into the respective pros and cons of marketing a business in ecommerce or SaaS.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 39: Charles Palleschi, Spark Shipping

Charles Palleschi always knew he wanted to start his own SaaS business but his route to founding Spark Shipping, an e-commerce automation software solution, was anything but straightforward. In this episode Charles explains the problem his software solves and provides insights into the respective pros and cons of marketing a business in ecommerce or SaaS.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 39 Transcript

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Charles Palleschi always knew he wanted to start his own SaaS business but his route to founding Spark Shipping, an e-commerce automation software solution, was anything but straightforward. In this episode Charles explains the problem his software sol... Charles Palleschi always knew he wanted to start his own SaaS business but his route to founding Spark Shipping, an e-commerce automation software solution, was anything but straightforward. In this episode Charles explains the problem his software solves and provides insights into the respective pros and cons of marketing a business in ecommerce or SaaS. 47 Insights yes 33:14
Ep. 38: Conversion Copywriting with Patti Haus https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-38-conversion-copywriting-patti-haus/ Mon, 17 Jun 2019 12:00:17 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1346 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-38-conversion-copywriting-patti-haus/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-38-conversion-copywriting-patti-haus/feed/ 0 Patti Haus is a leading conversion copywriter to SaaS companies. In this episode she explains how the conversion copywriting process works, from initial voice of customer research through to the testing of copy on landing pages and email.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 38: Patti Haus, Conversion Copywriter

Patti Haus is a leading conversion copywriter to SaaS companies. In this episode she explains how the conversion copywriting process works, from initial voice of customer research through to the testing of copy on landing pages and email.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 38 Transcript

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Patti Haus is a leading conversion copywriter to SaaS companies. In this episode she explains how the conversion copywriting process works, from initial voice of customer research through to the testing of copy on landing pages and email. Patti Haus is a leading conversion copywriter to SaaS companies. In this episode she explains how the conversion copywriting process works, from initial voice of customer research through to the testing of copy on landing pages and email. 47 Insights yes 24:47
Ep. 37: Leading with Outreach with David Horne of CrewPay https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-37-leading-with-outreach-david-horne-crewpay/ Mon, 10 Jun 2019 15:16:06 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1322 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-37-leading-with-outreach-david-horne-crewpay/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-37-leading-with-outreach-david-horne-crewpay/feed/ 0 David Horne is a serial entrepreneur with a decade of experience in bootstrapping SaaS products. Along with his co-founders they sought to solve a common shared problem: a simple way to pay independent contractors. The result was CrewPay. David explains how they plan to lead with outreach prior to adopting a multi-channel marketing approach. 

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 37: David Horne, CrewPay

David Horne is a serial entrepreneur with a decade of experience in bootstrapping SaaS products. Along with his co-founders they sought to solve a common shared problem: a simple way to pay independent contractors. The result was CrewPay. David explains how they plan to lead with outreach prior to adopting a multi-channel marketing approach.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 37 Transcript

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David Horne is a serial entrepreneur with a decade of experience in bootstrapping SaaS products. Along with his co-founders they sought to solve a common shared problem: a simple way to pay independent contractors. The result was CrewPay. David Horne is a serial entrepreneur with a decade of experience in bootstrapping SaaS products. Along with his co-founders they sought to solve a common shared problem: a simple way to pay independent contractors. The result was CrewPay. David explains how they plan to lead with outreach prior to adopting a multi-channel marketing approach.  47 Insights yes 22:03
Ep. 36: App Building for the Rest of Us with Ben Haefele of Foundry Platform https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-36-app-building-ben-haefele-foundry-platform/ Mon, 03 Jun 2019 12:00:15 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1202 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-36-app-building-ben-haefele-foundry-platform/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-36-app-building-ben-haefele-foundry-platform/feed/ 0 Apple's and Google's App Stores launched more than a decade ago and despite their huge popularity, developing a mobile app is still the reserve of the programming elite. Foundry Platform was created to make it easy for anyone to design and build their own app. Co-Founder Ben Haefele explains how the business got started and how it's finding its market.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 36: Ben Haefele, Foundry Platform

Apple’s and Google’s App Stores launched more than a decade ago and despite their huge popularity, developing a mobile app is still the reserve of the programming elite. Foundry Platform was created to make it easy for anyone to design and build their own app. Co-Founder Ben Haefele explains how the business got started and how it’s finding its market.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 36 Transcript

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Apple's and Google's App Stores launched more than a decade ago and despite their huge popularity, developing a mobile app is still the reserve of the programming elite. Foundry Platform was created to make it easy for anyone to design and build their ... Apple's and Google's App Stores launched more than a decade ago and despite their huge popularity, developing a mobile app is still the reserve of the programming elite. Foundry Platform was created to make it easy for anyone to design and build their own app. Co-Founder Ben Haefele explains how the business got started and how it's finding its market. 47 Insights yes 19:05
Ep. 35: Crowdsourced Polling with Justin Chen of PickFu https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-35-crowdsourced-polling-justin-chen-pickfu/ Mon, 27 May 2019 14:41:26 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1195 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-35-crowdsourced-polling-justin-chen-pickfu/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-35-crowdsourced-polling-justin-chen-pickfu/feed/ 0 PickFu is a crowdsourced polling platform created by serial bootstrap entrepreneurs Justin Chen and John Li. Although their platform has covers a wide range of possible use cases, Justin explains how they found and deliver value to some key market segments, including self-publishing authors and app creators.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 35: Justin Chen, PickFu

PickFu is a crowdsourced polling platform created by serial bootstrap entrepreneurs Justin Chen and John Li. Although their platform has covers a wide range of possible use cases, Justin explains how they found and deliver value to some key market segments, including self-publishing authors and app creators.

Use code SAASMARKETING for 50% off your first poll.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 35 Transcript

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PickFu is a crowdsourced polling platform created by serial bootstrap entrepreneurs Justin Chen and John Li. Although their platform has covers a wide range of possible use cases, Justin explains how they found and deliver value to some key market segm... PickFu is a crowdsourced polling platform created by serial bootstrap entrepreneurs Justin Chen and John Li. Although their platform has covers a wide range of possible use cases, Justin explains how they found and deliver value to some key market segments, including self-publishing authors and app creators. 47 Insights yes 25:39
Ep. 34: Growing Through Cornerstone Content with Christopher Gimmer of Snappa https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-34-cornerstone-content-christopher-gimmer-snappa/ Mon, 20 May 2019 12:00:53 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1185 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-34-cornerstone-content-christopher-gimmer-snappa/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-34-cornerstone-content-christopher-gimmer-snappa/feed/ 0 Snappa is an online graphic design tool for non-designers that's growing rapidly. Co-founder Christopher Gimmer explains the unlikely origins and how growth has been fuelled by close attention to developing and promoting cornerstone content.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 34: Christopher Gimmer, Snappa

Snappa is an online graphic design tool for non-designers that’s growing rapidly. Co-founder Christopher Gimmer explains the unlikely origins and how growth has been fuelled by close attention to developing and promoting cornerstone content.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 34 Transcript

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Snappa is an online graphic design tool for non-designers that's growing rapidly. Co-founder Christopher Gimmer explains the unlikely origins and how growth has been fuelled by close attention to developing and promoting cornerstone content. Snappa is an online graphic design tool for non-designers that's growing rapidly. Co-founder Christopher Gimmer explains the unlikely origins and how growth has been fuelled by close attention to developing and promoting cornerstone content. 47 Insights yes 21:16
Ep. 33: Incentive Marketing with Jack Paxton of Vyper https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-33-incentive-marketing-jack-paxton-vyper/ Mon, 13 May 2019 12:00:20 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1176 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-33-incentive-marketing-jack-paxton-vyper/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-33-incentive-marketing-jack-paxton-vyper/feed/ 0 In the course of running Facebook and Google ads for client campaigns, Jack Paxton discovered contest and giveaway promotions generated the best ROI. To be able to deliver results at scale he and co-founder Kevin Tang created Vyper, a SaaS that makes easy to run viral campaigns. Learn Jack's tips for how to run incentivized marketing programs.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 33: Jack Paxton, Vyper

In the course of running Facebook and Google ads for client campaigns, Jack Paxton discovered contest and giveaway promotions generated the best ROI. To be able to deliver results at scale he and co-founder Kevin Tang created Vyper, a SaaS that makes easy to run viral campaigns. Learn Jack’s tips for how to run incentivized marketing programs.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 33 Transcript

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In the course of running Facebook and Google ads for client campaigns, Jack Paxton discovered contest and giveaway promotions generated the best ROI. To be able to deliver results at scale he and co-founder Kevin Tang created Vyper, In the course of running Facebook and Google ads for client campaigns, Jack Paxton discovered contest and giveaway promotions generated the best ROI. To be able to deliver results at scale he and co-founder Kevin Tang created Vyper, a SaaS that makes easy to run viral campaigns. Learn Jack's tips for how to run incentivized marketing programs. 47 Insights yes 18:32
Ep. 32: Event Marketing with Vasil Azarov of Growth Marketing Conference https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-32-event-marketing-vasil-azarov-growth-marketing-conference/ Mon, 06 May 2019 12:00:24 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1166 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-32-event-marketing-vasil-azarov-growth-marketing-conference/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-32-event-marketing-vasil-azarov-growth-marketing-conference/feed/ 0 Vasil Azarov already had a background in event marketing so he knew what to expect when he launched his own Growth Marketing Conference in 2015. What advice would he give marketers looking to achieve more with event marketing, either as event participants, sponsors or first-time event organizers?

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 32: Vasil Azarov, Growth Marketing Conference

Vasil Azarov already had a background in event marketing so he knew what to expect when he launched his own Growth Marketing Conference in 2015. What advice would he give marketers looking to achieve more with event marketing, either as event participants, sponsors or first-time event organizers?

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 32 Transcript

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Vasil Azarov already had a background in event marketing so he knew what to expect when he launched his own Growth Marketing Conference in 2015. What advice would he give marketers looking to achieve more with event marketing, Vasil Azarov already had a background in event marketing so he knew what to expect when he launched his own Growth Marketing Conference in 2015. What advice would he give marketers looking to achieve more with event marketing, either as event participants, sponsors or first-time event organizers? 47 Insights yes 24:26
Ep. 31: Marketing A SaaS Startup Stack with Geoff Roberts of Outseta https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-31-marketing-saas-startup-stack-geoff-roberts-outseta/ Mon, 29 Apr 2019 12:00:11 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1157 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-31-marketing-saas-startup-stack-geoff-roberts-outseta/#comments https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-31-marketing-saas-startup-stack-geoff-roberts-outseta/feed/ 1 Geoff Roberts and his fellow Co-Founders at Outseta are building a complete platform catering for SaaS startups. Although they are only 2.5 years into their journey they are already gaining traction due to their decision to start marketing at the same as they started coding.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 31: Geoff Roberts, Outseta

Geoff Roberts and his fellow Co-Founders at Outseta are building a complete platform catering for SaaS startups. Although they are only 2.5 years into their journey they are already gaining traction due to their decision to start marketing at the same as they started coding.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 31 Transcript

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Geoff Roberts and his fellow Co-Founders at Outseta are building a complete platform catering for SaaS startups. Although they are only 2.5 years into their journey they are already gaining traction due to their decision to start marketing at the same ... Geoff Roberts and his fellow Co-Founders at Outseta are building a complete platform catering for SaaS startups. Although they are only 2.5 years into their journey they are already gaining traction due to their decision to start marketing at the same as they started coding. 47 Insights yes 18:51
Ep. 30: Finding Market Fit with Jonathan Zacks of GoReminders https://www.47insights.com/blog/finding-market-fit-jonathan-zacks-goreminders/ Mon, 22 Apr 2019 12:00:45 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1146 https://www.47insights.com/blog/finding-market-fit-jonathan-zacks-goreminders/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/finding-market-fit-jonathan-zacks-goreminders/feed/ 0 Jonathan Zacks and fellow Co-Founder Justin Svrcek set out to solve the problem of reminders for medical appointments but along the way they came across a slew of other sectors from tattoo parlours to accountants and law firms. How are they managing to acquire customers and differentiate GoReminders in a crowded market?

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 30: Jonathan Zacks, GoReminders

Jonathan Zacks and fellow Co-Founder Justin Svrcek set out to solve the problem of reminders for medical appointments but along the way they came across a slew of other sectors from tattoo parlours to accountants and law firms. How are they managing to acquire customers and differentiate GoReminders in a crowded market?

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 30 Transcript

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Jonathan Zacks and fellow Co-Founder Justin Svrcek set out to solve the problem of reminders for medical appointments but along the way they came across a slew of other sectors from tattoo parlours to accountants and law firms. Jonathan Zacks and fellow Co-Founder Justin Svrcek set out to solve the problem of reminders for medical appointments but along the way they came across a slew of other sectors from tattoo parlours to accountants and law firms. How are they managing to acquire customers and differentiate GoReminders in a crowded market? 47 Insights yes 20:55
Ep. 29: Bootstrapped Brand Building with Patrick Campbell of ProfitWell https://www.47insights.com/blog/bootstrapped-brand-building-patrick-campbell-profitwell/ Mon, 08 Apr 2019 12:00:01 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1134 https://www.47insights.com/blog/bootstrapped-brand-building-patrick-campbell-profitwell/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/bootstrapped-brand-building-patrick-campbell-profitwell/feed/ 0 Patrick Campbell started his career as a US Intelligence Analyst before a stint at Google. In 2012 he co-founded Price Intelligently (now ProfitWell), a bootstrapped company on a quest to understand how SaaS and subscription businesses can maximize financial performance. ProfitWell is now investing heavily in brand building and content marketing. In this episode Patrick reveals their thinking behind this approach.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 29: Patrick Campbell, ProfitWell

Patrick Campbell started his career as a US Intelligence Analyst before a stint at Google. In 2012 he co-founded Price Intelligently (now ProfitWell), a bootstrapped company on a quest to understand how SaaS and subscription businesses can maximize financial performance. ProfitWell is now investing heavily in brand building and content marketing. In this episode Patrick reveals their thinking behind this approach.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 29 Transcript

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Patrick Campbell started his career as a US Intelligence Analyst before a stint at Google. In 2012 he co-founded Price Intelligently (now ProfitWell), a bootstrapped company on a quest to understand how SaaS and subscription businesses can maximize fin... Patrick Campbell started his career as a US Intelligence Analyst before a stint at Google. In 2012 he co-founded Price Intelligently (now ProfitWell), a bootstrapped company on a quest to understand how SaaS and subscription businesses can maximize financial performance. ProfitWell is now investing heavily in brand building and content marketing. In this episode Patrick reveals their thinking behind this approach. 47 Insights yes 24:40
Ep. 28: Creative Project Management with Corina Ludwig of FunctionFox https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-28-creative-project-management-corina-ludwig-functionfox/ Mon, 01 Apr 2019 12:00:17 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1116 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-28-creative-project-management-corina-ludwig-functionfox/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-28-creative-project-management-corina-ludwig-functionfox/feed/ 0 Corina Ludwig started her career as a Graphic Designer before transitioning to an Advertising Traffic Manager. She is now President of FunctionFox, a veteran SaaS project management solution catering for advertising, design and marketing agencies as well as inhouse creative teams. How has FunctionFox and its marketing changed in the last 20 years?

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 28: Corina Ludwig, FunctionFox

Corina Ludwig started her career as a Graphic Designer before transitioning to an Advertising Traffic Manager. She is now President of FunctionFox, a veteran SaaS project management solution catering for advertising, design and marketing agencies as well as inhouse creative teams. How has FunctionFox and its marketing changed in the last 20 years?

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 28 Transcript

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Corina Ludwig started her career as a Graphic Designer before transitioning to an Advertising Traffic Manager. She is now President of FunctionFox, a veteran SaaS project management solution catering for advertising, Corina Ludwig started her career as a Graphic Designer before transitioning to an Advertising Traffic Manager. She is now President of FunctionFox, a veteran SaaS project management solution catering for advertising, design and marketing agencies as well as inhouse creative teams. How has FunctionFox and its marketing changed in the last 20 years? 47 Insights yes 17:36
Ep. 27: Customer Success with Anthony Kennada of Gainsight https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-27-customer-success-anthony-kennada-gainsight/ Mon, 25 Mar 2019 12:00:14 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1105 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-27-customer-success-anthony-kennada-gainsight/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-27-customer-success-anthony-kennada-gainsight/feed/ 0 From starting as a tech recruiter in 2008, Anthony Kennada quickly switched into marketing and hasn't looked back since. Now as CMO of Gainsight he has been instrumental in shaping the customer success category using a combination of brand, content and community marketing.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 27: Anthony Kennada, Gainsight

From starting as a tech recruiter in 2008, Anthony Kennada quickly switched into marketing and hasn’t looked back since. Now as CMO of Gainsight he has been instrumental in shaping the customer success category using a combination of brand, content and community marketing.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 27 Transcript

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From starting as a tech recruiter in 2008, Anthony Kennada quickly switched into marketing and hasn't looked back since. Now as CMO of Gainsight he has been instrumental in shaping the customer success category using a combination of brand, From starting as a tech recruiter in 2008, Anthony Kennada quickly switched into marketing and hasn't looked back since. Now as CMO of Gainsight he has been instrumental in shaping the customer success category using a combination of brand, content and community marketing. 47 Insights yes 18:53
Ep. 26: Breaking Down Operational Silos with Jason Reichl of Go Nimbly https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-26-breaking-down-operational-silos-jason-reichl-go-nimbly/ Mon, 18 Mar 2019 12:00:14 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1095 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-26-breaking-down-operational-silos-jason-reichl-go-nimbly/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-26-breaking-down-operational-silos-jason-reichl-go-nimbly/feed/ 0 Jason Reichl, Co-Founder and CEO of subscription based revenue operations consultancy Go Nimbly is on a mission to break down the operational silos that still exist between Sales, Marketing and Customer Success, and explains how these functions can be effectively outsourced.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 26: Jason Reichl, Go Nimbly

Jason Reichl, Co-Founder and CEO of subscription based revenue operations consultancy Go Nimbly is on a mission to break down the operational silos that still exist between Sales, Marketing and Customer Success, and explains how these functions can be effectively outsourced.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 26 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Jason Reichl, CEO of Go Nimbly, hope you enjoy it.

Okay, i’m here with Jason Reichl, CEO at Go Nimbly. And, Jason, can you explain to anyone who doesn’t know yet? Just what Go Nimbly is? Because you’re a new kind of operation?

Jason: That’s correct. So we are the world’s first, as far as I know, but the world’s first revenue operation consultancy?

Paul: Can I stop you there, what does that mean?

Jason: It means that we use a very specific, generalist approached to Operations, centered around a couple of skills, which we can get into later. But mostly it means breaking down silos in organisations. So we really focus on either acting as or transforming organisations into being a new kind of model, a revenue operations. So I like to liken it to going from traditional development to agile development or going from manufacturing to lean manufacturing. So revenue operations is this idea of a centralised operations team that doesn’t report to say the head of sales or marketing, but directly the COO or CRO or CEO, and they’re focused on one thing, which is driving revenue for the company.

Paul: Okay, so it’s mostly sales, marketing?

Jason: Yeah, so if you think about your standard, go to market team being sales, marketing, customer success, maybe some people consider finance, part of that is to interact with the customer, that front end thing, that front end team, which we call the go to market team is your front end UI, the customer, right? The revenue operations team is the supporting function that supports that team holistically. So instead of having sales operations, marketing operation and customer success operations, you would just have revenue operations, and that team would take care of all of the operations for the business.

Paul: And you’re just doing this just for SaaS businesses?

Jason: Just for SaaS and PaaS companies. Because of the dynamic nature of SaaS and PaaS businesses, their operations need to be very flexible and moving, basically, for each milestone that they might go through in their their company’s trajectory. And because of that revenue operations makes the most sense. Any organisation should adopt it. I think, you know, 15 years from now, you’ll be seeing Coca Cola going through a transformation revenue operations. But it’s just we’re in a marketplace. And we get to experience this and change companies rapidly. And so we focused on that niche at Go Nimbly,

Paul: So we’re based here or we’re in your offices here in San Francisco. Correct. So I guess you working with a lot of companies in the valley, do you want to tell us some of the names, people we’re working with.

Jason: Sure, so we have offices in New York and here in San Francisco. And we’re primarily working with large enterprise SaaS companies right now. So Zendesk, Twilio, PagerDuty, those kinds of organisations, we focus primarily on stage C to IPO companies, really, when operations become a key value differentiator for your organisation. We want to be the default consultancy for all SaaS companies. But just because of the structure of it right now, we’re kind of focused on on that area right now.

Paul: So you must see, working with a range of SaaS businesses a whole bunch of different challenges. You know, they’re in different vertical sectors and industries. But you must see these repeated patterns of challenges. So how do you guys step in and get to understand a market that one of your clients is in and help to solve the challenges for them?

Jason: Yeah, I mean, I think the main thing to understand is a lot of the companies that we work with are after the same milestones from a business perspective, right. And we have always been pretty data driven here at Go Nimbly, so we know if you’re going from stage B to stage C, you’re probably going to scale your marketing team. And because you’re going to scale your marketing team, you’re going to need to these operational work streams, we don’t use the term projects, because we don’t think of it as a single thing. It’s an ongoing thing. Go nimble is actually a subscription based consultancy. So very much like the SaaS model they pay monthly.

Paul: So you match your model…

Jason: With the customers, right. Yeah, exactly. So that we understand all the pains they feel for that model, but also all the advantages that they have as well. And so we’ll help them move from one major milestone to another, say scaling their marketing team and setting up all the infrastructure, process tools, enablement and insights necessary to really scale your marketing, for example, in that b2c space that you might be in. If you’re going to IPO, it’s really about helping them become Sox compliant, and other things like that. So as far as where we map, we map these projects to where they are as an organisation.

To understand their specific business, we actually deploy a team of revenue operations consultants to them, and they actually act as if they operate that company. So we manage right now about 216 million dollars a month of reoccurring revenue for our customers. So that makes us… we’re managing around $2 billion. It makes us the largest operator of SaaS business in the valley, if not the world. So for us, it’s really about understanding how these organisations need to grow where they need to invest. You know, there’s a lot of smart people here, obviously. But I think the one of the key things that we realised is, even if you get a world class operator in and say that the CEO or the you know, they’re your operations person, the chances that they’ve seen sales, territory management, at where you are, as an organisation is probably, they probably touched it about four years ago, right.

We are doing that work stream constantly for, you know, last 18 months, we’ve seen pretty much every word stream four to five times. And so we have the ability to be very up to date, whereas the even if you hire someone who’s very, very operationally sound, there’s going to be that lag time, right and in the environment that we exist in with SaaS companies. That lag time can cost you a lot of competitive advantage, right. And I think what we’re always trying to do is make sure that we are maximising the potential spend LTV of every single prospect that our customer converts. So you know, one of the things that we’ve noticed is when you’re a traditional operations company just siloed into these individual silos, maybe you are, you know, you have your KPIs, if you’re marketing Ops, you’re trying to increase open rates or whatever you’re trying to do. Sales, you’re trying to increase pipeline. All that’s fine. But what ends up happening is that operation team as a whole only has about 10% impact to the revenue of the of the customer. So that kind of means a standard operations team, the way that we look at a standard operations team is if they stopped hireing sales and marketing people and operators just did their job. If you’re a $1 million company, one year later, you would gain 10%, right?

Because you’re gotten more efficiencies down, you scaled your customers, you’ve cross sell properly done all these operational things with revenue operations, because that’s one team and all they care about is a revenue impact, you can see about 36% increase. And so that’s the Delta, what we tell people that delta between 10% and 36%, is because you’ve taken your eye off the personalization of the customer, because you have your teams operate in silos, and they fill the gaps, so they don’t spend as much. So that’s kind of what we’re trying to eliminate. We’re trying to eliminate the gaps customers feel through operations. So I’m trying to turn operations into a revenue source instead of a cost reduction centre or worse, you know, viewed as a cost centre to an organisation.

Paul: Absolutely. So you’re one of two Co founders is that right?

Jason: Yes, There’s two Co founders and three partners. So there’s five of us on the leadership board.

Paul: So how did you get started in the world of SaaS? And you mentioned earlier that you started out in marketing, right?

Jason: Yes, I started out in marketing. And very quickly, just kind of fell in love with tech. And I was working at a company called Rackspace based in San Antonio. And while I was working there, I worked on the first redundant server cluster, which was would become what Salesforce is built upon, which would become basically the cloud, right. And I was like, this is really interesting, I’m very interested in it. And I ended up working as a consultant at a SI of Salesforce’s for about 10 years and running very large delivery teams, but always really focused on the idea of, you know, marketing, sales, buyer experience. And, you know, I came out to Silicon Valley started an arm of that business out here and got seduced by my love of marketing and product, I ended up becoming a product manager, became a VP of product, at a couple of Salesforce back companies.

And then while I was there, I was like, man, I really love doing this product stuff. But I kept having this nagging feeling that, you know, the companies that I worked for had great products, but they didn’t have great businesses. And I was like, man, I would hate to see this product not exist in the marketplace. Because we don’t know how to operate. We don’t know how to scale our sales team, we don’t know how to market this properly. And so I was like, I think there is a little bit of a need for me to use my skills and understand how to operate these businesses at scale, and kind of show these organisations how to operate their business, because I want them focused on building amazing product. If you go to SaaSter, or any of these kind of events, they’ll often say, like, hey, the fact that you’re in this room probably means you have an amazing product, but how you operate your business is actually going to be the difference between, you know, the success you want and the success you could have.

I think that’s a really important message. And you know, and there’s a lot of things changing in Silicon Valley right now, you know, I think when I started 10 years ago, in this in a space, you know, the average age of a startup founder was, you know, 26 or 27. And now it’s 33-34. And I think what’s happening is, uh, it’s not their first go around, maybe they’ve had something that failed, or maybe they just know they could do better. And so they’re more open to these ideas of operating more successfully than they ever were before.

Paul: Yeah, I think everybody sort of knows what the ground rules are now, you know, SaaS is a relatively young industry, isn’t it, you know, as a delivery mechanism. 20 years for the software. But yeah, subscriptions go way back. And, and so we’re all standing on the shoulders of giants, and learning.

Jason: And everybody wants to be the next Salesforce. You know, and I think that the pressure is so much higher than it’s ever been for these organisations.

Paul: Yeah. Yeah. Especially with investors.

Jason: Yes, absolutely.

Paul: Everyone wants a return and they want it yesterday.

Jason: Yeah. And, you know, we work with a couple of VC firms, and we see even they’re taking, spending the same amount of money but willing to, you know, diversify it across more companies. So that means you’re not going to get as much so you don’t, as a SaaS company, you don’t have as much ability to waste. You don’t have much ability to just rely on growth numbers to really push you forward. Right, you need to show that you can operate this business.

Paul: Yeah, it’s got to be efficient. So how long has Go Nimbly been operating?

Jason: Yeah, so we’ve been operating for five years. But in this model for the last three. We’ve seen since we’ve adopted this model, 100%, year over year growth, this is the first year that we actually marketing the company, it’s been all referral based up until that point.

Paul: All word of mouth.

Jason: Yeah. And I think there’s a better way to do this. And so we’re starting to market the company. And we expect to double again next year, and hopefully continue to do that for the next couple of years.

Paul: So what do you see? You know… you’re one of the players in this market. How do you see what you’re doing changing the way that SaaS businesses operate going forward? Being a lot leaner, meaner, outsourcing robots. Do you see any other big changes?

Jason: Well, I think, in general, this is my bold statement, there’s gonna be people who are obviously watching this or listening to it are going to go, this will never happen. But I think that it’s a very real possibility that 25 years from now, companies will not think twice about BPO’ing out their entire operations, everything to a company like Go Nimbly. Who want essentially, to know that it’s being run well, and know that all this kind of stuff is being implemented, and it’s at the right place in time to scale it. And so my big bet is that you’re going to see a lot more BPO offerings emerge in the marketplace, a lot more of like core competencies, you see this already in accounting, and you see, you know, Atrium, you know, in the law, firm tech space, you see a lot of these organisations that are really service companies.

So if I really made a bet, I’m going to think that… we’re going to see a big investment and a big wave in technology enabled service companies, who, you know, you see it with Uber and all these other companies are for the consumer side, usually the consumer side, is, is an indicator of what’s going to happen on the B2B side, right? And so if I can provide the same kind of experience at much cheaper and much higher scale, I think that a lot more organisations will really take seriously BPO’ing or using this service company to run major parts of their business.

Paul: Yeah, so yeah, it’s just all about efficiency, and they can see there’s an opportunity to to make it more efficient.

Jason: It’s about efficiency. But I think really, what it’s about is allowing them to focus on the core of what they’re good at, right? I’ve not met a CEO at a SaaS company that wakes up every day passionate about the operations of their systems processes, you know, and so when you look at that side, you want the people who are passionate about that to be doing that work, right. And it’s not something where… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone in marketing as soon as they’re able, leave marketing and go work on the product. Right. And that’s because in those organisations, it’s not really as sexy to be part of the operating mechanics of it. And I think that you need those people who do believe and who find that job to be sexy, right. And, you know, everyone at Go Nimbly at their heart are an analytical nerd, who, you know, really wants to make these companies operate better, because we feel like our job is to make the workflow of our customers more enjoyable, right? It’s more enjoyable to have to work be less hard, less cumbersome, and get more return out of it. Everyone’s enjoying themselves a little bit more.

Paul: Yeah, they constraint on the stuff that they’re good at. You deliver the stuff you need to do for them. And the end result it’s more efficient but everyone’s happier as well.

Jason: Yes. Happiness is, is very important here in Silicon Valley.

Paul: Cool. So how do you see that interface? You know, the role changing? Because I know you guys, you got a chief revenue officer here, right?

Jason: Correct.

Paul: How do you see, you know, this BPO movement, changing the way that the organisations and the service interface?

Jason: Well, the first thing that I think that we have to sort of acknowledge is, you know, yes, subscription model, yes, SaaS companies, all that’s relatively new in the marketplace. But all of our businesses are still built on this very traditional idea of siloing the organisation into these very strict departments, right. Lets just do marketing and sales as an example, so we don’t name everything. You have marketing and sales. And, if you do a Google search, the first thing you’ll see is misalignment come up and you know the word hand off, which I don’t really believe in and all of these kind of things…

Paul: Artificial barriers.

Jason: Artificial barriers, but your customer doesn’t want any of that.

Paul: They don’t understand it, they don’t care.

Jason: In the B2C space, customers demand all this level of personalization, right? In the B2B space, we act like they have to, you know, they have to be exposed to how the sausage is made all the time. And I think what’s really interesting about the silos is, you know, we have the ability in the tech space to break those down through technology and process training, actually using data. And yet we don’t and so I think the big question is, why are we so… it’s probably natural for us to want to silo, there’s a lot of, you know… if you go back in history and kind of look at the story of the silo syndrome and where it comes from, it’s pretty natural for us to want to do these things, because we want to be told we’re good, and we have to rely on a bunch of other people, it’s actually very difficult to get that same result. And so there’s a lot of advantages for the silo. But the the main disadvantage is that you can’t grow your organisation and you can’t become, you know, you can’t steer it in the way that you want to. There’s too many individual boats, right, it’s really hard to push it towards towards this goal.

Paul: It’s like a flotilla of ships.

Jason: Exactly right. And so ultimately, what we’re trying to accomplish is sort of narrow that down to one Northstar that everyone can drive on, which is what we think is should be revenue, right? Everything around the organisation is around that and everything becomes, from metrics to indicators, right? So all the marketing metrics and stuff that we used to care about the outcome indicators are we pointed in the right direction were we are still moving forward, but the entire organisation can move towards this one thing, once you have that piece where the organisation can move towards one thing, it’s much easier to add on things like Go Nimbly, or, you know, other services, because it’s easy to point those in a direction, it’s even easier to hire people to even easier to use other services, it’s easier to, you know, bring contractors on, it’s just, it’s much more fluid, and you can actually move much faster.

I find that a lot of organisations, you know, take a very specific, tangible, tactical thing. They want to trust their data, but they know that their data is bad. So they can’t trust their reports, right. And you just look at that and you go, Okay, so you can deploy that across the board. Lots of companies want to work with Go Nimbly, but they feel like they couldn’t take advantage of our holistic offering, because they’re so solid, because they’re so broken right now. Right? And when do we make that transition to Okay, we are going to move forward. And we are going to point ourselves in this direction and kind of align all the ships, all the boats, right?

So I think that, you know, one key thing that’s happening in the industry is things like CRO coming up, because that was the original question, right. And with the CRO coming up, what we’re actually saying is, we’re actually going to put someone who is a generalist, you know, Chief revenue officer is going to be kind of in charge of sales and marketing, they’re going to be in charge of revenue as a product, they’re gonna be in charge, ultimately, hopefully, over the operations piece of that. And they’re going to manage this in a more generalised fashion. When you do that, then what you have to do is pick things that are in common between all those silos, right? And as soon as you do that, you start getting cross functionality built into your silos, which then change your entire organisation, alignment happens, right?

The reason the alignment doesn’t happen is because you’re not aligned. And I think people think like, Oh, we are aligned, because we all want X product to be the best product in the world. And that’s really not enough from a day to day perspective, it’s hard to understand how jobs tied to that. So I kind of see these sort of roles that are generalists getting more status, right, and people looking for them. And you know, a lot of times, people have this very clear idea of a CRO. And what they’ll end up doing is just promoting their best sales person to CRO, and they actually won’t know how to operate. They actually won’t know anything about marketing. And then the marketing team kind of is still over here. Right?

So there’s still a little bit of posturing right now, because people don’t know, I read the state of revenue operations, which is a guide they released, and it said that 46% of SaaS companies are trying to make transition to revenue operations as a framework. But of those 46%, 76% of them were failing, because they didn’t know how to do it. Right. And so, you know, we’re in a very dangerous place where people are hearing, oh, there’s a better way to operate. But there’s not enough people who know how to operate that way to actually guide people the right way. Right. And so all these companies are going to try this and they’re going to fail. And, you know, I don’t want… my fear as Go Nimbly is, I don’t want revenue operations, which is really a transformational operating framework to be tied to people who don’t know how to do it. Because there’s not enough information out there right now.

So that’s why I’m doing podcasts like this, so that we can talk about it so that people start to understand, oh, there are companies that know the how of this, not that there’s a transformational need. Not that we’re trying to break down silos, which is… I’ve never met someone who says, No, it’s not true. But really, there is a how, and there is a practical way of doing it. And so I think what I’m trying to do with Go Nimbly is paint that picture of how companies do it because I honestly don’t care if you use Go Nimbly. I think of us as a doctor, if the problem is severe enough, you’re going to come to us, we know how to fix it. We know how to build long term partnerships with you. But ultimately, all businesses from day one, when you’re in a Wework you should be using this framework from day one on how you can operate your company, it will save you so much money, it will save you… if you’re a founder, it will save you giving away parts of your company that you don’t have to give away.

Paul: Yeah that’s worth alot.

Jason: Yeah, so I think that’s what’s changing. I see a lot of people eager jump on I see the CRO title being one of those things that someone’s eager to jump on to, because it’s easy to create a title and put a job posting out there in the world. But there’s still a lot of lack of meaning right now and definition. And so I think that we will see in the next 12 to 13 months… maybe 18 months. I think what we’ll start to see is just more definition coming into the how. What is actually the job of a CRO? What is actually the function of revenue operations team, how do they operate? Who do they report to? You know, I get all the time, do they report to marketing or they report to sales. And I’m like, well, whoever has the closest relationship to the customer, and you know, wants to make that happen. That’s who they should report to. Because ultimately, everyone should be working in service of the customer.

Paul: Absolutely, Jason that is a fantastic summary about what you guys do. I know you’re a bit jet lagged.

Jason: Yeah.

Paul: But I think you explained that very well. Thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate getting to the bottom of what revenue operations is all about.

Jason: I’m glad you were able to do it so quickly. Thank you.

Paul: I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Jason. For more info on Go Nimbly, please visit gonimbly.com. For more info about this show, and to get our links to iTunes, Google Play SoundCloud, Stitcher and YouTube, check out www.47insights.com. And if you have any SaaS marketing insights that you’d like to share on the show, please get in touch. Until next time,

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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Jason Reichl, Co-Founder and CEO of subscription based revenue operations consultancy Go Nimbly is on a mission to break down the operational silos that still exist between Sales, Marketing and Customer Success, Jason Reichl, Co-Founder and CEO of subscription based revenue operations consultancy Go Nimbly is on a mission to break down the operational silos that still exist between Sales, Marketing and Customer Success, and explains how these functions can be effectively outsourced. 47 Insights yes 22:59
Ep. 25: Transactional Email with Megan Tobin of Sendwithus https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-25-transactional-email-with-megan-tobin-of-sendwithus/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 16:16:23 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1013 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-25-transactional-email-with-megan-tobin-of-sendwithus/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-25-transactional-email-with-megan-tobin-of-sendwithus/feed/ 0 Starting out after college as a concert technician, Megan Tobin is now a veteran tech marketer and VP of marketing at enterprise email creation platform, Dyspatch by Sendwithus. She shares her thoughts on developments in SaaS marketing and transactional email systems.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 25: Megan Tobin, Sendwithus

Starting out after college as a concert technician, Megan Tobin is now a veteran tech marketer and VP of marketing at enterprise email creation platform, Dyspatch by Sendwithus. She shares her thoughts on developments in SaaS marketing and transactional email systems.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

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Episode 25 Transcript

To follow…

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Starting out after college as a concert technician, Megan Tobin is now a veteran tech marketer and VP of marketing at enterprise email creation platform, Dyspatch by Sendwithus. She shares her thoughts on developments in SaaS marketing and transactiona... Starting out after college as a concert technician, Megan Tobin is now a veteran tech marketer and VP of marketing at enterprise email creation platform, Dyspatch by Sendwithus. She shares her thoughts on developments in SaaS marketing and transactional email systems. 47 Insights yes 41:15
Ep. 24: Aggregating Marketing Data with Hailey Friedman of Improvado https://www.47insights.com/blog/aggregating-marketing-data-hailey-friedman-improvado/ Mon, 10 Dec 2018 13:00:42 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1004 https://www.47insights.com/blog/aggregating-marketing-data-hailey-friedman-improvado/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/aggregating-marketing-data-hailey-friedman-improvado/feed/ 0 From starting out as an English Teacher in the Bronx with no experience in marketing, Hailey Friedman progressed through a series of marketing roles before landing at Improvado helping to solve a common marketing problem: aggregating all marketing data from multiple channels into a single platform.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 24: Hailey Friedman, Improvado

From starting out as an English Teacher in the Bronx with no experience in marketing, Hailey Friedman progressed through a series of marketing roles before landing at Improvado and helping to solve an all too common marketing problem: aggregating all marketing data from multiple channels into a single platform.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


Episode 24 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show, I have an interview with Haley Friedman, Head of Marketing at in Improvado. Hope you enjoy it.

Hayley Friedman from Improvado and Growth Marketing Pro, which I believe is your blog. And I don’t know if you pronounce it BAMF… but is it badass marketers and founders?

Hailey: That’s it.

Paul: So you’ve got a lot of things going on there? You haven’t always been a marketer Have you?

Hailey: I haven’t no.

Paul: So why don’t you tell us how you got started in marketing?

Hailey: For sure. Um, I did not come from a traditional marketing background, I didn’t wake up one day thinking I’m going to be a marketer when I grow up. I actually started out after college, I was a teacher, an eighth grade English teacher in the Bronx, in New York, for Teach for America. So I did that for two years. And while I was teaching, I had an idea for a mobile app startup, that I put together a team of people from across the country. And we built this mobile app together and launched on the App Store, which was really exciting for me at that time. And we won a student startup competition, and were invited down to South by Southwest. And so I pitched this startup idea in front of hundreds of people. And that was kind of the first time I ever saw this tech startup world in person. So all these kids are there with their logos on their t shirts, and they’re all excited. And I was like, wow, this energy is incredible. And this is fun. And I want to do this forever.

So I left teaching to venture into the tech startup world. And so ultimately, my startup idea didn’t pan out as I had planned, because my two engineers were recruited by Facebook and Microsoft, and they no longer cared about my little side project. But it was a great stepping stone for me. And I say, the biggest learning that I got from the experience was that you can have a really cool product, and you can have an incredible team. But if you don’t know how to get customers, you don’t have anything that’s worth very much. So that’s kind of what got me fascinated with, you know, this whole idea of what does it take to get someone to buy something or to sign up for something, this was this kind of like grey box that I didn’t understand, marketing. Um, and so I really wanted to learn about what it what it takes to get customers. And so I decided that I wanted to join a startup at the ground floor and kind of watch other successful founders grow company from the ground up and learn what it takes to really run a business. And so I joined a startup in New York and as their second employee, and I learned a tonne, and learned a tonne, but I still didn’t get that… I didn’t scratch the itch that I was really looking for, that consumer marketing itch.

Paul: Did you get paid as well?

Hailey: Yeah got a job, you know, I think when you can show initiative, you know, even though my startup didn’t become anything, if you can show that you’re going to take an idea and take initiative to build it. It’s really good for the resume for sure. So I think that that really was what got me from teaching, and allowed me to get my foot in the door in startup world because people were willing to trust that I was going to have that kind of like entrepreneurial, do whatever it takes attitude, because I tried something before.

Paul: So going back to the app, how long ago was it? And what was the app called? And what did it do? I’m curious.

Hailey: Yeah, it was called Thursday. And it was a tool, it was kind of like a social event planning tool. And so it was before Facebook had a very sophisticated event feature on it. And so I found that after college, I moved into Manhattan, and I… everyone I had grown up with back in New York also moved into Manhattan. And when it came to the weekend, we didn’t really know what to do where to go in such a big city. Even though I knew a lot of people there, it was, it was hard to know what to do. And so the idea was this app Thursday was that people would use it as their Social Planning calendar so that when it came to the weekend, you’d be able to check. You know, it’s Friday night, what are the top 10 venues that people I know are going to how many people are going where type of thing, there is still not really a great solution like that out there. But Facebook’s gotten a little more sophisticated with their events. They added the little interested button on event so that people can show interest without completely committing, I’ve learned that people are very non committal.

Paul: Oh yes, haha.

Hailey: They don’t like to, you know, put a fork in it in advance that they’re going go

Paul: Everything is a maybe. So what was the New York startup? Can you can you tell us more about that? what you were doing there?

Hailey: It was a mobile advertising startup. And so it was being founded by these guys who started a big digital ad agency in New York. And they were leaving to start this mobile ad agency, because at the time mobile ad, advertising was brand new and really hot. And how it was going to be done? Well, it was being done really poorly with fuzzy banner ads that were, they were taking it from desktop and putting on mobile and it wasn’t mobile first. And so they created this. It’s called, it was called zap 360. Actually, they are still a company that’s running. And it was a mobile banner ad, that would be scrolling text at the bottom of your screen, kind of like a stock market ticker or like a breaking news alert. So it’s just text. So it’s really, really easy to implement. You need a designer to create the ad.

Paul: Cool. And so you were doing marketing there. So you so chanced upon or learned about marketing, because of the Thursday app, which is something you bootstrapped yourself. You got a taste for it at south by southwest, entered the crazy world of marketing, work for New York startup helping those guys getting started. And then what happened?

Hailey: And then, so that that mobile advertising company became more of like a B2B tool. So we had a sales team, and I was doing kind of more account management. And so it wasn’t really learning what I wanted to learn, which was, you know, business to consumer marketing, how do you get Joe Schmo to sign up for something. And so I decided that I wanted to pick up and move to San Francisco. So I left all my family, friends, and even my boyfriend at the time, and I got on a plane and moved out San Francisco. And before I left, I had like 45 phone and Skype interviews from people that I connected with on angellist. So if you’re looking for a job in marketing in San Francisco angellist is a really great tool. And, turns out the very first phone interview that I had ended up being the first offer that I got, and also the one that I ended up taking.

So it was a company called RealtyShares, which was, which is a real estate crowdfunding platform. So that means you can invest in real estate online for as little as like $5,000. And so I was hired by their director of marketing, as I was the second marketing higher on the team, there was only 15 people at the time. And the guy who hired me was named Mark Spera. And he kind of took me under his wing and taught me a tonne about consumer marketing. And I was having a blast learning about it and became really fascinated and kind of took it upon myself to educate myself on it to go to events, talk to other marketers to read other bloggers like Neil Patel puts out a lot of really great content. And I just became really fascinated and excited about the marketing world. And Mark and I had so much fun talking about marketing, and we’ve said start a marketing blog together. So now, we are still working on it. And it’s really growing. And it’s been a blast to work on and learn more about SEO and blogs. And that’s been an adventure, but it’s called growthmarketingpro.com. And, yeah, so

Paul: Nice plug, haha, do you want to say it again? But yeah it’s good good. It’s a great blog, I read it.

Hailey: Thank you. Yeah, it’s really fun. We try and put out good stuff. Just really sharing our learnings based on like, what’s worked for us? Yeah, so anyway, I was at RealtyShares for two and a half years and it grew from 15 people to 120 people. And yeah…

Paul: Wow, you must have been doing something right.

Hailey: Exactly. So I was in charge of investor acquisition. So a consumer facing role and I managed every channel at one point or another until we hired and grew the team out. But it was a fun role, because I got to test out every channel. And then once we master that, we hired some managers and I try the next one. So it was cool to get get my hands on all the different channels and platforms and what allowed me to create so much content for Growth Marketing Pro, because it’s kind of like, got my hands on so many different pieces of the marketing.

Paul: Yeah, you learnt alot in a short space of time.

Hailey: Yeah, and so then a couple months ago, I decided to leave RealtyShares and look for a new opportunity. And what I realised is, I wanted to work for a tool that I love. And I realised that I really love marketing. You know, I had my blog. And I also run this community here in San Francisco of marketers, and founders, where I’m hosting events all the time, like fireside chats where I interview founders and tell their growth story and so it would be awesome if I could leverage You know, this community and my blog, or my daytime job, it would be cool about doing marketing to marketers, my life would be.

So um, so a friend told me about this company called and Improvado that was looking for a head of marketing, and I went over to meet them. And when I learned about their tool I was like, blown away, because this was exactly… it was a tool that was solving like the biggest problem that I had ever faced as a marketer. And that was aggregating my marketing data. So when I joined RealtyShares, Mark put me in charge of, you know, all of our reporting, all of our budgeting, all of our forecasting and made me responsible for presenting out our marketing performance every week, in the meeting to our CEO. And here I was, I was an English teacher before this.

Paul: Haha, how good is your Excel pivot table skills?

Hailey: I had to Google everything about Excel, it was really hard for me, I’m not a math person, like it does not come naturally to me, numbers at all. So it was really brutal. And he knew that, like, he knew it’s hard for me, and that I was slower at it than other people. But I appreciate that he pushed me because you really, it’s very difficult to be a great marketer, if you don’t have a handle on the analytic side and the numbers, you’re going to be spending a company’s money, you better be able to justify that it’s being spent efficiently, and that you’re making more money for the company rather than wasting money.

So I’m grateful for the push to learn it. Now I’ve got it under my belt, but even after I figured out what to do and how to use Excel, it still took me probably like 10 to 20 hours every week, just to aggregate all the data for these weekly reports, right. So like, I had to log into… my data is all over the place. It’s in Google Analytics, website visitor data, to see what I spent on Facebook, or how my Facebook campaigns are doing I have to log into Facebook as well as logging into AdWords and log into LinkedIn and log into all the different places where we’re spending money and have to export the data from there, then I have to import it into some Google spreadsheet or Excel Doc, where I’m creating some kind of dashboard and organise the data, it’s like, a freaking nightmare.

And I had to do it every single week, it took me two days of every week to do that. It took me two days just to prepare the data for these meetings. And I realised that I’m probably not the only marketing person who’s dealing with this. And ultimately, Mark and I decided that this wasn’t the best way for me to be spending my time. So we hired a data analyst to manage it. But still, he was doing it, you know, like someone in every company.

Paul: It’s madness.

Hailey: It’s actually madness. So flash forward to me interviewing at Improvado and learning what a Improvado was. And essentially, it is a tool that automates the entire marketing data aggregation process. So essentially, it’s a tool that was built by marketers, so actually, the company was originally a marketing agency. And they were helping all their clients. And they built this tool for their clients that would collect all their marketing data into one dashboard. And the client said, like, started telling them, you know, we would pay for this tool on its own.

Paul: Forget the agency services.

Hailey: Yeah, and so actually, they pivoted, and they became Improvado. And so now, full time, this marketing team that used to be marketing agency is working on this product, that is a tool that lets marketers collect all their data in minutes in one place. So it’ll sink into Facebook, and LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Instagram, all the different places, you’re sending money, and MailChimp and you know, like your CRM and things like that. And, it’ll slurp all the data into this one place so that you can see how much you spent across every single channel in one place. And you can see, you can click in and get really granular because as marketers you know, we want to see it by campaign, we want to see it by ad group, we want to see it by keyword, and by ad. So you can do all that without leaving this one dashboard. So it’s all in one place. So you never ever have to do that work ever again, anytime you want to see your data there in real time. So I was like, oh my God, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. And so I was really excited to be able to join a company that was solving, like the biggest pain point I’d ever felt, or I’d ever seen anyone facing as a marketer. Um, and yeah, so I became their head of marketing, like four or five months ago.

Paul: Wow. So you’re only few months into this role, how’s it shaping out, how’s you’re reporting?

Hailey: Okay, so I’m the first and only marketer at this company that’s focusing on marketing. And so I had to come in here and organise the data, you know, even though that’s what this company does, they didn’t have a marketer before. So we didn’t have the marketing data organised, right. So I came in and organised marketing data in the way that I know how, which is to create a manual dashboard on Google Sheets, you know, with various tabs, like a daily view, a monthly view, yearly view, you know, mid month pacing view, all these different tabs, and I put the data together, and it took me like a whole weekend to get it organised. And then I came in on my first day and showed it to the Cofounders. This is what I’m… you know, I’ve spent all weekend working on this. And she’s like, in five minutes and a couple of clicks, she showed me… she basically automated in five minutes, what I had spent all weekend.

Paul: Haha, so that was a lesson learned.

Hailey: I was both angry and relieved. Ever though I had wasted all that time. Not only that, but literally hundreds and thousands of hours of my marketing career. Aggregating data in that way. But I was also obviously relieved that I would never ever have to do it again.

Paul: Great, and now you want to pass these benefits on to all the other marketers and help save our lives as well.

Hailey: Hundred percent. Yes. And, I mean, I don’t know that everyone knows there’s a solution to this problem. So I just want to let everyone know that they’re…

Paul: Everyone knows about the problem definitely. So tell me this. I mean, so you started out as teacher, created an app, brilliant. And then you went into a start up? And now you’re in your third or fourth company and you’ve got the Growth Marketing Pro blog. And you’ve got badass marketers and founders. And you’re the head of marketing for in Improvado? How the hell do you juggle it all? Do you ever sleep?

Hailey: For a while I was not sleeping. I will tell you that. Ummm now I do. Now I sleep.

Paul: It’s all because reporting, haha.

Hailey: Automating data really helped, I’ll tell you that. Um, but yeah, It is hard to manage. But um, a couple of things I did. I’m pretty interested in the efficiency time management space. So I deleted recently all my social media apps off my phone.

Paul: That’s a crime surely, no wonder Facebook shares are down.

Hailey: I know. I thought that right after I deleted Facebook, so maybe I just downloaded it back again.

Yeah, I first downloaded an app called in moments. And it tracks how many hours and minutes you spend on your social media apps.

Paul: That sounds horrible.

Hailey: For an hour a day Like…

Paul: That’s probably not much compared to a lot of people.

Hailey: Yeah, I’m sure it’s worse than that. But if you think about it, even that, right, that’s like seven hours a week that I’m spending just doing nonsense. So um, yeah, I deleted them all. And for it’s my third week, so you know…

Paul: Oh, wow. On your social diet?

Hailey: It might be a little simpler.

Paul: Yeah. Does your head feel a less confused place, do you feel you can focus and concentrate better?

Hailey: Definitely. Yeah, I’m a pretty easily distracted person. So it helps to kind of like…

Paul: I think most marketers are, by their very nature. So that’s a great productivity hack, remove all social media from your phone. What else have you really learned in terms of, you know, marketing insights, because you know, you’ve had a hell of a career progression in a relatively short space of time. You must be somebody who learns very quickly. Have you got any particular trick you can share with us? Or is it just hard work and not sleeping?

Hailey: Yeah. No, I definitely believe in working smart, not hard. And so when it comes to marketing, obviously, there’s so many different things you can do. There’s so many different channels and tactics. And I think for a lot of people, the hardest thing is figuring out where to start. And what’s gonna be the lowest hanging fruit. So I think… so Mark and I work together on our blog, and we’re always talking about, we actually offer a service, we will help businesses by building them a custom growth playbook. We surveyed our readers, and that’s what they asked for, they asked for like, customised health. And so there’s a lot of people that don’t know where to start, they don’t know what’s going to be the most impactful. So you have to think about, and this is what Mark and I do and we help these companies think about what’s going to be the most impactful, thinking about impact, thinking about ease of implementation and speed of implementation. The intent of like… user intent? How can you build a better look, start by getting people that are the further down the funnel? So like people that are already searching for keywords that are really relevant to what you’re doing, or referral marketing, taking your customers and turning them into advocates or taking influencers and building an affiliate programme and turning those influencers into advocates for your company? Um, but yeah, I think just thinking about impact ease, speed of implementation, intent and just prioritise.

Paul: That’s good advice. So that’s fantastic. I mean, hats off to you. I don’t know how you’ve juggle so many things. But your new job Improvado, the blog, and Bamf if we can call it that. It’s been a real pleasure to speak to you Hailey and find out so much about what you’re doing. And good luck with it all. Sounds like you’re doing great.

Hailey: Thanks so much for having me. And I wanted to just share one one little gift for your listeners. If you guys want to see what my marketing dashboard, my Google manual, my Google Sheet manuel marketing dashboard, I actually saved a blank version just for you guys. So if you go to improvado.io/podcast, you can head over there and download your own spreadsheet, blank template version. So you can see if your marketing, looking at your marketing data, maybe it’ll give you ideas of ways that you want to slice and dice your data.

Paul: That’s great. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Thanks a lot for your time Hailey.

Hailey: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Paul: I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Hailey. For more info on in Improvado, please visit Improvado.io. For more info about this show. And to get our links to iTunes, Google Play SoundCloud, Stitcher and YouTube, check out www.47insights.com. And if you have any SaaS marketing insights that you’d like to share on the show, please get in touch. Until next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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From starting out as an English Teacher in the Bronx with no experience in marketing, Hailey Friedman progressed through a series of marketing roles before landing at Improvado helping to solve a common marketing problem: aggregating all marketing data... From starting out as an English Teacher in the Bronx with no experience in marketing, Hailey Friedman progressed through a series of marketing roles before landing at Improvado helping to solve a common marketing problem: aggregating all marketing data from multiple channels into a single platform. 47 Insights yes 24:56
Ep. 23: SaaS SEO with Jeremiah Smith of SimpleTiger https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-23-saas-seo-jeremiah-smith-simpletiger/ Mon, 03 Dec 2018 13:00:43 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=1000 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-23-saas-seo-jeremiah-smith-simpletiger/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-23-saas-seo-jeremiah-smith-simpletiger/feed/ 0 Virtual agency owner Jeremiah Smith of SimpleTiger outlines how he shifted his business' focus from 'SEO for everybody' to specializing in SEO for SaaS.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 23: Jeremiah Smith, SimpleTiger

Virtual agency owner Jeremiah Smith of SimpleTiger outlines how he shifted his business’ focus from ‘SEO for everybody’ to specializing in SEO for SaaS.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


Episode 23 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show, I have an interview with Jeremian Smith, Co founder and CEO at Simpletiger. Hope you enjoy it.

So, Jeremiah Smith, from Simpletiger, an SEO agency specialising in helping SaaS companies, is that right?

Jeremiah: That’s correct. Yep. We mainly work with SaaS companies, we work with companies of all types, but we mainly focus on SaaS companies.

Paul: So tell me about the Simpletiger journey how you got started and how you chose to specialise in SaaS?

Jeremiah: Sure, absolutely. So, first of all, I’ve been in marketing for a little over 12 years now, I used to build websites. And that was actually how I stepped into marketing. I just loved playing around the computer designing things, I was more of just kind of being a nerd and playing with it. I didn’t have any real intention of actually doing it as a business until a couple of friends of mine liked my websites and stuff. Of course, my mom liked my website. And then one of her clients who is an accountant. One of her clients was like, we love your website, we want you to build us one. So I built them a website. And then after I got it built for them, I was like there we go, awesome. I was so happy and everything then they were like we want it to show up in Google. How do you do that? And I was like, that’s interesting question. I probably just have to go like fill out a form and submit it. I had no idea. I had no clue. And so I started looking into it naturally. I started searching Google, how to get your website to show up in Google and discovered this whole underground industry I knew nothing about the time called SEO.

I was blown away. I was like, wait, this is like way more intense than you might think. And, you know, it’s not like if you build it, they will come kind of thing. You actually have to really put some work into your website after it’s been built to make it do something for you. So I started studying search engine optimization through a couple of resources at the time, favourite resource was actually a little company out in in Seattle called SEO Moz. And that’s before they changed their names to Moz. And it was just a blog at the time, Rand Fishkin was writing these incredible articles about how to do SEO, and he was just writing them for free and I was floored. I was like, This is incredible. I devoured everything. And so I’m learning all this stuff and practising on my clients website. I told them at the outset, I don’t know how to do this. But I learn very quickly and I badly want to do it. So are you opening that and they were like, Yeah, but it better show results.

I was like, you got it, I’m going to do my best. And so I put a lot of work into it. And lo and behold, a couple months in, they started seeing some results, about six to 12 months in their business was changed because of the results that we were able to generate with SEO. And this is while I was teaching myself, this is not speaking to me so much about my capability, as I think it is speaking to SEO and its value, at least in those early days, and how simple it was to just really get a lot out of Google back then. So that that really kind of lit my fire for this new industry. I was done building websites at the time, I was like, I’m ready to just market them. I just want to get them to show up in Google and do a good job. So I changed my resume around a bit and said I’m going to go get a job at an ad agency. And I’m going to try to do this. So ended up landing a job at a huge agency in Atlanta that had massive clients all fortune 500 companies and, really learned that the big guys play the game. The exact same way as the small guys do, it’s just a lot more budget, a lot more effort is put into all of that. And that’s that’s pretty much it. That’s how that works.

So yeah, after that I was totally sold on, on the fact that anyone from a small company, the small mom and pop shop I started with to NBC or Etrade can do SEO, and it can be beneficial to all of them. So I knew that my skill set was something I really valued and loved and decided I would try to run off as a consultant and build an agency around it. So I’ll kind of pause there.

Paul: Haha yeah, that was all in one breath.

So when did you actually start Simpletiger? So you had this thing, and then I guess it developed. But has it been a few years now?

Jeremiah: So I always had this. I’ve always had this tendency to think of my dreams probably a little too seriously. And that’s part of the problem of being an ambitious entrepreneur is you take you take your ideas very seriously, and you want to sell them to everyone. So before I even got that job in an ad agency, I had the name Simpletiger figured out.

I bought the domain name, I built the website. It was a awful rinky dink little website. And I was just, I was so proud of my brand that would one day evolve. But this is what I was going to do. I was going to build a business called Simpletiger and didn’t know much about why or anything like that at the time. But over time, the brand really evolved into exactly what I wanted it to be. And I’m so happy with it now. So that was that was about 12 years ago. . Yeah, quite a while, right after I built that website, and I decided to do SEO, once I decided that I loved SEO. That was when Simple tiger started and yeah…

Paul: So where does SaaS come into the frame? How recent was that?

Jeremiah: Right, great question. Now that’s very recent, I’ll say that. That’s like within the past year and a half to two years. We’ve narrowed our focus to just SaaS. And I’ll explain a little bit about that. So Simpletiger was originally just myself, and I was working for anyone that wanted search engine optimization, I didn’t care who they were.

Paul: Hired gun.

Jeremiah: Yeah, I didn’t care if it was a small local attorney here in town or a massive fortune 500 Corporation, I would love to work with them, you know, and over time, I got my brother involved, who just had a wonderful knack for the web. He kind of grew up on the internet more so than I did. He’s a little younger than myself. But he was very sharp, very shrewd business person as well. So he he brought to the table something that I don’t think I have as much of and so I really appreciated that and he and I just formed a great team. And so we would consult clients under the name Simpletiger.

He kind of had his, I kind of had mine and then over time we decided, you know what we need some help. We do some awesome consulting, but we need to actually produce some stuff in house for our clients. And so we started hiring on contractors to help us with that. And after we got our first couple of contractors, we went through some rough patches. But then we finally got a couple of contractors that were just really, really good. And we decided, you know what, we should probably push the lever and turn this into an agency and hire them on this full time employees. And let’s really just go as official as possible with it. And so we went ahead and did that. And we turned it into an agency hired them on and that was really I think, when Simpletiger, the agency it is today was kind of formed. But in those days, we were still taking on anybody and working with any kind of company.

It wasn’t until a while later that I kind of noticed through the 80/20 principle, which is what we always apply to our clients. We were looking at ourselves and I was thinking, what are the you know, 20% of clientele that yield 80% of the income. What are the 20% of the clientele that make us the most happy, what are the, you know, the easiest projects for us to work on to get the most results, things like that. And I kept seeing this pattern of SaaS companies. They were the ones that for some reason we had an interesting marriage with every single SaaS project we worked on, we seem to fall in love with the client, ecommerce companies would come and go, nothing wrong with them at all. So understand that this is more of like a just a personality thing than anything else and a match.

You know, all kinds of other companies would come and go but SaaS just kind of stayed in the background as like this trustworthy type of clientele that just understood us and we got along with them and we got each other we just clicked and so after reading on enough different blog articles, that enough other agency owners, you know, their number one regret or mistake is they wish they had chosen the niche sooner. And I heard them say that over and over and over again. And finally it started hitting me and I’m like am I going to kick myself for not choosing a niche?

I remember getting in a couple more heated discussions with clients that I didn’t want to work with, about results that they didn’t understand were there and just, you know, just problems and frustration, and realise, you know what? My SaaS clients don’t do this to me.

So discussed that with Sean. We decided, you know what, let’s look strongly at choosing this niche and seeing what that would do. And so we actually went and talked to some of our, our existing SaaS clients at the time and said, What if we were an SEO agency that only serve the SaaS community? And a lot of them said, Well, we would have chosen you a lot sooner or paid a lot more, you know, things like that. And I was like, Oh, perfect. So it validated things for us. And it was at that point a couple years ago, I think we decided actually, probably about a year and a half ago, we decided look, let’s do this transition plan. Let’s start saying that we go after SaaS companies directly.

Paul: Haha.

Jeremiah: Let’s do it in our marketing. Let’s still take on anyone who comes to us. But let’s specifically go after SaaS companies aggressively. And so we started doing that we started getting a lot of SaaS business, we changed our marketing and our messaging, we changed our conversations. We changed where we’re publishing content and who we’re talking to. We started getting a lot more SaaS business, and the relationships have just been stellar. It’s been so much easier since we made that change.

Paul: Yeah, I mean, nicheing down is just, it’s just so much easier to sell because, you know who you’re selling to and you can have conversations about churn rates and MRI or, you know, all of the things that are particular to an industry rather than just being very generic. So tell me… here’s the interesting thing, because, like yourself, I have been involved in SEO for a long time. And actually, I just took it off my website, because I found it really hard doing SEO for SaaS businesses, because I find that they’re impatient about the results that they want from SEO. And so, pretty much, same as you said, my 80/20 was 80% of what I was doing paid campaigns for them. And 20% was SEO.

The thing that was causing me the most grief was the 20% the SEO. So how do you deal with the impatience that SaaS businesses naturally have because they’re all about growth?

SEO, it just takes time. Right?

Jeremiah: Right. So what we’ve actually had to do is take a bit of a maverick approach to it, which has not been comfortable. We we kind of go against the grain with this suggestion, but a lot of companies come to us and say, we want SEO and I asked what is your goal and they say, we want to increase conversions by 10%.

Okay, awesome goal. Now, I start to pitch them paid search. And they say, Wait, wait, we want SEO? And I’m like, now which is higher on your list of parties, buying SEO? Would you rather check that box or would you rather increase conversions by 10%? check that box? Which, which one of those matters more? Do you want to have just bought SEO this year? Or do you want to have increased your conversions by 10% this year, and I don’t want to be too much of a smart alec when I when I go there, but I have to like change the logic and the way they’re thinking because the issue commonly is, at least in so far, as marketing people are concerned, the flashy thing is what we all want, or the thing everyone’s hyping about is the thing we want social proof works on marketers, just like it does, non marketers.

So we have to keep in mind that when people start buzzing about SEO, doesn’t mean we need to run out and buy SEO, and it’s going to solve all our… miraculously solve all the problem. Sean and I kind of discussed this recently, people don’t come to us wanting to buy SEO, they come to us wanting to buy what SEO delivers. And so long as we stay focused on that, then it allows us to actually be a lot more intuitive, and more of a hunter in regards to bringing home results for our clients, where I say, look, here’s the deal, we we can bring you home results with SEO. And if you’ve got, you know, if you just built your website, and you launched last month, that kind of thing, and you’ve got a good six to 12 months until you need to show results, we can bring you home results with SEO, well, we’re going to go with an agency that’s going to get us results faster, like well, we can get you results faster, it’s just going to cost probably 100 grand this month instead of 100 grand in the course of the year, right? Because we got to write a lot of content, we got to build a lot of links, we got a lot of work to do. And we got a short period of time to do it. So if we have a lot of work to do in a short period of time to do it, it’s going to cost a lot of money, we have a long time to do it, it’s going to cost the same amount of money just spread out over time.

But if the window of results is the key factor, then what I’ll recommend is, if we have to get results in month one or two, then let’s start a paid search campaign. And that’s not what you want the long run. That’s not what I want to give you a long run, I want to have years of relationship together. But I want to start it with a couple of dates. And I want to start it by validating that we are right for each other and things like that. And paid search is one of those simple, easy things, we set up an AdWords account for you, we get it running target a few keywords, if you hate us, you just revoke our access and you’re off on your own, everything is fine, right. But if we start with an AdWords account, we can quickly test some assumptions. We can test the assumption that you know your target keywords, we can test the assumption that you know your audience, we could test the assumption that your site converts well. And we can quickly validate what out of all of that is true. Because maybe you have 100 keywords you want to go after and six of them convert well.

Well we figured that in month one or two, wouldn’t you rather know that month one or two with a $5,000 investment versus month eight with a $35,000 investment. So let’s do that. And I know that doesn’t make you happy at night. But at least you’ll know what keywords we need to target. And now instead of these 100 keywords that we’re going to spread all our SEO effort out across, we can focus on six keywords and we can spread our effort on those and be very narrow and focused. And then within those keywords, obviously people bring up the the long tail keyword argument I totally agree. But long tail keywords are almost always derivatives of some mothership term or category that you’re talking about. So once we start blogging about a single generic target keyword, you can’t help but to organically rank for long tail variations of it. Because how else are you going to write about it?

So really, I guess that’s my super long answer to your simple question. The short answer would be paid search. I think if the client doesn’t know their target keywords, doesn’t know their landing pages, they’re converting content and things like that, well, let’s start with paid search. If they do know all of that, it’s a little bit more of an aggressive project that usually looks like just a big proposal, a big number on the proposal, you need a lot of link building or a lot of content, something like that.

Paul: That exactly mirrors my experience as well, using paid as a diagnostic to work out which keywords are then going to work so that when you do invest time and money in SEO, you’ve validated exactly, you know what it is that you’re going after. And it’s amazing how many you know, SaaS businesses just don’t do that they do abit of keyword search, and then they go right, we’re going to create a tonne of content around this. And we’re just like, has anybody actually validated this?

Jeremiah: Yeah. Like I do a lot of target shooting. And I think it’s really, really fun. I love the art of it. But I would be terrified if I were sitting in the lane with a gun and you turn off the lights, and I had to continue hitting the target. And that’s what you’re doing when you don’t validate your keywords, yet, you have no clue what’s going to happen. You might turn on the lights a year from now and be like, Oh my gosh, we got a bull’s eye one time out of the 20 shots. You know what I mean? But that’s pretty much what it feels like.

Now, that’s kind of a dramatic example and our keyword research is really solid when we do our keyword research. But if I don’t feel confident about your target keywords and things like that, enough for us to go ahead and perform just keyword research, then I’m going to push really hard for paid search. And if people push back on the paid search thing, I’m like, look, I’m just not comfortable going down that road, I don’t want to, I don’t want to let you down and have my reputation out there on the line, you know, and that actually speaks really well to clients for an agency to turn away the business because of their reputation. And it kind of makes you take a step back and think, am I really going about this the right way. And I love it because SaaS companies appreciate that authenticity. They’re not used to dealing with that, they’re actually more used to dealing with hardcore sales guys trying to pitch him something that’s last year, and SaaS is next year. And so they don’t even want to hear that, you know, so I don’t come out of the gate swinging with with with salesy tactics and stuff like that.

Paul: Yeah, you’re in it for the long term, which is the only way to fly as far as I’m concerned.

Jeremiah: Same here.

Paul: So it’s really interesting. I think I was reading on your website, are you based remote from your team?

Jeremiah: Yeah.

Paul: So how… I’m just curious about how that works. Because, you know, a lot of SaaS businesses are virtual themselves. But I think with agencies is quite hard. And, you know, the agency that I used to own you know, we weren’t, we were all in the same office and it makes it so much easier to control things, but I guess technology and whatnot has moved on. But as the owner, being separate from your team, how do you cope?

Jeremiah: It is… it can be tough at times. I will say I’ve worked at a couple of agencies in my life, and working in person is definitely easier. You’ve got that, in terms of collaboration, you’ve got all of the communication channels locked down, the face to face does so much more for people than I think a lot of society today really understands. But what I’ve learned is that a lot of the work that we do… 80% of the work that we do, does not need to happen face to face. We… when I say we I mean Simpletiger specifically, I don’t mean every company. And so because of that, I would really like to, I’d really like to remove a lot of what I would consider to almost be a distraction, so that my team can focus better on those pieces that do not require that Face Face necessarily.

Paul: So you’re a distraction, haha.

Jeremiah: So a lot of me being in the office during the week is distracting. And I know it is because I’m a loud, excitable person, and I love talking to people and everything, I will ruin a very productive team by walking in the room. So I have to be careful with that. Remote forces me to not be able to do that. And actually, we can set aside time for me to talk to my team. And that’s what we do. And that time sometimes is unproductive and it’s my fault. And and it’s actually kind of fun, which ends up being good in another way. So it adds a little bit of culture, which is probably one of the harder things in the remote work environment is establishing and developing a culture, it seems kind of it seems kind of random how the culture is going to happen. Whereas in person, there’s a vibe, there’s a neighbourhood in town that you’re in, that makes you act a certain way or feel a certain way, places that you go to eat around where you work, kind of, you know, that changes things in the dynamic a bit. But my employees are spread out throughout the country. And sometimes throughout the world.

Like for example, we have a couple of employees who are just randomly in Australia, or South Korea or something like that. You know, I’m personally going to be in Mexico in a few weeks. And it’s so we’re all floating all over the world. And because of that, we never really know what’s going on with the other person in their day to day life. But at the same time, when I really sat down and thought about it a while back, that’s not necessary for a successful company. And I would rather…

Paul: Not anymore.

Jeremiah: Yeah, not anymore. Not this type of company. And I would really like to offer that freedom to my team and have them really enjoy closing their laptop and looking around and be like, Oh my gosh, I love where I am. And they love it so much that they’re comfortable opening back up their laptop and working working again. You know, it’s wonderful when that’s the case. You don’t feel chained to a desk. So there are so many benefits and so many challenges to doing remote. And I actually did a really interesting podcast interview with a company called yonder.io, the yonder podcast, and they talk all about remote. That’s their whole thing. So if you want to learn more about remote, I definitely recommend checking out some of their episodes about how companies handle that.

Paul: This show has been sponsored by Yonder, haha.

Jeremiah: Haha, sorry about that, shameless plug.

Paul: You plug away. we should just say Simpletiger at least one more time, simpletiger.com

Jeremiah: Haha that feels cheesy.

Paul: It’s good. So since you made the change and focused on on SaaS, you’ve experienced growth, you’ve selected your niche. Have you spotted any kind of me-to agencies or you know… as a result of what you’ve done? Spotted anyone els or seen other people? Do you see it as a trend that there is going to be more and more agencies?

Jeremiah: I do. And I can’t tell in a lot of the cases if it was us first or them first. But at the same time, I think it is a… I think it is a growing trend. I think the specialty market is important, because you do have an expertise that some people desire. Whereas on the other end, some people are comfortable with the general approach. And so I think there’s some SaaS companies that we will simply never work with because they don’t care about the fact that we focus on SaaS, they don’t think of themselves as a SaaS company, even though they may be they think of themselves as something else.

And that’s that’s fine. I’m not worried about that. I think some of the challenges, actually speaking totally honestly, about being a SaaS focused agency is you’re going to inevitably run into competitors of each other, you have to sort out the conflict of interest situation, which is frustrating, because you don’t want to ever be caught in one. But at the same time, you don’t ever want to turn away business. And so you’ve got to find, you got to find a way to maintain your integrity and do it honestly, genuinely. But at the same time, just be very clear about where there actually is a conflict of interest.

Paul: So has that happened?

Jeremiah: So we’ve… we haven’t actually run into a conflict of interest where we had to turn someone away or anything like that. But we have run into some situations where we had to make sure that we sorted out the details before project occurred. And one company ended up not going with us because we were fully transparent with them that we’re working with a competitor. And and it’s your decision, we knew that we could, we could work with both simultaneously. Because we had done a prerequisite element in order to work with us, which was a bit of a strategy session and some some questionnaire and survey material, which gave us some deeper understanding into who their target clientele were, who their top competitors were until they called each other top competitors. And I agree they were, there was not as much of a client overlap or customer overlap on their part. And so I kind of felt honest in saying that, I don’t think there’s a conflict of interest here. We’re going after two different audiences. But at the same time, I completely respect your decision. So if you don’t want to work with us, I can’t I can’t change that. So that’s fine. So that’s, that’s really kind of where it goes usually.

Paul: That’s great. And I think that the transparency is everything. So one of the things I was just thinking about is the kind of tools that you use. So we we talked about Moz and I’ve used it just a couple of times in the last few weeks, I think that new keyword explorer tool is awesome.

Jeremiah: Yeah.

Paul: What other tools? Marketing stack, SaaS products do you guys use?

Jeremiah: Alright, so I highly recommend… I got a list of tools. I’m specifically thinking about your audience here. And when I think they should be on top of if they’re wanting to crush it with SEO, I highly recommend Ahrefs, Ahrefs.com. And it’s a fantastic tool set, it kind of blows me away, when it first came out, I was shocked. I was like, there’s no way their data is good. Because there’s so much of it and they give it to you quickly and like not for free. But it just seems like an unlimited way. I was just kind of blown away with it. But on using it for well over a couple of years now, we are floored by how how good the platform is. And and for the price. I think it’s awesome. So a Ahrefs would be my first recommendation, we use that for everything from content recommendations and content strategy to link development, outreach and doing competitive analysis. I think it’s fantastic for all of that, I wouldn’t personally use it for technical analysis of your website.

So if you are concerned about the technical structure of your site, I probably use either a tool called Deep crawl, or Screaming Frog, Screaming Frog is the very cheap version. Deep crawl is a very expensive version, deep crawl will do it all for you. So you understand everything and you could walk through it very simply, you can create your issue tracker list of things that you need to take care of on your website with within the crawl and make it really easy. Screaming Frog is going to be definitely a DIY tool, you’re going to have to understand what the terminology means. But it’s a very good crawler. So it’ll give you a full index of your site. So from a technical perspective, those two I think, are really good.

Then in regards to tracking results, which I think is very critical and important. Google Analytics needs to be set up properly, I can’t tell you how many clients we’ve worked with. They’re brilliant, sophisticated companies. And then we look at their analytics, and it is just not configured properly. And what I mean by that mainly is, set up some conversion metric tracking, you can use tools like mixpanel, and kiss metrics and stuff like that to get a better insight into your conversions. But I think if you’re not tracking some sort of conversion, at some point in your marketing funnel, you’re going to be flying blind with all of your marketing efforts. And that’s not cool. You’ve got to find out what works and what doesn’t. And without some good idea into into conversion tracking, you’re not going to know. And I would actually finally add to that, get it while you still can. Because I don’t know when they’re going to pull away more data from us, right? Like from an SEO guy here. I used to be able to tell you exactly what keywords drove what conversions on your site, I now have no clue, right, I have to be very careful about suggesting that this keyword gave a conversion from an organic listing because Google is not providing, they’ve encrypted that data. So yeah, I would say get conversion metric data set up in Google Analytics as much as you can.

Paul: Yeah. So it might be the top of the funnel, you may be just tracking something like a newsletter subscription, or maybe a white paper download or case study download or something through to trial or demo request depending on the type of business. GM got it like say, if you’re not measuring, you know what, what conversions what goals you’re reaching, there’s no point in spending money on marketing.

Jeremiah: Exactly. It reminds me of that… It reminds me of that Alison Wonderland moment where she’s going down this road, and it forks and the Cheshire Cat shows up and she says Which way do I go? And he’s like, well, it all depends on where you want to end up. And she’s like, well, I don’t know where I want to end up and he says, well, it doesn’t matter which way you go. Same is true here if you don’t know what you spend your marketing dollars on you’re never gonna know what works.

Paul: Exactly. And I think that’s a really really good place to leave it a Jeremiah, thank you very much. It’s been great chatting with you and learning a lot about your background and also the Simpletiger story and good luck with everything, I look forward to following your progress.

Jeremiah: Awesome. Thanks so much, Paul. I really appreciate being on the show today. It’s an honour. I hope you have a great day.

Paul: You too.

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Jeremiah. For more info on Simpletiger, please visit www.simpletiger.com for more info about this show. And to get our links to iTunes, Google Play SoundCloud, Stitcher and YouTube, check out www.47insights.com. And if you have any SaaS marketing insights that you’d like to share on the show, please get in touch. Until next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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Virtual agency owner Jeremiah Smith of SimpleTiger outlines how he shifted his business' focus from 'SEO for everybody' to specializing in SEO for SaaS. Virtual agency owner Jeremiah Smith of SimpleTiger outlines how he shifted his business' focus from 'SEO for everybody' to specializing in SEO for SaaS. 47 Insights yes 31:20
Ep. 22: Building A Customer Insights Engine with Annabel Youens https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-22-customer-insights-engine-annabel-youens/ Mon, 26 Nov 2018 13:00:03 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=996 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-22-customer-insights-engine-annabel-youens/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-22-customer-insights-engine-annabel-youens/feed/ 0 It's unlikely you have ever heard of Appreciation Engine yet 64% of the music industry use the customer insights engine to understand customers and music fans. Co-Founder and CMO Annabel Youens explains how the SaaS platform works and their plans for the gaming industry and beyond.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 22: Annabel Youens, Appreciation Engine

It’s unlikely you have ever heard of Appreciation Engine yet 64% of the music industry use the customer insights engine to understand customers and music fans. Co-Founder and CMO Annabel Youens explains how the SaaS platform works and their plans for the gaming industry and beyond.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 22 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show, I have an interview with Annabel Youens, Co founder and CMO at Appreciation Engine. Hope you enjoy it.

I’m with Annabel Youens, Co founder and CMO at Appreciation Engine.

Annabel: It’s a mouthful, isn’t it? We like to say AE.

Paul: Very good, and you’re saying that you are rebranding AE?

Annabel: Yeah.

Paul: Okay. So Annabelle, tell us what Appreciation Engine is.

Annabel: It’s a customer insights platform. So when we started building AE, we were noticing out there, there was a lot of fans and customers that are doing all this word of mouth marketing online. And it was very hard to capture that as a business. You know, is this Twitter person, the same person as this person on Facebook? How do you piece that all together? And how do you recognise those key fans or customers that you should be focusing your energy on. So we created an engine that allows you to get your customers to basically opt in and register. And then our engine behind the scenes goes through their profiles and picks up key information that you care about as a business, so that you can have a snapshot of your customer, that actually changes in real time.

So I like to think of it as you know, in the old days, you get an email address, and you’d stick them on a newsletter list and be like they are forever on this newsletter list until they unsubscribe. You know, we have the technology now to go ‘oh this person is actually a living breathing person whose preferences change’. And so that’s what the engine does, it can track that so that you can go Oh, actually, this person needs to be segmented into this list now. And when you think about it, from the customer’s point of view, you know, we’re tired of those emails that are the same old stuff. And it’s like, you open it, you’re like, this isn’t even… this doesn’t relate to me in any way. And as a business, you need to actually strengthen those relationships with your customers, and actually give them the information that they care about. I know it’s a big lofty goal for us to really think about that customer relationship and being so dynamic, but it is possible with today’s technology. And that’s really what we’re trying to help businesses do and brands is understand their customers, so they can deliver them better services, better marketing messages, and in return, you know, get better ROI for everything that they’re doing.

Paul: So how did it start off? So you’re one of the Co founders, whos the other?

Annabel: So the other Co founder is Jeff, who’s our CTO, he’s also my husband. And we started the business because we wanted to get into music, right? Who doesn’t want to work in the music space?

Paul: So cool, So much money haha.

Annabel: Yeah, oh, yes haha, so much money, yes. Um, but we started in music, because we wanted to work with bands and help them understand their fans better, really. So we built this engine underneath it, and we raise some seed money and actually set up offices in Santa Monica. So we were in California for five years. And when we were down there, we were literally up the road from Universal Music Group. And it was that Kismet thing where you meet the right person who was like, we’re trying to understand our fans better. And we presented what our engine could do. And leave who’s lovely was like, Well, I don’t believe you, here is some customer data, run it through your engine.

And we can actually show him that these insights. So they could say see that a customer has signed up on the Justin Bieber site. But actually, the top artists that they’re listening to is Lady Gaga at the moment. So all of a sudden, their fan insights have exploded, because they’re able to tailor and personalise. So UMG was our first enterprise customer, and we did a trial. And then that went to a global licence. So all the labels globally use our technology. And then, year and a half ago, we got Sony Music, entertainment, as well. So they use us globally with all their labels, which is so exciting. And they’re really trying to, you know… the music industry is one of those ones that kind of didn’t keep up with the times, right, the technology changes. And there’s a lot of innovative people there at these labels, who are wanting to trial different things, and, you know, really talk to fans better.

So it’s been a really amazing ride. But I never thought we would end up with this pivot and sort of the customer insights layer, I really thought we were going to be direct to consumer, and sort of build out these fan experiences. But at the end of the day, you know, like, it makes sense for business, they want to own the customer. They want to have that direct relationship with their fans or their customers. So we’re really that white label service that sits behind the scenes helping them do that work.

Paul: Right. So you started off, specifically in the music industry. Now are you saying you have a wider scope?

Annabel: Yeah. We have, you know, almost 64% of the music industry, when you look at what’s out there, what we’re missing is all sort of the independent labels, management companies. And that’s where we first started with AE, so it’s very close to my heart. So we’re actually sort of submarine testing at the moment a self service platform for those groups. Because they have said to us over the past few years, we want to use your engine, I’m like, hang on we got to plug things in for an enterprise customer, right. So we need to build you a platform. So you can do it yourself right with your Mailchimp hook in and your different hook ins that you need, you know, your Google Analytics hook in.

So we’re building a self service platform. But at the same time, we’re sort of moving into our next vertical, which is gaming. So the idea is that, you know, we move into gaming, we start working with enterprise customers to understand the dynamics there, what are those issues that they have, and then take those learnings and then again, tweak the self service platform to suit smaller publishing houses and gaming groups, so that then they can use the engine as well. And that’s kind of the strategy that we’ve been developing is that, you know, it’s that classic marketing things like understand your customer, and then deliver what they want. So being able to use our enterprise customers, to figure out those key points. It’s been really key for us.

Paul: And you say that very first client was just down to more luck than anything else. Right person right time?

Annabel: It’s so interesting because people are like, Oh, did you have like a cousin working there? Or how did you… and we were just like, well, we had that perfect solution, that was exactly what they were looking for. And they hadn’t been able to find it anywhere else. So they literally didn’t believe that we had done it. And then we said, Here it is. And they were like, Whoa, you did do it.

Because it’s a very, you know, it’s a very complicated algorithm that’s running underneath listening to all these social networks and streaming services in real time. And then it filters that data. So you know, UMG doesn’t care what you ate for breakfast when you Instagram, because I’m sure you do that.

Paul: Oh, yeah, you must follow me.

Annabel: Yeah haha. But they do care about what you streamed while you were having your breakfast, right. So we take everyone’s data, and then we filter it, so that it’s only the stuff your brand cares about. Yeah. And the nice thing about it is that everyone’s view is going to be different. So if you look at a traditional customer profile, and Facebook, if your Coke, you are going to see the exact same profile that Pepsi sees when they look at this customer. Whereas inside of AE, we allow you to set up all these filters so that you can really understand Oh, Paul’s really into BMX biking, right? So we want to hit him with Powerade, right. So being able to like dig deeper into that so they can be more targeted.

Paul: So this is proper one to one personalised.

Annabel: At scale. Yes, exactly.

Paul: Wow, that’s very powerful stuff.

Annabel: Yeah, it is. It’s really exciting. And I think, you know, as marketers, we’re always trying to segment and improve and precision target. But there’s so much data at the moment, right. And it’s like, Oh, another tool. And I think part of the struggle with marketing our platform is by saying, this data is actually… it’s something you can do things with, you know, you will improve your open rates on your email newsletters, you are going to spend less money on advertising, because it’s far more targeted, and precise. You’re going to get higher click throughs.

So I like to think that, you know, with our software, really the proof is in the pudding, it’s getting that social login piece installed, so that as soon as that’s in the data starts to feed into the system. And I think that, you know, with the GDPR stuff that happened, the privacy, right, and Facebook and all these things, it’s so important that as marketers, we’re really looking at getting that first party consent from your end customer, right? So that they say yes, I allow you to look at my data, but in return for that, you are going to give me better products and services and deals right. And I really think that is the future of marketing. It’s that that true digital handshake that we’re going to have.

Paul: I think that’s very insightful. And I think that so often what’s happening is that that balance hasn’t been there, the people are willing to see more personalised messages. You know, I’m prepared to give something back. But it’s got to be a fair deal.

Annabel: Totally. And I think, for a long time brands, to be honest, the big brands haven’t needed to get personalised. They’re just like, oh, we’re doing pretty well. You know, people are buying our products are clicking on our newsletters. But with all the startups happening with all the new brands with Kickstarter, with everything that’s happening, finally, the big guys have gone Oh, I guess we do need to start treating our customers the more than just an email address, right? We need to treat them as an individuals.

Paul: So you guys been honing this platform now for a few years, you started off in music started at the top and working your way down. Are you doing the same? Well, I don’t know how much you can tell me. But are you doing the same with gaming? And you know, I guess as a platform, you could use this for any number of verticals.

Annabel: Yeah, exactly. So consumer goods, travel, I think there’s huge potential in the travel market, right, so many people are active on social media around travel. It’s really limitless, because the idea of the engine was always brands who want to better understand their customers. So if you’re a business that’s like, Oh, I really want to understand and segment and see improvements in my open rates. And, you know, use a seeded list of customers that are actually actively engaging with my brand, and go out and get new customers. You know, those are the people… and I have to say, it’s probably our system is really targeted at marketers who are already doing quite sophisticated work, right? And they’re going, there just has to be a better way of doing this.

What can I further do to fine tune what I’m actively doing? So that’s really, you know, who we’re working with at the moment. And I think, you know, marketers are getting so sophisticated now, with what they’re doing. There is that piece missing of all this disparate data? How do you bring it to a centralised place where that customer profile is changing over time, so you don’t feel like you’re guessing or missing out on something anymore.

Paul: So all those examples you gave were really good, really strong B2C markets? Do you think it could work in B2B?

Annabel: That’s a good question. You know,

Paul: Maybe the sources of information are a bit different. Maybe it’s LinkedIn feed or whatever.

Annabel: Yes, well we can definitely pick up LinkedIn, definitely, it certainly could work in that area, we haven’t really experimented with that. But I don’t see why not the engine is really built… that’s another thing about our engine is that, you know, we’ll pull in customer data from wherever, whether it’s a social network, whether it’s Google Analytics, whether it’s your own internal serum system you have or your…

Paul: There just data feeds to you.

Annabel: Exactly and so anything can come into the engine, then we filter process and produce these insights. So then we can push that data anywhere you needed to go, whether it’s Salesforce, where it’s MailChimp, whether it’s to your ad serving platform, whatever it is. And you know, for us, it’s really future proofing as well, right? Because I mean, we remember before there was Facebook, right? And one day, there will no longer be a Facebook, right? So all those other things that are going to happen, just making sure that our engine can consume all those pieces of information.

Paul: Yeah future proofing, do you have a MySpace feed?

Annabel: Yeah haha, totally. Yep. For what was his name? The first Myspace person… Tom, good old Tom, remember, he’d be your first friend on Myspace? Yeah, but I think it’s important thing for marketers to really think about right is that all these platforms are there. And quite often, you’re literally giving your customers to Facebook, when you’re using Facebook login, right, or vice versa, they get access to all of that data. And then they’re just giving you a tiny slice of when they want to show you. And that is one of the things that I want marketers to be able to do is to take their customer data back and say, You know what, we’re going to use your tool, Facebook, and we’re going to give you money, and you’re going to make us happy. That’s good. But I want to own my customers, right? I want to have a centralised database so that I can decide what I want to do with all my data.

Paul: So in terms of, you know, creating an Appreciation Engine, it sounds amazing. So how many people are involved in the business?

Annabel: That’s a really good question. So we have a core team, six at the moment here. And then we have support partners who are actually based in the UK, and they help us with our 24/7 support, because, you know, those are labels all over the world. We also have a couple of people down in California that also support us. But you know, we moved back to Victoria two years ago. And it was probably one of the best decisions we’ve made. Because I I really believe that if you are happy with your personal life, and what’s happened… there was an election going on down in the States.

Paul: Haha, I might of heard about that.

Annabel: Yeah. And we feel like Should we leave… we’re†w on TN visas. Right? So coming back here has been amazing, because, you know, it’s been 15 years since I’ve lived in Victoria. And, you know, the tech scene has just really exploded here. And it’s been so welcoming in the tech community. Because, you know, we were right there at Silicon beach, as it’s called. Right. And people are very aggressive, and not very collaborative. Whereas Canadians, not to a fault. I think it’s just how we are but we’re far more collaborative, and want to help other companies succeed. And we just didn’t get that sense of community in Santa Monica. Right. Even though we were right in the WeWork offices.

Paul: It’s just a lot more dog eat dog down there.

Annabel: Oh yeah. They’re literally like… it is like it is in the movies. They’re raising money on a napkin. Right? And then we’d have guys working next to us. And I’m like, did they do any work in that office? Like, all they’re doing is like playing video games and drinking beer. So it’s been so different to come back here and yeah, so amazing.

Paul: That’s not to say that people don’t play video game games and drink beer here.

Annabel: Yeah, but we do it after Friday at four o’clock. Right? Not like Monday morning at 10.

Paul: I think you’re right, I mean, I can’t vouch for anywhere else in Canada, I haven’t worked in any other tech community. But what I think Victoria has, you know, just interacting with companies here is it seems to be kind of right size, Goldilocks size. You know, it’s it’s not so big that people fly off all different angles, wherever it’s just the right size to people feel that they can talk to each other and collaborate and ask someone’s opinion because they just around the corner or whatever. So yeah, I think that’s that’s one of the really neat things about being here. Whether it’s the same and say, Vancouver or Toronto or Montreal or whatever. I have no idea. So in terms of sort of marketing insights. The marketing insight… my big takeaway at the moment is just go straight to the top.

Annabel: Haha, gotcha. That’s the easy way. It’ll only take you four years. But yeah.

Paul: But did you guys gain any insights? You know, in terms of, did you do any marketing, other than just by the sounds of it? Some very fortunate networking?

Annabel: Yeah, you know, I was really thinking about this. And the thing I kind of realised is that when we signed with Universal, we were like, awesome, we’re in the enterprise space. Now we’re going to play in the big with the big boys. And, you know, we modelled our brand, and our website, after our competitors in the space, and our competitors are crazy, well funded, they’re huge organisations.

And we thought to play in that space, we had to look and sound like those guys. And when we moved back to Victoria, my gut the whole time had been telling me this is not right for us and…

Paul: You’re living a lie.

Annabel: Yeah, totally, it felt like that, right? Because you’re always like, live your brand and your values, and you need to be authentic. And we rebranded about a year and a half ago, we totally changed our site. And as one of my team said to me, our competitors look like a corporate bank. And they do, right, but that’s what it’s like, in the enterprise space. It’s all about, you know, your case studies, super serious fill in this like 20 page lead form thing, to get your document.

We really decided that, that’s not, that’s not who we are, how we wanted to run our business. That’s not, you know, we’re so different when we go into an enterprise company, they’re like, Oh, you know, there aren’t like 20 layers of people. And yes, we have processes… and that, to me, has been my biggest learning about marketing our business, it is just be yourself. And it’s kinda imposter syndrome. You think you have to be just like these other people. And in fact, what we always say it’s like, you need to stand out from them. You just need to describe your process, describe your business clearly and be real about it. And people will respond to that. And, you know, we signed another enterprise deal after we do that, right. So I think it makes a huge difference.

Paul: So your big thing with Universal was they said, Can you do this? And you said, Well, we don’t know. And they said, well, we’ll give you some data and try. So some real honesty there, we’ve got this thing and don’t know what it can do.

Annabel: Yeah, totally. Yeah, we were like, We can take your data, and we can create all these profiles for you. And they were like, Oh, can you? We’re like, yes… they are like… Hmmmm, because, these guys are being pitched companies literally every day, right? It’s a very difficult position to be in. And it’s hard to get in there. But I really think if you’re getting into the enterprise space, you know, the proof is in the pudding, you actually need to develop that relationship, they will give you a tiny bit of whatever you need to actually show the value of your system. And that is really what we do now is by, you know, offering trials, paid trials with all our enterprise customers, but they want to see, right, because there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors in our profession. A lot. And I think that’s an actual real detriment for all sort of SaaS products. But um you have to cut through that. And that’s, you know, showing, what you can actually do.

Paul: That’s great. So here’s a thing I was just thinking about that, i’m curious about. So working with your husband, your better half?

Annabel: Yes.

Paul: Building this business together. That sounds quite stressful.

Annabel: Yes.

Paul: How do you guys manage it so that you just not talking about the business 24/7 Or maybe you are? What do you do to make sure that at the end of the day, you still have a relationship that is not about the business?

Annabel: Yes I get this question a lot. And so Jeff, and I have worked together for 15 years. And I would say for the first seven years, when we stepped in the door, or when we used to work out of our house, right? When it was like 7pm, I’m like the work day is over. And I would say that’s it, we’re not allowed to talk about work anymore. Right? I need a separation from work and home. And that did not work. In fact, a probably cause more problems. Because Jeff is always germinating something right?

Paul: Yeah, his subconscious just ticking away.

Annabel: It is. He wants to be able to talk about those things. And so once I lifted my ban it made a huge difference. And, you know, to be honest, sometimes I’ll be like, it’s Sunday at three o’clock. Could we not talk about this right now? Can we talk about it tomorrow morning, but I am a lot more open about that. It’s a huge part of our lives, and you can’t really separate it from what we do so…

Paul: But it’s much harder to get that work life balance then anyone in a normal situation, not that you’re in an abnormal situation. It’s a very common situation. But in such situations which is a situation I’ve been in as well, so…

Annabel: so you know.

Paul: I know exactly what it’s like and everybody manages it differently.

Annabel: Yeah, I think the other thing that I’ve really realised is that we had a startup, and then we had a kid, and we still have a startup and a kid. And I didn’t realise, of course, right, it was going to have a huge impact on your life, but it’s really made me realise that there’s more important things some days than the business, right? It does give you that perspective. And I didn’t really expect that to happen with the business side, right? And it really has allowed me to sometimes just step back and be like, Whoa, we need to chill out about whatever we’re discussing, because there’s other stuff we need to be doing right. There’s more important things. So that’s actually been a huge, you know… they say kids teach you lessons. Well there was my first one, like right away, right? It’s like, we’re not saving lives at our technology, but we are helping people do their work more efficiently.

Paul: That sounds great. Thank you very much. I really enjoyed talking to you.

Annabel: Yeah, you too Paul. Thank you.

Paul: I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Annabel. For more info on Appreciation Engine please visit get.theappreciationengine.com for more info about this show. And to get our links to iTunes, Google Play SoundCloud, Stitcher and YouTube, check out www.47insights.com And if you have any SaaS marketing insights that you’d like to share on the show, please get in touch. Until next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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It's unlikely you have ever heard of Appreciation Engine yet 64% of the music industry use the customer insights engine to understand customers and music fans. Co-Founder and CMO Annabel Youens explains how the SaaS platform works and their plans for t... It's unlikely you have ever heard of Appreciation Engine yet 64% of the music industry use the customer insights engine to understand customers and music fans. Co-Founder and CMO Annabel Youens explains how the SaaS platform works and their plans for the gaming industry and beyond. 47 Insights yes 25:35
Ep. 21: Paid Campaigns with Duane Brown of Take Some Risk https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-21-paid-campaigns-duane-brown-take-some-risk/ Mon, 19 Nov 2018 13:00:18 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=968 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-21-paid-campaigns-duane-brown-take-some-risk/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-21-paid-campaigns-duane-brown-take-some-risk/feed/ 0 With experience running search and paid social campaigns for SaaS companies in Europe, Australia and North America, Duane Brown of Take Some Risk chats about what he has learned about marketing SaaS, and how it differs from e-commerce marketing.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 21: Duane Brown, Take Some Risk

With experience running search and paid social campaigns for SaaS companies in Europe, Australia and North America, Duane Brown of Take Some Risk chats about what he has learned about marketing SaaS, and how it differs from e-commerce marketing.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 21 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show, I have an interview with Duane Brown, founder of Take Some Risk. Hope you enjoy it. Duane Brown, welcome to SaaS Marketing Insights.

Duane: Cool. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it, Paul.

Paul: So you’re right over there, over the sea miles and miles away, in Vancouver.

Duane: Yeah, not that far. I tell people it’s like a four hour trip and they always think I’m crazy but i’m Like, an hour, then a 2 hour ferry, it’s far. It’s far for Canada.

Paul: Yeah, yeah. But you’ve not always worked in in Canada. Are you Canadian. I guess you’re Canadian?

Duane: Yeah, I am Canadian. I get the question a lot. Yeah. I mean, there was a couple years in the UK, lived in London. Then in Australia for about seven months working for one of the telecoms down there.

Paul: So yeah. So tell me about how you got started in marketing and specifically SaaS marketing, because you’ve worked a lot… I know you do a range of stuff now. But you’ve worked a lot with SaaS in the past.

Duane: Yeah, I mean, it’s mostly because I went to live in the UK. And there’s just more opportunity to work on like, tonnes of things. Because they have bigger budgets. And, you know, London is the gateway to Europe, much like, you know, New York. So you could say it’s the gateway to the rest of North America in terms of advertising and where clients spend tonnes of money. So worked on like, a lot of SaaS related brands, more of a consumer focus standpoint, got to work a lot of e-commerce as well. Just getting a lot more international experience and like managing a team, and working on things in multiple countries in multiple languages.

So we worked on Asos, we were in like 15 different countries, we had three different languages. And I was managing a team of three, plus me, and just trying to like make sure everything from like what we say in America versus what we say in Canada, or the UK, or in Australia, or in Germany, or Amsterdam. Any of those places, were all correct, and keeping it all in flow. And so when I was done with London, because I couldn’t renew my visa, and I went travelling to Asia for a bit, I got a job offer just to work on Unbounce for a couple years. And then I quit that was to start the company. Namely they took me because they needed someone with international experience. There’s not tonnes of that in Vancouver. And they’d be looking for probably a year and change. And so they were, I wouldn’t say desperate, but they really, really wanted to find someone.

Paul: So your role on Unbounce was like purely paid, purely pay per click or were you doing a mix of stuff?

Duane: A mix of stuff. So I mean, most of our spending was on AdWords, but we had Bing, Facebook with Comcast, we had display anything marketing related. As you can imagine, I probably had every vendor, try to email me and just like let’s just chat… I’m like No, I’m good, Excel, AdWords editor, old school, you know, a way of thinking in some ways, but like tools are not going to solve your basic problems if your numbers aren’t profitable.

Paul: What you mean there’s not an AI solution to all of this, come on.

Duane: Yeah no, there’s not an AI solution. I sometimes tell clients, like we need less technology, if you want to be successful, not more technology, like more people, more technology just makes everything more complicated.

So yeah, we just we focused on that we did a bit of Facebook in my last like eight months, and just doing a lot more on video marketing on Facebook and trying to figure out how to grow that channel. So yeah a good experience.

Paul: Cool, and so when did you set up? Take some risk?

Duane: I quit my job in January last year? If you asked the government they would probably say like Janurary 10th or something like that, emotionaly for me, it was like January 1st. I had emotionally decided this was the way I was going to go. And I just started like, focusing all my free time on the company and like what we’re going to call it, register and all that sort of admin business stuff that people don’t always think about when you start a company.

Paul: And so, you know, with your business being so new, and I say that because my business is pretty new as well.

I guess we’re in a similar situation in some respects to to sort of like finding new clients and finding out which clients you want to work with and which ones you really don’t want to work with. Are you still working with a mixer clients? Do you still work with SaaS clients, or, you know, you’re doing more ecommerce?

Duane: I mean, we have like half our clients are in e commerce, a third are in sort of like technology, B2B, SaaS that sort of space, then the rest are like sort of Legion or other sort of odd things that not listed categories. And it’s a some mix of like… my network will send me stuff or we have a few partners in Toronto that send us stuff if they can’t do the work, they’ll send us the client directly. And we just decide if we want to take it or not. Most clients who email us, we take on board because we usually weed them out by pricing. Like, you know, people think we’re too expensive and so don’t stick with us. And that’s okay. And then other people will say, Yeah, you’re expensive, but we get what we’re paying for. And so we work with them.

Paul: Yeah, so we won’t name names, but you and I had a conversation I I referred someone to you, based on the fact that, you know, I think you guys got much more ecommerce experience than I have. I’m just working really… only with SaaS clients now. And, you know, I knew about your Asos experience, and I just thought, yeah, you know, that a much better fit. And I’d much rather the client work with somebody who’s got that kind of experience. And, you know, you can get results quicker, you got much more experience. So, you know, it’s a better fit. And I think that’s, that’s always important to try and be a bit of a matchmaker with finding clients to work with the right people.

Duane: Yeah, no, I agree with that. It’s true. I mean, we generally say we want clients who are nice, they have an interesting problem to solve, you know, like, with the client, you’re talking about, they, they don’t do tonnes of digital stuff. The problem is like, how do you how do you kind of start from square one more or less, other clients, they have things going, but it’s not going the direction they want, they have leads, they don’t convert, or they’ve hired three people and all those people brought in, you know, leads of people sign up for an account, but they didn’t convert into like paying customers, which I see a lot.

I sometimes joke… our best customers are those who’ve been through two or three other agencies and have been disappointed, they would be abit tougher than they would normally be, because they want to make sure they find a really good fit. So yeah, we work with like all kinds of clients, which is cool. And also like we work with people that pay the invoices. You know, we want people to pay the invoice.

Paul: Old school, imagine getting paid for what you do, Haha.

Duane: I know we have one client that fired us the other day, because we were too honest, we told him this wasn’t a good idea, and we weren’t going to do it. Then they fired us. And now they’re trying to not pay their final invoice, which makes me a little bit frustrated. But I told him, I’m going to keep at it, I’m going to be really annoying about it because like we did the work. We know you’re right. Like we don’t think you should spend money to run this test that you’re not going to have results in a week for, then ask me how it performed and I’m not be able to give you an answer. And then we would have wasted your time and money and my time because this wasn’t a worthwhile test. I suggested this to the client, like we could have run tests on ad copy, or targeted or other things that were just more worthwhile than trying to test the landing page when you don’t have enough conversions to test that. So it’s unfortunate that we lost a client, but I’m glad I lost a client because because I stuck to my values and things that are really important to us as a company and organisation.

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. I mean… I think the classic thing there is you don’t have a dog and bark yourself, if you you hire an expert to do something for you. And then they give you their advice or recommendation and you don’t take it and you want to sort of like control them like a puppet on a string. You know, that’s frustrating for everybody. And you know, they’re not going to get the best service from an expert in that situation.

Duane: No they won’t. What I said in my one of my emails like… you hired us for a reason. Please listen to me this is this will be a waste of money and time. With any client, we say we don’t think this is a good idea, we always give two or three other recommendations of things they can do, because we want to like test things and try things out when it makes sense. And they’ll see the outcome they want to see or the words and they want to see, in this case running a test for a week is like you don’t have enough traffic, and you don’t have enough money. And they just didn’t really seem to believe they they didn’t have enough money. I’m like you’re not going to spend 40K in the next week. Because like you just you just not going to, noone I know is going to do that. Asos wouldn’t even do that if I told them I need to spend 40K next week to run a test, they would be like, you’re crazy Duane.

Paul: So given the diversity of the clients that you’re working with, interested in hearing, you know, your view on whether you see any trends that are kind of across different industries right now, in terms of platforms, in terms of campaign types, in terms of things that aren’t working so well, or what you see happening in terms of, you know, trends or developments. So for example, I don’t know if you do stuff in in Europe, but…

Duane: We have a couple clients. Yeah.

Paul: Yeah, yeah, whether you’re seeing the effect that the privacy law changes over there having with campaigns or anything like that.

Duane: Yeah, I mean, with GDPR, we definitely see a drop in traffic for our clients that do stuff in Europe, and get a good chunk of their the business from Europe. So that’s challenging, like how do we run campaigns and how do we do remarketing and even just from like, an SEO perspective, you know, what can and can’t you capture about this person’s identity or traits. So it’s definitely a challenge there across our clients that we do stuff in Europe for and across schema in general. I don’t think GDPR is a is a bad thing. You know, I tell those people, it’s actually a good thing to give control to customers maybe, it wasn’t promoted in the best way. So people didn’t know about it as fast as they should have.

No the transition was definitely not great. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t a bad idea.

Paul: The transition was not great, Haha. No, long term it’s good.

Duane: Yeah, yeah. So I think there’s that. We also see a lot more clients, you know, start out on Shopify, in terms of like, you know, an e commerce platform, whether it’s they want to test if their idea works, or it’s just what they hear about. So you know, Shopify, from the outside, I feel like their technique to market is brute force, we’re just going to hire a crap tonne of people and just brute force the way to the top. And it seems like it’s working, because the more people we talk to, the more people are on Shopify versus like, a WooCommerce and Magento, which are kind of the other options I think a lot of people go with in this space.

I think among our e commerce clients, I think more and more find it a bit more expensive to be on Facebook and a bit more challenging. There’s definitely a bit more competition there. But that’s, that’s okay. Because more competition means we know people who are not really good at Facebook, they will just read out really bad agencies, we all talked to enough clients who worked with that, you know, Guru special agency that just didn’t deliver or even past clients who’ve had agencies where the only way they could drive a sale was with a sales ad of some sort of discount. Some clients have no discounts, no giveaway. If isn’t willing to pay full price. They’re probably not a great customer.

Paul: Yeah. So that’s e commerce. Do you see anything that’s in the kind of SaaS world changing in terms of paid advertising?

Duane: I don’t think anything’s changing majorly I think it’s business as usual. In the sense that, you know, well obviously Google and Facebook, they gear a lot of their stuff towards e commerce. So it’s like, figure out how you’re going to convert customers on you know, AdWords and Bing, figure out if you’re going to do video as part of your mix on YouTube or Facebook, and just really nail down the basics there. For one client, we did some work with in Q1, he wanted help with organising their accounts and stuff like that. And just making sure that the person internally was doing a really good job, we found some really good success on Yahoo. We had three search engines, then we lost it to two search engines. And now we’re back to three. Yeah, it was kind of a nice surprise for the client and they’ve kept it running, and they’re happy. And it’s just… even though it’s not a lot of growth compared to what you would get on Bing. It’s incremental growth. I think that’s what we realise, you can’t just be on one platform.

Paul: No you don’t want all your eggs in one basket.

Duane: Yeah. Which a lot of clients do. ‘We’ve got Google, so we’re good’. Well, people don’t spend all their time on google, all their time on Facebook, you need to be in a few places, and help them quite figure that out is the big thing right now, because they don’t have a big enough budget, they need to figure out how much do I spend on each platform to like, get the maximum amount of people?

Paul: Yeah, yeah, it’s how you divide the budget up and, you know, is a Facebook conversion, say the same value as a Google one, or, I don’t know, Twitter, or LinkedIn, or whatever. I mean, it’s… and with SaaS in particular, I mean, people come in and trial at a certain price. But you know, until the trial converts to paid, you don’t really know what the value of that account or customer is going to be. So it’s always tricky.

Duane: It is definitely always tricky. We took on a client in Australia back in April. And I signed the contract quick, just before I boarded a flight to go to Italy to a conference. So I think for that client, because they’re based in Australia, and in their SaaS, obviously, there’s a talent shortage. But for them, it really is figuring out what what’s the difference between someone signs up for an account. And when they convert, like, what’s that lead time? Is there a difference from what they see across other channels, which right now, it seems like there’s about a week difference, like it takes a little bit longer from someone on Google to confer, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We just need to keep it in mind when we run experiments and stuff like that. And also, they’re smaller. So how do we compete with like, the bigger brands in the space that have more money and more budget and stuff like that?

Paul: Yeah. How to spend that money wisely.

Duane: Yeah, yeah. So you know, it’s like, there’s brand campaigns, there’s competitor campaigns, we have some new marketing going, you know, for them… because of the content on the blog, like dynamic search, ads didn’t really work. But it was a good test run to see if that would be worthwhile for them. So we just hone in on the basics of getting it right, because they’ve hired a couple people in the past year and a half. And they kept on saying ‘we want someone internally. I get the logic behind that, you know, there’s… paying them full time could make sense. But I think now they’ll glad they hired me even it was a year. They realised while we consistently have conversions, the last three months, the other people got, like, a couple conversions in one month and two months of nothing. So it’s very night and day difference in terms of performance.

Paul: So here’s an interesting question or something I come across a lot. How do you deal with people who say, ‘yeah, we just want you to test some stuff, we just want you to, you know, review the account. That’s fine. Yeah. And if you can do that for nothing. And then, what we’re thinking is, we just have a rolling monthly contract’. Is that… because what I’ve seen in my experience, is it takes a long time to really understand and get to the bottom of what’s really working. And you know, it depends on volume and spend and all that stuff. But I wonder if you come across, you know, similar kind of questions?

Duane: I mean, yeah, we did it the other day, someone referred someone to us. And we talked and they were like, Oh, we were thinking like, could we do something for like a few days, a few weeks? And I was like, well, that’s not enough time, even with like, what we do on Facebook for app instal in terms of a campaign or tell them what we could do something for a month and see how it works out. I could consultant on stuff for you is another option. So we did have someone come up, it was like an interesting opportunity. I’m like, well, we’ll do a month if you want to do a month test but I wouldn’t do anything less than that. And a preferred client will do three months, and then have it just go month to month after that, just because we need to be able to like figure out like, what’s working, what’s not, we need time to dig into the data. For any client we bring on board we’ll audit all their systems, make sure things are set up correctly, because I find other agencies don’t always do that and start building things around stuf that’s broken.

Paul: Yeah, you start building your marketing on top of some really bad conversion tracking or, you know, metrics, just meaningless. It’s a nightmare.

Duane: It is a nightmare. Even just like really bad Facebook pixels, with the climate that fired us… the other agency, I don’t know what they did with the pixel, I just couldn’t get it to work. When we started with a new pixel, we started to see results within a few weeks. And it’s so… it’s like, well, taking someone else’s work sometimes isn’t always great, because agencies say they do things, but they don’t always do it to like your standards.

Paul: Yeah. So I was having a conversation yesterday with a fellow marketer. And we were talking about… that’s the bit that clients never really want to pay you for, you know, when you when you go through, and you have to fix all of this stuff. And like, make sure that the conversion tracking is working thoroughly. And you know, all the weird things that you can have happen with Tag Manager, and checking that stuff, it’s really time consuming, but like, no one ever wants to pay for it. That’s stuff that’s just part of the deal that you got to do. So that you can, you know, build your campaigns on something and solid.

Duane: Yeah, I mean, we really enjoy doing that stuff that audit and stuff, I think it’s good to kind of get an understanding of what’s going on and clients…

Paul: It’s part of the discovery as well.

Duane: Yeah, it’s part of the discovery. And it leads to a good way to ask questions. And we’ve had people who’ve hired us just to do audits and stuff like that, which we enjoy, like, audit, you know, Adwords, GA, GTM, all of those, one of those accounts, which we’ll do as well, we’ll audit something for our flat fee rate. But we’ve never started without doing an audit. If someone said we want you to start tomorrow and launch campaigns. I’m like, well no, I need to audit first to make sure things are set up correctly. And I quite frankly, rather lose a client, because they really want me to start tomorrow and can’t because if I start and those things are broken. I’m just going to fail.

Paul: Absolutely. Yeah. It also shows a lack of, like serious intent or commitment. You know, if you were just like, yeah, we’ve got this all in place to start, you know, just just just make it better and cheaper.

Duane: Yeah, I mean, we tell clients, like if everything’s done correctly, I could probably get through it all in half a day and check it really quickly. But if things aren’t broken, well, that’s going to take longer, but I’d rather spend half a day and just double check then always wonder if something’s broken.

Paul: Cool, so you’re a year in and I think you guys are hiring at the moment. Is that right?

Duane: Yeah, we’re trying to find like a technical SEO person. And then we’re trying to find like a paid manager helping out with some Google Shopping Stuff and Bing shopping stuff on a few other areas. And so much like Australia, it’s tight to find real qualified people in Vancouver, they’re got real good experience. It’s also like, beyond that, have they spent their whole life in Vancouver, have they been somewhere else, or they were once and also they moved here is ok, but there’s a lot of people who have only ever lived and done marketing in Vancouver, and it doesn’t give them enough perspective, like what’s out there. And also the budgets for campaigns and Vancouver pretty small compared to like what you get in New York, or Toronto or London. So it’s been a challenge to find some really, really good experienced who’s done more than like, you know, some basic stuff.

Paul: So have you thought about growing your own talent? Or? Or is that just too time consuming at this stage?

Duane: It’s time consuming. It takes a lot of work. And I would already be working more hours than it currently am. Which is…

Paul: That defies the whole point really?

Duane: Yeah, so like our goal is to find someone with five years experience, the idea is that they’ve worked a couple places, I mean, if they only worked one place, you know, we’ll chat with him definitely. And go from there, if someone had, like three or four years experience i’d probably definitely chat with them but if you only have like one or two, you’re gunna need a lot more training, we just don’t have the resources to do that. And one of our pitches to clients, as well is like, we only hire senior people, right? We only have people who’ve got a good set of experience, and we bring them in and we show them how we do things and sort of help them scale up their skills and their ability. Clients come to us with high expectations sometimes.

Paul: Yeah, yeah. Because I think we’ve had a conversation before and you’ve alluded to the fact that, you know, your cost structure or whatever, or, you know, your billing structure isn’t really, you know, straightforward. It’s not the industry norm. And so, you know, you’re effectively pitching yourself as a as a premium service, and you want premium clients. And so yeah, that’s part of your, your package isn’t it?

Duane: Yeah, I mean, like, we do definitely build differently. I mean, we do a monthly strategy with clients than we do 10% of spend of everthign we directly manage. You know, I often tell clients, we’re not expensive, but we’re not the cheapest in town either, we’re somewhere in the mushy middle, I could find a dozen people who are probably more expensive and find 1000 people that are cheaper, but you get what you pay for at the end of the day, if you want Junior people on your account, go with a cheaper agency, that’s totally cool, you want someone a little bit more experience who will give you a bit more time of day and doesn’t need to take on 20,30 clients, then you come to us because at any time, we’ll have you know, 6 to 8, maybe if I hired a six person will go up to 12 clients, you know, some are long term. Some are project based, depending on what it is, but we wouldn’t go above that. Because we don’t need to, we don’t need to right, we don’t need to scale up and hire tonnes of people. We don’t need to have a huge office. Those are what got the big guys in trouble now they have to do everything basically at their scale.

Paul: Yeah, So what you’re saying is, Take Some Risk is small, but beautiful.

Duane: Yeah. Small but Beautiful. And we’re attentive, we care.

Paul: Yeah. And just a hand full clients. So you get a better service and everybody gets to deal with you.

Duane: Yeah, everyone gets to deal with me and the team i’m trying to like build around me to be better, because I can’t, I can’t do everything. Which is why when I hire technical SEO person full time, we also have some part time right now we want to find somebody who wants to go full time. Just because we have demand and clients are like, well, you’re doing this with paid, you know, what can you do with technical SEO or SEO in general? Well, let me show you what we can do. We’ve got two clients, we’re doing it for now. And so we just want to like, get more of that and help more clients do the right things to get them to where they want to go.

Paul: Great. So what do you think? This is my final question. What do you think, Take Some Risk looks like in three years time or five years time? How big can you get and still be small?

Duane: You know, I think that’s a really hard question, I would be happy. If there was like a dozen of us, you know, maybe eight of us somewhere between those two numbers. And we had like a handful of clients. Depending on I guess if everyone was in Vancouver, maybe we’d have our own small office. And then an idea I’ve been toying with because I think there’s a need in Vancouver and even on the island is doing kind of like a general assembly, red Academy brain station type thing, but only focused on like data and analytics. And so like we’d had that sort of education, corporate space, the other half is space to like, basically bring in more revenue stream for the company in different ways. And, and we like to teach and educate in general like us going to five conferences in the last five days and about two more committed for the year. So a way to teach more clients, the local market, cuz there’s some clients here, I don’t want to work for brands that I would love to work on. But I also know they only want to hire me full time. This seems like a good way to like connect with those people get to work with them, but in a non official capacity, if you will.

Paul: Yeah. That’s great. Well, it sounds like you’re doing some fantastic work all the way over there in Vancouver.

I should pop over and we should have a face to face, a coffee chat at some point. But alas, it’s not going to be today.

Duane: Yeah, totally Come on, hang out. We can like grab food something like that. Go for lunch. I mean I don’t drink coffee, but like I do drink juice and ginger beer and stuff like that.

Paul: Okay, well, we can do that. Duane. Thank you very much for your time it was really great to… you know, you’re the first person that I’ve done on this podcast with zoom. And also you the first fellow PPC guy that I’ve spoken to. And you know, you don’t know what you don’t know until you speak to somebody else. So thank you very much. I thought it was really insightful.

Duane: Cool. Thanks for having me, I appreciate it Paul.

Paul: No worries. Take it easy.

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Duane. For more info on Take Some Risk, please visit www.takesomerisk.com for more info about this show. And to get our links to iTunes Google Play SoundCloud, Stitcher and YouTube check out www.47insights.com. And if you have any SaaS marketing insights that you’d like to share on the show, please get in touch. Until next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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With experience running search and paid social campaigns for SaaS companies in Europe, Australia and North America, Duane Brown of Take Some Risk chats about what he has learned about marketing SaaS, and how it differs from e-commerce marketing. With experience running search and paid social campaigns for SaaS companies in Europe, Australia and North America, Duane Brown of Take Some Risk chats about what he has learned about marketing SaaS, and how it differs from e-commerce marketing. 47 Insights yes 25:23
Ep. 20: Launching Shift with Nadia Tatlow of Redbrick https://www.47insights.com/blog/launching-shift-nadia-tatlow-redbrick/ Mon, 12 Nov 2018 13:00:28 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=962 https://www.47insights.com/blog/launching-shift-nadia-tatlow-redbrick/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/launching-shift-nadia-tatlow-redbrick/feed/ 0 Nadia Tatlow, General Manger of Shift app at Redbrick, outlines how she went about launching the product on Product Hunt and driving traffic through Google and Facebook.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 20: Nadia Tatlow, Redbrick

Nadia Tatlow, General Manger of Shift app at Redbrick, outlines how she went about launching the product on Product Hunt and driving traffic through Google and Facebook.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 20 Transcript

Paul: Hello and Welcome to SaaS marketing insights The show where we ask SaaS founders, CEOs, marketers and investors about the lessons they’ve learned in their quest to grow their companies. My name is Paul Stephenson, and I’m founder and CEO of SaaS marketing agency 47Insights. On today’s show, I have an interview with Nadia Tatlow, General Manager at Shift. Hope you enjoy it.

Nadia from Redbrick, thank you very much for inviting me, what a great place you got here.

Nadia: Thanks for coming.

Paul: So this is Victoria, British Columbia. I don’t know a lot about Redbrick, but you guys are like a software company or whatever… so maybe we should back up and hear a bit more about your journey and how you got started in SaaS marketing and about Redbrick, and one of your… one of your products that Redbrick has in particular.

Nadia: Sure. Um, so I started at Redbrick about five years ago, and moved here from Toronto, where I was working at a marketing agency working with, you know, some of the big big brands through this agency. You know, Microsoft and Rogers and kind of some of those big, big brands, but we were a small agency kind of start up in that world. So we… you know, I really got my toes wet in the marketing world there. And then moved out to Victoria about five years ago, and started with Redbrick. At the time Shift was not not in the fold yet. So Redbrick for people who don’t know, is a software development company, we developed several different products. And in our… we have about four different business units. So shift is one of those. And so that’s the one that I’m heading up from a business perspective right now. And it’s our SaaS product for Gmail, Gmail management, it’s really a productivity app. It covers a lot of different, different tools. But really, it’s about helping people to manage different… all of their different email accounts from Gmail, Outlook, and Hotmail. And then, recently, we’ve added the ability to switch between all of your web apps and extensions as well.

Paul: Wow, so it sounds like Shift came about as an idea that maybe somebody was developing or an idea that came out of Redbrick at least, and then it was commercialised, or was it from the start or commercial idea?

Nadia: I think it came out of an internal need, really. So I guess to backtrack a little bit when I started here, you know, all of us were really working across several different products.

Paul: So you had different identities…

Nadia: Different identities, different brands within the Redbrick umbrella company. So managing all the different email accounts and brands was something that we all recognised as a kind of internal pain point.

Paul: Lots of different tabs in your browser.

Nadia: Yeah exactly, multiple tabs, multiple browsers. So we started looking into options and,  really didn’t find something that really clicked with us. So we decided, you know… at the time to also showcase one of our analytics… software analytics products, let’s build Shift as a, almost a case study. So we built it, we use it internally. And then I was really in a, you know, full on marketing across the red brick products at the time really.

Paul: Group marketing manager.

Nadia: You know, really managing marketing across everything. Yeah, exactly. So I got involved early on, I guess, spring of 2016, you know, naming the product to building out this brand of what is Shift and what is kind of the brand identity that we want it to have. And then we launched it to a really small design community, a beta community…

Before Product Hunt, actually. So in… I think it was September of 2016, we launched on this beta website, just to kind of get it out there and get it beyond our companies. And, and it, it really got a positive reception from there. So we thought, you know what, let’s, let’s really go hard for the last quarter and make this something that we can present to the world on Product Hunt. So that was all of our first time on Product Hunt. We we built up to that and in December, actually December 20th, we launched full on with Shift 1.0 on Product Hunt.

Paul: So how did you do that, was it on Product Hunt?

So, what was the reception?

Nadia: It was great. Yeah… Product Hunt, if you’re not familiar with the community is kind of product savvy, Silicon Valley Tech people…

Paul: I’m in there, upvo ting.

Nadia: Yeah. Okay. There’s actually a lot of Victoria companies that are on there now. And actually, in in those times or in that time, you couldn’t pre schedule your launch in any way. So you couldn’t really prep things…

Paul: They got that ship…

Nadia: The Ship product now that allows you to kind of line things up. So for us, it was really launching at midnight, everything. We didn’t have our link until that moment. And of course, we had a lot of other channels that we were you know, launching on to really create the momentum on Product Hunt that we needed.

Paul: So what’s with the midnight launches?

Nadia: Timing, maximizing your time zones. So I guess, PST, we’re, you know… we’re a little bit behind the time. Yeah. So getting on there at midnight allows you to capture, you know, all those CEOs and, anyone who’s in the tech world that’s getting online in Europe, you know.

Paul: So it’s midnight where?

Nadia: So midnight PST? And that’s supposed to be the, you know… it’s really 12:01 that you launch on there. Yeah, there’s lots of blog articles about product launches. And I have a checklist that I’m, you know… I follow religiously when i’m going through those.

Paul: So you launched it on some other platforms as as well?

Nadia: Yeah. So I guess backstory on Redbrick is that, you know, we’re really… our bread and butter has been performance marketing. So, you know, user acquisition, and in Facebook and Google are kind of everything in terms of all of our products is where we, you know test and drive user acquisition. So it’s no different with Shift.

Paul: So that’s the core kind of, well, obviously, developing software, but but also performance marketing side. Those two go hand in hand. Without… all of the other products have sprung out from from those central skills that the expertise that you have within this business.

Nadia: Yeah, I think just being able to use those channels for testing, testing and gathering data and just driving large volumes.

Paul: Validation.

Nadia: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, getting… I mean, getting anything to scale. And, you know, we have talked about this before, but sometimes we’ll have a creative idea, you know, a new landing page or ad sets, and Facebook has been a huge, huge channel for Shift, just in that it allows us to test all of that stuff. Pretty quickly in the scheme of things, so, you know, we’ll have a brand new landing page, that’s not even quite ready. So we’ll create a bunch of ads around it and just test and see if those work. One example is we recently launched a light theme on Shift. So you can switch, sort of, like on Twitter where you can switch between dark mode and light mode, we have a similar feature for Shift, you know, really just a nice setting for people who, you know, care about the UI and want it to flow with their workflow. So we tested alot of ads on Facebook to make sure that, you know… before we go to the effort of really pushing this through development, let’s make sure that this is something that our customers are going to respond to.

Paul: So great. So shift is what, 18 months old?

Nadia: Yeah, so I’d say December 2016, was really the full on launch. Then November, so we had this launch on Product Hunt that went very well. And at the time Shift was really email management. So managing multiple email accounts and being able to toggle between those accounts as well as mail calendar and drive. Shift is built on Electron so similar to Slack or Spotify, it sits on your desktop. And it’s beautiful at you know… I think where it kicked off was that the design community loved it. And it’s something that just really streamlines your productivity. So what we we kept on getting requests for was apps and extension. So you know, a lot of people are in email all day, but they need their CRM and they need project management or Facebook, business manager, Asana, Trello, Flow in there. So we started building in the apps, and spent, I guess, that full year really pushing out, pushing those apps into Shift and then building a feature called unified search, which allows you to search across all of your different email accounts.

Paul: Wow, that sounds clever. I bet that gave someone a headache.

Nadia: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So you can… if you accidentally saved a document in your personal account, you can search across everything, and you know, it’s supposed to be in your work, work drive, you’ll find it in in one search rather than…

Paul: Wow. There’s definitely a need for that.

Nadia: Yeah, exactly. So we built in unified search, more Google services, all your Google Apps, and then pretty much every popular web app. We threw that into Shift as part of the 2.0 launch, so we actually went back on Product Hunt, and back to that community as part of a really an organic push, but also something to really drive our team to a deadline. And, it’s been great for that and great for feedback. But of course, you know, Facebook has been really the the driving channel for the full, I guess, 18 months that it’s, it’s been out there in the public.

Paul: So, so the products really developed. So in terms of… it’s a freemium business model right? Or is it trial?

Nadia: So no trial, that’s another thing we’ve tested a huge amount. Pricing and trial offering, offering a trial or not offering the trial. So when we first launched, we did offer a trial, and we actually decided that it was more effective for our users to offer just a completely free version of Shift so you get an idea of, of how it all works and switch between two different email accounts in the free version.

Paul: So it’s kind of limited?

Nadia: A little bit limited. Yes. But you can see how it works. See if it works on your desktop and how you have your monitor setup. And then we added… you can upgrade to Pro. And that’s a yearly subscription fee of $29.99.

Paul: Pocket money.

Nadia: Yeah, exactly, per year, we’re kind of… a lot of people, I think, assume that its monthly, they don’t read it carefully, it’s actually only per year. So that allows you unlimited email accounts. And then once you go to an into advanced, that’s really where the real I think value and premium version of Shift is where you can add all of your apps, all of your extensions, unlimited email accounts, Google services, unified search.

Paul: So does it have any kind of organisational vitality in the same way that Slack does, do you see people like adopting it? And then it spreads throughout an organisation?

Nadia: Yeah, you know, what we’ve… we’ve actually got a shift for teams offering that’s doing quite well. Because, you know, people are always talking in the office, you know, what do you use for productivity, how do you focus? How do you get your stuff done? The thing we found about our users is that Shift is a staple in their day to day workflow, they have it open every single day all day.

Paul: It’s earned its place.

Nadia: Yeah, exactly. So our engagement is really high. And, as a result… I think word of mouth has been big, with a network effect, with our referral programme, that in terms of organic marketing… and we push our referral programme, through our email campaigns and a little bit through Facebook and Google, but that team version is really, you know, someone on the team, whether they’re technically the decision maker, in terms of the software, productivity software, often it spirals. We have teams every day that started around five people. And then, you know, we get a request, okay lets add five more seats, let’s add 10 more seats, you know, so, yeah.

Paul: So, to back up, so I just wanted to sanity check somthing because… I do a lot of stuff in SaaS marketing, paid acquisition. So you doing paid acquisition on Facebook for something that’s $29 a year?

Nadia: Mmmm hmmm.

Paul: Wow.

Nadia: Well, you know, what… Well, $29 or I think the average, you know… it averages out more on the Advanced side most people end up chosing the upgrade. Okay, great. I think people who see the full value and really see Shift as something that they end up relying on in their day to day end up, upgrading to advance, so it’s really more leaning to the $100 a year price point. But yeah, we’re… I guess we’re 18 months in and, you know, it’s nice to see that we can get people in the door and people can use Shift for free and get utility out of it, but then choose if it’s something they want to upgrade on.

Paul: Great. So sounds like there’s a clear kind of roadmap and probably pushing up in terms of organisational size. Is there anything you can tell us about? In terms of future developments? I understand if you can’t, anything around the corner?

Nadia: Yeah, I think somewhere where we see opportunity, potentially down the road is mobile, we’ve really focused in on the desktop as being the pain point. You know, there’s a lot of options for Mobile Email management, and it tends to be less of a pain point. But there’s definitely a huge opportunity for Shift to be, you know… just cover cover all devices, basically, right now, we’ve really honing in on desktop as the issue.

Paul: So, is that through customer feedback?

Nadia: Um, yeah, I think so. And just in terms of… we do run mobile ads, and we know that there, you know, most of our customers are on their phones all day too, so it wouldn’t hurt, I don’t think to have that. But otherwise, I think immediately, apps are a big focus. So making sure that we’re offering everything that our customers actually rely on every day because that tends to be a decision making point, it’s a make or break thing, we need to offer a huge selection.

Paul: So one of the things that… just hearing your story that I’m interested in is, you know, the shift that you’ve made, on a more personal note, from agency to, SaaS company, and you’ve gone from being a marketer on the front line. To now, you probably wear many hats, but you’re more of a general manager in that kind of shift role. So more overseeing the aspect of marketing, in that kind of personal development, from from agency side to SaaS, to now, management, if I can call you that. What have you found that has been the big challenges for you, as you’ve gone long.

Nadia: You know, I guess even to go back further, when I started at Redbrick, Marketing was almost off the side of my desk, and I was doing a lot of sales. And, really focused in on revenue growth through our publishers, and then our advertising base. So I think getting really… you know, I’ve had a good split through my career of marketing and sales, partnerships, and really just start up, where I think everyone wears a lot of hats and everyone’s pretty close to the bottom line. So I think that that’s been a cool experience for me, and something that’s kind of made that transition a little bit more organic, where, you know, I look around now, and we do look like more of a, you know, corporate type company, but I think we operate more like a startup. And Shift definitely within the Redbrick umbrella is really a startup within. So I actually manage, I have my head in our Facebook campaigns every day, my head in our Google stuff every day working with our designers to build up the creative. And then you know, and then more the management side, we have a growing team. And, then, even writing content and stuff. It’s something we have a team behind but we’re… I definitely have my finger on the pulse still on all that so.

Paul: Great, Nadia, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me today. I really appreciate it. I wish you good luck with Shift, thank you.

Paul: I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Nadia. For more info on Shift, please visit tryshift.com. For more info about this show. And to get our links to iTunes, Google Play SoundCloud, Stitcher and YouTube, check out www.47insights.com. And if you have any SaaS marketing insights that you’d like to share on the show, please get in touch. Until next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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Nadia Tatlow, General Manger of Shift app at Redbrick, outlines how she went about launching the product on Product Hunt and driving traffic through Google and Facebook. Nadia Tatlow, General Manger of Shift app at Redbrick, outlines how she went about launching the product on Product Hunt and driving traffic through Google and Facebook. 47 Insights yes 19:43
Ep. 19: Growing The Checkfront Marketing Team with Angela Heald https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-19-growing-checkfront-marketing-team-angela-heald/ Mon, 05 Nov 2018 13:00:15 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=958 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-19-growing-checkfront-marketing-team-angela-heald/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-19-growing-checkfront-marketing-team-angela-heald/feed/ 0 Angela Heald joined SaaS booking software company Checkfront three years ago with a mandate to build a marketing department. How did she go about building her team, and what did she learn in the process?

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 19: Angela Heald, Checkfront

Angela Heald joined SaaS booking software company Checkfront three years ago with a mandate to build a marketing department. How did she go about building her team, and what did she learn in the process?

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


Episode 19 Transcript

Paul: Hello and welcome to SaaS Marketing Insights, the show where we ask SaaS founders, CEOs, marketers and investors about the lessons they’ve learned in their quest to grow their companies. My name is Paul Stephenson, and I’m founder and CEO of SaaS marketing agency 47insights. On today’s show, I have an interview with Angela Heald, marketing manager at Checkfront. Hope you enjoy it.

So I’m here with Angela Heald, who’s the marketing manager at Checkfront. And this follows on from our conversation had with Jason Morehouse, CEO.

Angela: How’d he do?

Paul:  How did he do? I think he did really well, it was really… really interesting from my perspective, learning how, you know, the business got started from scratch, bootstrap from nothing. And you know, the bit that we want to talk about today is, those guys got it so far. But then they had to hand it over to the professionals… the marketing professionals, which is you and your team. And I guess the interesting thing is, how you took it from where it was at that stage, and grew a marketing department. So just to sort of back up. How did you get started started in marketing?

Angela: Yeah, so I was actually studying international business at university. And the courses that I loved the most were the marketing courses.

Paul: Very sensible.

Angela: Yes. However, my university staggered when they offered those courses. So to switch to marketing, I would have put myself back a year. And so I just set the goal to get my first job in marketing.

Paul: Cool. And so what was your first job in marketing?

Angela: So it was agency style SEO.

Paul: Right. That’s very dear to my heart. And how long were you in that role?

Angela: So I was exclusively doing that for maybe about seven months. And then I started to train people on it, I moved into PPC and slowly made my way across all the other online marketing channels.

Paul: Wow, so you had quite a broad base, before you came to Checkfront and guess at that stage… you didn’t know anything about bookings or tourist industry or whatever, those were all just like, B2B or different industries.

Angela: Yeah, so the agency that I got most of my experience in was also B2B. However, it wasn’t SaaS. So that was a whole new world. What really endeared me to Checkfront is the space we work in, travel and tourism. And there’s nothing I’m more passionate about so…

Paul: Becasue you get to go to nice places.

Angela: Totally. Nothing more fun.

Paul: So how long ago was it before you made that? Did you go straight from agency to Checkfront? Or was there anything in between?

Angela: Um, well, I had moved into… at the same agency I had moved into their marketing department actually founded their marketing apartment.

Paul: Oh, right, so you’re an old hand at this.

Angela: Yes. Yeah, I was one of the founding members of that. And that was a bit of a different beast, because it became marketing for the company, as opposed to for the company’s clients.

Paul: Yeah. And then you made the transition to Checkfront? So how long ago was that?

Angela: Just about two and a half years ago?

Paul: Oh, wow, but it feels like forever?

Angela: Well… sometimes feels like forever, sometimes feels like five days.

Paul: So what was the state… if I can put that the right way, of marketing in Checkfront, because the impression I got from Jason is that a lot of the initiatives, this sort of made things up a bit as they went along, it was very quick and dirty. And there must have been a bit more semblance of order to actually warrent employing you or to have, you know, the faith that you could… you could make a difference. So, you know, when you came in? What was this situation?

Angela: Yeah, so there was not a tonne of structure, I think the person that had previously done most of the marketing was also working heavily in product, she’s now our Director of Product, she moved full time into product. And that was when they knew they needed to hire somebody full time to look at the marketing. When I came in, they had a really come off a good run of years, leveraging free channels, kind of just taking leads where they get them. And yeah, and, you know, that obviously, changes very quickly. I think they knew that they needed to invest more in the marketing.

Paul: So when you joined, and the other person moved across product, you had a marketing department of one, you?

Angela: That’s right. Just me.

Paul: So that must have been quite daunting to come into a business that you hadn’t been involved with before, and then take on this role. So you know, you’re a marketer with some experience at that point. But here you are in an industry that you don’t know anything about. It’s a cool business. You like the look of it, you like the people, but then you’ve got to start understanding what SaaS marketing is all about.

Angela: Exactly. Yeah. I mean, it was incredibly exciting. And I had a really good base in all of the online marketing channels specifically. So I came in pretty confident. It was just a matter of, I guess, understanding what they had done up to the point where I entered what had worked really well. Thinking about what I wanted to do moving forward, how I was going to make my mark in this company. And and yeah, and going from there, I was… I was totally excited, I probably should have been a little more nervous then I was.

Paul: So how long did it take, before you realise that you really needed to hire to help you.

Angela: I mean, I could have hired the second I started. I don’t think that, you know, I needed to get really overwhelmed to figure that out. There was a lot that we needed to do, a lot we wanted to do. And I very quickly sort of felt like I was accomplishing 5% of dozens of things instead of 100% of a few things, very spread thin.

Paul: So how long did it take before you hired someone?

Angela: So we hired somebody, I want to say about six to eight months after I started? Yeah, it was my first hire.

Paul: And what was the role that you hired for first? Because that’s always the thing, who do you hire first?

Angela: Yeah, so the role I hired for first is probably not the role that I would have, you know, set up to pick first we actually had somebody internally who was very, very talented, and wanted to move into marketing to do video marketing.

Paul: Oh, great.

Angela: Yeah. So my first ever hire was a video marketer. At that point, video was not a huge part of our marketing mix. It is now though. Probably not the, you know, if I had beforehand sat down and been like, ‘what’s my first hire’ It probably wouldn’t have been video marketing, just because it wasn’t part of our mix. Now it is, and she’s incredibly talented. So very, very lucky to have started with her.

Paul: Great. So I mean, given the nature of the market that you’re in… travel and stuff, video really pays well in that sector. So it was a very prescient and useful thing to have somebody in house that could could handle all of that. So then, so two and a half years down the road now. What other roles that you you hired since… or the companies hired in terms of marketing.

Angela: Yeah, so it very quickly became clear to me that I would need to hire for the skills that I didn’t have. One of those is design. I can… I hope, I think I can recognise good design, but I can’t create good design. So I have a designer, very integral part of the team. And he does everything from our website designed to our brochures, our PDFs, anything like that goes through him, that helps our brand look really good out there. And then a writer, so like I said, I got actually started in SEO, it required a lot of writing. So it’s not that I didn’t have the skill, but it was that I was very, very, burnt out on it.

Paul: Yeah. Yeah, been writing all those perfectly optimised keywords and you just go blind in the end looking at content.

Angela: Yeah. And content was going to be a huge part of our marketing strategy moving forward. So it was a very important role to fill.

Paul: So, that’s a great thing to come on to. So what would you say are the channels? So clearly, content marketing? And SEO is a major one for you? What are the other sort of Marketing Leavers you guys pull to get business your way?

Angela: Yeah, so we do a lot of paid advertising, across various channels, AdWords probably being our biggest one. And we don’t drive a lot of revenue through social media marketing, but it is very important to us to remain connected with our customers. So we see it as more of a customer retention play, they can always talk to us, they always see what’s going on with us. So that’s really great. And we actually do a lot of events as well, a lot of offline marketing.

Paul: Yeah. You always seem to be going somewhere. That is just part of your industry isn’t it, the whole travel thing?

Angela: It is Yeah.

Paul: So you know, it’s it’s an essential, that people not only understand the brand, but meet the people behind it. And yeah, get to understand that there’s a lot going on in this business.

Angela: Yeah, I mean, I started and, you know, I was asked, Have you ever done a trade show? And I was like, do people still still do that? is that a thing? In our industry, it is a thing. People love it. They love the excuse to sort of meet face to face. And you know, our customers are not super technology savvy. So face to face…

Paul: No, because I guess a lot of it is like family businesses or owner run businesses?

Angela: Yeah, It varies. I mean, we have definitely a tonne of owner operated, we have a tonne of family owned businesses that are very large. And then we also have global enterprises with, you know, multiple locations across the world so…

Paul: Wow. So there’s a lot going on.

Angela: Yes.

Paul: So in terms of like the, two and a half years now that you spent at the forefront of SaaS marketing with Checkfront what are the you know, the things that you’ve learned through… good things happening or learn through bad things happening, that maybe are different. Make SaaS and Checkfront different from other businesses or, or commonalities you’re seeing with other businesses.

Angela: So I think the biggest thing that I learned about SaaS marketing is how quickly it changes. So, you know, our product has changed so much our customers have changed, marketing has changed, the industry we are in has changed, our competitors have changed. What worked in 2012 is no longer working. And it’s not even that it takes six years for things to change. It’s just an adaptation from when we didn’t have a full focused marketing team to now we need a team. And yeah, I would say, the ability to pivot, the ability to like fail and not, you know, take it too hard. That’s very, very important in SaaS marketing.

Paul: Having a thick skin.

Angela: Definitely. Yeah.

Paul: So in terms of hiring, are you still hiring? There’s still…

Angela: I’m always hiring Paul.

Paul: Haha, anyone out there want a job?

Angela: Yeah, yeah, we’re always hiring. I mean, I will say I did learn a pretty good lesson hiring. And that was that i think i siloed my team a little bit too early. I hired very, very specific skill sets. And in times, that does hold us up a bit. Because we have one person specifically that can do a task as opposed to having a few people with broader skills. So in future I will be hiring more marketing generalists, people with skills and multiple channels, just so that as a team, we can be a little bit more scrappy, and a little bit quicker.

Paul: Yeah, so how much of your time is now spent managing your team verses actually doing stuff yourself?

Angela: Yeah, um, I don’t know that I can ever remove myself from doing the stuff, I actually really like it. But I will say that it’s a very small part of my day to day now. It’s really about empowering my team. And I actually find that really fulfilling.

Paul: Yeah, it’s always a bit of a sort of difficult point isn’t it, I think we’ve talked about it before, where you still want to keep all the skills that you have, and you still want to be able to you know, get those wins and, you know, create value itself. But then on the other hand, as a… for the company, actually, your greatest asset is probably the way that you’re able to manage your team, so it’s always offsetting those two things.

Angela: Yeah. And I’ve also moved in my career from… away from the spot where I could like Google the answers to things. Now we’re facing challenges every day that I’m like, I don’t know where to find the answer to this, you know, so it’s very different.

Paul: Right? So all you need to do is write down those questions, and we’ll put them out there. And we’ll find out the answers.

Angela: Sounds great. I should start a medium blog.

Paul: You should. That’s fantastic. So, I mean, you’ve come a long way in a relatively short space of time. There must have been times when you felt like you were juggling flaming plates.

Angela: Earlier today

Paul: You looked so calm. How do you cope with managing your team and doing all the other things you’ve got to do? And the pressure that obviously comes from managment, you know, times hit marketing targets, whatever, and actually have a life?

Angela: Well, I’ll skip the life part for now. The work part, I think, a lot of times, I fall into a bit of a triage situation, which obviously I’d prefer not to be, but it’s a matter of like, what’s on fire the most, this exact moment, I try to be really cognizant of how important good managers have been to me in my career, and in my past. And so I’m constantly reminding myself not to let the management fall to the wayside and get too stuck in the marketing side of it. So that’s a really big challenge. Just like kind of always remembering to be there for my team, always remembering that that is an extremely fulfilling part of my job and keeps them engaged in their jobs as well. And then how I balance all that with life, I don’t know that I necessarily have a good answer for that. When I travel, I try to unplug from technology as best as possible.

Paul: I saw you on Instagram.

Angela: Well, I tried to unplug from work technology. But, but yeah, I mean, even that it becomes a little impulsive. Like I should just check in and make sure everything’s okay. When the reality is like they would everybody would be fine without me.

Paul: So you were recently in Scotland for two or three weeks?

Angela: Yeah, two weeks… just over two weeks.

Paul: So how did you juggle that? Did you switch off? Or was it…

Angela: Um, I did I…

Paul: Becasue there is no Wi Fi or internet up there.

Angela: Haha they’re not quite that far in the past. No, I I kind of gave everybody the heads up that I was going to unplug. I made sure I spent a lot of time with my team beforehand, making sure that they knew priorities. We have a great team here that truly supports our work life balance. So you know, nobody wanted to bother me while I was travelling, which is always a bonus. So yeah.

Paul: You came back and they’re all refreshed and ready to go again.

Angela: Exactly. Yeah.

Paul: Angela thank you very much for giving me an insight into Checkfront and the career and the progress you’ve made.

Angela: Thanks Paul, this is really fun.

Paul: I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Angela. For more info on Checkfront, please visit www.checkfront.com For more info about this show. And to get our links to iTunes, Google Play SoundCloud, Stitcher and YouTube, check out www.47insights.com. And if you have any SaaS marketing insights that you’d like to share on the show, please get in touch. Until next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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Angela Heald joined SaaS booking software company Checkfront three years ago with a mandate to build a marketing department. How did she go about building her team, and what did she learn in the process? Angela Heald joined SaaS booking software company Checkfront three years ago with a mandate to build a marketing department. How did she go about building her team, and what did she learn in the process? 47 Insights yes 16:53
Ep. 18: How Checkfront Started Marketing with Jason Morehouse https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-18-checkfront-marketing-jason-morehouse/ Mon, 29 Oct 2018 12:00:37 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=954 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-18-checkfront-marketing-jason-morehouse/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-18-checkfront-marketing-jason-morehouse/feed/ 0 In 2010 Jason Morehouse and his fellow Co-Founder Grant Jurgeneit started moonlighting on an idea for an online booking system. They had no money to spend on marketing so they concentrated on understanding customers' needs. If he could go back and do it all again, what would Jason do differently?

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 18: Jason Morehouse, Checkfront

In 2010 Jason Morehouse and his fellow Co-Founder Grant Jurgeneit started moonlighting on an idea for an online booking system. They had no money to spend on marketing so they concentrated on understanding customers’ needs. If he could go back and do it all again, what would Jason do differently?

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


Episode 18 Transcript

Paul: Hello, and welcome to SaaS Marketing Insights, the show where we ask SaaS founders, CEOs, marketers and investors about the lessons they’ve learned in their quest to grow their companies.

My name is Paul Stephenson, and I’m founder and CEO of SAS marketing agency 47 insights. On today’s show, I have an interview with Jason Morehouse, Co-founder and CEO of Checkfront. Hope you enjoy it.

Hi, i’m with Jason Morehouse, from Checkfront and today, this is the first part of a two part conversation with both Jason, who’s co founder and CEO and Angela, who is your marketing manager, Angela is on holiday at the moment so we’re going to film her later and then stitch it together.

Jason: Do the magic.

Paul: So if anybody doesn’t know anything about Checkfront, what’s your kind of elevator pitch? What do you tell them?

Jason:  Well they should know. Yeah, so we’re an online booking system for tours, activities is kind of where we spend most of our time. So whale watching in the inner harbour, bungee jumping, city tours, that’s really how we started was those small local tours. So we really run… effectively run their business in the background. So we process all the bookings, their payments, analytics, integrate into all their marketing software, accounting software. So we’re really the backend system for those tour activity… kind of experience based businesses.

Paul: And when you say for them, you mean, you know, these businesses are? global, worldwide?

Jason: Yeah. So we’re in 120 odd countries of active. I mean, primarily the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, those are the biggest markets for us, but we’ve got them in Dubai and Portugal, Italy, Iceland.

Paul: Fantastic. So take me back to you know, how you guys got started, how Checkfront got started, what was the? The journey? Where did it come from?

Jason: Yeah, so I mean, I’ve been… most of my experiences is in ecommerce effectively. Before that, my co founder kind of had a enterprise sales background and we wanted to do something but we really found the need from the consumer side of it. We had two small families, each of us… and we were frustrated when we would go to book, whatever it was a ski trip or some small activity and we were constantly filling out email forms or literally having to mail checks. So we knew that there was a need, especially in the small business side, because the was large enterprise software at that point, it was lots of on premise. So the old, clunky software. So we we built out a small prototype, we found one customer that we knew, and built out a little prototype forum, we were still working day jobs. There was some interest and traction there and kind of left it on, we left it for free, might have had a lead a week…

Paul: So how long did that go on… that gestation period.

Jason: That was far too long. So it was probably a year and again, it was moonlit. Then the product was poor… it was not great. There was no support there. The support box was my inbox. There was no documentation but people would come in, they would use it and then really the accelerator was when we started to build some integrations into it.

Paul: So when did you… just for the sake of accuaracy… when did you guys get started?

Jason: So 2010. It was still moonlit really, 2011, 2012 was when we started charging for it so we could make some money off of it. You know, added a staff member or two. It was a lot of education early on.

Paul: Wow, so you just scratched your own itch, created this thing, just to see if it would fly and it just slowly gathered momentum?

Jason: That’s right

Paul: On its own accord or…? How did anybody… did you do any marketing start off with?

Jason: No marketing, per se? I mean… I guess you could consider it Growth Hacking. That’s kind of a goofy term but there was no budget, there was no money because nobody’s paying us. So it was a lot of early link building, building those integrations, which ended up really accelerating the company. The WordPress one was a big one. So that was one we deployed, 30 lines of code and then went to bed and in the morning, my inbox was full of really angry customers who didn’t know how to use the plugin. But there was a market there, validated. At that point we did kind of rethink it and say, all right, there’s something here. Obviously, we have to make it better and fix it and probably bring some people to support it and build it out. And then really took that approach for another couple of years, just… both on both the sides of our go to market, our marketing and really the product.

Paul: So at what point did you guys leave your day jobs? At what point did this… did you go all in? Like this is serious now.

Jason: Yeah, so it was a bit of progression. So at that point, I was contracting. So I kept cutting back the contracts so that I cover the mortgage. And then at one point… it was still a big stretch for probably about a year to get to a point where there was enough revenue to cover the basic essentials. 2012 was really the year I think, where we started to see a business and unlike probably what you might see today with a great company vision and this lofty business plan. This was a very organic process where we knew there was opportunity. It wasn’t… it didn’t end up where we were initially kind of thinking about… it was much bigger. But through, you know, those three, four years, we started to see that there was an emerging market right. So there was an early business case for it, but it just wasn’t ready so it was literally waiting for a couple of years.

Paul: Wow. So you were slightly ahead of the game?

Jason: Probably a couple years ahead, because there was a lot of education still around cloud, right. And so small businesses, were still installing their software using Microsoft Office system, CD ROMs and whatnot, which really kind of ages the company a bit… and myself. But that changed over time, as we know and SaaS is not novelty anymore.

Paul: So tell me a bit more about those… just because I’m intrigued. Those early growth hacking tactics that you employed. This was before growth hacking was even a term.

Jason: We invented it.

Paul: Haha.

Jason: I mean, there was… we struggled to kind of find our identity. In the early days, we were effectively kind of a booking system for everything. Our use cases were fairly close to where we are now. But in the early days, our marketing was very just ‘Hey, if you have a service that you need to sell, and we’re we’re option for you’. Which even today, it’s an eclectic group of customers, there’s still, you know, a wide range of verticals that use us and ones that we don’t necessarily focus on from a marketing lens. So it took that year of customers coming in and putting pricing on and increasing the pricing and figuring out who are the ones that would actually pay and stick around. So starting at $9, you know, going from that actually helped us build the business.

Paul: Yeah, separate the wheat from the chaff, you know, the serious people from…

Jason: We didn’t want to build a passive product. And so the ones that were angry to pay $9 a month, bless their hearts, there’s lots of services for them. But we figured that we couldn’t build a sustainable business on $9 a month for people using it for, you know, a dog walking service or something.

Paul: That’s the interesting thing about, you know, what you said about WordPress, people still think WordPress is being this, like, free for all where, you know, people don’t want to instal or use a plugin, unless it’s free or use a service unless it’s free. And you actually broke that mould, you actually created something that was a paid for SaaS service that had a WordPress plugin, as a way of going viral, if you like or a way of, you know, getting the message out there. But then you found a segment within that that would actually pay and, you know, even to this day, when you look at… you know, the typical WordPress user the impression people get is, ‘these guys won’t pay for anything’.

Jason: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, the… and again, our early target was the SMBs. But the fact that we… the value add, which is we’re going to run your business for you like convincing me to pay $100 a month or $200 a month, versus maybe some of the free stuff you’ll get is not overly difficult. You can get a booking system and WordPress that cost you nothing but they tap out really quickly.

Paul: And you welcome people to use that and try it…

Jason: Yeah, it is… you know, if it works for you. You probably don’t need us.

So yeah, there was a, it was a real progression and learning experience for us to understand all of the components of the business, I mean, the product… we’ve been very product focused throughout and have been lucky enough to have a lot of solid organic growth that we’ve been able to generate, whether it’s a partner channel, or an early referral programme, we always had great organic traffic through search engines, there was not a lot of competition, whereas now there’s a tonne. And after we built our WordPress integration, there was no… we were the only booking system in there paid. There was 15, probably by the end of the year.

Paul: Right okay. That’s… that must have been frustrating for you to keep up with that. But you know, it’s like anything, people see a market opportunity and jump in and you know, some people hang around, some people are in and out. The WordPress, plugin directories is full of corpses, there are alot of dead buckets in there, people who’ve tried different things.

So it started off as the two of you rumbling along for a couple years. And then… so who was your first hire? And what role is it first hire?

Jason: Support So we… going way back… I worked in a technical support team answering like Windows 95.

Paul: You poor sole.

Jason: But I’ve seen how much support really changes the product. So we didn’t have all the answers as to what we were building effectively. And we needed that early feedback from our customers, prospects, whatever… angry people that didn’t like the platform. As to why and why. Because in our space, it’s, it’s complicated, because unlike a shopping cart like Shopify, you’re selling t shirts, you’re selling coffee mugs that are kind of the same whereas we’ll have a rafting operator that runs a business one way and the next one is completely different. So we had to figure out and get the input segment of the customers we didn’t want to build for. And then really…

Paul: Build in a lot of flexibility as well.

Jason: We did Yeah, yeah. I mean, it bites us sometimes. But… so the support team was four or five people before we ever had a second developer.

Paul: Wow.

Jason:  So we wanted all that, that feedback, good and bad.

Paul: So at what point did you get to the stage where you thought, we need to hire a marketer, we need some full time marketing help?

Jason: Early on, but again, we carried on, we do as best effort for probably far too long, I think we got complacent with the generous organic traffic that we were getting, and it was enough to continue to build the product out. So probably a year or two earlier, we should really have put some more effort into it. So we actually brought on a marketing manager 20… i’m going to mess up the dates… in 2015, I think. And her experiences is really in kind of funnel management analysts all that so that that worked out well, she ended up actually moving into product. So she’s our Director of Product now. Angela came in and picked up from there and also was, you know… we were just like here…

Paul:  Thank goodness… someone, haha.

Jason: Yeah I was… I remember she was rather stressed out for those first few months, but there was a lot. And again, we knew there was opportunity there. And we really wanted somebody to kind of own it and take that momentum and continue to build on it. The the big thing for us was brand awareness that was early on, because we were seeing smaller, fractionally smaller competitors highlighted in press and industry news as these emerging companies, while we were in some cases, you know, 100 times bigger than them and we were never mentioned. Because again, we were relient on a very organic… which is fine. it really got us to where we were. But when Angela came in, it was really about defining the brand. You know, the usual kind of things like paid marketing, and an optimising all the leads that were coming in. Marketing automation, all those things didn’t exist. We didn’t have any marketing software, it was Google Analytics, and like MailChimp, or something which we we set out like one newsletter every 24 months… It was good.

Paul:  There’s some companies still doing that.

Jason: Yeah. Then… and so Angela, basically built up the team along with Mark who heads up the kind of ‘go to market’. And, you know, I think it’s five, six people now, which is, drastically bigger than it must be for

Paul: Great. So as a business, you know, you started off with booking… you’ve grown in the last 10 years enormously. So how many folks are you now?

Jason: Staff or customers?

Paul: Both ish?

Jason: Full time… it’s sort of 65 people, with a couple more starting this week?

Paul: Wow. I think I met someone in the elevator that was starting.

Jason: Yeah. On two floors now. Customers… Yeah: 4300, 4400. So it’s been good. It’s been a nice steady pace right. So we were maybe 40 people this time last year. I guess that’s a bit but It’s not crazy. We just hit those different inflexion points and things change.

Paul: And so, you know, from growing this business from scratch, wearing a developer hat, a support hat, the marketing hat? Sounds like you probably worn all hats…

You know, you’ve obviously had to grow your CEO role. And you know, what you do? A lot. So, you know, you’re not from a marketing’s perspective, you’ve got Angela, Mark, and a whole team. Now responsible for that, but kind of looking back from your high position now.

What would you have done differently? If you could have… especially in terms of marketing, I mean, there’s probably a lot of things that you change, right. But particularly with regard to marketing.

Jason: Yeah, I can… I could write a book. I mean, sales and marketing should have come online earlier.

It’s difficult when you’re a bootstrap business, right? Because you have a finite amount of capital, usally none to a little and we just continued to see growth without it. Right? Which really should be an indicator that that’s where you start to tumble down. And, you know, I think that was probably in hindsight, we could have gone a bit earlier, sales didn’t come online, you know… till probably a bit later, and we’ve gone up market. So those SMEs are still a huge part of our business, but so are the kind of bigger and multi-location high-volume businesses, and that’s kind of where sales focuses for the most part. Marketing… we should have just scaled it earlier. In SaaS, it’s really easy to measure, for the most part, right, versus, you know, versus other traditional companies. And when it relates to marketing, so, you know, when something’s working, you can change it really quickly.

And if we could have acquired a small amount of capital to start to just test out and then just double down on the things that are, are kind of working.

Paul: And so… thinking of the various different marketing leavers. You know, content marketing, organic, paid, social, you know, the whole range of different things. Would you have done anything differently? Would you have gone harder on something or softer?

Jason: Yeah, I think… I think paid acquisition, especially then it was actually really cheap.

Paul: Haha, you’re kicking yourself that you didn’t do it when it was cheap.

Jason: It’s costing us, you know, 6x as much now for that. So… and again, it’s very easily measured, to put some capital into that. We always have an all those channels, social paid social, you know, PPC, content marketing has been best effort. But we did when we were early on in, we were doing PPC, and we were seeing results. But we never pushed it. We never pushed it and put somebody in to kind of own it. Like early on. And so I think that was probably a misstep, amongst many.

Paul:  Well, it’s, it’s been fantastic talking to you. I don’t know how long we’ve spoken for. But I’m conscious of your time, because you’re a very busy man. And we’re going to do another bit with Angela, so she can bring us up to date with the other half of the storey I guess, dealing with, running a marketing department in a in a SaaS business that’s, that’s really growing now.

Jason: Well yeah, with Angela, it’s building a marketing department, right. She came at an interesting time where there, there was traction, there was revenue, and the team might have been 25 or something. So there was an emerging business there with a you know, very minimal kind of footprint when it came to marketing and it was her responsibility to learn a lot I think, and move in from kind of doing the day to day to to building a team, which is actually the hardest part. And it’s hard to step away at least in my experience to, to going from from doing those things day to day because they are gratifying… you’re accomplishing things.

Paul: Yeah, you feel like you’ve achieved something.

Jason: Yeah. Versus you know, you sometimes have a whole week where you think what did I achieve, because all you’re doing is you know, kind of working with your team. So I look forward to that segment.

Paul:  Jason, thank you very much for your time. Really appreciate it.

Jason: Yeah.

Paul: I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Jason. For more info on the Checkfront, please visit www.Checkfront.com. For more info about this show and to get our links to iTunes, Google Play SoundCloud, Stitcher and YouTube, check out www.47insights.com. And if you have any sass marketing insights that you’d like to share on the show, please get in touch. Until next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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In 2010 Jason Morehouse and his fellow Co-Founder Grant Jurgeneit started moonlighting on an idea for an online booking system. They had no money to spend on marketing so they concentrated on understanding customers' needs. In 2010 Jason Morehouse and his fellow Co-Founder Grant Jurgeneit started moonlighting on an idea for an online booking system. They had no money to spend on marketing so they concentrated on understanding customers' needs. If he could go back and do it all again, what would Jason do differently? 47 Insights yes 21:20
Ep. 17: Building an Exceptionally Viable Product with Rand Fishkin of SparkToro https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-17-evp-rand-fishkin-sparktoro/ Mon, 22 Oct 2018 23:28:53 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=945 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-17-evp-rand-fishkin-sparktoro/#comments https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-17-evp-rand-fishkin-sparktoro/feed/ 1 Since leaving Moz in February of this year, Rand Fishkin, along with fellow his SparkToro Co-Founder Casey Henry, have been busy building an "exceptionally viable product"; a customer discovery search engine for marketers. Learn about the problem they're ultimately planning to solve as well as the free products they have already launched.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 17: Rand Fishkin, SparkToro

Since leaving Moz in February of this year, Rand Fishkin, along with fellow his SparkToro Co-Founder Casey Henry, have been busy building an “exceptionally viable product”; a customer discovery search engine for marketers. Learn about the problem they’re ultimately planning to solve as well as the free products they have already launched.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 17 Transcript

Paul: Hello and welcome to SaaS Marketing insights the show where we ask SaaS Founders, CEOs, Marketers and Investors about the lessons they’ve learned in their quest to grow their companies.

My name is Paul Stephenson and I’m founder and CEO of SaaS marketing agency, 47 Insights. On today’s show I have an interview with Rand Fishkin, Co-founder and CEO of SparkToro, hope you enjoy it. Rand Fishkin formerly of Moz now of SparkToro, welcome to the show.

Rand: Yeah, thanks for having me Paul, looking forward to it.

Paul: Cool, so there’s a whole bunch of different things that we could talk about but I’m really really interested in and I think the audience would be interested in the developments that you and Casey are working on over there in Seattle with SparkToro. So it’s a new venture so just give us from when you left Moz because I don’t want to go over all that Moz territory. So from when you left through to where you are now and basically you know the direction that you’re headed because I think people would love to hear about that.

Rand: Yeah sure absolutely. so I left Moz, my last day was February 28th and I started SparkToro on March 1st because I wanted some time off you know to relax and unwind. The first few months were primarily around you know I would say three or four things, getting Casey and I on the same page about what we were planning on building and how we’re

planing on going about it, so we spent a good chunk of time together nailing those things down as well as setting up and incorporating an entity. Then doing a fundraising round so lots of phone calls with investors and potential investors and making some decisions around what we wanted to build and how we wanted to build it, I don’t mean build in terms of the software but what we wanted to do in terms of a company.

So we had this conversation like you know, hey neither of us are particularly passionate about trying to build a billion dollar plus unicorn monopoly. I’m not actually a big fan of monopolies, I don’t think they’re very good for the economy, I don’t think they’re good for

society. I get that they make you a lot of money but you know, one in a million shot at building one but I don’t love that and I don’t love the odds model of the classic venture-backed startup you know which are very low, I think it’s like somewhere between 4-6% of companies that take venture rounds end up returning the appropriate multiple that makes their investors satisfied and happy and I think that in those 95% of cases where it doesn’t happen, it’s not a great experience for anyone.

So we decided instead to do this very unique sort of angel only round that had a very strange construct, the idea is that the company will be profitable and then people who invest in it can make money from the profits. Which sounds insane in tech startup world and like the only thing a company is for in every other world.

Paul: yeah.

Rand: So yeah we’re not incredibly passionate about the tax dodging vehicle of you know 409A valuations and you know stock appreciation and all that stuff just to save 20% on our taxes, that didn’t particularly call to us and so we set up the structure, we closed our round, $1.3 million from, I think 35, 36 investors in June and the last few months… I mean Casey obviously had been working on some of the engineering and technology side before that and I’d been working on the product side but for the last couple of months we’ve been essentially full steam ahead on that stuff so I talked to a lot of potential customers and people who we think might be good customers and product people and yeah, folks like yourself right… you know who have been in the industry and know a lot about it and have some passion around this and talk about the problem that we’re trying to solve and figure out if the way that we are thinking about it and positioning it resonates with you right. If it makes sense to you and 100 other people like you I think it’s got a real shot in the market and if it doesn’t then we need to tweak and tune things.

So that’s what we’ve been doing and as you mentioned we’ve put out a few free tools to

sort of test the waters and show off what we can do as well as to collect some Twitter OAuth tokens so that we can make the requests that we want to make. Yeah and that’s been the last six months.

Paul: So that’s been a whirlwind, so in terms of the problem for anybody who hasn’t yet looked at the SparkToro website, the paid product that you’re working on. Can you just explained to us a bit more about the problem that you’re trying to solve because I think it’s a problem that resonates for a whole load of people.

Rand: Yeah I think the weirdest thing about this problem Paul is that it doesn’t have a name. I can’t, I can’t tell you how many phone calls and interviews I have with people and I ask them okay tell me what you call this process… you’ve got a new campaign or a new

product or you’re an agency or consultant and you’re working with a new company and they audience with our message right and then bring them to our website or our storefront and attract their attention and interest so that we can potentially convert them to a customer which is what all marketing is right.

Then the first thing that you do is you go learn a lot about that audience and try and figure out what do they pay attention to, What do they read, what websites do they visit, what social networks are they active on, who and what do they follow and pay attention to, what podcasts they listen to, what events do they go to, what YouTube channels are they subscribers to, all those kinds of things. So that then you can go do your marketing activities, like we’re gonna try and pitch to speak at this conference and see if we can be a guest on this podcast and write a guest editorial for this blog and sponsor this event, you know whatever it is right.

Insanely enough I don’t think that problem despite being pervasive has a name and so this problem without a name of discovering all the people and publication that your audience pays attention to, that is the problems SparkToro is trying to solve.

Paul: Yeah and that is a problem, what do you call it, customer audience discovery, I don’t know a name for it but it’s understanding the whole way that a customer is, could be found and you know… the influence, the decision making process, the whole customer journey if you like.

That is something that we’ve come across as an agency, a problem all the time, you start having conversation with a client and sometimes they just don’t know where their audience is and it’s your job to find out you know…they’ve got this product or they’ve got this service and you need to dig in and actually solve those problems for them.

So in terms of where the product is now…I hadn’t seen and I don’t know whether you publicized what your kind of roadmap is or how long it’s going to take, is it because you’re still on the discovery stage, it sounds like Casey’s building stuff. Or you know, how long do you think it will be before you have something that you’re happy to put out there?

Rand: yeah I think… you know my suspicion is we’re going to be probably pushing something out there live maybe by… somewhere between January and March I hope to have something that I could show a beta group of private users and then by the spring have something publicly available, that’s kind of our target range right now. I think that

could vary, one of the things that I… that’s very different about me versus my time at Moz is I’m very unwilling to put out a sort of imperfect product, I’m happy to wait you know, a month, three months even six months to get something that is polished and  extremely high quality that the beta users are raving about and they’re using every week and just finding incredible value from.

Versus… hey let’s launch this thing early and sort of see how it goes and we can tweak it along the way. I don’t think that model works very well, that sort of MVP model, if you have a lots of eyeballs paying attention and I suspect with SparkToro because of my history at Moz and sort of the network and following that I’ve built up it…when we announced that we have something ready a lot of people are going to come take a look and they will

all judge us and sort of think of the product and think of the company in whatever way they perceive the product on day one for the next 10 years and it’s gonna be very tough to change minds after day one and so day one has to really resonate.

Paul: So rather then a MVP it’s a DVP, or I think you called it a EVP… but like decent viable product?

Rand: Yeah exceptional, exceptional viable product.

Paul: Oh that’s quite a high bar isn’t it but I guess but you know you’ve got… both you and Casey, you’ve got pretty high reputations that you need to sustain.

Rand: Fingers crossed right! I think that it is also more doable because the product that we’re building is extremely focused right, so many folks that we talked to about are like… ‘oh well are you gonna help marketers you know… manage their PR and influencer and social media marketing and content marketing campaigns through this service’ which is a reasonable thing that we could do but no, the answer is no we won’t.

We will  exclusively help with the discovery piece, we’re not going to try and be a full monitoring solution, we’re not going to try and be a solution where you can directly sponsor or pay people or try and you know get people in publications onto our networks and surface those first or allow people to buy advertising to show up higher in our lists. None of that stuff, we are exclusively a… essentially a search engine right. You know in the most basic like Google in 1998 type of sense, you search, you get results, you choose the ones that you want, you add them to your list and now you can start to do your marketing campaign of whatever kind you want to do.

Paul: I think that sounds great and you know… I’m rereading your book for the third time now, I think I said in my email to you that you know first I bought it digitally then I bought a hard copy which my son read and you know there’s just so much that is great in there but I think what you just mentioned came out of you know… it’s my understanding out of Moz where you created this tool that was too many things to too many different people and you’d wish that you’d always you know…keep it simple, stupid I think. So you know that’s why I’m just nodding along with everything that you’re saying about your intent for SparkToro to just have that focus and it makes it so much easier.

Rand: I’ve been surprised I think marketing professionals are sort of different from a lot of other professions that I’ve observed which is that we happily jump between dozens of different one-off tools to do… I will happily, even though I have a Moz subscription I’ll happily jump to Screaming Frog to do this particular crawl and oh then I’m gonna use something els to do this other type of crawl and then  I’ll jump into Google search console and I’ll pop over to Ahrefs and then I’ll go back to Moz’s link explorer and then I’ll… you know jump into some different keyword tool. Incredible right, I’ll hop to BuzzSumo and get their content. All of these different tools marketers are very comfortable jumping between, they don’t really care that the interfaces are different I think that’s you know, that’s very strange to like a sales person who thinks either I use Salesforce or one of their competitors and that’s like the only thing that I have or an accounting professional who might say… ‘yeah everything is in QuickBooks I don’t jump out into all these other different tools and processes’.

Paul: I guess that’s why the whole Martech marketplace is so rich you know there’s 5000, 6000 products because we’re all so promiscuous with the tools we use.

Rand: Absolutely right yeah!

Paul: Great space to be in and there’s room for one more.

Rand: I mean, I think it’s a great space to be in if you are looking to build a… you know, $5m-$50m a year revenue company  that is profitable and can sort of survive and do well and build passionate customers I think it’s a really tough space to be in if your goal is put everyone else in this space out of business and be the monopoly that sort of owns it exclusively, even the biggest biggest players right… people like MailChimp are not monopolies there’s 50 other email companies that are doing decent revenue and that serve other needs.

Paul: Yeah and of course the coolest thing about MailChimp is that their private

Rand: That’s right and they didn’t even need to raise you know venture investment, they raise some private funds but yeah incredible.

Paul: Yeah, fantastic. So that’s SparkToro and you’ve got two free tools at the moment and you’re working on a paid tool and hoping to beta that early next year.

Rand: Yeah we actually have plans for one more free tool coming out in the next few weeks.

Paul: Ah cool, can you tell us anything about it?

Rand: I can yeah, it is… it’s designed to audit a Twitter account and determine what percent and which of the followers are actually active engaged followers versus you know inactive… you know whatever, Russian bots, you know the political propaganda followers that seem to be cropping up a lot, the fake followers that people buy for their accounts to inflate their numbers, those kinds of things. So, it is a sort of auditing tool for that and the ideas you could just plug in any Twitter account and get a percentage rate… so here’s Paul’s account and you know 93% of his followers are real accounts and 7% are probably not and here’s somebody else’s account and boy it looks like 40% of their followers are fake so you should not think of that account as having the influence that it does, you should be questioning a lot of that.

Paul: When’s that coming out Rand?

Rand: We are aiming for I think before the end of October it might even be in the next couple of weeks.

Paul: Oh wow, I’m gonna have to push this podcast to the front then.

Rand: Haha, Well I’ll make sure to drop you an email the night before it launches and you can come out with exclusive.

Paul: Cool, so what else keeps you awake at night? Because I know you’re a feminist and there’s been some incidents fairly recently which you know just… you just still can’t believe it happens but you know… seminars, conferences should be safe places for everybody and that’s not always the case and I know that’s something that you’ve been working on in the background as well I just wondered if you had anything any developments or insights on that which you could share with us?

Rand: Yeah yeah, thanks for bringing it up Paul so this basically stemmed from about 18 months ago when I was at conference and a woman who was was also there had a really terrible experience where she was assaulted and chased and thankfully managed to get away from this guy who was a speaker at the same conference and the event organizers were told what happened and you know the woman decided not to sort of press charges or pursue it further but informed the event folks what had happened and they sort of promised to take care of it and then a few months later she found out that this person had been invited back to keynote and so clearly… you know clearly these event organizers hadn’t changed their mind and so she reached out to me, I had a call with the event organizers they change direction on this and you know sent her an apology.

I think it’s… I was very frustrated that that’s what it took that you know getting a third party involved is what it took to take action but it made me realize that this is not an isolated incident.  I had this conversation with a number of folks especially you know a lot of women speakers who I’m friends with in the search and marketing and tech fields you know entrepreneurs too… and all of them said ‘oh yeah this is what it’s like right, you know if you’re a woman and you go to an event you have to do the calculus every time…is it worth this and you know I want to go out with these… you know some of the speakers after the

event because that’s when a lot of the networking happens it’s good for my career and you build friendships, relationships but it’s also very risky you know… can I afford to do this.

I thought, this is crap I have never, my whole career… I’ve never had to think twice about oh do I want to go get a drink with Danny Sullivan after you know SES Toronto in 2005 and further a relationship that was instrumental to my career, absolutely I do I didn’t even have to think about it right and of course I think that just that cognitive load sucks.

So this project is a result of those experiences and conversations it’s called Project event safe, it has been a long, slow, tedious process…there was a Pro Bono law firm who was helping me out with the legal side of it which is complicated to say the least. Eventually they ended up sort of dropping out and I pony’ed up to pay an attorney’s office here in Seattle and I’ve been working with them to structure it, to get insurance and protections all those kinds of things in place and then to contact event organizers.

Basically the idea behind it is fundamentally to build a private shared database between event organizers where they would be able to say this… you know we had an incident reported we investigated it and we did or did not take serious action as a result, they

won’t be able to specify what the action was or what the accusation was or those kinds of things but that way if you see… oh hey Rand Fishkin was reported at three different events, you know maybe we shouldn’t invite him to ours.

I think that the problem is that a lot of these you know I don’t want to just say speakers right but speakers and attendees I think a very small number of mostly men are responsible for making the vast majority of the uncomfortable, frustrating, sometimes dangerous experiences for not just women but but predominantly.

Paul: For everyone and this problems not gone away has it?

Rand: No, it’s not.

Paul: You would have thought that… you know a lot of people have highlighted it but it’s carrying on.

Rand: I think there’s a… there’s also a weird… I don’t know exactly what you want to call it but like a weird revitalization of a sort of… some outdated ideas about relationships

between Men and Women in the United States recently, probably due to the political climate here that has been driving some people to take action, to be emboldened to take action and say things that I don’t think they would have previously and to feel like they have air cover for that.

Paul: Yeah that’s… that’s disappointing but I’m really interested in how that’s going and you know getting that to a stage where it will actually start to be effective because you know… the thought, I feel the same as you, it sickens me the thought that somebody would go to a conference and feel whole time they were there that they couldn’t do something you know couldn’t have a drink with someone or have a chat with someone because it’s going to be misconstrued or you know taking the wrong way.

Final thing to say Rand, on a more lighter note, worked out that we both started out the same way, we are web designers from the last century.

Rand: It sounds so… it sounds so antiquated when you put it that way.

Paul: It does, it does I think I built my first website in 95, I’m just wondering whether we should start some sort of Club for aging, last century web designers where we can all compare notes on the blink tag or something crazy like.

Rand: Oh yeah, I mean I remember doing all of my designs in Macromedia flash, that was my poison of choice back in late 90s, early 2000s.

Paul: Oh flash, or Dreamweaver.

Rand: Yeah I still have… I’m not gonna lie I still do some design stuff in flash even though Adobe has basically retired it.

Paul: Yeah I was going to say I didn’t know existed anymore.

Rand: Nope, it’s pretty much gone, I’m the last one.

Paul: The last remaining flash designer.

Rand: Exactly, occasionally you’ll see a graphic in a blog post or presentation from me that was taken from one of my flash files.

Paul: Yeah because you just find it, you still find it easy to use and quicker in flash.

Rand: Yeah it’s just so comfortable right, when I open up illustrator it just takes me forever to do anything in there but flash I can crank it out in a few seconds.

Paul: Great, I love that you’re still doing your own stuff in flash!

Rand, thank you very much for talking to me today it’s really great to get updated on SparkToro and everything else that you’re doing I’m really looking forward to the product when you bring it out, I’m sure it will be exceptional and yeah and the free tool that you’re bringing out soon as well, thank you very much for your time.

Rand: Yeah my pleasure Paul, thank you for having me.

Paul: I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Rand for more info on SparkToro please visit www.sparktoro.com.

 

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Since leaving Moz in February of this year, Rand Fishkin, along with fellow his SparkToro Co-Founder Casey Henry, have been busy building an "exceptionally viable product"; a customer discovery search engine for marketers. Since leaving Moz in February of this year, Rand Fishkin, along with fellow his SparkToro Co-Founder Casey Henry, have been busy building an "exceptionally viable product"; a customer discovery search engine for marketers. Learn about the problem they're ultimately planning to solve as well as the free products they have already launched. 47 Insights yes 24:29
Ep. 16: From Chef to SaaS Marketer with Paula Hingley https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-16-chef-saas-marketer-paula-hingley/ Tue, 29 May 2018 15:07:16 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=852 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-16-chef-saas-marketer-paula-hingley/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-16-chef-saas-marketer-paula-hingley/feed/ 0 In less than two years Paula Hingley has pivoted from full time chef with no experience in either marketing or the technology sector to becoming marketing manager at location based SaaS social media platform Echosec. How did she make the transition,  what has she learned along the way, and what is she still looking to learn?

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 16: Paula Hingley, Echosec

In less than two years Paula Hingley has pivoted from full time chef with no experience in either marketing or the technology sector to becoming marketing manager at location based SaaS social media platform Echosec. How did she make the transition,  what has she learned along the way, and what is she still looking to learn?

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


Episode 16 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Paula Hingley, Marketing Manager at Echosec, hope you enjoy it.

So I’m here with Paula Hingley who’s the Marketing Manager at Echosec based here in Victoria, BC.

Hi Paula, so you’ve got a really interesting story to tell, or I think it’s interesting at least, about how you got
started in your SaaS marketing career so start off by telling us how long you’ve been in SaaS marketing Paula.

Paula: I guess officially I’ve had the marketing title for just over a year, maybe just under a year actually, yeah I started last May. Before that I was kind of doing a little bit of content marketing mostly writing blog posts but my title was administrative assistant.

Paul: So were you working in the business for long before that?

Paula: So the administrative assistant job was basically about a year, before that I was a chef and a cook.

Paul: okay so you were a chef and you moved into tech and now you’ve moved into tech marketing with Echosec. Do you want to tell us what Echosec do because not many people may have heard of it?

Paula: Yeah so Echosec is a location-based social media search platform so you can find out what’s happening anywhere in the world based on what people are posting on social media and you find those posts by drawing what we call a geofence. A digital fence on a map and you can do that anywhere in the world and see what’s happening right now in real time.

Paul: So which social media networks does it work with?

Paula: Oh, we’re always adding more feeds, at the moment it’s: Twitter, Flickr, YouTube Reddit, VK which is like the Russian Facebook, Vimeo. We also get Wikipedia data which I know isn’t a social media but it’s points of interest in different locations. Big news as well for things like press releases and other news related pieces of content we also get Facebook and Instagram through Twitter I think that might be it.

Paul: That sounds a pretty comprehensive list to me and so who would typically use a Echosec and what would they use it for?

Paula: So historically we were mostly a security platform hence the name Echosec. Then we quickly found out that other industries were wanting this kind of technology so now our focus is on security, journalism, marketing and branding and analysts.

Paul: What sort, market analysts?

Paula: Yeah and financial analysts, it’s a really quick way to find out what’s happening somewhere so if there’s a political issue or environmental or natural disaster and maybe you have stocks invested or you some investments in an area you want to find out actually what’s happening, the best way to find that out is to see what people are tweeting or posting on those various networks.

So you just cut out the middleman and go direct to the source what people are actually saying.

How bad was that earthquake really? You know what was the impact of this event.

Paul: So how long has Echosec been going?

Paula: They were founded in the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014.

Paul: So it’s actually quite a new business?

Paula: Yep, still considered a startup I suppose.

Paul: Sure, it’s not a space I know really well but it strikes me that it would be pretty competitive?

Paula: Yeah for sure, a lot of the features that we have are shared amongst other companies, things like HootSuite. They’re more of the social media management side but they do a certain degree of social media listening as well and finding out brand mentions and that kind of thing.

Paul: Engagement, that sort of thing, basic analytics?

Paula: Yeah so we do have quite a few competitors but we’re the ones where location is the focus, that’s probably our biggest differentiator.

Paul: Sure, so that’s Echosec, you started out as a cook, you’re now in marketing, that must be a massive change you must have had to have learned a completely different set of skills?

Paula: Still learning.

Paul: Yeah so how are you going about doing that?

Paula: Oh it’s a maze, this field is incredible, there’s so many resources online. I mean if you want to learn how to do digital marketing you can probably get a pretty good education for free by just reading articles.

Paul: So what sources have you been looking at or do you rate?

Paula: HubSpot Academy is incredible, Google analytics Academy, AdWords Academy. All the big companies have their own academies where they show you how to use their tools and so much of digital marketing is understanding how to use the tools that do it and they want you to learn how to use them so that you’ll buy them. So there’s so much education out there for free it’s amazing, lynda.com is also really good.

Paul: Yeah that’s now owned by LinkedIn isn’t it?

Paula: That’s true. Yeah and of course networking with others in the industry and taking people like you out for a cider once in a while and picking your brain is really helpful.

Paul: Yeah I’m happy to do anything for cider, great thank you for that.

You threw me a bit with the cider. So in terms of what you’re doing, your role, what does the day-to-day look like for you at Echosec? What sort of tasks are you doing and is it tactical stuff or are you like shaping the strategy?

Paula: A little bit of both. I do have a lot of help from a team in the US that we use, a sales and marketing
contractor basically and we kind of work together on a lot of things so yeah that’s one of the challenges of my day-to-day is figuring out how best to spend my time. I might you know Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday is gonna be kind of planning the next quarter of content and looking at the strategic vision of the whole company. Then maybe on Wednesday I’ll say okay I really need to write this article and I’ll just push it out on a Wednesday.

Paul: Put your head down, blinkers on.

Paula: Exactly, but then there’s so many distractions I mean we’re constantly bombarded with ‘oh shoot, this certain campaign’ I need to check on or somebody asks me about a certain metric that I need to have.

So I’m always jumping around, like you said to me once it’s all about flipping switches and just deciding which switch to flip when.

Paul: Oh, the marketing leaders?

Paula: Yeah so there’s a lot of, it’s really tricky to kind of focus and nail down, this is my dedication time for this specific project. So my day-to-day could be anything, one day it’ll be writing emails just loads and loads of emails for email marketing campaigns.

Paul: What, kind of sequence emails?

Paula: Yeah, right now I’m writing a pillar page so that’s a giant piece of content that is kind of daunting but it’s gonna be great when it’s done. So sometimes my days are just buckling down and writing and sometimes it’s just looking at all the metrics and figuring out what to do next, what’s working, what’s not working, switching things on and off.

Paul: So as a cook, as a chef, you used to work long hours standing up all the time very physical job and now you’re sitting at a desk all day? How have you dealt with that change?

Paula: Well I do have one of those sit-stand desks which helps but I do find it hard to stand for long periods of time, walking around is really helpful. I could cook all day because i’m moving around but standing in one place is really tricky so I’d still do a lot of the other kind of office administrative jobs like ‘oh we need envelopes’ I’ll go get some, or somebody needs something.

Paul: Just because you fancy a walk?

Paula: Yeah I do, I’m more of an extroverted kind of marketer so I do like to chat with people, I’m lucky that Echosec tends to send me to conferences a fair bit.

Paul: Oh nice, have you been anywhere nice yet?

Paula: Yeah, last year alone I was in Washington DC, Orlando, Dallas, San Francisco, San Diego, I’m going to Seattle next week and then New Orleans the following weekend.

Paul: Wow! Thats a hell of a marketing traveling budget.

Paula: Yeah so that’s my favorite part of the job is definitely getting out talking to people, finding out what they need and how we can kind of fit their needs.

Paul: Sure. So I’ve noticed that you’ve started doing like customer walkthroughs and videos and stuff on LinkedIn. I’d be interested to hear how that’s working out?

Paula: Yeah so I think because I am a fairly new marketer and because I’m fairly new to the tech world this stuff was very confusing to me at first, I walked in and they’re talking about API’s, CPAs and all these things. I understand now a lot more of it but I still feel like because I have this experience of not being immersed in this world for so long it’s really important to me to translate the tech lingo into something that people actually understand. We’re not selling to tech people necessarily, we’re selling to security people and to, well marketers understand a lot of it.

Paul: Depends if they’re tech marketers, some marketers if they’re more brand based they don’t understand a lot of it.

Paula: Yeah so I think with the videos my goal there is to really try and make it so that people understand what we do in really basic terms, in ways that I understand because that’s a huge part of what I bring.

Paul: Yeah and it makes that the software be very kind of accessible and also you know puts a human face on it which is one of the problems with tech marketing people. They think it’s just about showing an interface and showing some features and showing what it can do but to actually bring this stuff alive you actually need a person. Then explain it within the context of whether it’s a security professional or a marketing professional and put the story in the context of their role. I guess that’s kind of a lot about what you have to do is understand each segment and market accordingly to them.

Paula: Exactly, my really good friend the other day saw one of my videos and he said I think I finally kind of understand what your company does and I was like perfect, that’s exactly what I wanted so that’s a channel I’m gonna keep going with.

Paul: Great and is there anything else that you’re experimenting with or innovating with or you’d like to try?

Paula: Good question, graphic design, really the whole post-production of things like videos and audio is a big one for me. Any kind of design, I have zero design background so we have designers on staff which is great but sometimes I just want a thing now and I just want to make an infographic and put it out there. I think that if I can hone those skills I’ll be much more useful.

Paul: A well-rounded marketer.

Paula: Yeah, they talk about the t-shaped marketer.

Paul: They do, it’s become very trendy, T for trendy.

Paula: It makes sense to me though you know, it’s like have a good basic understanding across the board and then really focus on one and I think the design side is something I need to get that basic grasp on. Our CEO is always pushing me to get into things like Lightroom and all the Adobe products, so it’s happening.

Paul: Great and so this is the killer question, now that you’re a full time, fully fledged marketer how do you relax, do you still cook for yourself?

Paula: All the time, I love to cook.

Paul: Do you miss it?

Paula: I don’t miss cooking as a job really.

Paul: Too hard, a grind.

Paula: Yeah, I love what this job has done for my work life I mean I love that I can…

Paul: Going home at 5:30?

Paula: Yeah I can bring my computer anywhere I can be on the road, I love that.

Paul: So you’re a digital nomad?

Paula: Yeah, pretty much but I do cooking as my number one favorite thing and I consume the most food media I think out of anyone in the world! You cannot serve me too much food media, I’m just always wanting more I mean it’s insane. Actually I get a lot of inspiration from these things because marketing is
marketing right I look at what somebody like Bon Appetit is doing and I think ah that’s good. I like what they’re doing there.

Paul: Cross Fertilization of ideas, I can use that and no one will know.

Paula: Oh completely, the way they’re doing the Facebook live films, well I’ll get into it, Bon Appetit does one every week, every Wednesday called technique of the week. It’s just somebody from their Test Kitchen showing them a recipe, sometimes they’re not prepared sometimes they’re just like okay we’re gonna make poached eggs or whatever it is and so I think that’s given me the kind of confidence to do that kind of thing and say it’s good.

I mean people kind of like it, I’m doing these customer interviews where they’re pretty rough you know but it’s fun.

Paul: But they have a time and a place they’re not going to be around forever but they have a little job to do and they’re authentic.

Paula: Exactly and I think that the feeling that everything needs to be super polished is a really good way of not doing something.

Paul: Yeah absolutely, you can put it off forever.

Paula: No it’s better to do it and then you know get better at it and make them more polished as you go but you still have to just do it. So yeah, food media is actually a big inspiration for my marketing career now, even though I’m marketing a social media search platform.

Paul: I’m going to change this to SaaS and cooking marketing insights.

Paula: Sure I like it.

Paul: It’s a bit of a mouthful, thank you very much Paula, I really enjoyed our chat.

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Paula.

For more info on Echosec please visit www.echosec.net

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In less than two years Paula Hingley has pivoted from full time chef with no experience in either marketing or the technology sector to becoming marketing manager at location based SaaS social media platform Echosec. How did she make the transition, In less than two years Paula Hingley has pivoted from full time chef with no experience in either marketing or the technology sector to becoming marketing manager at location based SaaS social media platform Echosec. How did she make the transition,  what has she learned along the way, and what is she still looking to learn? 47 Insights yes 16:46
Ep. 15: Investing in Digital Customer Acquisition with Owen Matthews https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-15-investing-digital-customer-acquisition-owen-matthews/ Mon, 21 May 2018 12:00:08 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=836 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-15-investing-digital-customer-acquisition-owen-matthews/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-15-investing-digital-customer-acquisition-owen-matthews/feed/ 0 Owen Matthews grew up around startups, started his first software business before leaving School, sold it and went on to join his family's firm, Wesley Clover, investing in and growing tech companies. As an investor he has an informed opinion about SaaS marketing and digital customer acquisition based on more than 20 years' experience in international markets. 

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 15: Owen Matthews, Wesley Clover

Owen Matthews grew up around startups, started his first software business before leaving School, sold it and went on to join his family’s firm, Wesley Clover, investing in and growing tech companies. As an investor he has an informed opinion about SaaS marketing and digital customer acquisition based on more than 20 years’ experience in international markets.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


Episode 15 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Owen Matthews, General Manager at Wesley Clover, hope you enjoy it.

So Owen, welcome to the show, great to have you here.

Owen: No problem, I always show up when you call.

Paul: This is gonna be fun I think.

Owen: It could be.

Paul: You might be a bit of trouble, okay so you are unique in that you’re the first person on this podcast/video show we have interviewed who invests in software companies. I’m really interested
in understanding the perspective that you have and how that differs from say what the CEO might think about marketing or what a marketer might think about marketing.

So first of all how did you get started on your journey to be an investor in software and other businesses?

Owen: Sure, my history as an investor hopefully like most good investors starts with understanding companies and having built companies so I started a company when I was supposed to be in school. I was in Computer Sciences and Psychology doing my degree and it was a very exciting time in technology companies, the late 90s. Being in school seemed a lot less exciting than putting up a PowerPoint presentation and having people throw money at you so I started up a technology company.

Lived through the massive downturn that happened in 2001, a difficult time but we survived through that.

Paul: So that was a kind of a dot-com hangover?

Owen: It was a little bit of a dot-com hangover but we did a few years later successfully sell the company to a public company and that brought me back into the family business. So investing in technology companies is a family business for me so when I sold my company I then you know looked at the portfolio of companies that were in our family investment firm and started helping out. That naturally grew into making investment decisions out of that.

So I started the company, grew it, sold it successfully and then started looking at and helping investments and then making investment decisions ultimately, which is what I do now.

Paul: Fantastic so that’s how you got started, so you started out in software, you had a business you built it up, you sold it so probably the best thing to have done. What was the first outside investment that you made in terms of a software company, can you remember?

Owen: Sure, absolutely so extending on a little bit of my history leading to answer to that question. I turned to the family investment firm where I was now working in the late 2000s and you know I said ok great so now I’m an investment professional, do I have a budget to make investments? No.

Ok well how about I proposed this particular investment that I think is a really great company, I think we should invest in that, can we make the investment decision? No.

Ok well it’s a bit awkward then being an investment professional when you don’t have a budget or any capital or can’t make investment decisions so I set about finding a way to create companies from scratch.
Because I had available budget to do that, I went to government agencies and said look, we’re experts at creating companies, we’ve been doing it for a long time. I also knew how important it was to create companies and at the time engineering students didn’t really have a path to entrepreneurship, it’s not like now where you’ve got a million incubators. You can now just put your hand up and develop a company based on some application, it was hard work and you really needed a path to show people.

That allowed me to build a year and a half or two years of credibility with a team and make them investable. Starting out with an idea or starting out with a team and saying ‘hey we should invest in this’ when they don’t necessarily have traction, they don’t necessarily have customers, was very difficult.

So what I did is I created the deal flow and brought it to Wesley Clover, the investment firm and that prompted the investment. It went like: yes they’ve got customers, yes they’ve got credibility, they’ve stuck together as a team so it’s worthy of an investment. You can evaluate it and it made sense to invest in it so I started out being an investment professional without budget and found a way to create companies and create value which is always the way, I mean the CEO should be thinking that way, lean startups and investors should be thinking that way as well. They shouldn’t be taking their investors money and spending it carelessly, you should be thinking hard and if there are ways to do it with less then fine, work hard to uncover those ways.

So I created a portfolio of technology companies without that early stage funding from private investors. I did it for the good of the country and to create a group of technology companies which is done really well. As well as obviously ran great programs and met all of the expectations of government for a number of jobs created and that kind of thing.

So my path was create a company myself, working hard, understanding budgets, building software, in the old days when you actually distributed software.

Paul: On CD’s?

Owen: Not quite that bad, it was digital distribution but it was definitely installed on a computer and you know to where we are today which is, maybe my view on SaaS is informed by that. I went through all the pain of those distributions and how awkward it is and you have to charge your customers to manage update cycles and you know, think, 20% of your purchase price is this ongoing maintenance. It was
not anywhere nearly as useful as SaaS offerings are today, so I come from a background that didn’t have that and I really understand the value of it. I think that informs how we invest now but that first
investment was always focused as SaaS maybe because I understood that pain and so the first company was a SaaS company.

I recognized SaaS as a growing market and I wanted that SaaS company to service SaaS companies because I felt it was a growing market and so my very first investment was very focused on both a SaaS offering as well as servicing the growing market of SaaS companies.

So my entire investment career has been in and around that as a market.

Paul: So given this experience that you’ve had investing in SaaS companies you must see marketing in particular from a slightly different prism from the way a CEO or marketer would see it. So over your time you must have seen some great successes with marketing, some great failures. I’m just keen to understand how you value marketing from an investor perspective and what you look for in a startup that would then lead you to believe that there is potential there?

Owen: Sure, so SaaS marketing to me is a very important issue when I evaluate a company I doubt I’m unique when it comes to my focus on SaaS marketing for companies. I refer to it a bit more broadly as digital customer acquisition because digital customer acquisition is not just SaaS focused and certainly it’s not just marketing. It’s all of the elements around building the funnel, acquiring the customer and in fact digital customer acquisition doesn’t really cover it because there’s the reactivation and the lifetime value. There’s all that other stuff which is equally important but none of that kicks in if you don’t have the customer acquisition in the first place so I hone in on that aspect of it.

For me I will not consider a company that does not have a sound digital customer acquisition strategy, so regardless of the technology, regardless of the market opportunity, regardless of any other element of the business. If you are not considering acquiring customers in a digital way which can scale, if you’re not thinking about digital customer acquisition as a machine that you tinker with and improve on a regular basis. Then I’m not interested in investing so for me that’s the one very clear a hard rule.

I will not consider a company that isn’t building a machine to acquire customers. That’s informed by some of the research that we’ve done, I looked at in the past ten years all the companies that became unicorns. Something like 90% of them are all acquiring customers in a digital way as their primary methodology and as a group they’re the fastest growing companies in the world and obviously are successful with high values.

It is a wave globally around the world that affects every industry and it’s not just industry, I mean the way that you acquire votes, sometimes not so legitimately but you know whether it’s votes, whether it’s government services, whatever it is you have to engage people. You have to engage them and get them to use those services and so all of the facets of educating your customer with content marketing and getting in front of them or building brand, the earlier on stuff all the way through to reactivation. They’re critical and to me that is a very strong correlation to success, if you’re good at acquiring customers you can tinker with the product, you can tinker, you can start moving the knobs around to create a more positive outcome.

You can do that kind of thing if you’re at least in the business of getting customers through the doors, you
can improve your lifetime value of the customer, you can improve the product. You can open up new products when you have them coming in the door and new services.

So for me that’s a critical component that is just absolutely necessary for me to consider with
respect to any investment. That is the lens at which I consider every company that walks in the door, the typical SaaS marketing toolkits. Now I say I’m not unique in that respect, I definitely speak about it overtly as a very important criteria. A lot of other investors are doing the same thing but they use different language, they’ll say things like ‘show me the lifetime value’ and ‘what’s your revenue’ and ‘what’s the recurring revenue model’ and they’re definitely considering the same things, they typically just don’t overtly say ‘hey it’s about customer acquisition’ it’s about digital customer acquisition.

It’s very important and I would also caution a little bit when I look at a company and they come in and they say ‘this is our customer acquisition playbook’. They start talking about, as happens with investors, we’ve done this before and we have this methodology and look at the experience of the team.

Making assumptions about your ability to acquire customers based on past experience doesn’t for me ring true because every product, every constituent audience is different. You can’t come in with your playbook and say ‘I know how this works and this is how it’s gonna happen’. You have to say, certainly to be credible to me, ‘we may have done this before, we have experience, this is our toolkit but we don’t know which part is gonna work. We still have come in with a experimental attitude and even if you are validating it and you’re showing you’ve got proof points you say ‘these are our proof points’ we’re still gonna be experimental. We’re still gonna try and optimize it, we’re still going to be turning the dials to make this better.

Coming in and saying ‘we’ve got the playbook we know how to do this’, it just doesn’t ring true to somebody like me because we know every constituent market and every audience is a little bit different and the PlayBook that worked in the previous market, even if they seem really similar, may not work.

So there’s cautionary tale about how important it is to me, with respect to digital customer acquisition.
SaaS marketing but also it’s important enough that we understand it enough to know that experience doesn’t necessarily play as well in other areas you know, compliance, CFO type stuff, experience really does matter. In digital customer acquisition, sure experience matters but you have to come in with that ‘but this market is different’ and we’re gonna test and try and if you’re not coming in with that attitude you can’t say we know we’re gonna generate X traffic and X returns because the people that are knowledgeable will pick that apart.

Paul: Absolutely, so from your experience or viewpoint do you see any particular channels being broadly better than others? Or is your view just 100% yeah you’ve got to try some different things and you’ve got to validate them. The word that you mentioned is playbook, I hate that word, it’s like a cookie cutter and it never is like that.

It never works and even if you were talking about the exact same market in the exact same company, what worked three months ago isn’t gonna work now so even within the company you must constantly think about the different ways in which you’re audience, customer, citizen is responding so you can’t come in with a playbook or a dogmatic mindset, it doesn’t work.

Owen: So for me the methods that tend to work typically surprised me, you can take broad assumptions like you know if it’s a B2B SaaS, you’re not advertising on Facebook, sure and yet at the same time you’d really be surprised about how often it works or how it works or what’s converting.

For example, I doubt you’d find a digital marketer that wasn’t on Facebook, well if they’re there they’re probably reading work stuff and have colleagues that are there. So I’m constantly surprised about what thread of digital marketing is working so it’d be difficult for me to say ‘you know I’m really surprised about this working’. We’ve seen companies where Quora is a massive converter, we’ve seen companies where email training is a massive converter. It’s so difficult because where is your audience or where is your customer base, where are they communicating, where can they be influenced, where can you create a brand experience that you didn’t expect.

It’s difficult, when we’re thinking about what’s working, we have a philosophy of go to where you think the target rich environment is and trying that first. Those are assumptions but that’s the beauty of digital marketing is it seems like a good idea if you don’t get results try something else and you keep at it and then once you’ve established something you still keep at it and you still experiment. back at the

Paul: So I know we’ve talked before and you have a view on this. Say you have a startup business and we’re here in Victoria, BC and I think we have the same issues here that a lot of other places have: San Francisco, Vancouver, Seattle. It’s actually one of the biggest bottlenecks is actually finding people that have the skills to actually do this marketing and deliver on it. I just wondered if you had any views on that in terms of what should change in the industry or why is it so difficult to find a good marketers?

Owen: So we’ve taken the approach that we just train them. There’s good news in that, in that when you think about an experimental attitude having someone that’s got 20 years of experience matters less because you have to test and measure and that kind of thing. It is trainable and it can be trainable fairly quickly.

Experience goes a long way when you think about test and measure and what you’ve seen work in the past but you certainly can’t come in assuming it’s going to work.

Paul: With your play book.

Owen: So you can’t come in with your playbook and say ‘I’ve done this before I know it’ll work’. The idea of broadly, try this channel, try that channel is good guidance but they are trainable skills so the nuts and bolts work of digital marketing is the kind of thing you can train. As an industry I think there should be a lot more training, I have not seen good programs, so much so that we think about doing that for our companies internally as a portfolio, how do we just train people to go into those companies because our portfolio is big enough that there’s an ongoing need for people with these skill sets. It’s not like brain surgery where you need 15 years of training right.

So it is trainable but there really is not enough people being trained in it and it’s a different type of training. It’s training, it could  look like this but remember to not necessarily follow the PlayBook so the classical sort of training, here’s the textbook and here’s the methodology and and do this and you’ll be successful.

It doesn’t work in that kind of teaching environment it’s really has to be hands-on with a lot less dogma. So my view is much more training in the area would be important. My view is that we train people because there’s just a lack of them around that could come in and do those roles and that’s a risk and it takes time and it’s a challenge.

So as an industry I feel that there is constant demand for people in that field so definitely a good place to be, it’s hugely valuable. So you go back to marketing even 20 years ago when I started technology companies, marketing did a particular thing it’s like brand and supporting sales and stuff like that. Now marketing, certainly in the SaaS world, is sales, there’s a direct correlation between good marketing and good results.

Paul: It’s like 90% of the journey isn’t it, in terms of customers acquisition.

Owen: Yeah exactly and the conversion part, even if it’s you know phone call, it’s still done in like 15-minute increments, it’s not done over months of sales process in many cases.

So really the role has changed to being critically important and therefore lots and lots of opportunity so I think we definitely need more people. Constantly looking for good people and that’ll be true everywhere. Victoria happens to be pretty special in that for whatever reason, 15 years ago we put a lot of energy into digital customer acquisition, I think because we had less venture money, there are very few venture
capitalists based, I would argue it might be the only one.

Paul: Well that’s good for you.

Owen: Yeah there are some great angels and certainly other investors around but in terms of like an investment firm, we’re the only one.

So there wasn’t a lot of venture money around at all 20 years ago. Bright people want to build something for themselves, they have to find a way to do it and they find a way to do it in ways that immediately make money which is with digital customer acquisition. So we were really pioneers in Victoria in digital customer acquisition and as a result most of the companies that are successful in this town are somehow related digital customer acquisition.

I’m constantly surprised when I go to other places that are a bit more traditional, it’s so obvious that the path is, the right path for so many companies is SaaS marketing and digital customer acquisition and yet I
still bump up against this archaic salesperson. Sales channel kind of mentality but then again, I’m in a place that is, we’re really pioneers in that area. I’m pretty fortunate that way but we constantly need people, I think the need will continue to grow.

You can do it anywhere so customer acquisition, making companies successful, it doesn’t matter where you are and that means that the sort of the value of technology companies around the world can grow, they don’t have to be central, they’re not tied.

If you’re acquiring customers from around the world and you’ve got the right strategies and the right methodologies it’s not like they’re looking at where your headquarters are. They just like what you do and the on-ramp was easy and they tried it and it works for them and these great things happened, ok great we’re a customer now. All of those strategies and all those methodologies, you know your physical locations and distribution all really doesn’t matter, so you can do it from anywhere. I’m seeing growth around the world with respect to customer acquisition and technology companies and I think that’s a great thing. I think it creates opportunities around the world but it will be driven by the value of those digital marketers and there’s nowhere near enough. They’ll have a huge, growing value inside most technology companies and it colors the view of everything that we do.

Paul: So we talked a little bit there about Victoria but if I’m right Wesley clover actually invest internationally?

Owen: All over the world.

Paul: So you must see developments in different countries so for example, SaaS in China which is something I’m not familiar with, is it marketed the the same way? Is it following the patterns or are they developing their own techniques?

Owen: So we’ve seen that the techniques, with respect to digital customer acquisition in China and to answer your question specifically, you probably meant it more broadly but to answer your question specifically. I found the sophistication of the platforms that are used for ad buying and performance
marketing, they’re not quite as sophisticated as customers.

They’re not saying ‘it’s gonna make me $1.50 so I’m willing to pay $0.75 for you to bring me that customer’. It’s a little less, it’s still highly transactional being performance marketing but it’s a little less specifically performance to an outcome.

It’s like I need to buy traffic and I know that traffic will translate into improved customers or downloads or whatever but there’s not a sighted correlation like I’m not gonna pay you unless that turns into a customer. I’m gonna pay you for the traffic and the reference and the download.

Whereas I found in the North American performance markets they’re getting more and more targeted to that attribution all the way through. E.g. Yeah, I know that I make $0.75 cents for selling the hamburger, if you sell the ad for $0.50 cents and I make $0.75 great but I’m only gonna pay you the $0.50 if I actually sold the hamburger.

So that kind of really specific attribution has been more sophisticated in the North American market, in the Chinese market we haven’t seen that yet it’s still a lot of ad buying. It’s a lot lower conversion rates, less specific correlation to an outcome, I think it’s coming and I don’t think it’ll be long before it gets there but we’re seeing less of that. I still see a lot of sort of traditional sales force, fundamental technology as an approach in China.

We have an investment fund in India I still see that in India, very traditional, they all want to build applications and they all want to be involved in mobile because it’s cool and growing. However the larger companies are still very traditional in their approach and it’s a protected market so it’s not like Walmart is rolling in there with their e-commerce program, definitely a protected market so I think there’s plenty of room for opportunity there.

We also have an investment fund in Istanbul, Turkey and again very traditional market so bringing those methodologies we feel will have us stand out and be successful in those markets. Certainly in North America and Victoria in particular, highly sophisticated in respect to customer acquisition.

In Israel, we do a lot of interaction with performance marketers in Israel and they’re very sophisticated with respect to their performance marketing and I’m sure that correlates into all the other aspects of digital marketing.

Paul: So as an investment firm you’ve got real opportunity to take the best of what’s happening in terms of digital customer acquisition, SaaS marketing and actually then apply that and transfer that knowledge around your portfolio?

Owen: We use the investments in foreign countries as market intelligence. What’s happening in that market and does it make sense to take a piece of technology that was developed in North America and go after the market in Turkey, in India, in China or vice versa.

Do we see an opportunity in China that they are speaking to local companies and local customers. Finding out something and they can look at that and sort of collect information around our portfolio and say well that’s not really a global opportunity it’s just a local opportunity. Now China’s big enough that it wouldn’t matter anyway but take Turkey as an example. They might look at that and say it’s a local opportunity but it’s already solved in Europe or it’s already solved in North America and therefore the big machine that solved it is coming and you just don’t know it yet. Therefore it’s a really niche opportunity to Turkey. Or they might have developed something and we go look at the market here and say you know what that’s a global opportunity. Push that button hard because you’ve uncovered something which hasn’t been solved elsewhere and you can do it from Turkey and you can sell around the world.

When you use these methodologies, so yeah, we use it as market intelligence.

Paul: Cool, so you’re a really really busy guy.

Owen: Not for you.

Paul: You’re busier then I am, believe me you’re are.

So where do you find your inspiration because we’ve talked about different things and you always seem to have a view on anything.

Owen: Haha! Not necessarily and accurate view.

Paul: Well it’s an informed view, it’s an educated view so you obviously spend a lot of time reading and getting inspiration from somewhere that then informs the investment decisions that you make.

Owen: Well I’ll tell you the San Francisco answer: ‘you know I like to read 15 books a week, I do audiobooks, I bio-hack with micro dosing. I like to be creative and the world around me gives me billions of dollars to spend so every now and then I make a unicorn’.

No, i’m far less boring, I find reading a huge challenge, I’ve got a busy family life I’ve got three kids so you know all of the chaos that happens there. I’d love to read more and I do thoroughly enjoy it but don’t have a lot of time for it unfortunately and as much as I talk about the importance of digital customer acquisition and digital marketing, I come from the school of relationship selling. That’s how I was successful early in my career and it’s also how we all absorb information a little bit better as people so I really enjoy speaking to people and absorbing information.

I can have a conversation with someone and really get to understand quite quickly their view, their unique set of knowledge and I absorb it really really well so I spend a lot of time speaking to my colleagues around the world. Understanding what’s happening in their world.

I spent a lot of time speaking to other investors and I quit the internal monologue and in fact I coach my CEOs and management teams to do this. It’s less, at least the way in which I learned and I think most people learn, is I stop thinking about what I’m gonna say and I stop thinking about the importance of my internal monologue and I start paying really really close attention to the other person. The more I do that, the more I learn from them and the more I learn from them, the more those things ring true. I can test them in my companies, in my own life, I can go ‘I actually heard what you said, I understood it, it actually impacted me’, I don’t necessarily believe it but I might try it.

Then I’ll try those things or I’ll do certain things and I find that informs a lot of my worldview, taking those pieces of information from so many people and sometimes they’re very brief conversations but if you’re really tuned in to what people are saying you can absorb a huge amount of information. There’s this amazing view and people are phenomenally complicated and have such interesting experiences so as someone who is thinking about a machine, a bunch of software and a bunch of ad buying in a bunch of marketplaces and how incredibly important that is to the success of the company. Ultimately what fulfills me and you know I love my job and don’t feel like I need to seek solace from it. I’m very fortunate in that way and it’s all I’ve ever known. I grew up in start-up companies as a young kid, I really just didn’t know any other life but I really do love what I do.

That’s because of the exact opposite of what I encourage the companies to do, which is, it is highly interactive so as an investor I’m interacting with teams, I’m keeping them strong, I’m managing the culture. I’m listening really intently to what they’re experiencing and coaching them through it and learning from them throughout the process.

So I get exposed to full-time working with CEOs, understanding what strategies are working and that really fulfills me but not because I’m an investor advocating or not because I’m an investor dictating, those are typically pretty poor investors, they might be highly influential and controlling and can make their company successful by virtue of that but I like strong teams that are legitimately in control of their companies. I’m a guide and a mentor and yes an investor but at the same time I’m helping them be successful because of my really active involvement and I find that very fulfilling.

So for me, I would say the time that I find personally fulfilling and recharging is the time I spend speaking with people that might change my view or provide a surprise view to me. So meeting with people from different backgrounds and really legitimately paying attention to what they’re saying and how they’re
feeling and what their world view is. I find informs me on on subjects that would be pretty random and we have conversations pretty often and you might turn to me go ‘how on earth does he know that’. It’s probably because I took the time to speak to the cab driver or speak to the person beside me on the plane or whatever it is, it wasn’t passing politeness, legitimately I was interested in who they were and what they had to say and then I tested it. I’m like ‘okay great’ I’m gonna go read that news article, I’m gonna go do that thing that that they said worked.

That informs a huge amount so I’m the kind of person that will have a brief conversation and then go away and just can’t help myself at three o’clock in the morning and go and study it and the next day be like ‘did you know that’.

Paul: So you’re inspired by people and you’re a highly promiscuous Networker with people.

Owen: Yeah I love people, I love working with people, I love seeing people be successful so we’re very funny as an investment firm, spending an awful lot of time with people who are not our investments and helping them. Across the board we have done that for a long time and it’s very fulfilling and often people look at us and go our best investor was that guy and he didn’t even invest so it is funny but no I find that legitimately one of my great…

Paul: You get a kick out of genuinely helping people.

Owen: Yeah, well it’s the most rewarding thing you can do and setting up good cultures and helping people set up good cultures so they can carry that on. I think it’s probably my best work, independent of the money that we raised or the people that we hired or all of that kind of stuff really the lasting legacy is teaching the people to take the same approach that I take, to help for the sake of helping and that leads to success.

The minute you stop thinking about the number, the number becomes easy. Whether it’s the sales, whether it’s the investment, whether it’s the whatever.

Paul: Owen thank you very much, that was awesome, i’ve learnt a lot!

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Owen, for more info on Wesley Clover please visit www.wesleyclover.com

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Owen Matthews grew up around startups, started his first software business before leaving School, sold it and went on to join his family's firm, Wesley Clover, investing in and growing tech companies. As an investor he has an informed opinion about Saa... Owen Matthews grew up around startups, started his first software business before leaving School, sold it and went on to join his family's firm, Wesley Clover, investing in and growing tech companies. As an investor he has an informed opinion about SaaS marketing and digital customer acquisition based on more than 20 years' experience in international markets.  47 Insights yes 37:19
Ep. 14: Beyond The Desktop, Mastering Mobile SaaS with Barry Larson https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-14-beyond-desktop-mobile-saas-barry-larson/ Mon, 14 May 2018 12:00:38 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=827 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-14-beyond-desktop-mobile-saas-barry-larson/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-14-beyond-desktop-mobile-saas-barry-larson/feed/ 0 You've probably never heard of Trusty Ox Systems, and that's fine with its CEO, Barry Larson. The company currently operates three separate SaaS businesses in specific niches that benefit from their expertise in creating mobile solutions that integrate with customers' systems and processes. And like many SaaS companies, Trusty Ox sees a lot of potential with voice and AI.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 14: Barry Larson, Trusty Ox Systems

You’ve probably never heard of Trusty Ox Systems, and that’s fine with its CEO, Barry Larson. The company currently operates three separate SaaS businesses in specific niches that benefit from their expertise in creating mobile solutions that integrate with customers’ systems and processes. And like many SaaS companies, Trusty Ox sees a lot of potential with voice and AI…

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


Episode 14 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Barry Larson, CEO at Trusty Ox Systems hope you enjoy it.

Here I am with Barry Larson from Trusty Ox, probably not a name that you’re familiar with because Trusty Ox does a number of different things, Barry tell us about the three SaaS businesses that you have.

Barry: Well, so Trusty Ox is just the corporate company name and we trade all of our products under their own brand names.

So the first product is a restaurant marketing system, it’s aimed at owner managed restaurants largely in the UK and it allows them to get a free website, online ordering, table booking, loyalty system, social media marketing, email campaigns, SEO, all that stuff. It’s done on a pay per performance basis so you don’t pay us anything upfront but we take a small commission on anything we get you on the back end.

So that’s the first business and that was our first attempt at SaaS actually and that’s been going on for more than a decade now. From there we moved in to, believe it or not, the oil patch in Alberta, I know it seems wacky but moving bits of curry around from A to B is a bit like moving oil from A to B, so it was a oil field trucking dispatch system that we developed, it was for a fleet originally of about 120 trucks. They all had apps and they needed to centralize their data systems and just being online in a SaaS environment really worked well for them.

Then as an offshoot of that we have a lone worker safety monitoring system called Ok Alone which was regionally applicable to the truckers who were on their own. When they’re at the wellhead accidents can happen and there’s all sorts of health and safety legislation that applies to this and so now we have
an app that’s more than just for the oilfield, it’s everything from utilities to local government, to education, to security, to janitorial systems, you name it. We do that and it’s basically all over the world.

Paul: So you’ve got a business in the UK dealing with takeaways and restaurants, you’ve got something that is specifically in the Alberta oil field or?

Barry: It is because what it really comes down to is, the oil in Alberta is so thick they can’t put it down a pipe so they have to truck it so it’s quite unique to that space.

Paul: Then you’ve got a business that’s dealing in people who work alone anywhere in the world?

Barry: Yep pretty much, we have clients everywhere from New Zealand to Australia to all over the US, UK all over Canada.

My personal favorite is a rugby ground just north of Sydney where there’s some guys out there mowing the lawn every day and he’s using our system because they want to know he’s safe as he’s mowing.

Paul: Is that Sydney Australia or Sidney BC?

Barry: Sydney Australia, I just chuckle as I look on Google and think ‘oh there he is’.

Paul: Wow so how did you get started in SaaS because those are three very diverse businesses and i’m sure we could drill into a lot more detail in all of them but where did the journeys start for you?

Barry: Well the journey of SaaS started with order wizard which is the restaurant marketing system, originally we were trying to sell small business server through Microsoft to small businesses to improve their business processes and get them organized in this kind of thing. We did a proposal for a friend of Mines local takeaway or restaurant, he claimed he wanted a website, what he really wanted after talking to him was a leads machine because his business was down. So we gave him this big proposal for a system and of course he never responded because he didn’t have the IT skills, he didn’t have the marketing skills and he didn’t have the budget and that’s when the penny dropped. If we just did all that and served it up as a service for them there’s lots of people like him and that actually proved to be the case and so like I think I said it’s been going now for well over ten years, we have restaurants all over the UK.

Paul: Wow and why does that work, why hasn’t it grown outside of the UK, what is it about the UK that’s different?

Barry: Some of it is just cultural so you may get on the train in London you want to hit your app, three clicks and you can have your last order. You get off the train, you pick up your curry on the way home and you go eat. That’s less common in North America you’d get in your car, it’s a car environment, just the car actually changes everything.

So we’ve never, we did a test launch here in North America and absolutely proved it was a different market so we’ve just stayed in the UK which is the market we know and understand.

Paul: So who would be your competitors in that space?

Barry: Three main competitors. So you’ve got the big boys who are the portals so like the Just Eats of the world or here in Canada now it’s something called Skip The Dishes which was bought by Just Eats not too long ago so the big guys like that, Hungry House is another. Independent Marketing Consultants, web agencies who will build websites and systems for them. The trade-off is big upfront fee and you have to have the skills to do it and I would argue the biggest one is actually just plain inertia to do nothing, it’s just easier.

Paul: Just think you can do it yourself.

Barry: Just think you can do it yourself or my kid will do it or ‘they’re all my customers of course they’re gonna come to me, I’m amazing, what do I need this stupid website for and why am I paying you’ so yeah doing nothing still remains a big issue.

Paul: So that sounds like a really competitive space to be in, you’ve been in it for ten years, the business is surviving and thriving so you started with that what came next?

Barry: So then we moved to the oil field so front foot.

Paul: Great connection there.

Barry: Yeah, you would think so you know you asked what the connection was between the three. What
we’re really good at is doing system integration projects. We find real acute problems that require very specific solutions and we can pull together the systems to make that happen for customers and that’s really what we’re good. So when you think of it in those terms the projects all fit together very nicely so whether as I said you’re moving curry or chicken or oil field it doesn’t really matter. You’re building apps, you’re creating access to information and one version of the truth for clients and all of those systems have exactly the same things going on.

Paul: Ok so then it’s the trucking logistics and then Ok Alone worker and you obviously have a team behind you that works on all this stuff and it must work like clockwork because you’ve been doing it for a long time?

Barry: We’ve been doing it a long time we’ve got the bugs worked out so unlike a startup most of our software is on version 2, 3, 4 or 5, Order Wizard’s on version 7 or something so it’s a stable platform. We’re just innovating around clients needs, we’re very receptive to that, we have feature requests, we get them all the time from clients which is great they tell us what they want and every quarter we look at them, we do the development and release them.

So it’s very structured, very organized, in that sense it’s unusual for us to have to rush something out, there has been the odd bug which is a fantastic thing with SaaS, you can literally fix everything.

Paul: Fix everyone’s problem in one go.

Barry: Equally if it all goes down it all goes down in one go too but yeah compared to the old days when you used to bundle off CDs this is great and it gives us scale. Also the international side, being able to pick up clients anywhere in the world just like that is now possible which was very difficult to service before.

Paul: So tell me a little bit about, with you owning, managing and running these three SaaS businesses there must have been some things, some trends you’ve seen in terms of marketing, anything that worked across all three or a couple of them or on the opposite side, things that really didn’t work?

Barry: Well in terms of trends this is more the marketing and the marking is a big piece of it, we’re seeing it’s over 80% now of the restaurant clientele are using mobile devices to interact with the restaurants.

The trucking in the oil field and Okay Alone the work alone safety app, that’s over ninety so mobilebility is
a huge thing. So if we aren’t designing systems and thinking about mobile, so having a dynamic website for example, you’re really putting yourself on the back foot because people have choices and is they aren’t being served they’re just gonna drop you. So from a SaaS perspective that’s crucial, understanding Mobile is there and it’s real.

We see voice is coming so we’ve done integrations for both Order Wizard and Okay Alone.

Paul: What is this with Alexa stuff and Google home?

Barry: Yeah with Alexa, we haven’t done Google home, we’ve done it with Alexa. So you can order your latest takeaway on Alexa for example or you can check in with okay alone and say ‘I’m okay’ or ‘I need help’ and you can do that with Alexa, it was really just to test the technology and see what we could do with it. We do think voice is gonna be something increasingly used over time, it’s just better right and then on the back of that we’ve got huge data sets we’re looking at how we can use AI to improve our systems. Make better recommendations for your food for example, can we help predict when someone has a false alarm
for a safety call whatever the case may be, when the next oil truck is gonna be oil and not water or you know these things.

So we can use AI algorithms to help us with that and then from a marketing perspective, I think the only thing that we really sell anymore is experience. We can take things like mobility and AI and voice and create a unique experience that you can then wrap a brand around and customers can engage with and that’s where I see things are going actually.

Paul: Wow! So three companies at the moment, three businesses I should say, one company, three brands. Is there a fourth brand coming, have you got anything you’re working on that you can talk about?

Barry: Oh thats top secret, not that I could tell you about but we’re always looking.

Well we’re always on the lookout, we want to grow you know as I said at the outset what we’re really good at is finding niche problems and doing systems integrations around them. If something comes along we would absolutely look at it, we have a couple things in the hopper that we’re examining now so let’s see where those go.

Paul: What do you think of the big trends at the moment in terms of SaaS and where SaaS is going whether its sectors or obviously we talked about some of the technologies: AI and voice search. Do you see it being adopted in particular sectors more now, one that springs to mind is clean tech that sort of thing.

Barry: Well my guess is it’s how users will interact with the systems so now it’s you go to a box you type in stuff and things happen and as you know, Okay Alone and in fact all three of the products, you don’t need to be at a computer anymore. You can interact either through a mobile device or soon voice systems so for clean tech we do have some customers in this space. They just need to know when there’s a problem, they don’t need to be sitting at the computer looking at a screen typing in stuff.

Is something wrong now, if yes alert me, if not all systems go and let’s go on with that and I my guess is that will continue to be the case.

Paul: How do you as Managing Director/CEO of this, of these three brands make sure that you don’t go crazy pulling your hair out? Sounds like you’ve a great team behind you but do you find that you have a routine or something that you do to make sure that you keep mentally sharp?

Barry: Well the main thing I do is put my phone down, I don’t have Facebook on my phone, I don’t have any of this stuff on my phone. I have this amazing idea that maybe you go talk to someone and have a cool refreshing beverage or a hot refreshing beverage with someone and amazing things happen when people sit down and talk together and that includes yes your staff of course, suppliers but customers. Absolutely just talk to them and that will give you all sorts of insights and ideas and freshness now it can also recharge you because as you sometimes do you go out with some friends. A friend of mine hadn’t played tennis in I don’t know 20 years, he said let’s go hit some balls I said well I haven’t played in 30 years but okay let’s go hit something and that’s developed actually into a great physical outlet. So I get some exercise, I can go play some tennis and I get to meet a whole bunch of people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise and we’re not sitting there talking on our phones we’re actually talking about things that are interesting and opportunities come up.

So that gives me some balance between the physical and work but staying healthy, staying fit, engaging with people and sanity I suppose.

So just as an example one of the guys in my team is a competitive cycler another one is heavily into yoga and basketball so yes physical activities are a big part of the culture.

Paul: It sounds like Trusty Ox has the work/life balance taped.

Barry: Well it’s a trade off right so we work on a 24/7 system there are peak times and when times aren’t peak I absolutely encouraged the team to use that, if you need to go do an extra hour of yoga or you need to take an extra day off it’s not a problem. There are times when that won’t be the case and for example one of my developers was on his vacation he was in Vegas and he literally spent the whole day because the system crashed he was in Vegas stuck in his hotel working, it was a nightmare.

Paul: Did you him him back in chips?

Barry: Yeah, I don’t think I could ever pay him back for that one. So like I said it’s a trade-off. When things are busy or there’s a crunch we understand that sometimes stuff gets bumped but when it isn’t like that we’re very flexible.

Our cultures is, I’m told very good, we have a very low staff turnover rate which in this business is great because that corporate knowledge and understanding of customers you’ve had for 10 years is just critical.

Paul: Yeah absolutely, thank you very much Barry, really appreciate you having taken the time to have this conversation with me.

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Barry, for more info please visit www.trustyox.com 

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You've probably never heard of Trusty Ox Systems, and that's fine with its CEO, Barry Larson. The company currently operates three separate SaaS businesses in specific niches that benefit from their expertise in creating mobile solutions that integrate... You've probably never heard of Trusty Ox Systems, and that's fine with its CEO, Barry Larson. The company currently operates three separate SaaS businesses in specific niches that benefit from their expertise in creating mobile solutions that integrate with customers' systems and processes. And like many SaaS companies, Trusty Ox sees a lot of potential with voice and AI. 47 Insights yes 16:11
Ep. 13: From SaaS Marketer to Co-Founding SaaStock with Kumy Veluppillai https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-13-saastock-kumy-veluppillai/ Mon, 07 May 2018 15:25:22 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=823 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-13-saastock-kumy-veluppillai/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-13-saastock-kumy-veluppillai/feed/ 0 Three years ago Kumaran Veluppillai attended the very first SaaStock event in Dublin as a SaaS marketer looking for an opportunity. Little did he know that he would end up co-founding the event and working with his team to quadruple its attendees. What has he learned about marketing and the European SaaS scene along the way? 

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 13: Kumy Veluppillai, SaaStock

Three years ago Kumaran Veluppillai attended the very first SaaStock event in Dublin as a SaaS marketer looking for an opportunity. Little did he know that he would end up co-founding the event and working with his team to quadruple its attendees. What has he learned about marketing and the European SaaS scene along the way?

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


Episode 13 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Kumy Veluppillai, Co-founder at SaaStock, hope you enjoy it.

Hi, I’m with Kumy from SaaStock and we’re here at SaaStr in San Francisco. What do you think of
the show so far Kumy?

Kumy: Yeah it’s been great, this is my second year here, really enjoying it. It’s always great when you get a bunch of SaaS founders and execs in the same room, so many great learnings, so many great conversations so it’s been a lot of fun.

Paul: So you’re one of the Co-founders of SaaStock, who’s your other founder?

Kumy: Yes it’s Alex, Alex sort of started this all on his own. So the story goes that he was looking at various entrepreneurial endeavors and he’s told me some of his other ideas and they weren’t all that solid. In some ways it was somewhat accidental so he just started by doing a podcast and started interviewing a bunch of founders within the European SaaS ecosystem and then at that point people were like hey maybe you should do this in person and so he organized a couple of meet ups and I actually spoke at the second meet up organized in London.

At that point he told me ‘hey, so I’m thinking of doing this conference in Dublin bringing together 700 SaaS founders, execs and investors’ being the nice guy I am, I was like ‘yeah, you should 100% do it’ but I walked away just feeling it was a pretty crazy idea. Thinking that it would be almost impossible to do and so later that year, I was actually an attendee in year one and I arrived in Dublin to see 700 people there, great content on the stage and for the first time I’d met my peers and had the sort of conversations which I’d really been lusting for in. I just didn’t have that support system of other folks who were going through the same pains and challenges I was.

A few months after that Alex actually reached out to me and said ‘hey, doing this on my own has been really challenging’ and his background is sales, ‘it would be really great to add someone who can do marketing,
hopefully better than I can’ and so that’s sort of when I came on board. That was about a year ago now and then we concluded our second conference in September of last year and managed to double the size of the event and also assemble the format from the one day event to a three day format and now it’s sort of building up for year 3.

Paul: Wow, so it begs the question what were you doing before you did SaaStock? You were a SaaS marketer weren’t you?

Kumy: Yeah I was and so how that came about was entirely random.

Paul: The best things in life always are.

Kumy: So I’ve been working with a local VC firm, it sort of operated a studio model and we were throwing a lot of stuff at the wall and testing a bunch of ideas.

Paul: Some of it stuck?

Kumy: Yeah and unfortunately for me the ideas I was throwing at the wall didn’t quite stick and I was looking for something new to do but I wasn’t sure what that was.

I was taking some time out and there was a service which I had sort of registered for, it was called ‘hire my friend’ I put a very small bio on it but got a connection request from a SaaS founder in London, I didn’t really know very much about SaaS so just ahead of meeting him I remember reading David Scott’s blog, reading a bunch of the terminology and thinking ‘ok’.

Paul: knowing the lingo is half the battle, especially in SaaS.

Kumy: Yeah so I thought ‘this seems kind of interesting’ and met up in a coffee shop and offered me a role to join the business as the first marketing hire.

Paul: So which business is this?

Kumy: The company is called Kayako, it’s a customer service platform, bootstraped company that started in India and they were setting up offices in India. They had managed to grow the business organically through word of mouth and no real considered marketing effort.

Paul: So like zero cost of customer acquisition?

Kumy: yeah but it’s never always entirely free, but through no concerted effort other than actually building a sort of a mini brand within the segment they served.

So that’s sort of how I began to get to grips with SaaS and I started through my background in direct response marketing using SEO and AdWords. Then as we started to launch the new product I learned a huge amount about branding and repositioning and started to look at new customer segments for our software.

Paul: Fantastic. So that’s quite a journey, on that journey there must have been, so you hinted that
there are some things that you tried in terms of marketing that didn’t work and some things that probably worked beyond your expectations, any insights into what bombed for you or what went particularly well?

Kumy: So I think actually the biggest lever we pulled was actually around pricing and packaging so historically as a business it was a download perpetual product.

Paul: Old-school.

Kumy: Yeah it’s the way software used to be sold and someone would buy a license, pay a one off fee and then we would say goodbye and wish them all the best with our software and as we were sort of making that transition to a cloud subscription company. How we positioned ourselves, how we messaged the value we delivered and also how we priced the product had change significantly. It was those tweeks around pricing which really moved the revenue lever the most. So often in the world of marketing we look at some of those quick hacks to generate more leads or to generate more pipeline and we tried many of those things and some completely flopped and certain things worked.

However, consistently the lever we were able to pull the most was pricing and I think it’s often the case for a lot of SaaS companies. Where we don’t truly understand the value we are building and delivering to customers.

Paul: leaving money on the table.

Kumy: Yeah leaving money on the table and through understanding that better and being able to maximize your value, significantly impacts on the business.

Paul: That’s great, I think that’s a really good insight because as marketers we tend to start thinking about SEO or paid or some other channel but if the fundamentals aren’t right you’re missing out. So I think that’s pretty smart to look at that side of it and obviously it went really well.

So going back to SaaStock, this is going to be year three in September, you’ve also got news about taking it on the road?

Kumy: Yeah, so year three we’re looking to continue the global event in Dublin, we’re looking to double the size again to about 3,000 attendees.

Paul: That’s a lot.

Kumy: Yep it’s a big goal but I think it’s something which as a team we’re very excited about being able to do and sort of fronting up to that challenge. As you mentioned with the taking it on the road, it was something we actually did last year. In many respects what we started with year one at SaaStock, it was just a really great way to bring together people across Europe and then last year when we ran these local events it was just a really great way to connect the local ecosystem. It constantly surprises me how many folks
who live in the same cities, working on SaaS have no idea that there was someone else who was facing the same problems or going through that same journey. So those local meet ups proved to be very popular and proved a really great way to bring people together and so this year we are extending the format.

Paul: So it’s a European tour.

Kumy: So yeh, we’re extending the format not just in terms of taking it from what was effectively an evening meeting to a full one day event, crammed with practical content for founders and executives to take away and apply to their businesses. Also as expanding the geography, so at SaaStock last year we saw many folks travel far and wide to attend SaaStock and we kind of feel that the same wave we rode when we started SaaStock in terms of bringing the european community together very much applies to many markets outside of the US.

With SaaS you can start from anywhere, it’s a very exciting opportunity to bring it to different areas across the world and so we’ve announced twelve cities including Sydney, Helsinki is one which is proving very popular, Cape Town, New York and so expanding to other markets outside of Europe.

Paul: That’s fantastic, to take something that you started in Dublin and now you’re expanding and building a global brand, SaaStr needs to look out.

Kumy: Yes so we are really excited by what we’re doing and we also love what SaaStr does and that’s why I’m here. We have our own take on how we like to do things, we hope that flavor resonates with the new communities we start working with.

Paul: Cool, so final question, I wanted to ask you about the differences you see in the European SaaS community market versus over here San Francisco, West Coast, The Valley, all of that.

The thing that I keep hearing is Capital, access to capital is very different, is there anything else that you see because you’re coming from a completely different perspective?

Kumy: Yeah completely, so Europe is still very early, the UK system has accelerated massively over the
last couple years there’s a lot of very cool companies. We’re sort of going through that fast wave and I think what’s unique is how the broad spectrum of these verticals which are these SaaS applications are building solutions to solve a real meaningful business problems.

I think the second is, so as you sort of touched upon, capital is a constraint but also with that comes a different market and so the market is significantly larger here in North America and a really hot topic for European founders is when is the right time to make that move to the US, how do we get those first boots on the ground, who should we be hiring in what roles, how do you manage the culture of the business and so I think that trend continues to be the case.

Paul: So you see that as a topic that people always interested in at SaaStock or just out in the halls talking about?

Kumy: Yeah it’s very much a popular topic, both on stage but also a conversation amongst founders but I do feel that more and more companies are starting to feel that they can still build big companies remaining in Europe then having a second office versus having to move to the US.

Paul: Move the whole, lock stock and two shooting barrels.

Kumy, that’s fantastic thank you very much for your insights, good luck with SaaStock this year I hope to make it across, it’s a great excuse to go to Dublin.

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Kumy, for more info on SaaStock please visit www.saastock.com

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Three years ago Kumaran Veluppillai attended the very first SaaStock event in Dublin as a SaaS marketer looking for an opportunity. Little did he know that he would end up co-founding the event and working with his team to quadruple its attendees. Three years ago Kumaran Veluppillai attended the very first SaaStock event in Dublin as a SaaS marketer looking for an opportunity. Little did he know that he would end up co-founding the event and working with his team to quadruple its attendees. What has he learned about marketing and the European SaaS scene along the way?  47 Insights yes 16:08
Ep. 12: Optimizing Moz For The Mid Market With Sarah Bird https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-12-optimizing-moz-mid-market-sarah-bird/ Mon, 30 Apr 2018 16:04:29 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=819 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-12-optimizing-moz-mid-market-sarah-bird/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-12-optimizing-moz-mid-market-sarah-bird/feed/ 0 With over 37,000 customers and more than $47m in annual revenue, what next for SEO software Moz? CEO Sarah Bird outlines how Moz got started and where it's going, as well as insights into the values and culture that make the brand still one of the most trusted in its space.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 12: Sarah Bird, Moz

With over 37,000 customers and more than $47m in annual revenue, what next for SEO software Moz? CEO Sarah Bird outlines how Moz got started and where it’s going, as well as insights into the values and culture that make the brand still one of the most trusted in its space.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 12 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Sarah Bird CEO at Moz, hope you enjoy it.

Sarah Bird, Moz. Welcome to SaaStr and to San Francisco, you’re from?

Sarah: Rainy Seattle.

Paul: I’m from rainy Victoria.

Sarah: Yes, it’s like Hawaii here right now, isn’t it?

Paul: It’s to hot, it’s feburary and i’m wearing a blazer and sweating.

So, what do you think of the show so far?

Sarah: I think the shows amazing, it’s so busy, it’s so crowded. All these people are so interested and have so much in common so I’ve been really impressed with the quality of the speakers and how kind everyone has been, it’s been great.

Paul: So you spoke yesterday but who are you looking forward to seeing speak?

Sarah: You know, the Atlassian guy.

Paul: I should know his name.

Sarah: Yeah I should know his name too cuz he has the hair and the hat.

That’s a company that I really admire and what they have done for self-service SaaS and it being so capital efficient has been an inspiration for us at Moz. Our business is also very capital efficient and largely run for credit card transactions so yeah I always look to them for inspiration. The storytelling and MailChimp the CMO of MailChimp, Tom, I’m terrible at names. That guy, how exciting, I love that brand, i’ve always been really impressed and inspired by their brand, again their Mahrtech and their focused on SMB and they care so much about brand and helping people. So that’s another company I really look to as inspiration and amuse for Moz.

Paul: Fantastic, so for anybody out there and I can’t believe there is anyone that doesn’t know what Moz is.

Ok, why don’t we back up and give me your elevator pitch.

Sarah: Yes well it’s very simple depending on who I’m talking to, if i’m talking to my mother or her friends I say we do internet marketing.

Paul: ‘Oh cool’.

Sarah: Full stop. For people at SaaStr I would say Moz makes software for marketers that helps them understand and improve their search engine optimization.

Paul: So that’s organic, not paid.

Sarah: Not paid, we don’t help you there unfortunately, maybe to the extent that you’re SEO strategies and SEM strategy should be complimentary, there’s a lot of keyword-driven strategy involved. You can use our tools but it is all about that organic placement because this is something I think a lot of people still don’t realize, everyone knows we spend billions of dollars on paid search advertising right. Google has been able to fund the development of fucking self-driving cars off the amount of money we spend on paid
search advertising.

We spend fractions of that on the organic side: SEO, even though it drives 20 times the clicks! So you think about that and just the imbalance in the market, all the investment and energy goes to paid and it’s just this teensy little amount of attention and traffic and then all of this organic opportunity which a lot of people overlook.

Paul: Yeah, so I always like to talk about competitors in the space and you don’t have to name names or whatever but you guys started out how many years ago? 1990’s?

Sarah: Yeah I mean it depends when you think the beginning of the company, yeah I mean the original company started in the 90’s and then the SEO blog: SEOmoz began in the early 2000s. Then the first software products we started in 2007 so I tend to think of that as sort of the starting time period for the software business.

Paul: Seems like a long time ago now, a decade ago.

Sarah: It does seem like a long time ago and a lot has changed and also a lot has stayed the same, such is life.

Paul: Yeah, so the business has grown from the original founder: Rand Fishkin and his mom, Gillian.

Sarah: Yeah and they both place a big bet on me.

Paul: What were you, number 3?

Sarah: No, I was not number 3, I was number 8, back in 2007.

Paul: So you obviously stood out as a super star?

Sarah: I was one of the oldest people in the company so yes and I had a law degree which I think people
assumed meant I knew a lot more than I did.

Paul: Yeah, you got a law degree, you’re smart.

Sarah: Yeah, exactly.

Paul: ‘Tell us how to run this thing’.

Fantastic, so you didn’t start out, so Moz is the first internet business, marketing business that you’ve been
involved with, you were in law before that I think you said you were a cleaner or something before that?

Sarah: Yeah, I was a cleaning lady then I was a librarian.

Paul: Amazing journey, more than 10 years now with Moz. Moz is in a hell of a competitive space there’s SEMrush, Ahfefs, then maybe a hundred other.

Sarah: There are lots of various, there’s little niche players then big platform players.

Paul: It’s a super competitive space, how do you think Moz stands out from its competitors or differentiates itself?

Sarah: Yeah I think that there’s a few ways we stand out. First of all I think most people know Moz and recognize Moz for a place to go and learn about SEO. To get a trusted source of information, either you’re a beginner and you need to understand the basics or you’re very experienced and you’ve been following the industry for a long time but you want to understand what’s new. For example, what’s the impact of voice search, how is AI gonna change things. So I think that training is really important and core to what Moz says and core to the value that we provide.

The other thing I think that’s really special about Moz is the quality of our data, so we go to great detailed lengths to make sure we have the highest quality data we can possibly provide. At various points a competitor will be ahead of us and then we’ll catch up and leapfrog and so you’re always chasing it because it is a very competitive market but I am most proud of the investment we have made in data and the quality. Just an example of that, one of the many metrics you should look at when evaluating your SEO strategy is rankings, how well are you ranking? What is the shape of that search result? Who’s ahead of you? Are there video or featured snippets and to really understand how competitive you are a lot of people just look at that first page. At Moz we actually like to track all your first 50 search page to see where you are and where your competitors are because it’s not enough to know just what’s happening on that first page.

Measuring success in eyeballs, that’s important but to know where your momentum is,progress or not at all right.

Yeah so we have a depth and a quality of looking at your full search result that I don’t think other people can match. Our search volume scores, we use really innovative partnerships with various people who track all of these amazing searches going on through their area. Jumpshot is a company that we just love and they do all this research on behavior and we can use that to do the most accurate models on the click through curve so that we can actually say ‘this is how much traffic we can estimated a keyword like this will deliver for you’. Other people have much rougher estimates, even Google Adwords will give you gigantic bucket estimates that are not very helpful so I’m really proud of that, I could go on.

We have some other big stuff coming up to.

Paul: Oh well maybe we can talk about the big stuff coming up, are you allowed to talk about that?

Sarah: I’m not sure if we’re allowed to talk about it which is too bad but maybe by the time this podcast comes out, it will be out.

Some Big Data innovations in particular, theres been some data at Moz that we’ve been working on for a long time and we’re getting our butts kicked in the market on right now and it’s finally ready to start going out into the universe. I’m so proud and think it’s just gunna be great for customers and great for the industry.

Paul: Yeah so as a business you have, I think during your talk you gave yesterday you were talking about your very transparent way that you do things and you know, you’re saying that you’re getting your butts kicked in some aspect or another.

Sarah: You gotta stay humble man.

Paul: Is that one of the things, the culture and the values of you guys that has really helped to drive the success of the business?

Sarah: You know, I think for me though I want to be careful, that’s not why we started the values. We started with the values just for ourselves, just for our own sort of personal, internal, how do we know if
we’re living up to our values and living a meaningful life.

Then it had all these other consequences of pulling in communities of people whether they’re the customers, potential customers, supporters, vendors, investors. People who said ‘hey, that resonates with me’ and ‘I share those same values’ I want to do business with people who have those values.

The Moz values for those people who don’t know, we are…

  • Transparent
  • Authentic
  • Generous
  • Fun
  • Empathetic
  • Exceptional.

Paul: TAGFEE.

Sarah: Yeah TAGFEE, exactly and so a lot of people they’re like ‘yes’ that’s how I want to live my life too. It has ups and downs right, I mean, I get the fear that drives people to not want to be transparent because it is embarrassing to admit when you’re messing something up or you’ve made a mistake. You’ve screwed something or you’ve got some bad news so I totally get it and it’s entirely possible that we’ve lost customers or faith or I don’t know. I think whatever negatives their are from being so transparent they’re small compared to the positive of the trust you build.

I do feel like people trust Moz and they trust the brand.

Paul: The trust the little robot.

Sarah: Right, yeah Roger, he’s so cute. They trust our little robot Roger, I think thats right.

I think they root for us, at least I feel that way, I feel really strongly that people want Moz to succeed, I think people want businesses that they believe are trying to do the right things, they want them to win and so they’re, even when you’re screwing up their like ‘keep at it’. ‘We want you to win and I’m gonna keep trying to buy your stuff and encourage other people to buy it, whats the price of that right.

Paul: Awesome, so you gave the presentation yesterday and talked about some successes that you’ve had and some failures that you had and some don’t knows. We’re not going to try and cover all those things off but we were talking earlier about, this podcast is really about SaaS marketing and you said well I’m not sure i’ve got any insights about marketing.

Sarah: Just like a killer tip.

Paul: Yeah so it doesn’t have to be a killer tip but you know you shared three successes and three failures, if you’re gonna pick one success and one failure from your back catalog of greatest moments what would you go for?

The thing that made the biggest impacts on the business or you.

Sarah: Yeah I mean, luckily we just covered TAGFEE and the values and how important those have been to us. I hinted at some of the business positive impacts as well that has come from that. There’s a part of TAGFEE that I didn’t cover before and I really should have and that’s when you have a strong culture that pulls people in that share your culture, when you work together and you hit those challenges which you will, the team is much more resilient. They have those shared values holding then together.

If you have a transactional company where everyone’s just there for a paycheck and they don’t think about you or care about you, they have no emotional investment in their own work or the company’s success, when a bump comes they’re gonna say ‘oh I’m sorry, I’m out’.

Paul: ‘I’m here for an easy time’.

Sarah: Yeah and you know, we have really talented people at Moz, incredibly talented, gifted people, they can get jobs anywhere and they choose to stay at Moz and I think it is because of the culture and the things we value. The trust they have with each other and the way we collaborate. So yeah, that investment in values has been huge for me personally, has been huge for the brand, for this building of this incredible
community of markers. Also our other support groups, vendors and investors also for the team and resiliency, those are things I wouldn’t have anticipated early on.

They are hard to put a number on right.

Paul: Yeah really hard to put a number on, it’s like branding, you can’t put a number on it.

Sarah: Yeah but it’s real, we all know it’s real. Yeah, we see the effect of it.

We see and it operates on us, we all have brands that we love for better or worse right.

Paul: Absolutely, I think you guys have been the first to admit as well sometimes you don’t always get it
right.

So you had followerwonk, which was a great product, i’m a followerwonk customer.

Sarah: Thank you, I love it too, I will always love it, back in 2013 we had an idea, a hypothesis for growth of growing into these adjacent areas right. If SEO is here you have social media marketing touches on and it’s related, it’s not really the same thing but they overlap.

Paul: Feeds in to.

Sarah: Yeah, and content marketing is similar and so part of us thinking ‘oh let’s go a little bit adjacent out into these other areas’ we acquired followerwonk which we love. It’s a incredible Twitter tool that everyone should check out and part of the thinking was our customers are all gonna love it because if you love SEO you must love Twitter analytics and we thought they’ll be really addicted to the freshness of the data because Twitter data changes all the time and a lot of SEO data doesn’t have the same day-to-day frequency change right.

So unfortunately we were wrong, that overlap was not nearly as tight as we though. It’s tragic right because it seemed like such a good idea, this will work and it just never got the same attachment rate with our customer base. We thought those people who did use it loved it and we even then tried what if it’s not baked into the same SKU as SEO. What if it’s sort of a separate product and even then our audience wasn’t quite the right match for that tool so we have spun it out.

Paul: You have hardcore SEO’ers.

Sarah: We have hardcore SEO’ers, yeah and now it’s actually, one of the developers, who’s been with that product since its very earliest days maybe even the very beginning, has bought the products from us.

Paul: I didn’t know that, that’s great.

Sarah: Yeah and so he’s gonna continue to give it life and I feel so happy.

Paul: It’s a phoenix from the asses.

Sarah: Yeah well, It’s not even ashes right it’s a different phase of life right.

Paul: Yeah, it’s gone on, it’s still successful, people who use it love it.

Sarah: Yes, I love it, i’m gunna keep using it but it doesn’t fit, certainly with our core thesis of what are the most critical SEO tasks that you need lots of high quality and large amounts of data to solve. That’s what we want to work on, that’s our sweet spot.

Paul: Yeah, stick to your knitting, stick to what you’re good at.

Sarah: Yeah, exactly and frankly you know focus is something I just really struggle with. I want to do so many things.

Paul: Imagine how hard it is being a man.

Sarah: I don’t know that it’s any worse.

Paul: We can’t multi-task.

Sarah: You know what they say, they say no one can multitask. The more confident that you are that you can multi-task, the research says you can’t, isn’t that interesting.

Paul: Oh, that’s worrying.

Sarah: Yeah so if you think you can’t multi-task, if you’re like i’m not good at multi-tasking, you’re probably better at it.

Paul: So you can’t fake it until you make it with multi-tasking?

Sarah: No, exactly, no you really can’t.

Paul: So future for Moz, you’re gonna stick to your knitting. Are you pushing up, pushing down?

Sarah: Yeah so, I would love to talk about it actually. So we have over 37,000 customers right now and most of those are squarely in the S side of SMB right, so SMB is small to medium businesses. We’re mostly on the small side and increasingly into that midsize which is frankly, still really large, we think of SMB as being, you can have up to 10,000 employees, you can have $50 million in revenue right. So we’re increasingly going to that mid market area because we find the churn rates are lower, the budgets are higher and they have greater ongoing needs.

Also we’re beginning to get more and more into the enterprise and those interactive brands that are still looking for alternatives and they like the high quality of data that Moz has to offer, they like the training. They like that they have this trusted place to learn about SEO paired with a high quality of data at a great price. It’s a change for us though because it’s a totally different way of doing business.

Paul: But it should be more stable and more profitable?

Sarah: Yeah, the churn rates are so low, it’s interesting about profitability because you have to think about it in terms of time right so with an SMB customer we we don’t pay very much money to acquire them because luckily we have this wonderful SEO thing that works for us quite well.

Paul: Yeah, you guys might be quite good at that.

Sarah: We’re pretty good at that, on those small customers we’re profitable by month two, including gross margin, so it’s nice.

Paul: Wow! That’s somewhat ahead of the industry standard.

Sarah: Yeah exactly so it’s profitable, of course they’re smaller amounts and so it takes a lot more to have a meaningful change in your growth curve, we are already at 37,000 customers, you have to add a lot of new customers every single month to really get a growth ramp. So it’s the law of larger numbers starts kicking your ass after a while on the SMB side right.

The enterprise can be quite profitable although they also negotiate you down and you pay a lot more upfront. So you might not get payback until year one, two or three which is really typical in enterprise right, so the profitability comes, it’s just in the future. There’s more faith involved so we have a kind of interesting dynamic in the Moz business where we can capture some of the value from the SMB segments, put some of that into developing the products and improving the quality and some of it into let’s also work on going up the customer stack to those Enterprise. Sort of funding that ability to reach those other customers.

Paul: Great so, I think you’re $47 million revenue at the moment?

Sarah: Yeah we did a little over $47 million last year.

Paul: Amazing, so it looks like you’re going to break the $50 million ceiling quite soon.

Sarah: Yes absolutely, we’ll break the 50 million ceiling and we’re doing it profitable and even at positive cashflow, that’s pretty exciting. So we still have a lot of work to do right, we got these product releases and investments to get out there, we’re reaching these new markets which requires whole new ways to interact with customers and sales teams right. It’s sort of new for us and then we’re also looking at maybe some
small acquisitions as well to help expedite our knowledge and our learning about how to serve the other kinds of customers and to supplement the technology as well.

Paul: Because you’ve just grown organically? You’ve not, well I think you said you bought Followerwonk.

Sarah: We did, we bought Followerwonk, we didn’t buy that for the money, we bought it because we love the technology and we love the space. We bought AudienceWise which was a small acquisition mostly for talent. We bought GetListed which turned into our Moz Local product thats done very well for us, again it was a smaller size, we didn’t do it for the revenue, we did it for the tech. Which has been great because we love local SEO so we’ve done a few of these smaller ones and I like it.

Paul: Yeah but essentially it’s grown organically for the most park.

Sarah: Yeah absolutely.

Paul: So, this is the final question, time passes quickly as you’re a busy lady and it’s about that, it’s about you being busy lady.

How do you balance your role as CEO of Moz and actually having a life? Because There’s a lot of tired looking CEOs walking around here desperately trying to spin plates and juggle at the same time.

Sarah: Yeah, more coffee I think that’s tip number one. More coffee right, luckily i’m in Seattle, we have lots of good coffee and the weather is so shitty for most of the year there’s no point in going out. That helps
balance it, I might as well be in front of my laptop because outside is horrible. No and truth is I do let a lot of things slip I’m not proud of it but you have to.

Paul: So you’re saying that you’re human?

Sarah: I am a human person. You don’t really juggle all the balls you just choose which ball you can let drop for now and you say ‘okay well I feel bad that I had to drop that ball’ but something had to drop and
that’s the least of evils and then you try to forgive yourself and move on and live to fight another day.

Yeah it’s a hard work, I’m also lucky I have a lot of support, I have a really supportive husband who is a full
contributor to our whole family. I’ve got great people in the Moz team who always want to help out and they go above and beyond, I would really support a board that is always encouraging and supporting and wanting to help focus and take on things and so yeah I feel very lucky.

Paul: Fantastic, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today, it’s great to meet you and enjoy the rest of Saturday.

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Sarah, for more info on Moz please visit moz.com

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With over 37,000 customers and more than $47m in annual revenue, what next for SEO software Moz? CEO Sarah Bird outlines how Moz got started and where it's going, as well as insights into the values and culture that make the brand still one of the most... With over 37,000 customers and more than $47m in annual revenue, what next for SEO software Moz? CEO Sarah Bird outlines how Moz got started and where it's going, as well as insights into the values and culture that make the brand still one of the most trusted in its space. 47 Insights yes 23:34
Ep. 11: Scaling Demand Gen at Leadfeeder with Christina Hall https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-11-scaling-demand-gen-leadfeeder-christina-hall/ Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:02:27 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=809 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-11-scaling-demand-gen-leadfeeder-christina-hall/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-11-scaling-demand-gen-leadfeeder-christina-hall/feed/ 0 Leadfeeder is making big waves in the website visitor identification market. Head of Marketing, Christina Hall, explains how the company is competing and winning customers in an already crowded marketplace.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 11: Christina Hall, Leadfeeder

Leadfeeder is making big waves in the website visitor identification market. Head of Marketing, Christina Hall, explains how the company is competing and winning customers in an already crowded marketplace.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

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Episode 11 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Christina Hall, head of marketing at Leadfeeder, hope you enjoy it.

So Christina Hall from Leadfeeder, here at SaaStr in San Francisco, sunny San Francisco. Fantastic weather, your first time at SaaStr and mine too, what do you think of the show so far?

Christina: So, I love the sessions, there’s been some interesting ones, generally there’s a lot more people here than I expected so yeah.

Paul: it’s a throng, a mighty throng, let’s say 10,000 people I’m not sure.

Christina: Yeah that’s quite a bit for this small hotel but yeah I think it’s great. There’s been a lot of good networking that we’ve been able to do and I even saw some customers of ours in elevators and in passing which doesn’t hurt so yeah it’s really good event.

Paul: So, tell me about Leadfeeder and what you guys do.

Christina: Yeah so our tool basically sits on top of Google Analytics and we identify anonymous website traffic for companies and so companies use our tool to better understand if they could use the visitors coming to their website as part of their sales process. Whether it’s about reaching out to companies that are within their sales pipeline or reaching out to contacts and interesting companies that would be a good fit for their business and making that one-on-one connection.

Paul: So it does that with reverse IP look ups?

Christina: So actually since we are a Google technology partner we directly use the data from Google with IP addresses and we match it.

Paul: Oh right, so you use the Google Analytics API or something like that?

Christina: Exactly.

Paul: Ok, that’s a bit techy.

Christina: Well yeah it is, the whole technical process is techy but basically that’s how it works.

Paul: So you’re in a really competitive space, lots of people in that space, I used to work with Lead Forensics in the UK, how do you guys differentiate what you’re doing from from say some of the other players?

Christina: So, that’s a good question because this space, the category has become crowded and there’s companies like you mentioned Lead Forensics and a lot of other similar companies that just offer this feature to customers meaning website visitor identification. There’s other companies such as robust marketing automation tools that offer a full suite of features in addition to website visitor identification. That’s part of their offering and so different regions, different markets have different players. We come across competitors based upon typical market share type of things so in the US for instance, HubSpot for our customer base owns a pretty large market.

So typically we’re having to convince customers to switch or to use Leadfeeder in addition to their HubSpot CRM or HubSpot marketing platform.

Paul: Ok, so if I’m a HubSpot customer, sell me how Leadfeeder adds to that or complements it.

Christina: Yeah it complements it because typically one of our ICP or ideal client profiles is a user of HubSpot, even though we do compete with them for that one feature that they offer as part of their CRM suite. So typically if you’re already in the mindset of making sense of your website visitor data we can show that much more value by using a tool dedicated to just that one feature. So companies can identify more companies with our tools then with HubSpot and so that’s one value add. If you’re using this, why are you
using this for that feature because we can identify you 5X, 10X, 20X more companies for you and that gives you much more ability to connect with prospects.

Paul: Fantastic, so you’re with Leadfeeder now but as I understand it you’ve got quite a history in SaaS/software marketing, you must have had some things that worked really well for you and some things that bombed terrifically. We don’t need to know the companies or whatever but just interested in your experience, something that worked well, something that didn’t work so well.

Christina: Yes, so I’ve been, I kind of fit at the intersection of sales and marketing as a professional and I’ve been on both sides.

Paul: What do you call that now?

Christina: Well i guess there’s that ‘smarketing’ terminology, whatever that means. It means something different to everybody but I’m so used to understanding revenue generation in sales and now as a marketer that’s, you know, revenue generation as a marketer. My sales career helped me to be a more focused revenue generating marketer and not to be in a support position necessarily but really how can marketing impact the business and so that’s really you know where I fit as a marketing professional or marketing leader today.

It’s within that demand generation space sure. I’ve done a lot of things that you know have impacted the business, a lot of things that haven’t. For one company, before I started working for Leadfeeder I was working with a really cool tool called Sub Central and they were just going to market, just kind of finding their product-market-fit and just determining who their customers were.

Paul: Thats hard from a marketers point of view, a lot of work you have to do.

Christina: Yeah a lot of work for the founding team, a lot of work for anyone who’s contracted to help them to figure it out and so when you’re first starting out you do things that don’t scale right. That’s the whole gist of you know, when you’re first starting a business you need to do things that don’t scale
and so the approach for them was to identify, kind of their high-value prospects in a direct way. By going out and looking at companies and contacts that sit within a potential ICP, a potential customer profile and then reaching out to them, again very non-scalable methods of email and then we do some retargeting ads based upon their activity and whether or not they responded to our emails.

Paul: This went well?

Christina: It went, the company was very happy, they generated about 50,000 in the pipeline from kind of the sales development effort so that wouldn’t work for Leedfeeder for instance, we don’t have, we don’t place a high contract value.

Paul: Yeah, of course so you’ve got different lifetime value to consider and obviously that means that the activities are gonna…

Christina: Right, dictate, dictate the channels and what we do to generate interest and so going back to your question about you know what is working.

So for Leadfeeder specifically we’re finding a lot of, we’re writing a lot of really indepth interview style blog posts. With those articles that we’re producing, writing and creating we’re driving pay traffic to those. Most companies three to five years ago which seems like ages ago, they would create these white papers and ebooks and whatever and turn them into gated assets.

Paul: So you’re using paid to drive people to content?

Christina: To really rich content, so really democratizing content.

Paul: So you’re building that trust, that credibility with them, then hopefully they’ve got a problem that you can solve.

Christina: Then we re-target them so yeah, it’s really for us right now, it’s about traffic generation and we have a single sales funnel which is our free trial sales funnel, which is what we serve in retargeting ads for instance. I’m of the thought as a marketer now to democratize content and so that’s really our notion and creating really robust content assets for that.

Paul: So contents a nightmare as well though because there’s so much of it out there, how do you differentiate with content in a sea of content? It’s got to be really high value stuff right?

Christina: Well there’s SEO value right and then there’s the promotional value and so there’s a lot of new tools now that help to get traffic to content.

Paul: What are these new tools?

Christina: Well, have you heard of Zest? It’s a Chrome extension so you can publish content there. I actually have a bookmark or it’s not bookmark but it’s the Chrome extension that comes up on your browser window when you open it so every time I open my browser window I see the Zest list of other published content. I kid you not, every time I open my browser I’m like wanting to type in a URL but then my eye catches something interesting and so I click through.

Paul: How do you get any work done?

Christina: it’s difficult, it’s difficult but it’s an interesting tool so it’s an interesting platform to kind of, again going back to democratizing content, the method of that is really valuable for marketers and you know obviously there’s growth hackers and subreddits that have worked for us and some social groups that drive us traffic. It’s an interesting process to get the right traffic sources to our webpages and to our content and then the end game of serving retargeting audiences that then convert into free trials.

Paul: Retargeting is much cheaper, more effective, higher conversion rate.

Christina: Yeah, so taking them from the top of the funnel and to the bottom but it’s very direct and it’s a very simplistic process of what we have laid out right now.

Paul: I love it, I love the simplicity of it that you’re not trying to do a million different things, just running one or two things, obviously you’re running some experiments, you’re measuring everything you do, sounds super smart to me.

So you’re a Busy mom, you’re a full time marketer and a busy mom, you’ve got two kids, how do you balance all of that? How do you make sure you don’t burn yourself out?

Christina: Yeah, you know it’s… yeah so anyone listening, any woman in tech right or any woman who has kids or man too, it’s not just a woman thing.

Paul: No, men hear that, there’s too many men in tech out here.

Christina: Yes, and men have kids right.

Paul: Men do have kids, it would be a terrible world without that.

Christina: Exactly, so I think it’s about, for both genders, balancing the workload of being able to fell like you’re contributing and sharing the workload. Thankfully I have a supportive spouse which I know not everybody has but really sharing in that together is what it boils down to. Then you have to, you have to draw the line and so I think I mentioned earlier, we’re a remote team and I work from home. Sometimes after dinner I want to just do something in my office and I have to say no and I have to draw the line.

I have to wait until they’re sleeping or in the morning and kind of just focus on one activity and give them 100% in that moment. Whether it’s work or whether it’s with family.

Paul: So it’s quality work time, quality home time and just sensibly partitioning the two.

Christina: Exactly.

Paul: So you probably don’t have time to do much else but how do you kind of relax when you’re not either working or with the family?

Christina: I mean it’s nice to relax with family right, enjoying your family is one of the reasons why you have family. So with that, we go to San Diego Zoo and Sea World and kind of try to enjoy what San Diego has to offer which is nice.

Paul: This is brought to you by the San Diego tourist board.

Christina: Haha, I know right, but yeah if you haven’t been to San Diego, It’s a great place to visit I’m telling you, it’s great weather, beautiful beaches.

Paul: So final question for you because you’re busy here with Leadfeeder. Are there any sort of particular, particularly good books on marketing or sales, something you read or you think you would refer other people to read?

Christina: Yeah so I’ve actually, I have read quite a few books, you know traditional entrepreneurship and sales marketing books but nowadays I like to meet other companies blogs, I get sucked in.

Paul: Blogs are the new books?

Christina: I suppose so, certain blogs.

Paul: So which blogs?

Christina: So, intercom is one blog that I visit frequently and every time I visit their blog I get sucked into something that’s like oh that’s cool, that interesting.

I guess what they do differently and it’s part of their content process from what I read on their blog. Which is interesting to me as a marketer is that in lieu of hiring marketers to run content they hire content, actual editorial content writers.

So, whereas that content marketing manager type who’s really focused on leads or revenue has some kind of strong KPI goal in mind which is a goal of content but that’s a byproduct. So if you find people who can really write good things, understand who it’s for.

Paul: A good writer is a writer.

Christina: Yeah and that attracts an audience and so that’s just with any content, so I think intercom being as big as they are they can probably do that and not make it as though every piece of content they produce has to have an end goal.

Paul: Yeah or be SEO’d to death.

Christina: Right but either way I think that they’re doing a pretty good job when it comes to content.

Paul: Any other blogs? What about Leadfeeder blog?

Christina: Of course the Leadfeeder blog, yeah so we are working with an agency right now: Growing Converts, to helped us with those really great interview style articles that we’re producing for the blog.

Paul: Yeah, they’re hard work. Not the agency, the creating of the article.

Christina: Right, yeah so the workload has been passed to them mostly for their production end of it which has help us. We’re pleased with the quality of what they’ve been producing.

Drift is another company that I admire in terms of the content that their producing.

Paul: Yeah they’re very much conversational marketing and very transparent and they’re killing it out there at the moment in terms of marketing. Going out there with a different tone, fresh approach.

Christina thank you very much for your time, it’ been great, I really appreciate it.

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Christina, for more info on Leadfeeder please visit www.leadfeeder.com

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Leadfeeder is making big waves in the website visitor identification market. Head of Marketing, Christina Hall, explains how the company is competing and winning customers in an already crowded marketplace. Leadfeeder is making big waves in the website visitor identification market. Head of Marketing, Christina Hall, explains how the company is competing and winning customers in an already crowded marketplace. 47 Insights yes 16:36
Ep. 10: A Smarter Way To Manage Marketing Budgets with Peter Mahoney https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-10-smarter-marketing-budgets-plannuh/ Mon, 16 Apr 2018 12:00:53 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=790 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-10-smarter-marketing-budgets-plannuh/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-10-smarter-marketing-budgets-plannuh/feed/ 0 After years of managing marketing budgets at IBM and Nuance, 'nerd CMO' Peter Mahoney decided to finally solve the spreadsheet hell experienced by many marketers and create a cloud based solution for managing marketing budgets. The result is Plannuh.

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 10: Peter Mahoney, Plannuh

After years of managing marketing budgets at IBM and Nuance, ‘nerd CMO’ Peter Mahoney decided to finally solve the spreadsheet hell experienced by many marketers and create a cloud based solution for managing marketing budgets. The result is Plannuh.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


Episode 10 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Peter Mahoney, founder and CEO at marketing software Plannuh, hope you enjoy it.

I’m here with Peter Mahoney from Plannuh based in Boston and a pretty new business, tell me what you guys are doing?

Peter: Yeah, so we’re making a product that does cloud-based management of your marketing budget, so it’s based on a problem that I experienced personally over several decades of struggling with managing spreadsheet after spreadsheet, I decided there had to be a better way so that’s why we built Plannuh.

Paul: So this is coming out of your experience as a marketer working with spreadsheets?

Peter: That’s right, an interesting thing happens with spreadsheets, they spawn other spreadsheets, it’s like this weird population explosion. So this is how it happens, this will probably be familiar to you. You start with a marketing plan and a marketing plan usually has your business goals, what are you trying to achieve and that ends up in some documents, sometimes it’s a PowerPoint deck, sometimes you put it on a binder and stick it on your shelf. Then after that you create a series, you create a budget and your budget is usually a spreadsheet that’s chunked up into pieces that says I’m going to spend this much on that product line, this much on that particular tactic, this much in that department and then you roll that spreadsheet out to the managers of those individual budgets and then what do they do?

They create their own spreadsheets and they’ve got their specific plan that’s in some different format and then they hand it to, they plan an event and they’ve got a different spreadsheet for an event with all the details they’re managing and you’re in spreadsheet hell!

So as a result you’ve completely lost the thread between your original business goals in what you’re actually doing and spending so not only are you disconnected from your original intent but you just have no visibility and control into what’s going on, you don’t know what’s committed, what’s been spent already and you’ve just lost everything. That was the problem I experienced and I really wanted to fix.

Paul: Fantastic so, we’re here at SaaSter in San Francisco, blue skies, warm, not so warm in Boston?

Peter: No it’s a little colder there.

Paul: So is this a solution built particularly for SaaS marketers or any marketers?

Peter: it’s really built for any marketer and I’ll tell you, the problem is Universal although we’re trying to be smart and focus our business and we’re really starting to try to solve the problem for small to medium sized organizations at first. The interesting thing that we found is that there are a lot of groups within big companies that are interested because they just don’t have any good tools that are available. However, we’re really starting with small to medium businesses, many kinds of marketers can benefit from the tool.

The people that I’ve focused on first are the ones in my personal network and I’ve spent 30 years in tech so a lot of the early beta users we have now are in tech but there are people in non-profit, there are people in
healthcare, people in legal, they’re all over the place.

Paul: So there’s a huge, totally addressable market space for this?

Peter: Exactly, but we want to focus first so we’re sort of small to medium-sized tech first but really applies to a broad segment of users.

Paul: So just thinking a bit more about that, who are the competitors in your space?

Peter: Well the biggest competitor by far is spreadsheets and that’s really the way I look at it, there are a few solutions to this problem. If you’re a giant organization you may use SAP or something similar and that’s not what we…

Paul: But that’s not mass marking.

Peter: No that’s not mass market, you use a spreadsheet and frankly you can do a pretty good job with a spreadsheet but it breaks over a certain period of time. Most people, actually about 99% of people as far as I can tell use some form of a spreadsheet. Then there’s some specific products that focus on a category called marketing performance management so there’s some really good solutions from companies like Allocadia, is a nice one, Hive9 makes a product in this area.

I’m taking a different approach, those companies tend to focus very much on the end-to-end marketing performance and they tend to be a top-down everybody deploy it kind of solution, I’m taking much
more of a Slack or Dropbox model to the world, we’re bottom up, we’re free to start so the first users always free and if you only have one user it’s always free and I think that’s the way that people
will adopt solutions like this. So there’s no direct competitor, there are alternatives that people have out there but I I think I’m going after the piece of the market that can’t or won’t deploy a big top-down solution and isn’t satisfied with a spreadsheet and I think there are a lot of people that sit in that category.

Paul: I think there’s a ton of people. It’s quite interesting how often I come across younger marketers
and you know their biggest problem is understanding spreadsheets, they can do the marketing but sometimes when you’ve got budgeting and stuff like that, old guys like us were brought upon excel. It’s all in Google sheets now and they’re like ‘how do I Drive this?’ so if that’s the solution for that it makes their life a bit easier then yeah because you can get really bogged down in that stuff.

Peter: Yeah, absolutely and the goal especially for either younger marketers or people who are doing
marketing as aside because they’re doing multiple things within their company, one of the things that we want to do is add more specific recommendations/advice around what people should do. So part of what we’ve done and the thing that I get excited about having run marketing organizations for a long time, I like helping people be better marketers. So we think of our mission in life is to provide simply, better marketing and simply smarter marketing.

Paul: Is that your strap line?

Peter: Yeah we’re experimenting with it a little bit and you know…

Paul: How about ‘we hate spreadsheets’?

Peter: Yeah, that’s just too negative but I think the idea of giving people advice around what
to do, the other thing that we’re doing because we’re this cloud-based solution where we’ve normalized a bunch of data. We can give people benchmarks so being able to get a sense for what you’re doing in spending and how does that compare to other people that look like you and even more notably how did
that compare to companies that look like you but are really successful. Those are the kinds of things that I think are gunna be really valuable.

Paul: So is that gunna be some kind of anonymized benchmarking feature?

Peter: Absolutely, yeah so the idea is how do you compare to your peers.

Paul: Yeah, so is it by sector, revenue spend or budget?

Peter: Both, yes so as we get more and more data we’re going to be able to have a very granular view and again because our whole business model is focused on super low friction. Being really easy to deploy, I mean literally it takes less than five minutes to set up and you can start working in your budget for the first
time so it’s trivial to get going. We think that we’re gonna get a lot of data that’s going to really benefit our community because they’ll have a better sense of what other people are doing and where they’re seeing success.

Paul: That sounds great so you guys at the moment are still in beta, is that right?

Peter: Yeah, so we’ve got sort of a two phase beta that’s going, we’ve got what we call our friends and family beta now which is a relatively small set of a couple of dozen users, invite-only at this point, I’ve got a very large list of people who have signed up who want the beta and I’m slowly letting more and more people in so people should feel free to sign up and opt-in to the beta if they want it. We’re gonna open up the aperture and then within the next couple of months we’re gonna make it wide open as a beta product so people will be able to use it as long as they use it in this beta form and then sometime
later in the spring we’ll have sort of the final commercial release of the
product.

Paul: That’s fantastic and so when did you guys start out and how long has it taken you to reach this point?

Peter: Yeah, it depends on when you think the beginning was right, I’ve been thinking about the problem for years so I’ve been framing out for a while.

Paul: So it’s an overnight success, 10 years in the making.

Peter: I’ve specifically been working with my co-founders around building the model and the concepts out over the last couple years, we’ve been in development for about a year now and so we’re about a year in so
it’ll be a little bit over a year of actual hands on keyboard development after we’re done with the specification.

Paul: Great, I mean that sounds like a really fast time to me but you know, I guess it has to be.

Peter: Yeah I mean it is the way of the world and it’s amazing building products these days because I mean we’re on Amazon Web Services and building the infrastructure to build a product is incredibly fast. So it’s been really quick to get to the point where we could be really productive with our development team building the product out and it really shrinks time to market which is exciting. Of course as a SaaS product being at SaaSter, you have all the advantages of the real-time feedback around what people are using and where they’re getting stuck and you have the ability to to optimize things very quickly on the fly, which has been really exciting.

Paul: Fantastic, so we were talking earlier, both saying that it’s our first time at SaaSter, what are you looking to get out of this event, this conference?

Peter: So I’m looking to get a few things, I am really interested in sorting out how people have driven their growth strategy and growth is a really common theme here at SaaSter.

Paul: I think it’s the only theme isn’t it, it’s either grow it or sell it.

Peter: Exactly, I’m very much interested in growth and I’ve always been fascinated by the math around growth, I’m kind of a geek by background.

Paul: You’re a marketing geek.

Peter: I am a marketing geek, well that’s funny I have a blog called nerdcmo.com and I have a degree in physics and computer science so I like the analytical, numeric approach to defining growth. There’s some really great ideas here around how people have driven that growth, especially because this kind of product I think is going to be super successful if we can really Drive that bottom-up groundswell kind of growth. Because again I think people have approached these problems before with these big giant top-down solutions and to me…

Paul: Killing the whole thing with complexity.

Peter: Yeah and as a result most people have hundreds of customers and I think we should have hundreds of thousands of customers because I think this is a problem that’s universal so if we can find the way to get
the word out and get a good experience for people and get people just signing up and growing the business then I think we’ll get there very quickly, that’s the idea.

Paul: Fantastic, I hope you do and I’m really looking forward to to watching the progress of the businesses as you go through spring and into open beta or launch or whatever, soft launch or whatever you’re calling it.

So you’ve got a ton of experience in marketing going way back to, was it IBM where you started out?

Peter: Yeah, I started my career at IBM, I spent the last 13 years at a software company called Nuance, they’re people that make voice recognition stuff.

Paul: Dictation stuff?

Peter: Yeah dictation and health care products and customer service apps. I was the Chief Marketing Officer there, it’s about a two billion dollar, public company and I learned a lot there because during my time there, in 13 years we acquired over 100 companies which is pretty mind-boggling. I had the opportunity to work with lots of different companies who came from different places and all struggled with the same stuff so that’s one of the things that really validated to me the need for what we’re doing.

Paul: Must have learnt a lot?

Peter: Yeah and it really built on my interest for mentoring and helping marketers to be better marketers and that’s what I really like to do and so that was a great experience.

I’ve been doing this for a very long time and really excited to you know, figure out how to take my experience and expertise and codify it, literally.

Paul: Yeah, so during that career you must have had some great marketing highs and some fantastic lows, anything you want to share with us that springs to mind, because people always talk up the amazing highs but behind it there’s always a lot of trying and failing.

Peter: Exactly, well it’s funny, one of the things that had this combination of high and low for me was, I spent a lot of time running the dragon software business. Dragon is the text directer, end user sale that Nuance made. So I was not only the CMO for the company but the General Manager for that business so I was in charge of that business and I doubled the business over about a four year period which was really exciting. Through a pretty heavy investment and demand generation that the company was very supportive and generous in supporting.

We had some great successes in that, we had a couple of colossal failures and the one big thing that I found out is really hard is physical retail. So we set up one year when we were really growing because we had a
lot of holiday sales because people would buy Dragon as a gift, we set up a mall kiosk program where you could give demonstrations and the physical kiosk in the mall and it was a great idea and it was really well executed and it didn’t work at all.

Paul: Was that because it’s a noisy environment like this?

Peter: No, no that was a really impressive part of it is that it worked really well even in a noisy environment, I think the problem is that it came sort of at a difficult time when people were buying less and less package software, this is right when mobile was starting to take off and apps were starting to take off. I think it just wasn’t a category that spoke to the typical mall viewer. So I think it was probably the wrong target, it was a clever idea to solve a problem of getting the demonstration on people in a new channel but it just didn’t work, didn’t work at all.

Paul: At least you tried it.

Peter: We did, one of my favorite things that we did is we had a ongoing campaign called ‘I speak dragon’. Which was basically a customer story contest that we ran every year. So every year we ran a contest where our customers would submit a story about the impact that dragon has had on their performance, their life etc. and we would get hundreds and hundreds of these stories.

Paul: Yeah, was this incentivized?

Peter: It was, the winner won free dragon for life, so it wasn’t, we had a prize but it wasn’t a huge thing. People love to tell their stories and literally we’d be sitting or reading these stories bawling because there are these total, you know emotional tearjerker kind of stories. The productivity stuff was really nice but seeing how it really enabled people with disabilities who couldn’t otherwise participate in life, it was an amazing thing and it created just this incredibly impactful content for us.

It showed the value of of leveraging your user community to create really compelling, incredibly genuine, sincere content. So that was one of the favorite things that I did during my career there, that was a lot of fun.

Paul: That sounds brilliant, really insightful, I really like the idea and how it was executed and worked. The retail, the mall failure is, you know, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it, unless you try these things you don’t know.

Peter: I love to experiment by the way and I think the idea…

Paul: All good marketers do.

Peter: Yeah, I think the idea you should always have a challenger right and I think that idea is really important.

Paul: Yeah, it is and even more so nowadays.

So you’re a busy guy, you’re even busier now then ever I imagine, what is it that you do that allows you to stay mentally fresh, focused, whatever because you can be torn into many pieces, different directions just working hard. How do you cope with that? What coping strategies do you have?

Peter: Well it’s interesting because I work a lot and I’m on, my mind is going 24/7 and literally I wake up in the middle of the night and I have my iPhone next to me and I have you know, I’m sending notes to myself about features. So I’m thinking about it all the time I mean, consciously, subconsciously, whatever, it’s just non-stop and it’s funny the difference now from doing my own thing and building my own thing versus working at large companies for a lot of years. It’s all mine so there’s an excitement about it.

So, you know, I wish I had a lot of free time, I do love to travel with my wife, we like to hike, we spend a lot of time with with our kids, I’ve got three kids: 16,19 and 21 so we enjoy that kind of thing but I don’t have as much free time as I’d like to right now.

Paul: But you’re enjoying the challenge of building this new business, you know, I think that when you’re at that early stage it’s so exciting that like you say you’re waking up in the night, you’re making notes, it’s not a problem at all, It sounds great and I need to check this out.

Peter: Yeah great I hope you do.

Paul: Thanks very much for your time Peter, I really liked talking to you.

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Peter, for more info on Plannuh please visit www.plannuh.com

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After years of managing marketing budgets at IBM and Nuance, 'nerd CMO' Peter Mahoney decided to finally solve the spreadsheet hell experienced by many marketers and create a cloud based solution for managing marketing budgets. The result is Plannuh. After years of managing marketing budgets at IBM and Nuance, 'nerd CMO' Peter Mahoney decided to finally solve the spreadsheet hell experienced by many marketers and create a cloud based solution for managing marketing budgets. The result is Plannuh. 47 Insights yes 21:18
Ep. 9: What’s Driving Growth at Flow with Mark Henderson https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-9-whats-driving-growth-flow-mark-henderson/ Mon, 09 Apr 2018 08:00:20 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=785 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-9-whats-driving-growth-flow-mark-henderson/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-9-whats-driving-growth-flow-mark-henderson/feed/ 0 Starting out as an audio engineer did nothing to prepare Mark Henderson for a job with software giant Intuit. More than a decade later and the self-confessed data nerd is now CEO of project management SaaS company Flow. Mark reveals how insights into data analysis, marketing attribution, innovation and customer alignment are now paying off for Flow. SaaS Marketing Insights, Episode 9: Mark Henderson, Flow

Starting out as an audio engineer did nothing to prepare Mark Henderson for a job with software giant Intuit. More than a decade later and the self-confessed data nerd is now CEO of project management SaaS company Flow. Mark reveals how insights into data analysis, marketing attribution, innovation and customer alignment are now paying off for Flow.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


Episode 9 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Mark Henderson, CEO at project management software: Flow.

So Mark you’re the CEO of flow, it’s not something that you’ve always done, you’ve done a lot of things in your career, why don’t we start off by you telling me how you got started in business and in SaaS in particular?

Mark: Well for me, I actually really wanted to be, I played in bands growing up and I love doing music and I went through this period where I was doing audio engineering. I did that for a year then I did slave labor in a studio for a year and I got totally sick of not having any money whatsoever. So I applied to Intuit and eight hours later I had my first job.

Started at the call center, I did that for a year, after my first year I got the opportunity to manage the group out of Calgary which was really cool. A year later I got to manage a broader group and then I just kind of kept developing my operational resume through working at Intuit and I worked with those guys for 10 years and they were awesome, they’re so good at developing talent.

Paul: So this was software when software was software and used to come on shiny metal disks?

Mark: The funny thing was I remember in 2007 they flashed up this thing on the screen called SaaS and were like ‘software as a service it’s gonna change everything’ and I’m like neat, like everybody else not knowing and then fast forward a decade later, my entire world is just in SaaS.

So yeah, I did a decade with Intuit, learnt so much from those guys, moved out to Victoria, met some really great people out, I’ve been in the tech for almost all of my career except for about two years where I wasn’t, doing some agency work.

Paul: Wow, so how long have you been with flow?

Mark: Just over two and a half years now.

Paul: So you joined the company and then just magically became CEO? how did it work?

Mark: That’s how it felt, no I actually started as the COO working for Andrew Wilkinson actually, he’d grown Flow off the corner of his desk over the course of about four years and he was looking to make it into being its own own dedicated thing so I came in I was COO for that for about a year and a half. Then after a year and a half they asked me to be CEO and yeah so I’ve been doing it now for about a year in half.

Paul: Wow that’s great and I guess a lot has changed during that time?

So am I right in saying that Andrews no longer involved like day-to-day at all, you have a free reign?

Mark: Yep, actually he’s been awesome about that, coming from something that was his baby for a long time and to just like turn it over and entrust someone else to run. He’s there when you need him and when you need independence you have it so you couldn’t ask for much more, it’s pretty great.

Paul: Great, so where’s flow now and where is it going in the future because you guys are in a
really competitive market and you’ve got things like, there’s so many SaaS project management solutions right. So there’s like Base camp and Trello and Asana and Wrike and millions of others, those are just the ones that I can think of off the top of my head.

Mark: Every day I try and explain how to look at this market because if you look at it from the outside it looks like it’s just like the detergent aisle, it’s like oh that one’s purple and blue and they’re so different right.

The way I look at it is actually far closer to the car industry now. It’s hyper segmented and the way I look at it is you can either be a horizontal use case, you can be methodology driven or you can be focused very much on a single industry and so where we live is in kind of that horizontal use case and so you know we go up against guys like Asana and Basecamp and you know Wrike and the ones you’ve all heard of. So yeah, it’s been a really interesting challenge because they’re just like, it’s a super fast-growing market, it’s super big and there’s lots of competition but that competition is huge not by mistake. There’s massive opportunity in this space.

Paul: Sure so I guess everybody’s like running to take as much as the market as they can even though it’s still growing market?

Mark: I think it’s really, we’re all just trying to figure out, Everybody is coming online and they’re like we want to try this productivity tool. It’s largely a lot of smaller and midsize companies that are doing it and they’re not familiar with this stuff. So what happens is you really have to look at your data and understand who your customers are and then you can actually figure out, okay actually our tool is super good for for us, it’s actually marketers, marketers became like our customer of choice but an engineering team originally
built it, they actually thought they were building it for an engineering team.

It turns out over time and looking at 17,000 points of data it’s not true. So it’s really interesting, I think that’s the journey for all these tools, it’s figuring out who are you actually truly, who actually truly loves you and that’s kind of what I’ve got to focus on in the last two years. That’s kind of my wheelhouse I love, I’m a big data nerd and I do love looking at that stuff and getting to discover what our product-market-fit is and have math behind it.

Paul: No, that’s no bad thing, I’m a fan of a spreadsheet myself. So a lot of change going on, obviously in the time that you’ve been here running flow it’s changed a lot as a product it sounds like you have a really good grip on which customer segment you’re delivering the most value for. So now you know what’s happening, what’s new with flow, what have you got that you can tell us about that’s coming up?

Mark: Well we have a whole new feature set that’s coming out soon.

Paul: ‘Soon’.

Mark: Yeah soon, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say here so I’m just gonna leave it a little bit, I think it depends when this thing goes live.

Paul: Intriguing, is this a giant killer do you think?

Mark: I think what this is for us, just like full transparency, it’s another step towards us becoming focused on who likes us, that’s what it is. We’re creating features for what we’ve discovered what people really want from us. When you think about a Asana, they’re so good at doing a big horizontal offering, that’s not gonna be us that’s not what we want to do, what we’re doing is getting better for the people that really love us. Those creative teams, the marketing teams and we want to make it easy so other teams can work with them but our primary focus right now is making something that’s great for markers and something
that’s great for creative people.

Paul: Great, that sounds like you’ve got a really good focus. So on this journey in finding that perfect product-market-fit you’ve obviously tried a lot of different things in marketing, some of those things worked, some of them probably haven’t worked so well.

What lessons if any do you think that you’ve learned on your SaaS marketing journey with flow?

Mark: What are we gonna call this, marketing attribution does that make sense?

Paul: Yeah, that makes sense to me.

Mark: That’s really important, if we’re talking about the same thing.

Paul: From this end, to this end?

Mark: Yeah and actually being able to know where it drops off and who it is and all that kind of stuff, yeah that’s really important because you can either be lighting a whole pile of money over here or completely under spending a whole lot of money over here. That’s probably the single most enlightening thing for me
was being able to lay down that framework for knowing who’s coming in, where do we find them to, how long did they stay and what do they care about.

Having that in place, that was so important. Marketing, it’s not just about making noise in the marketplace anymore, those days are long gone in my mind.

Paul: So, what’s the secret to marketing attribution because it comes up time and time again as probably one of the top three things that marketers always want to get right. Is it just about crunching the numbers? Being good with Excel and a pivot table? Or is there a whole kind of tool set that you use or methodology?

Mark: It’s a combo of both, I’d say like, so first of all I would go with data informed as opposed to being data driven. That’s kind of my new mantra because if your data driven that means you’re just gonna follow the bread crumbs your customers lay and that’s okay but that can lead you into a really bad strategic place.  So what I try to do is to say alright this is who we want to go after because it makes sense for us and then what we try and do is to make data informed decisions to get us there, that means sometimes turning away from what seems like it could be a good breadcrumb trail but maybe it leads to a scary place.

Paul: Cool, well that sounds like a really smart approach.

Mark: Little to Hansel and Gretel I just realized.

Paul: Yeah, no it’s good and you seem to be getting some success in the market with that so exciting times
for flow. New stuff coming up, you must be a really busy guy, juggling lots of balls, spinning lots of plates whatever metaphor you want to use, how do you balance this busy career, this busy business with the rest of your life? I mean you probably say you don’t but how do you make sure that you stay fresh, that you don’t sort of lose your edge, that you don’t burn out?

Mark: I have to say because you want to maintain like a work-life balance right so my wife and I we have a three-year-old, there’s some work there, it’s tough. It’s super rewarding it’s just you gotta make sure that you have enough time so the only way to do that is to really compartmentalize the time that you put in at work. If you want to maintain a normal, somewhat of a normal life and so for me the biggest thing that I’ve been talking about lately is just moving away from being reactive, into proactive. The way I kind of describe it is you can either chase every event that occurs or you can recognize that it’s about knowing which ones to ignore and it’s so easy to become this like firefighter that just chases it all versus being able to filter out.

I went through a period there where we were dogfooding Flow and for me, I was learning how to use that kind of tool and I went into a completely reactive mode and yeah that didn’t go well, stressful time.

Paul: So you saw lots of things you didn’t like?

Mark: Oh yeah, it’s completely self-imposed stress and anxiety right and the nice thing about us redesigning the product. There’s a little bit of what I like in there and it’s a great tool for me now and I can use it and it helps me get back to being organized and do the things I like to do which is planning.

I’d say like just going from being a reactive to a proactive person it’s probably the single biggest tip, it’s so important.

Paul: Having a focus and feeling like you’ve got more control rather than you are just being pulled in different directions?

Mark: Just being able to know what stuff you should be able to ignore or to push away because if you do it all, it’s not good. It’ll kill you.

Paul: Literally I think, yeah.

I guess another thing that you and I spoke before about is that you’re pretty into reading a lot about business and business books, have you read anything lately that you think would be suitable for people to
follow up on in terms of SaaS or marketing or leadership?

Mark: The most recent one that I read that just totally changed the way I thought was called Ten Types of Innovation and what that got me to…

Paul: Who’s that by?

Mark: You just called me on it, I can’t remember, yeah sorry, we’ll edit that in later. No seriously, so what that book taught me was if you think all of your innovation is just strictly limited to product, you’re gonna be chasing ‘me to’ forever. The problem with our world is any feature that somebody makes, that are competitors does, I can make it six months later and they can do it to.

So you’re constantly going to be in this feature war where it’s not good and what they did is they just enlighten me by saying, the best, most innovative companies they innovate on five or more fronts. Statistically that’s, and for me because it’s math driven, it’s like that makes total sense to me. So you look at your business model and you look at how you operate in the company and there’s opportunity, when you see that there’s opportunities to innovate like literally everywhere and it’s just, it’s so much more empowering than thinking like what’s the next feature gotta be and then you’re always chasing that thing.

Paul: So what I think I’m hearing and I might be wrong is that your mindset probably because of your experience and background whatever, tends to be more product focused but there’s this whole world of innovation outside a product. Whether it’s in customer service or delivery or whatever?

Mark: It felt like this, the more I grew my career the more scope I was introduced to and when I went from being COO which is like running a company and I’m pretty comfortable doing that. Being an CEO, you have to look at it from one step above and I knew to do that but this book at some point just like I felt this moment of yanking me up one level. I just saw a whole new set of the umbrella from above and I was just
like oh wow that’s…

Paul: Out-of-body experience.

Mark: Yep you know it literally was, when I read that I was just like ‘whoa’ and so when I read stuff like that I get excited about wanting to teach it to somebody cuz that’s kind of Who I am.  So I’ve been working on putting together like a whole presentation on it just to share with the rest of the group to help them, give a chance to see what I see now for Flow.

Paul: Cool, that sounds pretty inspirational stuff, good leadership.

Mark thank you very much for chatting, it’s been great sharing so much detail about Flow and good luck with everything, it sounds like a great journey.

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Mark, for more info on Flow please visit www.getflow.com

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Starting out as an audio engineer did nothing to prepare Mark Henderson for a job with software giant Intuit. More than a decade later and the self-confessed data nerd is now CEO of project management SaaS company Flow. Starting out as an audio engineer did nothing to prepare Mark Henderson for a job with software giant Intuit. More than a decade later and the self-confessed data nerd is now CEO of project management SaaS company Flow. Mark reveals how insights into data analysis, marketing attribution, innovation and customer alignment are now paying off for Flow. 47 Insights yes 16:15
Ep. 8: Customer Referral Programs and Beyond with Will Fraser https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-8-beyond-customer-referral-programs-will-fraser/ Mon, 02 Apr 2018 08:00:06 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=781 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-8-beyond-customer-referral-programs-will-fraser/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-8-beyond-customer-referral-programs-will-fraser/feed/ 0 A early lesson in platform dependency forced a fledgling startup to pivot from social media promotions to customer referral software platform in just 5 days. Co-founder and CEO Will Fraser reveals the next evolution for SaaSquatch: how to automate marketing throughout the customer lifecycle. SaaS Marketing Insights, Episode 8: Will Fraser, SaaSquatch

A early lesson in platform dependency forced a fledgling startup to pivot from social media promotions to customer referral software platform in just five days. Co-founder and CEO Will Fraser reveals the next evolution for SaaSquatch: how to automate marketing throughout the customer lifecycle.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


Episode 8 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Will Fraser, Co-founder and CEO of SaaSquatch, hope you enjoy it.

Today I’m pleased to have Will Fraser from SaaSquatch, he’s the company CEO. Very pleased for you to be here Will, tell me a bit more about SaaSquatch?

Will: Yeah so SaaSquatch, it’s kind of a unique platform, we help customers or customer marketers really grow their lifetime value so unlike traditional platforms that might focus on opens and clicks, we actually focus on dollars.

Paul: Great so how did that get started, how did you get started in SaaS?

Will: Yeah, so I got started in SaaS the pretty traditionally way, I started working on weapon systems.

Paul: Haha, yeah?

Will: No, so I was working as a consulting engineer and 2008 happened and the economic downturn kind of got rid of that so I did the responsible thing, I packed up my bags and I went to Europe.

Took all the money I had and just thought we’d travel, no but while I was actually traveling a buddy of mine gave me a phone call and we’d always know that we were going to start a company, we just didn’t know when, we thought it was gonna be much later. He gave me a phone call and said ‘hey, there’s these investors that are trying to partner with the University of Victoria, they want to launch a entrepreneurial engineering program, we need another person to join the team though so will you come home?’.

Paul: So you’ve spent all your money by then?

Will: I had no money and officially it was a master’s degree program and school had started already when he phoned me so I bought myself a box of Stroopwafels, the Candy waffles when I was in Amsterdam, I put those under my arm I got on a plane, I came back to Victoria, I bribed everyone with waffles and miraculously they allowed me to enroll a few weeks late.

Paul: Wow! So did you form this business straight out of university, straight off the course?

Will: Yeah so we actually founded another company first, a company called YouPick which was a SaaS business as well and It was working in the social media promotion space so sweepstakes, giveaways, things like that on Facebook. We learned a really important lesson and it’s called platform dependency. So we had built our product, the entire product was built based on how Facebook worked but Facebook obviously had no obligation to us to work the same way.

So one day I came into work and I took a look at one of our customers programs they were running and realized it didn’t work. Facebook had removed the required functionality and we were done, so yeah that’s how fast it goes.

Paul: Shit, thats a valuable lesson to learn.

Will: Yeah now we could have fought through it, we could have found some other things but in all honesty we’d kind of seen the market there had swollen up, two companies, one Wildfire, one Buddy Media had both sold for I believe something like $400 and $200 Million dollars.

Then we kind of thought if this sort of thing is already happening there wasn’t much point in continuing to fight that fight. Through we had really discovered the core nugget of what SaaSquatch is based on now, which is that marketers didn’t want to run sweepstakes and giveaways it was just all they could run.

Sorry, it’s not that they don’t want to but it’s not where they wanted to end and we found time and time again, markers were struggling to prove the ROI, to prove the value of these programs. So we said okay how do we connect those those last dots if you will and at this time we had really just seen the emergence of billing systems as a service so like Stripe and Recurly and Braintree, these guys were starting to come to the forefront. So for the first time we had a standard billing layer that we could integrate with so we said this sounds like the solution, we integrated with the billing layer, we integrated with companies apps and then we actually brought out a customer referral program that would allow marketer to create and run a referral program without needing to do a whole bunch of custom development. Also, actually be able to show that they were growing their revenue.

Paul: So how long did it take from forming the company and obviously you mentioned YouPick before and the collapse of due to Facebook or whatever, how long did it take for you to get up and running with your referral program offer?

Will: Yeah so we gave ourselves five days, I’m not lying, we gave ourselves five days to come up with the idea, do all the prep work we possibly could and sell it.

Paul: You crazy bastards.

Will: Yeah, no we called it the blue sky week those of us that were still in it after YouPick we got in a boardroom, we’d still paid rent for the month we were good, we had that covered. We got in a boardroom and we had an honest conversation with each other saying we don’t want to just start new we want to pivot. We want to take what we’ve learned and how do we go with that and we learned a few things, one was that really we wanted to work with companies that had technical resources. We knew the problem was getting easier to solve but we knew it wasn’t plug-and-play yet.

Paul: Yeah, so you need devs on their side?

Will: We need some devs, some web development at least, we knew that, it would seem very implicit to marketers that word of mouth had value so we wanted people that believed that so that actually drew us to SaaS directly because there’d been some strong examples with companies like Dropbox. This is actually probably before its referral program was really big but whatever. But there have been big successes and people believed in it. Then the third one was, we wanted someone that could see the revenue so in YouPick we’d worked with groups like, we promoted like Quentin Tarantino film: Django Unchained.

Paul: Oh I didn’t know that.

Will: Yeah it was great, it was a fun experience but no one knew how to put value on a trailer view, we were sitting in a situation where our goal was so fuzzy, was it worth $100 or was it worth a million dollars and no one could tell.

Paul: A million obviously.

Will: Well of course, no but we went ahead and did this kind of brainstorming try to take his ideas and then we literally gave ourselves three days to go sell it and so we picked up the phone and we sent emails. One of our team members actually started on a live chat with a company and over two hours managed to slowly get moved up the chain until they were live chatting with
the CMO.

Paul: No way.

Will: Yeah, about a hundred person company like we did whatever we could do and we got a few customers in those five days and decided that it was probably worth it and then we had to deliver it.

Paul: So that was your viability, your validation?

Will: Yeah so It was five days and then three months later, we were live with our first site, it was rather MVP. Analytics came in the form of a spreadsheet every Friday, well technically it was a database dump that we formatted, there was a login, there was a kind of main portal if you will that had one button which scarily was ‘authorize Stripe’. So the only button you could do was give us full access to your Stripe account.

So yeah we had some brave first customers.

Paul: Wow, so how long ago was this?

Will: it’s was about three years ago I guess.

Paul: You’ve come a long way in a short space of time.

Will: It’s been good, it’s funny cuz you don’t think back about it in the moment, you’re always just advancing one step in front of the other but yeah, now we look back, we’re serving the fortune 500, we’re globally dealing with support, with sales, with growth.

Paul: So to sort of go into a bit more detail, what sort of type of companies does your products and services suit now?

Will: Yes, so what’s interesting, we sell B2B right as a lot of enterprise SaaS does nowadays but we sell to companies that really sell closer to B2C.

Paul: So it’s B2B to B2C?

Will: Right exactly, so it’s like, it’s as messy as it can be. We’re looking for companies that are high-volume, that are transactional, that have frequent purchases what we look for as well, so we’re looking for
sites where you’re gonna buy 3 to 100 times a year. You’re not gonna talk to a salesperson right.

These kind of things, so think, it might be as expensive as a flight then it might be as cheap as a video
subscription service but it’s all about that consumer transactional and volume services.

Paul: So do they have to be kind of digital based businesses?

Will: So they don’t need to be digital based but they need to have a strong digital presence so you know, we really still work through the ideas of those digital channels, be that email or messaging or a website or a mobile app, we still look at that as our key interface point.

Now with that said, the SaaSquatch platform is a platform that has a very robust API, there’s many ways you can build on us and it’s actually probably one of my greatest joys is when I see a customer has actually built on top of us in a way we never imagined.

So early on we had this really clear idea that we were a referral platform and that we didn’t really think about all that other initial value that we brought to the table. Until we found someone was using us, they were not using the referrals at all, they were using us as a reward Bank so we were literally a third party database that has basically an anatomically locking, multi currency banking system that became available to them and the only reason we found that out is they sent in a support ticket where they had chained together like 14 calls and they were just looking for the last call to make it all work. We were like ‘we
could make a single call that does that for you’ what you’re doing is insane.

So yeah it’s really cool when you see that and that’s how we really start to understand that there’s so much more than just word of mouth, obviously word of mouth is really important but that marketers today are kind of getting locked out of the products and services they support.

So where you might support a mobile app, unfortunately a lot of marketers get left really with the landing page, maybe a sign-up email, if you’re lucky they let you send some notifications but you probably have to negotiate a lot with product about that. Their job is becoming more and more about increasing lifetime value versus just getting signups and so they’ve been locked out.

They’ve no control over 80% of the customer journey that actually drives that revenue and so as we’ve seen that now we realized the same thing that made us a really powerful referral platform, that ability for us to let a marketer create a campaign that interacts with the customer, tracks the user product and ultimately adjusts their bill. Now that same power is really powerful for acquisition, activation, revenue retention and yes referrals and so it’s kind of cool that it’s our customers that showed us that. They’re the one who’s built
on the platform and showed us exactly what we needed.

Paul: So you started off thinking that you your product did one thing and you found out because of you’re customers that it actually did XYZ?

Will: Right and we didn’t even have to build anything to find that, they literally are the ingenious ones, they saw enough value that they thought okay I’ll go through this kind of rough little patch here and we’ll make it work and now ultimately we’ve gone ahead and made that hack a lot easier for them to do those other kind of programs they want to run.

Paul: That sounds fantastic and in such a short space of time to have come so far in your sort of development of the business so it sounds like you started off as just like the referral type business and now you’re spreading throughout the customer lifecycle?

Will: Correct, correct and if you can think about it, in some ways the referral was the perfect Trojan horse, it gave us all the reasons we needed to get into the system and then give the marketers a great reason to go to their product teams, to say hey we need to install Sasquatch to run this referral program and now we’re there we can help them with so much more.

Paul: Fantastic, so on this journey in SaaS, if you had to highlight one marketing insight that you had along the way and you must have had many. What would be a standout thing for you? Obviously listen to your customers.

Will:  Yeah of course but as in any product, you have to listen to your customers but I think one of the interesting things about SaaS in that we’ve been building it up for a little while. SaaS started out as a cheaper version to on-prem software, you know we thought in terms of tens of dollars for your pricing, you know was it 20 bucks, 50 bucks, 90 dollars? Whatever it is but obviously we’ve seen the enterprise really aggressively start to adopt SaaS and was still recognizing that SaaS is nowhere near the majority of software sold.

What we realized is actually the enterprise customer is often really the customer you’re building for, where you can go from selling to a thousand customers to all of a sudden, you’re selling to one customer for the same amount of money. It’s very interesting, early on we were publishing some content, doing the kind
of content marketing strategy and we got a phone call from one of the divisions over at Google and they asked us to bid on an RFP and at this point we thought we were building a startup tool, we thought we were building something that was was gonna help teams of three.

The first phone call I think there was something like 13 people from Google on it. We didn’t have 13 people in the company let’s be clear.

So we quickly learned that actually the problem we were solving was substantially more valuable the bigger the company and so the midsize companies and the the large companies have problems that need to be solved and they actually are scared to pay you $50 normally. You know that idea of no commitment, are you really gonna pick the phone up when I phone you for the second time in a week, can you afford to
take my question. Versus saying this is gonna make us millions or save us millions so we’re willing to put a reasonable price tag on that.

I think people’s attitudes to SaaS has changed, even in enterprise, it used to be that enterprise didn’t want to touch it, it’s on-prem or nothing but now people kind of accept that they can’t do everything, they can’t
develop everything themselves in-house.

Paul: They can but it’s at huge expense and the timelines are horrendous as well.

Will: Well I think the timelines are often what actually drives it more than anything because they just
know the speed at which their competitors are moving, take a look at something like the retail game right now. You know guys like Jet and Amazon have really shaken that space up and if you’re a retailer up there
looking at how do you catch up it’s not by starting from scratch and building it yourself. I mean one thing that has happened though all the data breaches that have occurred, we’re now seeing substantially more onerous security requirements on SaaS companies.

Paul: Yeah and we got GDPR coming in.

Will: Exactly, so where we were able to stand up our first program in 3 months, that’s actually gonna start becoming much harder you know, you have to start going through your Soc 2 compliances and start being aware.

Paul: It’s good though, its a high barrier to entry, as an incumbent.

Will: Yeah, good if you’re in, don’t get me wrong but it is changing the game a little bit again where all of a sudden it’s those who can afford to go through those security screenings and to do a security audits it’s at least $50,000 but it’s also your time, when you’re an early stage startup you know that’s the one thing you really don’t have.

Paul: That’s great, I just wanted to ask you a final question about personal growth insights, so how do you sharpen your mental saw is the way that I think of it. Everybody has their own habits and routines, it’s very easy to just become mired in the day-to-day, how do you stay fresh Will?

Will: Yeah how do I stay fresh, I feel like we should have a soap commercial right here, no it’s a good question of course, it’s a challenge that I think a lot of people work in the day-to-day of a company trying to grow as fast as possible you get stuck with. My solution may not be great but what I typically do is I find that days-off are really good days where I kind of still I come in, I’m very close to the office but I come in and I actually basically on paper I have a frank conversation with myself. So on paper I literally and it sounds funny but basically I list what are the things you’re doing that you shouldn’t be doing, what are the things you aren’t doing that you need to do.

Paul: Like a self review?

Will: It’s basically a self review so when everyone else is getting the day off I’m having my performance review right but my boss is a real jerk. It’s a 360 review, we review all sides myself.

Paul: Multiple personalities.

Will: Exactly but that’s literally the the best thing I have and then what I’ll do is kind of between those times is I’ll come in at least a couple times a week and I’ll make sure that I read through that document again. So I sit there and I realize like, this is the thing we said we weren’t gunna do.

So that’s one of the things that’s really good for me, there’s normal things about you know you got to be keeping up on your reading, you’ve got to be going out to talks and events and just keeping fresh, it’s very easy to think you’re growing fast enough right now. Yeah but the thing is when you’re trying to grow 10% every month it’s a lot easier twelve months ago so the same tools probably are not gonna get you through it today but it’s easy to think you kind of got it figured but no. The big thing for me is just those frank
conversations with myself and I do it in writing because I like the written artifact I can go back and look at.

Paul: You record it like a log then?

Will: Yeah, 100% like a log they kind of all come in sequence.

Paul: On paper though, not in the cloud?

Will: Well they’re actually in the cloud on the electronic paper, but yeah just I find that the act of writing it down, reading it and reviewing it does a whole lot.

Paul:  Thats a great tip, I’ve not heard that one before.

Thanks alot Will, that’s really great to hear about the history of SaaSquatch and where you guys are going on your SaaS journey and for the insights into your personal growth.

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Will. For more info on SaaSquatch please visit www.saasquatch.com

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A early lesson in platform dependency forced a fledgling startup to pivot from social media promotions to customer referral software platform in just 5 days. Co-founder and CEO Will Fraser reveals the next evolution for SaaSquatch: how to automate mark... A early lesson in platform dependency forced a fledgling startup to pivot from social media promotions to customer referral software platform in just 5 days. Co-founder and CEO Will Fraser reveals the next evolution for SaaSquatch: how to automate marketing throughout the customer lifecycle. 47 Insights yes 20:39
Ep. 7: Juggling Studies and SaaS with Kimia Hamidi https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-7-juggling-studies-and-saas-kimia-hamidi/ Mon, 26 Mar 2018 13:00:00 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=773 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-7-juggling-studies-and-saas-kimia-hamidi/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-7-juggling-studies-and-saas-kimia-hamidi/feed/ 0 Kimia Hamidi is Co-founder of rapidly growing content automation SaaS company Ghostit. He's also still a student finishing up a degree in Economics. How and why did Kimia get started in SaaS? And what did he learn in bootstrapping Ghostit from nothing to becoming Product Hunt product of the day? SaaS Marketing Insights, Episode 7: Kimia Hamidi, Ghostit

Kimia Hamidi is Co-founder of rapidly growing content automation SaaS company Ghostit. He’s also still a student finishing up a degree in Economics. How and why did Kimia get started in SaaS? And what did he learn in bootstrapping Ghostit from nothing to becoming Product Hunt product of the day?

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


Episode 7 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Kimia Hamidi, Co-founder and CEO at content marketing solution: Ghostit.

Today I’m pleased to have Kimia Hamidi from Ghostit and you’re the Co-founder and CEO right?

Kimia: Correct.

Paul: So start off by telling us how you got started in the world of SaaS because you’re a pretty young guy?

Kimia: Yeah it was a sort of by my own volition, the dream was corporate law. So essentially out of business school I was gonna go into corporate law and I was gonna be the corporate lawyer, I wanted to be a lawyer before suits came out.

I just I networked so hard, I had a stack of legal business cards like this thick which is not a challenge, you just ask for their business card but I weaseled my way into this one networking event. It was a networking event in Vancouver where there were entrepreneurs and lawyers and they were soliciting business from the entrepreneurs and and vice versa. I spoke to Ken from Procurify and basically what they do is financial optimization software where it’s you’re spending too much here you can spend a little bit more here that kind of thing.

The realization out of our talk was you can create something from nothing so valuable that people will pay for it, he’s got contracts with Boeing, they’re killing it, they’re absolutely killing it and that blew my mind.

Paul: You had this light bulb moment.

Kimia: Yeah it was it was incredible cuz I was like, I have this horrible thing in my career where I say how hard can it be, I can do that. It’s incredibly hard, I say how hard can that be, I can put a team together I can do this, I’m competent and that kicked off my journey. That’s kind of what led me into playing around with a few ideas which I eventually executed on one but we’ll dive into that later.

Paul: Sure so your current business is Ghostit, I say current because there’s probably more in the pipeline right?

Kimia: Yeah, we’ll see. Well it’s been three so I’ve, to date, I’ve started three companies. The first of which failed the second did okay and I ran into Co-Founder issues so I ended up selling my stake back to the company and currently I’m working on Ghostit and it’s been a phenomenal success.

Paul: So who’s your co-founder in Ghostit?

Kimia: Rahul Bhatia, so the initial founding was February of 2016 where I came up with the idea and it was between this and student loan refinancing, which are the complete opposite.

Paul: This is so much sexier.

Kimia: I know right, small business automation, yeah completely and so basically why I started, I was looking at business Facebook pages and they were just really bad, they were off-brand, they were inconsistent. I’m sure you can point to a time when you’ve seen a business’s Facebook page where
the last post was May of 2016.

Paul: Yeah that might be mine.

Kimia: Haha, well come talk to us we’ll help you out.

What we found was, consumers now expect a bare minimum level where you have to be online on your channels and it’s not expensive to do, it takes a little bit of management but if you can automate that process which is what Ghostit does, you now have that bar where customers can say yes you’re relevant, you’re up-to-date. It’s very likely that if you aren’t up-to-date they’ll switch to a a competitor that is and that’s kind of what founded Ghostit and so I played with the idea, I kind of walked into a bunch of different
businesses and said would you pay for this? Would you pay for someone to manage your Facebook page? I didn’t collect money which I should have and they said yes and then I connected with Rahul and we’ve obviously grown it far past what it was in the initial idea.

Paul: Right so that’s why it started out. So for the benefit of everybody including me, just outline what Ghostit is today in terms of the product and services that you guys offer.

Kimia: Absolutely, yeah so the elevator pitch if you will is we automate small to medium-sized businesses online presence so social media: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as well as Blog posts and email newsletters. The reason why we’re different from a generic content mill is we take a strategic approach to it, we say who’s your target audience? Who are your competitors? What are they doing? What’s working well? What’s not working well? How do we create a content narrative that your audience is actually
going to respond to.

So from that content strategy, there’s a bit more to it than that but, from that content strategy a writer’s brief is created which we then give to our in-house writers, initially we were outsourcing all of our writing and we were actually spending too much money on editing the content so we were just losing money. It just didn’t work so we eventually pivoted to hiring our writers in-house, so we give the writer’s brief to the writer, they create all the content and we have our own scheduling software that we load up the social posts, the emails and the blogs into and then automatically post to the business’s channels.

So the short version is, if you know HootSuite or Buffer, it’s a HootSuite or Buffer that self fills with original strategic content.

Paul: Amazing, I think you know that’s the difference between what you guys are doing. I know for you there’s a lot of work upfront in looking at customer personas, working on the strategy, so you know typically what we’ve seen up until now is a lot of sort of fly-by-night companies that will, they’ll create content for you, it’s 70 cents a word or whatever.

Kimia: Thats right, yeah, well good I have a huge gripe against pricing per word, I think it’s garbage because it’s not natural right? So while we do have pricing in a word range, it is very rarely to that, like on our pricing page we say 550 to 750 words but they often end up around mid thousands but we we don’t even count it.

Paul: Sure and so you guys have been going since February like last year?

Kimia: So that was the idea, that was the original idea and then Rahul came on a month and a half after that because I remember we signed our co-founding agreement in May and then essentially it was us spinning our wheels for the first 8 months.

We were just trying to figure it out because we would say, okay you know what we’re just gonna build a social schedule, it’s gonna be our lead magnet and then the social scheduler took way too long to build because neither of us have technical backgrounds.

Paul: Yeah because I think when we first met you were still working on it.

Kimia: Thats right, yeah cuz I approached you for some advice, so we spun our wheels until then and we hadn’t even incorporated, we had a few paying customers but very very low. On August 17th 2016, that was the day that we incorporated and we invested,obviously the software aside, we put $300 into our incorporation documents like oh it’s real. It’s real now and we really started to figure things out then
because what we actually realized was there’s only so many ways to say look at me on social. If you don’t tell the audience where to go or what to do, calls to action/links, you have to pull them out of the social channels which is counterintuitive because we are platform dependent, if Facebook didn’t exist we’d have to find a new medium.

If you just post Facebook posts, that doesn’t actually do anything for you, so you have to post links and that’s what got us into blog and that’s what got us into SEO and it’s been growth since there. Then email obviously is another another channel that we use as well.

Paul: Yeah, so is the email like a digest of the blog post?

Kimia: Yeah, it can be a bunch of different things. We structure the content strategy around the business’s goal so if they’re looking for email signups we’ll add these calls to actions showing on the blog. We have a real estate app company that we work with and their whole goal is to drive email engagement from their subscribers back to the app so we’ll write you know here’s our two favorite blog posts, here’s the newest features of the app you can check them out here. Then we write the calls to action and then we can actually show them click maps of our content and we can see okay people are really responding to the blog because we have a 40% click-through rate, people aren’t really responding for this feature but people love online applications like a 90% click-through rate there and that’s really powerful to the business because then we can create content around that feature.

Paul: Obviously you know it’s a kind of SaaS like service you’ve got a tiered pricing model, so where does it start at and how far does it go?

Kimia: Yeah, so our pricing is actually very competitive and very easy.

We start at $300 a month and that’s an email newsletter, 15 social posts so it’s every other day and the way we pitch it is, if you want to add any social posts that’s a really nice balance, you also get access to the content marketing strategy and then we give you insights on analytics and all that stuff. Then you also get the software right and so that’s the base tier.

The next tier up from that is the two blog posts, 15 social posts and a email newsletter, so it’s four units of content which is $500 a month. Then the plan up from that is more blog posts where it’s a blog post a week so four blog posts, all your social channels so 15 Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and then an email newsletter and that’s $950 a month.

Paul: I think that’s incredible value, how do you, you know, do you limit the amount of words that you’re prepared to write because a blog post could be 300 words – 3000 words?

Kimia: Absolutely, yeah, so it really comes down to the goals of the customer and so based on the strategy and that’s another benefit of having our own writers is we can say this is the outline do some research around this, it’s not structured, you’re not trying to get 550 words.

Paul: So you’re all about adding value? Do you know what the length is? it’s the right length.

Kimia: It’s the right length, exactly. Yeah and so that’s kind of  how we think about it because you know we’ve seen businesses that we didn’t expect to see coming through our door and say hey we need help with content strategy, we need help with content marketing and we’ve actually done this exercise where we’ve mapped out what the cost would be to run it, to run Ghostit from zero to one of our plans and just to hire us.

What people don’t think about is the management time, if you’re gonna do it yourself you have to, you have to find the freelancer, you have to work out the appropriate rate, you have to give them the content strategy yourself, you then have to check in to see if they’re doing the deadlines. You have to get them to use one of these tools or publish it and so that’s at least you know anywhere from five to fifteen hours a month of just managing that person.

Paul: Its opportunity cost right?

Kimia: Exactly and so we’ve found a really nice blend where it’s not just a faceless piece of software, there’s a real person writing that content because and I’m sure you’ve seen this in the market right now there are so many pieces of software that help you send better email, that help you schedule all your social posts, that help you write SEO content. What if you don’t know how to write it? It doesn’t do anything for you.

What if you don’t have time to write an email newsletters? So Ghostit is that really nice blend of we have in-house writers and we have content coordinators that actually manage the content where it’s cheap
enough that it works really well and we also add value but it also pushes itself up with the software.

Paul: Fantastic, so maybe we should talk about the kind of companies that you’re working for, the kind of industries, on the face of it, the service you offer is so broad you could work for almost anyone?

Kimia: That’s right, which is actually a problem, it’s really bad for our marketing. So we do very well in real estate, I could not tell you why.

Paul: Did you just chance upon that?

Kimia: Yeah, I think it’s twofold, we do really well with real estate software and when I say really well like, all of our content is effective and it drives numbers up and it’s good but when I say really well a lot of real
estate companies come to us so we have a lot of property management companies, we have a lot of Realtors themselves.

Paul: So how are they hearing about you? Is this just word-of-mouth?

Kimia: I think it’s just content. So it’s cuz we obviously use Ghostit for ourselves, it would be very hypocritical if we didn’t. I think with Realtors, the reason why it makes sense to them or you know I could say business professionals as a whole is they’re busy running their thing, their practice, they don’t have time to sit down and create all their content themselves and they know they need to be online because if you think about the brokerage model right. You’re all in the same team but you’re competing against each other and so how do you say I’m better than you without saying I’m better than you? Your online presence and I think that’s why it works really well.

Brokerage companies, they understand the value of search and so that’s why they come to, the education bar is so low, people know what content is by now they know they need it and they just can’t execute properly and so I think that’s why they come to us as well.

Paul: Great, you guys have sort of built something from nothing.

Kimia: That’s right, we’re completely bootstrapped.

Paul: Yeah, product-market-fit and it’s all going great guns, so in terms of being really a very new SaaS business what insights have you gained? What have you learnt from the process, I mean probably alot but if you had to boil it down to something simple?

Kimia: That’s a tough question, yeah I would say and this is a little cliche but your team matters so
much, it’s so important to constantly edit and refine the team and make sure they’re the right fit because there’s no way I can run Ghostit by myself. It’s whether they’re a good culture fit, it’s whether they’re talented and you know, one of the things that we found is 1+1 employees or workers doesn’t necessarily equal 2. Its rarely the case, like it’ll never be that growth, it’s usually like 1+1 equals 1.5 and because we are a SaaS company a great developer is just like do everything you can to retain them.

I think we’ve built a really good culture around making sure that the team is valued and their input matters. I strongly believe in team Vito so when we bring someone on we have them meet the team and if anyone says no that’s obviously, that’s down to me to say like I’ve selected my team very carefully, I trust them. I trust my team implicitly because they are building my dream, they’re building something from nothing, I want to reward them for that.

Another insight that I’ve found is not everyone has the answer and it’s very easy to think that smart people have the answers to things but a great example of this is VCs anti portfolio right, if you look at all the great investments they’ve missed, VCs are obviously very smart people but they miss, They make bad decision.

So not every smart person has the answer right, just because someone says something that
sounds good doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right thing to do. We’ve actually done that, we’ve taken someone’s advice and we’ve implemented it and it took us a little bit of time to develop and it didn’t pan
out well, not to say that I knew the right answer. However, it’s counterintuitive because you should always seek feedback but always take it with grain of salt, it’s a really hard balance.

Paul: So one of the cool things that you did quite recently was your product hunt launch, do you wanna talk about that because I think you made a big splash in a short space of time.

Kimia: Yeah we did, we did really well and it was very fly by the seat of my pants kind of thing.

Paul: That must have been insightful as well because I think we talked about it before and you were telling me how it was a Friday night sort of thing.

Kimia: It was ridiculous, so to dive into search on a very surface level, backlinks are important so the more places you can get your link somewhere, it matters. ProductHunt is a very high domain authority website and I was like, you know what, we can serve some other customers you know let’s see what happens on ProductHunt and I was working out of a Starbucks on Friday night. It was like 6 p.m. and I was alone, so Rahul my co-founder he was getting engaged so he was away and the team was kind of doing their own thing and I was like you know what, it’ll be good, i’ll set it up, it will be fine.

Paul: What could possibly go wrong?

Kimia: Exactly, best-case scenario we get a good backlink, we get a couple sign ups no big deal. We were, in fact we still are running but we were running a trial at the time where it’s 15 social posts, it’s your month of social posts.

Paul: So you’re giving something away?

Kimia: That’s right, yeah because with content, content is subjective so you do have to give them something. You have to prove that you can write and it matters because essentially they’re lending us
their brand and we work with companies from big software companies to small to midsize businesses. In real estate, it’s been hard to pinpoint that down.

So we launched, I say what’s the worst that can happen? What can go wrong? So I launched it on ProductHunt, we have the sign up on the homepage get your month free of social posts and I write up the post and I submit it to ProductHunt. I emailed Ryan Hoover, the founder of ProductHunt, I say hey Ryan, congratulations on Ship, because he just launched his product called Ship, this is who I am this is Ghostit, we automate small to medium sized business’s online presence,  I would love to hit the front page. He responds within like three minutes ‘yeah, no worries’.

In retrospect Friday night is the worst time to launch on ProductHunt because no one’s on ProductHunt and I didn’t think about that and we designed the website and web flow so the notifications were triggered to go to Rahul’s phone and he was obviously out partying because he just go engaged. It’s in Webflows form, Webflow if you’re listening, your forms are bugged, the form submissions don’t show on the back end of the website.

Paul: What happens they just go straight to email notifications?

Kimia: That’s right, yeah which is not good. I finish up my work, I go home, I finished up a bit more work and then I go to sleep and I wake up in the morning and because I have no boundaries I immediately call Rahul and I say ‘Hey man congratulations, I’m stoked for you but, Ghostit’.

Paul: Yeah, guess what I did.

Kimia: Guess what I did, exactly and I call him like relatively early, he’s still pretty hungover and I’m like ‘dude we got like seven signups’ and he checks his phone he’s got 54 notifications from Webflow, he’s like, no man we have like 50 signups. I was like oh my god, what the heck so I immediately switch the notification to my phone right and we get 200 signups in 48 hours, we are the product of the day, it was insane, it was crazy.

One of the things that I did which may have helped is every time someone prominent up voted me on ProductHunt I would screenshot them with the upload and I would tweet at them and say hey you know Niv, well he up voted us, I said hey Niv thanks for the up vote and he liked that and that got us impress and a little bit of a network effect.

That probably helped but for the next month, just because our inbound was not nearly at the point of two hundred and forty eight hours, there’s no way and so we were kind of fielding through that and that’s actually what propelled us into all these other niches right and so now instead of just kind of like, we’re the
content automation company for Realty, we’re you know anywhere from software apps to massive software companies.

Paul: So it allowed you to kind of test the business in a whole lot of different sectors, smart move.

Kimia: Exactly, yeah it was phenomenal, yeah well I can take all the credit it was completely intentional.

Paul: It was thanks to Starbucks Coffee.

Kimia: It was thanks to Starbucks, yeah, our addresses is 3 fan tan alley you can send free gift cards. Yeah
and you know it’s funny because our initial office for Ghostit was Starbucks. Before we had office space we worked out of Starbucks.

Paul: Man maybe that Starbucks is on a lay line or something magical.

Kimia: I know, we should move back to that Starbucks, it was great cuz that was the same Starbucks because we worked out of Starbucks for six months like that was our office. We just hustled, it was great. Now obviously we’re still hustling, it’s been crazy, it’s be a wild ride and we’re still growing tremendously quickly.

Paul: Yeah, so as I alluded to earlier you’re a young guy, I think you’re still in college technically?

Kimia: Ah, unfortunately, yes unfortunately I am so I am studying Economics while also running Ghostit and I have 10 classes left and and I know University is important. So my dad is an immigrant from Iran and he is very ‘get your degree’, still to this day, Ghostit is doing well like no joke, but it’s not good enough for him.

So here’s the story so, my dad works in a software security and it was his birthday the other day, we were at a Japanese restaurant and I was telling him like ‘dad, 40% month-over-month growth’, anyone who heard that, that’s really good and so he’s like son that’s great, how’d your mid-term go? I’m like yeah but listen to all these things going on at Ghostit, he’s like here’s what you should do, you should get your degree, get your MBA and go work in the valley for another company.

I’m like I have my own company, what are you thinking? I’ve leapfrogged like three of those steps. I’m finishing, I have plans to finish up the degree, I do see the value in economics and I know that being classical trained is important but I’m at the point now where Ghostit is so all-encompassing that I’m taking minimal class, right now I’m only in 2 per semester so it’s a slow grind.

Paul: So over this whole journey, obviously you’ve learnt a lot about business, a lot about SaaS, some economics, what would you say, for you and your career development so far has been the biggest personal growth insight? Do you have a habit, something to sharpen your mental saw?

Kimia: Yeah much to the chagrin of my girlfriend I am constantly plugged in, podcasts, audiobooks, I’m always reading.

I just really enjoy learning about how we can improve Ghostit so whether it’s search, email marketing, social marketing, I just love the space, I’m genuinely interested in seeing what other people are doing.

That and put your ego aside because when I first started, my attitude was that I can do this, it’ll be fine and then you get beat down and beat down again and beat down again and you can’t, you cannot have a big ego and also be unbelievably resilient. The best way I would describe myself is I’m unbelievably persistent and unbelievably resilient, I will grind and grind until I get there and you just got to check your ego because you don’t know everything. There are so many people who know so much more than you and the best way to build a great company is to learn everything from everyone else and then apply it.

Yeah and be prepared to learn from anyone, it doesn’t matter what level people are at or what door they come in through, there’s always stuff you can learn. Everyone has something to teach you, so try and be open minded, that would be my mindset that’s helped me tremendously.

Paul: Fantastic, Kimia thank you very much for being one of our first guests on this podcast.

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Kimia, for more info on Ghostit please visit www.ghostit.co

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Kimia Hamidi is Co-founder of rapidly growing content automation SaaS company Ghostit. He's also still a student finishing up a degree in Economics. How and why did Kimia get started in SaaS? And what did he learn in bootstrapping Ghostit from nothing ... Kimia Hamidi is Co-founder of rapidly growing content automation SaaS company Ghostit. He's also still a student finishing up a degree in Economics. How and why did Kimia get started in SaaS? And what did he learn in bootstrapping Ghostit from nothing to becoming Product Hunt product of the day? 47 Insights yes 26:00
Ep. 6: Building a WordPress Killer With Craig Fitzpatrick https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-6-wordpress-killer-craig-fitzpatrick/ Mon, 19 Mar 2018 13:53:00 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=754 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-6-wordpress-killer-craig-fitzpatrick/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-6-wordpress-killer-craig-fitzpatrick/feed/ 0 As the Founder and CEO of visual website builder PageCloud, Craig Fitzpatrick is on a mission to make building a website a truly joyous experience that anyone can do. But is a superior product enough to beat off the likes of SquareSpace, Weebly and Wix? How can PageCloud scale and own the growing 'I hate WordPress' segment? SaaS Marketing Insights, Episode 6: Craig Fitzpatrick, PageCloud

As the Founder and CEO of visual website builder PageCloud, Craig Fitzpatrick is on a mission to make building a website a truly joyous experience that anyone can do. But is a superior product enough to beat off the likes of SquareSpace, Weebly and Wix? How can PageCloud scale and own the growing ‘I hate WordPress’ segment?

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


Episode 6 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Craig Fitzpatrick, founder and CEO of drag-and-drop website builder: PageCloud.

I’m pleased to have with me today here at SaaS North: Craig Fitzpatrick CEO of PageCloud.

Founder and CEO?

Craig: Founder and CEO, yeah.

Paul: Excellent, but this is not your first business?

Craig: No, I’m a lifer, I was a child nerd, started writing code when I was about nine years old and knew
at a young age that I wanted to do this professionally and quit school, not that I think everyone should do that but that’s what I did and I started working professionally when I was 19.

Now fast forward a bunch of years, I won’t tell you exactly how many but PageCloud is the seventh startup that I’ve been a part of. Second time as a founder, the first five I would consider my apprentice years
where I worked for the founders and learned the ropes before deciding to start my own.

Paul: So you learnt on someone else’s money?

Craig: Exactly yeah.

Paul: Great and PageCloud is relatively new I guess right? You’ve been going since 2014?

Craig: Yeah September 1st 2014 we opened our doors, the first year was R&D so we’ve been in market with a product for just a hair over two years now I think.

Paul: Wow, so tell me what the genesis of PageCloud is, what problem were you looking to solve that
other people weren’t already solving? Because you’re in a crowded space right?

Craig: I know exactly, it was the problem that I affectionately refer to as the ‘I hate WordPress problem’, Which is that WordPress obviously was a miracle in its day, it’s probably a 10 or 15 year old product now and it powers a good chunk of the internet I think we all know that but it can be a frustrating experience.

It’s one that unfortunately is out of reach of a lot of people, you have to be pretty technical to do it yourself or you have to hire someone which can be expensive and time prohibitive and so I was like everybody using a WordPress site to run another small business and every time I wanted to make a small change like moving an image one inch to the right I wanted to shoot myself.

So I thought there had to be a better way. It started very organically as a hobby I went home and I drew a red box in a browser because I was a technical guy and I thought I wonder how it feels if I could just write some code and make me drag it in one inch to the right and so I did that and I said that felt really good, I wonder if I can just type and make a text object and that felt really good too. It just kept going, evenings and weekends I put this little prototype together and started showing it to people around the time I was winding down another company and they started losing their minds and I thought okay here we go again there’s another startup.

Paul: You scratched another inch that you had and you found a lot of other people had it too.

Craig: A lot of other people, I think we were in the midst of, not the midst, probably the beginning still
of a very big sea change from putting stuff on the web being the domain of experts and professionals, agencies and so forth and programmers to what I will call the do-it-yourself era. Which is very much like desktop publishing went through, you remember back in the day. You know I used to marvel at dot matrix printers and programs like Paint, Shop Pro and people would just love printing out their own happy
birthday cards or whatever and they were.

The power of it, you felt like god and it was awesome and I think that we just live in a different time now where the web is truly the greatest medium that we’ve ever known. It’s replaced paper, essentially it’s
just a new medium but the tools to create and publish online, I would call them almost like printing presses, a lot of work to get them set up to print out, to build a page. It really should just be drag and drop and so we’re gonna usher that in.

Paul: Cool, I’m glad someone is.

So, you’ve got Wicks and Squarespace you compete with those guys?

Craig: Yeah absolutely, I would say you know Wicks, Squarespace, WordPress are probably the top three, there’s a few others in there like Weebly which has a pretty good user base but more specifically, it’s really just us and Wix I think right now that are the serious product contenders in what I will call the visual design category.

Everyone else like your WordPress, your Squarespace, Weebly etc are very much template driven, they’re very CMS database driven and so you start with a template you fill in the blanks, you feel really good right up until that point where you want to change something and then you get very frustrated and so between us and Wix we both let you do this. You know, Wix is a very large company, they’re a public company, they’re probably pushing 10 years old or 12 years old now and we have the advantage of a fresh set of
eyes so we’re the new kids on the block.

Paul: You’re the underdogs, you gotta root for the underdog right?

Craig: Exactly and we have the luxury of starting over and so we asked ourselves, ok so there’s some tech out there and it kind of works but if we start it over with a blank sheet of paper, what is the tool of our dreams and that’s what we started building.

Paul: Wow! So you build your dream. Build it and they will come right?

Craig: Yeah, well you got to figure out how to market it too, but yeah.

Paul: Yeah so that’s the key. So how are you going to tackle a business like Wix? I don’t know whether you’ll win customers from them or is the market big enough, there’s plenty of people coming into it so you’ll just find your your segment, how is your value prop different from theirs?

Craig: So there’s few questions in there, from a market point of view it’s an absolutely massive market, Wix I’ve read a study a year ago or something, I think they were saying they had between four and six percent market share so they’re still kind of the baby too.

We live in a WordPress world so far and it’s us all trying to be the next WordPress right, even maybe Squarespace doesn’t say that because they’re probably sort of comparable but I think Wix and us would say that. It’s a massively growing market too there’s still only half the world’s businesses that are on the web and so you’d think that everybody who needs a website already has one, that’s not the case. We’ve partnered with domain guys like Tucows and they tell us that their data shows that the consumption of new domain names is not only increasing, linearly but it’s accelerating so we’re still in this growth phase of putting content on the web. It is a big world and we could build a very large billion-dollar business just pulling in new customers that have never had a website.

Now as it turns out, of course companies do get displaced and we get a bunch of our customers, I think 40% of our customers actually come from WordPress so these are people who have tried it got frustrated with this CMS experience and wanted to have a visual design experience. We also pull some customers from Squarespace and from Wix of course. At the end of the day it’s all about, technically we all do
the same thing, we all put things on the internet for you but it’s about what is the experience going to be like for you as a user. While doing that and what we obsess over is making that a joyous experience, free to be creative.

That’s our secret sauce, that’s what we focus on.

Paul: Yeah so WordPress, I’ve been using WordPress since 2007 and I still can’t believe that it hasn’t changed that much in that time, I know they’ve got this Project Gutenberg that they’re working on, it sounds like they’re hinting about making it more drag-and-drop but they’ve got quite a lot of legacy there that they just can’t reinvent themselves in the same way that a new player can.

Craig: Right and so that’s the challenge, when you become successful you create your own legacy and that’s a double-edged sword and as I said, we have the benefit of starting from a blank sheet of paper and so we just get to imagine what it should be like.

Paul: Great, thanks for filling me in or bringing me up speed on PageCloud, I knew a little bit about it but I think I have to probably get my feet wet.

Craig: It’s one of those things you literally have to try it.

It’s totally experiential, people ask me all the time how are you different, so for example, what I usually tell them is you’ll see, just try it, there’s a free trial there. It’s one of those things that you just feel. I use all sorts of analogies like cars for example. Technically all cars do the same thing, four wheels, a trunk, they’ll get you from point A to point B. Some car companies sell on specs so they’ll sell on gas mileage or performance but at the end of the day what most people make a purchase decision on is how that car makes them feel, is this the one I want to own? Is this the one I want to drive every day?

Paul: That’s great I hadn’t thought about it like that. Can I ask you something, so you said about
the free trial how long is your free trial in terms of what duration?

Craig: It’s two weeks.

Paul: Yeah okay, did you try different time scales because I speak to a lot of businesses and work with SaaS businesses and it’s always like well what’s the ideal length, you know everybody seems to do 14/15 days but nobody seems to talk about the science behind that.

Craig: Yeah I assume there is a whole science behind it, we haven’t experimented on that yet, we experiment on a lot of different things, we’re a very metrics driven company and we look at those metrics as our scorecard to tell us how good are we at making this tool that our customers absolutely love. It’s funny, I was just at a talk earlier today, at the conference here about the difference between a start-up and a scale-up and the different things you focus on and there’s a sort of order to it. So before you were so much about optimizing little things like boost the price a dollar or take it down a dollar or take your trial from two weeks to three weeks to four weeks or whatever. You really want to make sure that you’ve got the core experience right and then you start tweaking.

Paul: So the product has to achieve product market fit, the products got to be right, it’s got to deliver on the promise and then the rest is conversion rate optimization.

Craig: Exactly, so that’s not to say that we haven’t done a bunch of that. We’ve had our marketing programs running for the last two years and we A/B test messaging and graphics and audience building and all sorts of things but there’s still things left to do, price testing and trial testing a whole bunch of other things so it’s a never-ending journey.

Paul: Yeah, it’s just iteration. So, on that journey of changing things, have you come across something in there in the course of your marketing experiments that bombed terribly or work fantastically and then you dug a bit deeper into that?

Craig: Good question, we have certainly tried a bunch of things that we haven’t been able to make work yet. Our history is that we entered the market doing a lot of advertising paid digital, Facebook, Google etc. A lot of startups they go right in for content, organic marketing which can be a great channel and what I find most people don’t realize and I have a very strong opinion on this, is that, it isn’t necessarily that one channel is better than the other it’s that they act and behave differently.

We chose paid advertising to pull us into the market because of its rapid gestation period, so we can wake up at nine o’clock in the morning and run an experiment. Then by 9:00a.m. the next day we know if it worked.

Did we get the creative right? Did we send it to the right people? Etc, etc and we pay for that knowledge and you do that like a hundred times before you start to figure things out. Then as you’re starting to transition into the scale phase company, well then you’re looking at unit economics like how much does it
cost me to acquire each customer and so forth and so other channels can be better, content marketing for example tends to be a channel where it’s a heavier push up front to get going, it’s the gift that keeps on giving once you get it going. You can build an audience and that can sustain you but because we knew that we had a lot to figure out, we wanted that rapid turnaround, now that we’re on more sure footing we’re starting to feel pretty good about what our customers are telling us.

We’ve got a stable base, we’re starting to shift gears now and diversify from paid acquisition to
organic acquisition and the Holy Grail of course is you get your product experience so good that customers start pulling you in to the market.

Paul: Yeah, it’s just brand awareness then, they find you because they already know about you. That’s
great and that’s not a typical path that I hear about.

So are you guys bootstraped or?

Craig: No, we’re venture funded and we’ve done a few small rounds leading up to a series A last summer so about a year and half ago.

Paul: Okay so that’s how you paid for the ads?

Craig: Yeah, exactly, well we also had a gangbusters presale campaign and this is something else that not a lot of companies do but I think SaaS is one of those businesses that’s ideally suited for this.

When I say presale campaign what I mean is basically a Kickstarter where you have a demo of a product you have a vision, you know that when you launch you’re going to be able to come come up with some sort of perks or gifts or something to reward these people who are essentially getting this founder status kind of thing. So we  did one of those because we were finalists at a show called TechCrunch which you’ve probably heard of and so that got us this kind of Big Bang moment.

The funny thing about big traditional, not that their traditional media, but media blitz, is that you’re famous for 24 hours and then nothing. So sustaining it is up to you but we used that to push out a pre-sale campaign and we offered a two-thirds discount to people who signed up early. Six months early in fact because we were going to launch six months from then and we said we’ll give you two-thirds off if you buy now, we’ll give you early access to new upgrades and so forth and a few other perks.

We pre-sold, I forget how many customers it was but it was around $1.6 million Canadian at a $99 price point. So when we opened our doors on launch day, or not launch day but when the product was finally done, we were in revenue, we had figured out at least a good chunk of our marketing game.

Paul: Why don’t more people do it, it’s ballsy though.

Craig: Yeah it is, it forces you to think through some important things like I believe you should start marketing six months before you put out a product because if you wait until the day the products ready, now you’ve got a six month lag time to figure that out and you’re a sitting duck. You’re probably burning cash, people who are watching you after the big launch and expecting things to blow up they think you’re failing and it’s not that you’re failing, it’s that it takes six months to ramp so time it so that you ramp six months in advance.

Paul: Now that is a great marketing insight.

One more question for you, this time around personal growth insights. So you’ve been a founder, started many businesses, you’ve learned a lot on your journey, I just wondered if there was a habit or something you do to make sure that you don’t let it all get on top of you because it’s really easy to just be responding to emails at 3:00 a.m. and all that crazy shit. So what’s your way of coping, how do you make sure that you keep work-life balance and a good mental and physical state?

Craig: I don’t know if there’s one silver bullet but there’s a few that come to mind as you ask that question and i’ve definitely learned some things about how to keep going because it is hard and it can swallow you whole.

One thing for example is, I feel, from what I’ve read I feel like it’s a little bit like being a stock car driver,
apparently these guys have to be in peak physical condition because driving a car at 200 miles an hour around a track is very physically demanding, I’ve never tried it personally but I’ve read about it. So making sure you get the right amount of sleep, that you workout, treat your body right, watch your diet, all these things just to literally stay healthy.

That’s one thing that’s foundational, the other thing I find is that as you get so busy especially as the company starts to grow and you’ve got a bunch of employees and high stakes and everything I don’t know what they call this, I’m sure there’s a term for it but you tend to feel guilty. If you’re not sort of running, ticking things off the to-do list every single day for as many hours of the day as you can and what I found is that’s a trap.

Especially if you’re a leader, if you’re a CEO/founder. You have to carve out chunks of time to just think and because you’re getting all this sensory input from all different directions, you don’t have enough time to process it. You cannot and so it’s a danger that you can run really really fast in the wrong direction if you don’t pause for a moment put your head up look around and say am I even going in the right direction.

So that would be another one and then maybe a third one would be a single person doesn’t scale so you
have to choose your generals very carefully. The people that you’re going to delegate to and trusts your crown jewels with essentially.

Paul: Craig, thank you very much for coming on the show.

For more info on page cloud please visit www.pagecloud.com

 

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As the Founder and CEO of visual website builder PageCloud, Craig Fitzpatrick is on a mission to make building a website a truly joyous experience that anyone can do. But is a superior product enough to beat off the likes of SquareSpace, As the Founder and CEO of visual website builder PageCloud, Craig Fitzpatrick is on a mission to make building a website a truly joyous experience that anyone can do. But is a superior product enough to beat off the likes of SquareSpace, Weebly and Wix? How can PageCloud scale and own the growing 'I hate WordPress' segment? 47 Insights yes 18:48
Ep. 5: Igniting SaaS in Canada With Jamie Petten https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-5-igniting-saas-startups-canada-jamie-petten/ Mon, 12 Mar 2018 13:00:45 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=739 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-5-igniting-saas-startups-canada-jamie-petten/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-5-igniting-saas-startups-canada-jamie-petten/feed/ 0 Four years ago Jamie Petten was lying on a beach in Jamaica pondering her next professional challenge having successfully launched a boutique hotel there. She now heads up marketing at Ottawa based accelerator L-Spark and is also one of the co-founders behind Canada's leading software conference, SaaS North. What did she learn on her journey from hospitality to SaaS marketer? SaaS Marketing Insights, Episode 5: Jamie Petten, L-Spark and SaaS North

Four years ago Jamie Petten was lying on a beach in Jamaica pondering her next professional challenge having successfully launched a boutique hotel there. She now heads up marketing at Ottawa based accelerator L-Spark and is also one of the co-founders behind Canada’s leading software conference, SaaS North. What did she learn on her journey from hospitality to SaaS marketer?

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com

 


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Episode 5 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Jamie Petten, Co-founder at SaaS north and director of marketing at L-spark, I hope you enjoy it.

Today I’m very pleased to have Jamie Petten who’s director of marketing for L-Spark which is a incubator/accelerator?

Jamie: We are an accelerator, we work exclusively with B2B and enterprise SaaS companies across Canada to help them scale revenues from about $10K to $30K in MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) to 10x, to over 100k MRR in our 9 month program.

Paul: Wow and so how long has L-Spark been going? How long have you been with L-Spark?

Jamie: So I was part of the founding team. L-Spark was founded three years ago and so we are just in
the process of working with our fourth cohort with 36 companies in the portfolio.

Paul: Wow, so is it cohorts of twelve?

Jamie: Depends, each year we go through a heavy vetting and selection process where our business development team will reach out to the Canadian SaaS community and entrepreneurs that are interested in joining the accelerator program. We hold office hours with them and then we actually bring in a majority of the investment community across Canada. So lots of the VCs that you see here today at SaaS North, whether it’s BDC or Anova or Whitecap and we ask the men and women from those firms to make a selection on our behalf.

Then it’s double vetted and we’re ensured that we’re working with a high potential group of companies and then we’re off to the races for nine months helping them to grow revenues and then subsequently raising investment if all goes well.

Paul: If there are any SaaS founders/startups out there, what criteria other than the stage that they’re at? I don’t expected you to go through the whole criteria but is there any kind of shortcut tips or pointers you can give?

Jamie: Yeah, so I think just basics: Canadian and B2B or enterprise software, we don’t really play in the consumer SaaS space and then from stage perspective as long as the companies have a product in market and they have found product market fit.

We really come into play to provide insight and an aggressive mentorship model that will help the companies to create month over month growth in their sales process. So as long as there’s some early sales we can then help them to find repeatability.

Paul: So how long is the program?

Jamie: The program is nine months and so we’ll work with the companies in a concentrated, high touch way, over the course of the 9 months to help them get to their goals, typically we’ll bring in, we will always bring in a mentor, our mentors are seasoned execs from the tech and SaaS based across Canada who are
dedicated one to one for the whole nine months.

Yeah and so those companies have a unique opportunity to really embed that mentor into the company and get them to pull up their socks and do a bit of work on their behalf as well. They build a plan from the top down on where do they want to be and what do they want to change nine months from now. Then we work backwards to keep them accountable to the plan so we slap them around a little bit with weekly operational review meetings but it’s all for their benefit.

When you’re in a high growth scale company and you’ve brought in enough revenue to indicate that investment is a good idea. Founders then have to become accountable to a board and so we’re trying to get them in the cadence of accountability even in advance of bringing in any venture.

Paul: No that’s great and it’s so important because there’s no point having the best product in the world if you can’t find a way to run the business side of it properly.

So you haven’t always been in SaaS, have you? If we back up, what were you doing before you joined L-Spark?

Jamie: So three and a half years ago I was lying on a beach in Jamaica.

Paul: That sounds terrible.

Jamie: It was an awful job, i hated it, especially in the winter time. No so prior to L-Spark I spent four years launching and growing a boutique hotel in Negril, Jamaica and so to say that I was not in tech and SaaS is a gross understatement. It was a huge learning curve for me to understand the community and the players within the community. I came into my L-Spark role but at the same time my role encompassed everything from building out operations, marketing, sales and business development and even some investment with the business development, Bank of Canada, the National Bank of Jamaica and some angel investors and what I realized over the course of the time is SaaS is an underpinning to operating any healthy business.

So all things kind of came full circle for me.

Paul: So what persuaded you to leave your Jamaican Beach dream job and come to cold Ottawa?

Jamie: Yeah I think what I was so passionate about in the four years that I was in Jamaica is the experience of building a business from the ground up and there were key lessons that I learned along the way, once we got to the point of full occupancy and healthy sales, I just started to get really bored and I wanted to work with startups again and get my hands dirty in growing and building a new venture.

Paul: So you’re a marketer that’s always looking for a fresh challenge, you’ve been there and done that. The interesting thing about your situation is you’ve had 3 cohorts, 36 SaaS startups, you must have seen, just in that short time, you must have had some insights into the way that these companies can grow and grow quite quickly because that’s what you guys do.

Jamie: Yeah and I think landing back even to the time that I was in Jamaica, so the project itself was a six million dollar project but from a marketing perspective we did not have any marketing spend.

Paul: Nice, zero budget marketing.

Jamie: Yeah, zero budget marketing and the beauty of the property.

So we were really scrappy in the early days and there were some things that I learned along the way, just in terms of creating discoverability right at the onset so it’s not really enough just to pop up a landing page or pop up a website and build it and they will come. We recognized very early on that we needed to get out to third party sites and have our brand there. So we were very early in adopting TripAdvisor as that first point of contact and we built out the sales all from an inbound perspective. In order to do that the first thing we did was work on our customer experience and customer experience for us in Jamaica equaled brand.

So the more that our hotel attendees were enjoying the experience, the more that they were rating us higher on TripAdvisor. We ended up becoming the number one hotel in TripAdvisor in Jamaica, still to this day.

Paul: So is there something to learn from that maybe for SaaS companies that it’s about customer experiences, it’s about creating a brand with great values that looks after customers from the start?

Jamie: I think so, yeah and I think that we’ve recognized that with our portfolio companies. They found product market fit and they have a few early adopters for them to really concentrate on, those customers and their experience. Then subsequently you’re leveraging them as advocates within their industry to bring in new customers and that’s what we did in Jamaica and it worked really well.

What it help to do though is to also build up the credibility of our brand so that we could access channel. As a private property in that country it wasn’t easy for us to get on the online tour operators like Expedia and Booking.com in the early days and we were being vetted and vetted and it’s very similar for our class companies.

Paul: Nobody knows you, nobody cares.

Jamie: Yeah, nobody knows you, you’re trying to make sales any way you can just to keep the team fed. It’s all about the hustle. Exactly, but those channels, if you do it right are vetting you and so building that brand through the customer experience enabled us the credibility to get onto channel and once we got onto channel it was an instant influx, as many SaaS companies would say an influx of customers and at that point it’s all operations and ensuring you can keep the boat afloat.

Paul: So day to day, what does your role at L-Spark encompass? is it working with these startups or is it just spreading the good word about what you guys do?

Jamie: it’s been a combination of both, we ourselves have been building a brand and also building out our customer experience. So in our three years we’ve worked really closely with our startups to ensure success for them but we take a portfolio approach in terms of the companies that we work with and know that the stretch goals that we’re creating for them, not all of them will meet but a select few will.

So my role has encompassed everything from building of the L-Spark brand and the building of the SaaS community that we see here, to the founding of SaaS North conference.

Paul: We haven’t even talked about SaaS enough yet.

Jamie: One thing that I think we have learned at L-Spark, from a SaaS marketing perspective, we, in
building our community have created amazing events and subsequently as those events have created a lot of great content but to create content is not enough, distribution is everything.

So I think we’re really starting to solve that problem for ourselves by way of bringing in an excellent community manager who’s just like living and breathing online to get our content out there and now leveraging the community that we do have to share.

Paul: That’s great, that sounds like you’re really motoring and you know the reputation, I mean we’ve never met before but what I see of L-Spark online, it’s just really proactive and there’s a lot going on, it comes across really well, that’s great.

So shall we talk about SaaS North?

Jamie: Sure, this is where we are today.

Paul: Yeah so tell me the the backstory to SaaS North because it’s only 2 years old?

Jamie: Yeah, this is our second conference, so two and a half years ago, Leo, Pat and I, we might have been driving to a conference ourselves but we were talking about how we had just attended SaaStr and we were very impressed with the community that Jason was building in San Francisco, however the content and the delegation was extremely US centric. We didn’t see a lot of Canadian success stories making their way to the stage and there are some amazing ones as we’ve seen here at the conference.

So we started to talk about our own Canadian SaaS ecosystem and then many successes that span across the country whether it’s Hootsuite out in Vancouver or Real Matters now in Toronto, Shopify in Ottawa and so those are the big exits or privately listed companies but there’s a groundswell of startups and midsize companies that we engaged with and interact with all the time and what we thought was, how can we bring everybody together form our Canadian community to shine a light on what’s happening north of the border in our ecosystem. Also to educate the SaaS companies that are growing up now with tactical strategies through the content that is delivered through the conference.

There are a lot of startup conferences that focus on entrepreneurship and starting a company and being a founder, we wanted to go a layer deeper from that and really dig into digital marketing, inbound and outbound, customer success, product management so that these founders could arm their teams with these tactical strategies they would need to succeed here.

Paul: So there’s three of you in the car, you talk about this, decide it’s a good idea and then you just make it happen?

Jamie: Well no, not quite. We didn’t do it on our own at all. We started a steering committee so one of our lessons learned and what we encourage even our companies to do is create an advisory board and bring together the leaders in the industry to help shape the direction of where this should go and gain feedback of what they’re wanting to learn. So our initial steering committee came together two and a half years ago, we hit the ground running, really quickly actually, we had multiple speakers confirmed, sponsorship confirmed but what we didn’t have was any production expertise. So Cube Business Media came in as a partner of ours in our first year.

Paul: That’s a smart move, outsource the stuff you don’t know about.

Jamie: yeah, and what they’ve been able to do is create a quality experience for our community so that all of the details are left to them and the delegates can just enjoy meeting one another and learning from the speakers and so they’ve enabled us to really scale the conference.

Paul: So it’s Wednesday, it’s the first day today, the end of the first day, that’s why we look so tired, it’s nothing to do with the late night drinks. You’re just two years in so where do you see it going? you’re already planning next year, I think you’ve got the early bird tickets out?

Jamie: Yeah, I’m sure we do, Cube is way ahead of the curve on every front.

Paul: How do you see it developing?

Jamie: Well I think twofold, we of course want to grow the community and grow the audience here at SaaS North and grow the delegation. I think we’ve hit a good critical mass of the players in the Canadian SaaS ecosystem, how can we now bring in others from around the world on mass, to learn from our Canadian success stories and provide their feedback. So I think growing this community here in person as well as growing our online community, so I was mentioning before distribution is everything.

We have all of this amazing content, video content, blog content and Erin Blaskie our community manager is just in the process right now pulling all of that together into a publication: Voice of The North. So I’d really love to see our delegation live and breathe online through the content throughout the year.

So it’s not just an annual event but it’s an ongoing dialogue with everybody in the SaaS market in Canada, and beyond.

Paul: So, experienced, professional marketer, now with SaaS expertise, is there one thing that, or maybe a couple of thing that you do to make sure that you don’t burn out, that you balance your professional work and your life.

Jamie: It’s great question and a timely one. I personally recently had a health scare and I think it’s put a lot into perspective, everything’s fine but I think for me I’m getting better at just taking the time to take breaks, reflect and pause. As a founder in any startup or being a part of a startup team, the hustle and the grind, if you’re in the right company and you’re really enjoying it, it’s thrilling and we all live and breathe
growing companies. At the same time, I think it has really resonated with me now more than ever that we have to keep ourselves healthy and build ourselves up before we can put our best foot forward into the companies we’re building.

Paul: So, do you do yoga or run or?

Jamie: Hot yoga every once in a while. It just clears the head and sets me right for the day. In addition to that, just taking small breaks throughout the day to have a glass of water and think about how things are going.

I really do try, not for the full weekends but at least on a Sunday to just shut off and enjoy the time with my family and my friends.

Paul: I’ve put that question today to four or five founder/CEOs, it’s amazing and I think a testament to Canada really that the old view of working 18 hour days and crushing it, is being seen finally as unrealistic and people are trying to balance stuff out because we all know where that leads eventually.

Jamie: Yeah and i think business happens throughout the day, you know, 24 hours a day and now more then ever, in a cloud-based business environment it’s easy to continue working and the nine-to-five just is not a reality but being able to, as I said take breaks, take a step back anytime intermittently throughout the day, I think it’s really key and important to keeping a fresh and healthy mind.

Paul: Great, well it’s great to see you, great to meet you and I’m glad the health scare is over, thanks very much for putting up with us here at SaaS North.

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Jamie, for more info on the SaaS North conference please visit www.saasnorth.com for more info on L-Spark please visit www.l-spark.com

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Four years ago Jamie Petten was lying on a beach in Jamaica pondering her next professional challenge having successfully launched a boutique hotel there. She now heads up marketing at Ottawa based accelerator L-Spark and is also one of the co-founders... Four years ago Jamie Petten was lying on a beach in Jamaica pondering her next professional challenge having successfully launched a boutique hotel there. She now heads up marketing at Ottawa based accelerator L-Spark and is also one of the co-founders behind Canada's leading software conference, SaaS North. What did she learn on her journey from hospitality to SaaS marketer? 47 Insights yes 19:55
Ep. 4: Oli Gardner Reveals The Three Big Unbounce Bets for 2018 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-4-oli-gardner-reveals-three-big-unbounce-bets-2018/ Mon, 05 Mar 2018 16:30:42 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=733 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-4-oli-gardner-reveals-three-big-unbounce-bets-2018/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-4-oli-gardner-reveals-three-big-unbounce-bets-2018/feed/ 0 Unbounce is betting big in 2018 by redefining its products, markets and technology all at the same time. Co-Founder Oli Gardner reveals the company's plans to bust out of the landing page niche and expand into new accounts while improving adoption and chasing higher lifetime value and lower churn. All aboard the Unbounce rollercoaster for the ride of your life! SaaS Marketing Insights, Episode 4: Oli Gardner, Unbounce

Unbounce is betting big in 2018 by redefining its products, markets and technology all at the same time. Co-Founder Oli Gardner reveals the company’s plans to bust out of the landing page niche and expand into new accounts while improving adoption and chasing higher lifetime value and lower churn. All aboard the Unbounce rollercoaster for the ride of your life!

Recorded at SaaS North, November 2017. Sorry about the awful sound! All recordings after this are lovely to listen to (we promise).

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


Episode 4 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Oli Gardner, Co-founder at Unbounce. Oli and I talked before he gave his keynote on data-driven design at SaaS North. Hope you enjoy it.

Welcome to the show and welcome to SaaS North Oli.

Oli: Thank you for having me on Paul. This is awesome.

Paul: So you’re the headline set in gig terms tomorrow. How do you feel about that?

Oli: It’s great, it’s always a little bit risky being the last, people get tired and they just want to go to the bar, so we’ll see if it’s still full.

Paul: Are you going to talk about something new and exciting because you guys have got a lot of big news at the moment?

Oli: Yeah, i’m talking about data driven design, which is two kind of parts. First part is it’s about  dysfunctional marketing teams because I see that nobody works.

Paul: There’s a ton of those.

Oli: Well there’s a lot, they’re everywhere so I want to fix that and part of that is an optimization, free market upgrade called data driven design.

Paul: Is that the spreadsheet thing that you showed us? It was a work in progress then.

Oli: Yes it’s a lot more, back then it was just a slide, now it’s an actual tool that I built to run projects and just to help gain access to the data you should be looking at when you’re working on a project.

Paul: That’s fantastic, I’m really looking forward to finding out more about that when it’s ready. So, you guys just brought out the landing page testing tool?

Oli: The landing page analyzer.

Paul: Has that got AI in it or is that smoke and mirrors?

Oli: No, some of it is leveraging our AI, so there are two portions in there that do, the main one is the analysis so it looks at our machine learning algorithm and what it’s learned from things like word count and reading ease. Which of some of the things that it uses. In the pure sense the algorithm can look at any page and just based on the copy analysis alone, know with any % certainty whether it’s going to be a high performer or low performer.

Paul: Wow!

Oli: Based on the comparison to hundreds of thousands of other pages.

So we do a fun kind of marketer verses machine which we did at CTA conference. Not that well, no actually it was me when I did it at the beginning it was terrible. When we have the audience doing it, it was great.

Paul: Yeah no, I didn’t do it, I don’t know who won that but they must have been pretty good, I got nowhere near.

Oli: Yeah it’s difficult to out predict the machine.

Paul: So lots of other developments at Unbounce, you guys continue to grow, you’ve got an office in Berlin now?

Oli: We do yeah, we wanted to get over to Europe, we have a lot of European customers who want customer access to be there for support hours. Also We’re doing a lot of international marketing so we do German, Portuguese and Spanish, translate all our content.

Paul: Wow! So you’re a Co-Founder, I can’t remember the name of your fellow founder. I know it’s terrible, I did meet him at your Call To Action Conference.

Oli: We have 6 Co-Founders so you can’t be blamed for not knowing all their names.

Rick Perreault the CEO, that’s probably who you’re thinking of.

Paul: I met Rick yeah, we had a chat, he’s a nice guy.

So you guys got started way back when?

Oli: August 14th, 2009.

Paul: Indelibly marked in the back of your mind. So you’ve had quite a meteoric rise in a short space of time, it doesn’t probably feel like a short space of time.

Oli: No, it’s definitely the longest job I’ve ever had.

Paul: So what were you doing before you guys started Unbounce?

Oli: I started way back. Well I was horribly misled in high school and ended up doing a degree in electronic communication engineering.

So I’m technically an engineer, then I did a masters, part of it in digital electronic like semiconductor. Total waste of time but in part of that I learned how to code. So my first job I was working in London financial district as a pretty hardcore back end coder. That was not for me, I was good at it but not quite good enough.

Paul: Did you wear a suit?

Oli: Yeah! A 3-piece. I remember when I started my first job in London and my boss was like okay ‘you look way better than all of us’ we have to get you down to some of our customers before you ruin the suit. Just to make it look good.

Then I gradually transition to more web back end then front-end, design interaction, design usability. Then when we started the company I became a marketer, on day one. Which was interesting because prior to that I did not like marketers.

Paul: That’s really funny because that resonates with me because I started out before there were computers as a Graphic Designer.

Do you remember that? Like paste up board and Cow Gum. Seriously that’s how old I am. Then over the years sort of, and it was the same thing, graphic designers, marketers have this love-hate relationship. Then I turned into, over time into a marketer and then you see marketing in a different way.

Oli: Yeah when you’re doing it

Paul: Yeah, the rest are slimy, you’re alright.

So on this journey that you guys have been going on with Unbounce you must have learned a lot about marketing and about SaaS marketing in particular if you had to think about one thing that was a game-changer or a total failure is there anything that springs to mind where you thought we really got that right or that bombed, don’t do this?

Oli: Yeah. No it’s interesting I said for the longest time when people ask about mistakes, it was always a no. We didn’t do anything wrong, we did everything right to a point. We’ve made some mistakes recently which we can talk about if you want.

Back then, we were one of the very early adopters of content marketing, there wasn’t many other companies doing it, it was much easier to stand out. I mean I did it in quite a ridiculous way, it was always very big and bold which still works today, more then you average, generic kinda stuff. I would say it’s the way I pushed that but also the way we approached choosing our technical integrations and tools.

Paul: What like just making sure that they were small and strategic? Or that they were things that were gonna explode your marketing for you?

Oli: Yeah well it was a mixture of the types of tools that marketers would most need to connect with landing pages and lead generation and stuff but also who.

So the way we did it, we put a sticky on the wall for every possible integration with a MarTech company we could think of.

Paul: There are thousands.

Oli: Back then not as many. We probably had, ones that made sense, about 200 on the wall.

Then we used Compete.com and Alexa to figure out what the multiple was in terms of, as an estimate, their traffic. So we’d say oh they’re 40X us, they’re 1.5, they’re 0.6. So that we could find out companies that were not crazy because if they were crazy big they don’t care right. They’re not gonna put any effort into the inspirations so we picked people that have brand values like us and were around, a little bigger.

So that’s how we did it.

Paul: Aspirational partners.

Oli: Yes and it worked beautifully. MaleChimp was our first and that went crazy. It was perfect, they are still our biggest numerical integration even though landing pages are more applicable for PPC marketers but still very common for email.

Paul: Yeah so you’ve got quite a list of integrations now are there any new ones on the horizon?

Oli: About a month ago we released a new integration with Zapier. Lots of people have integration with that but nobody has a native one like we do, we just built an inside integration so 60 of those are right inside Unbouced right now, which is amazing. We already had like 15, now we’ve got 75 without having to leave. Usually you’d set up a loose connection and it would all be somewhere els.

Now it’s in the build which is fantastic.

Paul: Yeah there’s a lot of devil in the detail with Zapier as well because the detail of how those things connect and just what you can do with them in terms of API to API, it’s not always perfect.

Oli: Yeah and it’s a lot better then it used to be, we were a very early adopter of theirs. it’s great to do this deep integration now that they’ve built a platform that’s a lot more solid.

Paul: Great so that’s held you in good sted. I’m sorry, I mean, you said we could talk about that later but I’ve just been thinking about the problems that you’ve run into lately or the mistakes you think that you’ve made. I mean, I’m sure everybody wants to hear that Unbound still makes mistakes.

Oli: Yeah well, basically we’ve always been a landing page platform so very narrow focus and 300 odd blog posts about landing pages. I don’t ever want to write another one. Now we’ve expanded into more products so we have Overlays and Stickybars which gets us on your website. Allows you to optimize your website not just your landing pages. However, they have different value props especially because we’ve always been talking to the campaign person or marketing team.

Versus now it’s the web team, that’s very different.

Paul: So you’re getting into new segments, is that what you’re saying?

Oli: Yeah and what we struggled with and are fixing it now is going from one product to three products, now your value prop changes and because it’s like campaign.

It was more for paid and now organic so we have to changer our value prop, we have to change how we communicate these and the hierarchy of them. So adoption was a bit of a problem. Now we are having a big focus on fixing that. People who do adopt it, great success, makes our churn way better, higher lifetime value. The churn lower, significantly but we haven’t done a good job communicating this value and that we have these things now.

Part of that was the naming, we created an umbrella term for these which is called convertibles which doesn’t immediately tell you anything. So the actual products are a bit hidden in the app and on the website so we’re changing all of that. We’re gonna fix all of that but we have three big bets this year that we’re focusing on.

That’s one of them, adoption of our new products.

Second one is really multiplying the amount of our ideal customer we have. I can’t describe what are ideal customer is because our competitors may have the same ideal customer which they may not of identified as well as we have. The third one is AI and putting our machine learning into the product.

Paul: It’s been a busy year but we’re right at the end of it, are you gunna get there? Or are you talking about 2018?

Oli: We have goals for these three events for April. Interestingly because of this learning, as a company and me, we’re really going on a new journey as product marketers because it’s something we didn’t do really in the past.

We’ve always been very soft sell and we can blame me for this. Being Canadian, our marketing didn’t often feature the product, there is a tip: put your product on the content.

Paul: It’s just all fricking awesome, you should buy this because it’s awesome.

Oli: Yeah right. Which was easy to do when you didn’t have competitors. When you do you gotta push the product abit more, it’s great, people aren’t gonna mind if you do it in right way.

Paul: Yeah. So tell me, how do you and your five co-founders, how do you keep fresh, where do the ideas come from? How do you make sure that you sharpen your mental saw because you can just burn yourself into the ground with pressure?

Oli: For me, I mean most of my job is as a public speaker now.

However when we’re discussing our metrics for adoption on new products, I was so angry at it, not at the people trying to do it, at us collectively as a team, as a company.

We’re having founder drinks, there are four of us there and I was getting mad about it. So Kara, our chief project officer, ever the pragmatist goes ‘so what are you gonna do about it?’

I said well I’m gonna… He said wait guys and got out his phone to record what I was gonna say. I said ‘I’m gonna write 30 blog posts in January’. All that product marketing and the journey were taking to solve this problem and really exploring what it means to be a product marketer.

How to do it on your blog without pissing people off. My big thing is productizing our technology because we have three main pieces of technology: Landing pages, Sticky bars and Overlays, called pop ups if you like.

When you layer on the functionality of those and then you layer on the scripts, CSS, hacks, some
other integrations you can then productize that in different ways and create many more things.

Paul: So you’re talking about creating kind of recipes for people?

Oli: Kind of like mini products which then people can use and we see the adoption of those and go ‘everybody wants this’ let’s build that into the product as opposed to…

Paul: So these are experiments.

Oli: Yeah well think of the EU bar, that’s a sticky bar, every single company in Europe needs it, every single company in the world serving Europe needs one, that’s a product.

Paul: Great, thank you very much for your time, it’s been great to understand a bit more about the Unbounce story, continuing story and as an Unbounced customer I’m excited about what you guys have got coming down the line for us.

Oli: Yeah me too and check out the landing page analyser, it’s seriously awesome.

Paul: I hope you enjoyed my chat with Oli for more info on Unbounce please visit www.unbounce.com

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Unbounce is betting big in 2018 by redefining its products, markets and technology all at the same time. Co-Founder Oli Gardner reveals the company's plans to bust out of the landing page niche and expand into new accounts while improving adoption and ... Unbounce is betting big in 2018 by redefining its products, markets and technology all at the same time. Co-Founder Oli Gardner reveals the company's plans to bust out of the landing page niche and expand into new accounts while improving adoption and chasing higher lifetime value and lower churn. All aboard the Unbounce rollercoaster for the ride of your life! 47 Insights yes 16:48
Ep. 3: Pushing boundaries with Greg Davis of Intercom https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-3-pushing-boundaries-greg-davis-intercom/ Mon, 26 Feb 2018 15:16:50 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=726 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-3-pushing-boundaries-greg-davis-intercom/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-3-pushing-boundaries-greg-davis-intercom/feed/ 0 From starting out on an unconventional career path to becoming one of the leading product marketers in SaaS today, Greg Davis has helped Intercom to push the boundaries, resulting in over 20,000 customers and a 5x increase in employees in less than 3 years. However, neither Greg nor Intercom are resting on their laurels: entering new markets brings new product/market alignment challenges. SaaS Marketing Insights, Episode 3: Greg Davis, Intercom

From starting out on an unconventional career path to becoming one of the leading product marketers in SaaS today, Greg Davis has helped Intercom to push the boundaries, resulting in over 20,000 customers and a 5x increase in employees in less than three years. However, neither Greg nor Intercom are resting on their laurels: entering new markets brings new product/market alignment challenges.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com

 


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


 

Episode 3 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Greg Davis, Group Product Marketing Manager at Intercom. I met up with Greg at SaaS North in Ottawa.

Your title, exact title?

Greg: That’s group PMM.

Paul: I knew it was something complicated.

Greg: Yeah, it’s not senior and it’s not director somewhere in between I guess.

Paul: Pretty important guy. Okay so how long have you been with Intercom?

Greg: We’re going on like, I think three years, nine months or two years, nine months right now. So
actually i’m starting to feel like a bit of an old timer there surprisingly, it doesn’t seem like that long a time.

Paul: It must have changed a lot.

Greg: Oh yeah, when I was first hired I think we were in the 80s of employees and now we’re in the 410 plus range so a tremendous amount of change in growth has happened while I’ve been there, but I mean it’s all up and into the right so good problems.

Paul: So what’s your background before you were at Intercom?

Greg: I’d say a little non-traditional path to becoming a marketer or product marketer specifically. So when I I first graduated from college I was a recruiter actually, looking for engineers, that’s actually how I got kind of introduced to the tech space in general, that was back in Boston.

So did that for a few years and then became a financial consultant, well actually between those two jobs I was thinking about going to law school then my dad who is a lawyer talked me out of that and said I’d be miserable. So I didn’t end up going to law school and took this financial consulting job which was supposed to be in Zurich but after the sixth interviews they said ‘I hope you like San Francisco’.

So I flew out to San Francisco without having to know anyone and then while I was there I had a really great boss who kind of had an entrepreneurial background and I told him about my ideas and at that point I really wanted to start a company and he really encouraged me to do that so then I quit that job and started my own tech company.

I did that for three and a half years, the first part of that I was running sales for us and business development and then the second half I was actually doing product management. A great experience and aterrible one, I raised money from investors, had a board, I co-foundered that and then eventually ended up running it into the ground, having to let everybody go and wind down the company which is terrible and an incredibly stressful experience but I got to see both sides of the house, both sales and then also building a product.

What I learned was I’m not the best at either one of those but I really want to understand what the customers are doing and I think enabling sales is really important because they’re selling your product which generates revenue which is very important to your company, then also appreciate how difficult it was to build even bad products. it’s really hard, good ones are incredibly, incredibly hard and so then, after
that wound down I was trying to figure out what to do next and I realize that there’s this triangle of things that I like customers, sales and product.

What’s a job where you get to do all those things and that’s how I’ve stumbled into product marketing which you really have to be the second best at all of that stuff and really deeply understand each point on that triangle and what they need, what are their concerns and be able to take information from one group and bring it to the other in order to make them successful.

So then I got a product marketing job at a big data analytics company, that was my first time doing it actually, for money and then that got bought and afterwards I was trying to look for my next step and someone introduced me to intercom which from my experience founding a company I was like Wow, you can actually just talk to your customers and know what they’re thinking about the things you build.

If I knew that maybe I would have made many fewer mistakes and so just what the company was doing just absolutely resonated with me and solved a problem that I had when I was a founder.

Paul: Cool! I mean, thats a great story, sometimes you gotta learn those hard mistakes to appreciate the value of something.

Greg: Oh yeah, it definitely makes you connected to it when you have the problem.

Paul: Yeah, so thinking a bit more about your journey if you like with SaaS product marketing, has there been anything that hit you like a blinding flash of obvious where you did something?  Obviously you talked about the business that you ran before and ran it into the ground, that was a great life lesson but has it been anything maybe more recently with Intercom where you thought yeah, you know, this particular thing we did, we tried this and it worked really well or this completely bombed but we learned the lesson?

Greg: Well one thing that I guess really surprised me when I came to Intercom was how important our blog was and the content we produce. We I think still had multiple articles a week, I think that we released a podcasts at least once a month and I’d never really appreciated or put that much stock into content and building a thought leadership voice and investing so heavily in it and that’s something that Intercom had been doing since the very beginning, this kind of sharing lessons learned, best practices.

All these different things through this medium of the blog and we have tens of thousands of readers of this blog and it’s the reason why when so many people come to work at Intercom they say like yeah, your blog
was like an incredibly important reason why I wanted to work here. I don’t think a lot of people invest, especially early stage companies like series A-B-C, in in this kind of potentially really valuable resource which is like sharing your voice and your opinions about the world. How you think about building software or marketing it or even selling and sharing those best practices because like so many of us, are just there like, especially when I was doing my start, wandering in the dark just looking for someone to tell me is this the right thing to do.

So people really appreciate that and that wasn’t something that I had fully appreciated before joining
Intercom.

Paul: Yeah, you guys are prolific content creators.

Greg: Yeah well it used to be one of our quarterly goals for almost every person to write a piece of content.

It’s very diverse. So that was not something I really considered doing before, blogging was an afterthought.

Paul: So how does Greg Davies the very busy product marketer with a weird title, how do you make sure that you keep what you’re doing fresh? How do you go about keeping up-to-date with things? Learning new stuff, what habits do you have as a person to make sure that you continue to grow as a person without
getting burnt out?

Greg: I think it’s just so embedded in our company culture and ethos that we’re trying to outdo ourselves and trying to stay cutting-edge in whatever we’re doing, whether it’s a landing page, whether it’s the content, whether it’s the copy.

There’s no sense of like ‘hey that was really good let’s just keep doing that’. One of the things that stuck with me is, Owen our CEO coming out of holiday break last year said basically something in the effective of, I don’t know if we can, I don’t know if I want to measure this and I don’t think it’s possible but my hope
for you all this year is that your 10x more creative in whatever you’re doing whether it’s selling, whether it’s writing code, whether it’s marketing, I want you to find the space and have the opportunity and be in the headspace where you’re trying to be 10x more creative than you were last year.

Which is a really interesting ambition, it’s totally immeasurably lofty but it’s just sort of a
mindset that we should always be pushing boundaries, we should always be trying for something new if we’re seeing the messages that were using, out in the marketplace, it’s time for us to rethink those because that’s becoming a commodity. It’s no longer something that’s fresh and impactful.

Paul: So you were speaking earlier here at SaaS North, what were you speaking on? I didn’t unfortunately have the opportunity to see you.

Greg: Yeah so I was speaking on basically some learnings from a project we’ve been working on over the last year which is to see if we can bring our support products slightly upmarket. So right now we’re a
really good, we’re actually a very good tool for smaller companies to support their customers, but at a certain scale we become less good and that’s something that we feel because we use our support products to support our more than 20,000 customers so we feel these pains as much as anybody.

So we set out on this program of work to see if we can up level this product to be better for larger customers and we wanted to think about what does it mean to do that?

So that brought us to a lot of the thinking about product-market -fit and where we came down is that each time you move from a different segment of customers to another, they probably have slightly different needs and you have to probably look at it as reestablishing your product-market-fit, it’s not some transferable property.

Paul: It’s not set and forget.

Greg: Yeah, it’s not like a moat from your competition either, from above or below and so we just started thinking more critically about this thing called product-market-fit and some of the lessons that we learned along our way trying to figure out, is this a good framework for trying to do something like move up market.

Paul: Cool, well I’m sorry I missed it, no doubt it will be available in lots of various formats.

Greg: Hopefully, we had some tech issues at the beginning so hopefully they edit those out.

Paul: So then, what have you got lined up for the rest of show? Just enjoying it,
hanging out?

Greg: I’m excited to see some of the other speakers, I’ve never been to Ottawa before so walk around and see what’s here, I’m from the Northeast so it’s kind of nice to be back in the North East and have seasons.

Paul: You’re enjoying the snow?

Greg: I actually really love the snow, I wish their was abit more, there’s not quite enough.

Paul: So Greg, thank you very much, it’s great to meet you and thank you very much for taking your time out of the busy show.

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Greg for more info on Intercom please visit www.intercom.com

 

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From starting out on an unconventional career path to becoming one of the leading product marketers in SaaS today, Greg Davis has helped Intercom to push the boundaries, resulting in over 20,000 customers and a 5x increase in employees in less than 3 y... From starting out on an unconventional career path to becoming one of the leading product marketers in SaaS today, Greg Davis has helped Intercom to push the boundaries, resulting in over 20,000 customers and a 5x increase in employees in less than 3 years. However, neither Greg nor Intercom are resting on their laurels: entering new markets brings new product/market alignment challenges. 47 Insights yes 12:25
Ep. 2: Dave Gerhardt – Conversational Marketing with Drift https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep2-dave-gerhardt-drift-conversational-marketing/ Mon, 19 Feb 2018 15:00:21 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=714 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep2-dave-gerhardt-drift-conversational-marketing/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep2-dave-gerhardt-drift-conversational-marketing/feed/ 0 Drift are out to change the way you interact with prospects when they visit your website. Out goes gated content and lead forms, in comes conversational marketing. Newly promoted VP Marketing Dave Gerhardt explains the reasoning behind this as well as what motivates him to 'always be learning'. SaaS Marketing Insights, Episode 2: Dave Gerhardt, Drift

Drift are out to change the way you interact with prospects when they visit your website. Out goes gated content and lead forms, in comes conversational marketing. Newly promoted VP Marketing Dave Gerhardt explains the reasoning behind this as well as what motivates him to ‘always be learning’.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com

 


Subscribe to the SaaS Marketing Insights Audio Podcast

You can also subscribe to SaaS Marketing Insights as an audio podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Play Music

Visit the Podcast page to get links for other podcast networks and details of forthcoming episodes.


 

Episode 2 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Dave Gerhardt Director for Marketing at Drift. I caught up with Dave at SaaS North in Ottawa just after a talk he gave on the need for conversational marketing.

Dave: Dave Gerhardt in case you didn’t know, I don’t have my name tag because I just took it off but yeah, I do marketing at Drift.

Paul: So you’ve just literally come out of your session? So where does the drift story and Dave start? How long you been there? How did you get started in SaaS, In marketing?

Dave: Yeah I’ve been there for two years, basically from the beginning they did a couple things before but I got connected with David Cancel who’s the founder of drift, I actually had a podcast that I did on the side where I interviewed founders and CEOs in Boston and I had him on my podcast and I was like this guy seems like he really knows his stuff. I found out around the time they were looking to make their first marketing hire and so you know, I sent him the note the next day and the rest was history, that’s how I started at drift.

Before that I’ve worked at HubSpot, Constant Contact, I’ve spent most of my career, just by coincidence in SaaS marketing, doing marketing at SaaS marketing companies that’s been my whole career.

Paul: That is such a great pedigree though, those three companies.

Dave: Yeah it’s been amazing, I couldn’t have asked for It. I think of it as like my my MBA, to be able
to spend from 23 to 30, i’m 30 now. That’s where I spent that time, working at those companies has just been amazing to be able to learn from the people and the businesses that they built.

Paul: So you just did a presentation on no forms, which I’d like to call a campaign but it’s not a campaign, it’s an ethos behind Drift now isn’t it? It’s a movement.

Dave: It’s a movement, I mean, I ran into five people I’ve never met before in my life today saying like I’m such a big believer in what you we’re doing with the no forms thing, so yeah I think at first it was a campaign and now it’s something bigger than Drift. So it’s a movement for sure.

Paul: Yeah and I love the way you’ve ripped off the Salesforce software no forms thing. Its trademark, we put our trademark on it.

Dave: I don’t think they invented the ‘no sign’, but yeah.

I love it, that is of course we’re big fans, I even mentioned it, at least to be fair I plugged the book in my presentation and that is one of my favorite books on SaaS and marketing.

Paul: So the whole no forms thing, I’m completely on board with, love it and it’s long overdue but you
know my background, marketing, donkey’s years and a lot of SaaS marketing but it’s exactly what you said about forms. So I’ve been, for the last five years a form hacker, basically I’ll read the source code, I’ll see its HubSpot or whatever, I’ll go right, there’s the redirect page I’ll just going to get the PDF, I don’t want to fill out a form. You can read the source code or you can just search for the PDF, it’s indexed on the website, you know there’s a million different ways of doing it.

Dave: It’s really sad because as you said you don’t want that disruption, it’s not the right time for you or you just want the content. I think, I don’t know where we’re going with the forms thing but I think it’s worth mentioning, it’s actually not to me so much about the forms. It’s more about the way that we all buy is just different than it was when that stuff first came out because we’re all on our phones, I can find anything, like I never met you before today right? but if I had known I was gonna meet you I could look you up, I could find out what you’ve done before, I can figure out everything I needed to know before I met you and then we’d meet and it would be like I already knew you.

It’s the same thing for how people buy from businesses, so it just seems silly to, basically say here’s this
fence you can’t come past here until we know you’re ready. when somebody’s telling you, I already know all this stuff, I am ready, I have a specific question I want to ask you.

Paul:  Yeah, so it’s like the oldest thing in business: know, like, trust and then people buy from you right. So I guess one of the thoughts that I had around what you guys do and the removal of forms or otherwise, is forms generate leads, marketers are measured on leads.

You alluded to that in your presentation and I think a lot of marketers are nervous about the notion of being formless, being form free. So, how would you go about reassuring your fellow SaaS marketers that they can get rid of their forms, they can use drift and it will work?

Dave: Well, I think the biggest misconception is we didn’t say stop capturing leads, marketers. We just said no forms, there’s a different way to capture leads now  and for us it’s through real-time conversations because those are the people who are the most interested on your site, so I think it’s just shifting the model to give away a lot of stuff and then ask for the email as opposed to email, then I give you stuff.

Paul: Yeah or… here is this ridiculously long form with like 10 fields to fill out before you get anywhere, so it’s like a balancing act.

Dave: Yeah you don’t need my mother’s maiden name so I can read your ebook on snapchat filters. But I think that also technology has gotten so good that marketers can get so much data without having to have somebody fill out a form.

So we work with a company called Clearbit who does data in richmond and we’re able to know which companies are visiting our website right and match that with what they’re doing and so you’re able to get all of these things now that typically you would have had to say: ‘no I need a form because I need to know your company, I need to know your job title’, we can figure out most that stuff before somebody even comes to our website now.

Paul: That’s cool! So going back to your career and whatever, you’ve had some great experience, HubSpot, Constant Contact. What would you say has been your biggest SaaS marketing insight, something that you
came across or dawned on you. Is it what you’re doing now with Drift?

Dave: I think so, I think it’s all related to what i’m doing now at Drift. I think the biggest marketing insight is that, the best marketing is to be real and to be yourself and that seems so obvious but to me that has been the biggest insight and it’s obvious but nobody does it. That’s what’s been liberating for me over the last two years is our marketing strategy is just… this is something that David pushed me to do from day one which is, write plaintext emails like you talk right. The first thing he had me do was, he’s like, you don’t read any of these SaaS marketing blogs, go study David Ogilvy and all the direct response copywriters. I didn’t get why he was doing it at first, but now it was like, oh my god, that has been the most influential thing on my career is to go back and study all those things because there’s two things:

  • number one: those guys had to mail something to your house, convince you to buy it, you had to then mail them something back and then you got your thing.

So if you think about SaaS, SaaS is easy compared to that right. Think about that and now the hot thingin marketing is Direct Mail, everyone’s going back to doing that, so number one it that but

  • number two: is just the writing style and the tone, I always thought that you had to be a marketer and what I realize is the best marketing is when I’m just being real and showing you who I am and talking to you way I would talk to you in person.

That’s helped change the way that I think we do marketing, that’s been the biggest lesson for me, more so than any one campaign or one hack that I’ve learned.

Paul: Yeah, how do you keep mentally/physically you know, what is it you do to make sure that you know you’re the best for the job, because it’s easy in business and marketing and in SaaS to get burnt out. Do you
have any kind of habits or rituals or crazy shit you do?

Dave: Yeah so I think number one is, I have this constant paranoia that I’m not very good at what I’m doing.

Paul: Impostor syndrome.

Dave: That is it, exactly, every single day and whether it’s speaking in front of room full of people, doing an interview, I don’t know creating a page, writing copy for a page that’s gonna get hundreds of thousands of views, things like that every day, I’m like, am I really the best person to do this.

So I think that all that, paired with a chip on my shoulder is what keeps me to always be going but the part of that is it’s not just the imposter syndrome, it’s the knack to always be learning, to always want to be learning, I’m just always listening to podcasts, reading books, I’m obsessed with how other people do
marketing and learn because I feel like this is always a gift and a curse for me which is, I need to know how everything works and how everybody else does it so I want to know, is this podcast set up better than
what we have, should I be doing this? Is the audio good? is the video good? These are the questions and it’s a gift of course because I can’t get outside of my own head, I have to figure all that stuff out.

So it’s the impostor syndrome, it’s the fact that I always want to be learning and just the way that I get better is I invest, I just try to invest in a lot of stuff. It’s too hard to fake it, if I didn’t love this stuff it
would be hard to wake up on a Sunday morning and read about marketing but I really do love it and so that’s the stuff that I’m reading at night and on the weekends and just when I’m home hanging out.

Paul: The podcasts that you used to do, you no longer do?

Dave: Correct, Tech in Boston, it’s retired, I got to Drift, Drift took off and I just didn’t have time to have
a side project and I have a wife and a baby and it’s just impossible.

Paul: They’re much bigger side projects.

Dave: Yeah, yeah, my vision, I think my longer-term career goal after Drift is to just be… I’m just going to be a traveling podcaster.

Paul: Okay, thank you very much for your time, that was great.

I hope you enjoyed my chat with Dave as much as I did. For more info on Drift please visit www.drift.com

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Drift are out to change the way you interact with prospects when they visit your website. Out goes gated content and lead forms, in comes conversational marketing. Newly promoted VP Marketing Dave Gerhardt explains the reasoning behind this as well as ... Drift are out to change the way you interact with prospects when they visit your website. Out goes gated content and lead forms, in comes conversational marketing. Newly promoted VP Marketing Dave Gerhardt explains the reasoning behind this as well as what motivates him to 'always be learning'. 47 Insights yes 12:14
Ep. 1: How Allan Wille Pivoted Klipfolio From Consumer To Profitable B2B https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-1-allan-wille-pivoted-klipfolio-consumer-profitable-b2b/ Tue, 13 Feb 2018 00:51:07 +0000 https://www.47insights.com/?p=659 https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-1-allan-wille-pivoted-klipfolio-consumer-profitable-b2b/#respond https://www.47insights.com/blog/ep-1-allan-wille-pivoted-klipfolio-consumer-profitable-b2b/feed/ 0 President & CEO of Klipfolio, Allan Wille, explains how the business started out as a consumer dashboard product serving more than 300,000 customers and making no money before pivoting to become a profitable B2B product for 10,000+ customers. SaaS Marketing Insights, Episode 1: Allan Wille, Klipfolio

President & CEO of Klipfolio, Allan Wille, explains how the business started out as a consumer dashboard product serving more than 300,000 customers and making no money before pivoting to become a profitable B2B product for 10,000+ customers.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com

 


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Episode 1 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview for you with the president and CEO of Klipfolio, Allen Wille. I caught up with Allen at the SaaS North conference in Ottawa.

It’s our second year at SaaS North. So you guys were here last year?

Allan: Yeah that’s right so we were here last year. I was actually part of the Advisory Committee, it’s a loose committee that helped put this in place and last year was the first year and we were all absolutely blown away at how successful it was and there was a forcing function. We said listen let’s have it at this date and we made it up which was amazing, we got everybody in Canada who has anything to do with SaaS together in one room. The quality was a really really good so I think this year’s gonna be even better.

Paul: Great, so Klipfolio, for those that don’t know, is a dashboard metrics… ?

Allan: Yeah for sure, so I mean we help a lot of small and mid-sized companies monitor the health and performance of their business, we’re big believers that you have to monitor to improve, to understand, to learn, so no matter what you’re doing you’re using Klipfolio or if you’re using Excel sheets or something else, you know monitoring is important, you have to do that, you have to set the goals and understand what’s working and what’s not.

Paul: So I think I came across you guys a couple years ago and there’s a few other competitors in the market but I think at that time, and forgive me if what I’m saying isn’t right, that  you became predominantly known as a marketing dashboard, is that right?

Allan: Well we were spending a lot of time selling into marketing agencies and marketing departments, and the reason for that was that marketers have a tremendous landscape of tools and probably more so. I mean you’ve seen those martech landscapes and there’s you know like 300 vendors on there if not more. Too much right, so I think marketers find it particularly difficult to understand and monitor all of the data that is happening, where’s their spend going, what to produce and what is the funnel doing. So we’ve spent a lot of time working with marketers but you know we’re selling into sales organizations, success organizations,
marketing, warehousing, retail, and we have 10,000 customers across small, medium, some teams and large businesses but you’re right, marketing has definitely been one of those shining stars you know, they really asked for this more than some of the other departments.

Paul: So how did you get it started, not only with Klipfoilo but in your career in SaaS?

Allan: Sure so I mean I’ve always had this sort of entrepreneurial bent, right? You know you start your own grass cutting company, you know, you run a summer camp, you do something
right because it’s amazing to create and see the value and get feedback right. So in earnest I started another company in 1996 with two other guys at a university, we were still in university totally green behind the ears and back in those days we raised a ton of money that we probably shouldn’t have raised but that was fun and and I exited that company, and the company did an IPO as well.

Then I started this company in 2001 so we’ve been at this a long time now we’ve gone through various different twists and turns and we started actually as a consumer dashboard so it was always about monitoring something. That was the genesis of Klipfolio. It was about being better at monitoring things that change and the things that you care about. and the first instantiation of that was well let’s monitor your soccer scores and your news and your weather and their stocks. So it was a personal dashboard that was updated every few minutes, showing you the things that you cared about and it was wildly popular but we couldn’t find a business market and the idea was we’re gonna sell to the publishers, you know the CNNs and the other networks and then the stock exchanges but they didn’t have any money, they still don’t have any money today.

Nonetheless, we had 300,000 end users using our consumer dashboard. But no business model that works, right? No revenue. I mean that’s tough right because on the one hand you have something
that’s working and on the other hand you have something that’s not. So as an entrepreneur what’s the right call?  Do you continue pushing or do you succumb to brutal reality?

Paul: So, at what stage did you make that move from consumer to B2B pivot?

Allan: Yeah so that happened, that happened with… and it wasn’t our choice, it was an external factor so Lufthansa came to us and they said you know half of the staff in Germany is using your tool to monitor their soccer scores. So they said listen, we love your tool but can we push business data through that would help us be more real-time, and that was the click!

That was the click and we said that’s interesting, like sometimes it’s great to be naive and green behind the ears because the quote we put in front of them was a SaaS, a recurring revenue model quote. We didn’t have a clue but we said, well why don’t you pay us you know X number of thousands on an annual basis?

Paul: Well why wouldn’t you right? Annual, straight out of the box, that’s smart.

Allan: Absolutely, that was 2004 so we had this recurring revenue model business starting in 2004 we never had a perpetual model. Anyway so Lufthansa was our first real customer, and we got AMC, Intel and a whole bunch of other enterprise customers so that was that, that was the big pivot in the company’s history.

Paul: That’s great! So obviously along the way with that pivot you gained a lot of traction. Was there anything with your marketing that particularly took you to a different level or changed
things or scaled things up for you?

Allan: I think the next big pivot for us was actually, and yes you could say it was marketing but it was actually more fundamental than that it was a shift from selling to enterprise to selling to smaller mid-sized business.

There was a couple of influencing factors. Again, one of our big enterprise customers Aviva came to us in 2010, so we had some mediocre slow growth between 2004 – 2010. Anyway, 2010 Aviva came to us and they really liked our tool but they said a few things:

  • Can you make it easier to use because we don’t want to work with IT.
  • Can you put it in a cloud and make it mobile because the iPad has just come out and all the senior execs are running around with the new iPad.
  • The third thing that they said was can you make it less expensive so that we can buy it as opposed to going through procurement.

Paul: Ah, kind of departmental purchase.

Allan: Yeah, so and that was I mean, I’ll remember that advice the rest of my life because there was those three things: put it in the cloud, make it less expensive and make it easier to use.

That really shifted the whole business to a small and mid-sized business space. Keep in mind the business
intelligence space, selling into enterprises, is incredibly crowded. Yet this new space SMBs really had a lot of… it was a greenfield opportunity so we had shifted the business in 2010/2012 to be much more SMB focused so that was the fundamental next evolution of the business.

That really got the customers, really helped us grow and that’s why we did our our seed round, our A round and our B round so we went from a couple of hundred customers selling it to the enterprise, where we just surpassed 10,000.

Paul: Wow! So a very different trajectory.

So you started in 2001 so it’s an overnight success right? So along that journey you and the rest of your team involved, you know i’m always interested in understanding leaders within business and how they sort of keep fresh… do you have any sort of personal growth insights that you’ve learned along the way or habits that you have or stuff that you do that keeps you fresh or keeps you learning?

Allan: Yeah, I think it’s really important to understand those things too. You know I don’t know if this is the right answer.

I think one, one of the most important things that I think I do and I think if I look at a lot of successful leaders is they maintain some semblance of balance and I think that you have to allow yourself the downtime and the soak time. I have a beautiful family. I want to spend time with them and I really don’t subscribe to the idea that startups or tech companies have to work 12-14 hour days. It doesn’t make sense.

As a leader I never stopped thinking about Klipfolio. I think that’s almost impossible but you still have to allow yourself different times of the day even if I’m reading a bedtime story – you know my ten-year-old
daughter there’s things in the children’s book that kind of make me think about it. Various things you know, I’m watching a movie or I cycle to work every day and I find that’s my mental health time even when
I’m cycling.. I think that for me, it’s one of the the most important things because I think you can very
easily tire yourself out, you can start spinning your wheels and get into this rut of trying to work harder and harder. Whereas you really need to have that downtime, you need to have that soaktime that helps you make the right decisions.

Paul: I think there’s probably lots of other advice too but that’s maybe one thing. I’ve got one when you come to conferences: don’t drink on the first night!

Great, thank you very much. So the website is www.klipfoilo.com.

 

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President & CEO of Klipfolio, Allan Wille, explains how the business started out as a consumer dashboard product serving more than 300,000 customers and making no money before pivoting to become a profitable B2B product for 10,000+ customers. President & CEO of Klipfolio, Allan Wille, explains how the business started out as a consumer dashboard product serving more than 300,000 customers and making no money before pivoting to become a profitable B2B product for 10,000+ customers. 47 Insights yes 12:29