My friend, Nitan, (who happen to be my partner as well) and I had always dreamed of creating a world-class product. A product that would be used by people all across the world. After two and a half years of hard work, we had built one by the beginning of 2018.
Vaizle, that’s what I decided to call my social media analytics tool.
Nitan derived it from the Sanskrit word Vishleshak (विश्लेषक): a person whose job is to analyze a subject and give opinions about it.
Long story short, we officially launched the beta version of Vaizle in the last week of April.
And from the very first day, we were onboarding new users. Our content was already loved by the audience and was ranking on the search engine.
As our philosophy has always been, we were poised for a fungal growth — slow and steady. And before anyone knows, it’s all over the surface.
In the middle of our usual efforts, we got a chance to do a promotion on AppSumo. (In case you don’t know, AppSumo allows early adopters to buy premium softwares at a low cost). With a community of 800,000+ members (who call themselves Sumolings!), it’s a great place for any promotion. Some even call AppSumo as the seed round for bootstrapped companies.
The promotions are mostly in lifetime deals — yes, it means someone can buy your software for lifetime with a minimal cost. It may sound bizarre but it’s a win-win for Sumolings, AppSumo, and the company, who is trying to learn quickly from customer feedback.
Well, I already knew about AppSumo. In fact, I was meaning to do a promotion there after product launch. But they had turned off all the ways to submit a request. So, basically, it was an invite-only affair.
Moreover, the invitation is just the beginning. You also need to pass their review process where they check if the product is suitable for “their community and international standards”.
Before I share the story with you, let me tell you quickly the stats of our 14-day campaign.
Here’s an Excel sheet that we maintained internally to track campaign’s key metrics.
And here’s the summary:
- We made a total of 3,689 sales 🎉
- Even after refund, which a user can do after 60 days from purchase, our total sales stands at 3,051
- In 14-days, we generated $149,499 in total sales value 😲
- We had a conversion of 41.01% during the 14-days campaign
- As a result of the campaign, we had a total of 56 regular sign ups out of which 6 subscribed for monthly plan
We did expect good sales from our AppSumo promotion, but the results far exceeded our expectations. Moreover, the feedback we received from users is helping us constantly to improve our product.
The best part? We know the direction we need to follow in the next one year. 😌
Now that you know what we achieved through the promotion, here’s a story of how it all happened.
The story: How it started
The first contact
It all began with an email from Viraj.
Naturally, as a team, we were excited when we received this email. He connected Nitan with Jeff, who manages business development at AppSumo. And thus began a series of conversations.
Understanding the deal
If you don’t know AppSumo offer lifetime deals: mostly between $29-$49.
Since Jeff’s team know more about pricing from past data, we asked him to price Vaizle’s pro plan for the deal — it’s original pricing being $169! We decided to launch Vaizle at $49!
A win-win for both — the customers and us.
Adding finishing touches
After exchanging a few emails, the AppSumo team mentioned that they wanted to review Vaizle before giving it a green-signal. We saw new sign ups in the next few days. AppSumo reviewers not only reviewed our product they also gave us feedback to improve.
We made dozens of changes in the next couple of months based on feedback (More on this in the preparation section).
We were given a go ahead and assigned a tentative date of launch — the third or fourth week of October.
Hence, began the preparations.
We already had a great website designed. Had good conversion rate from it. And had a good feedback. It had all the info a user would need to understand the product. So a lot of work was saved. So all we had to focus on was designing processes for customer service and support.
Service and support
From the very first day of thinking about a SaaS product, we knew we needed an impeccable service. Basically, it comprised of three things:
- Live Chat: For customers as well as the website visitors
- Customer Support: For customers who needed help in using Vaizle or scaling product
We were already using HubSpot Sales as live chat tool. However, we needed something that also helped create and manage support tickets. Personally, I also wanted to have an app so that I could manage customer queries on the go.
Luckily, Nitan had attended a YourStory event earlier that October. He met a Zendesk guy who helped me get $300 worth of Zendesk credits! A big shout out to the Zendesk team.
Just before one week from the launch date, we setup the Zendesk Support and Live Chat. We only used Zendesk for the live chat within the Vaizle app. And continued using HubSpot in on the website — for people who had not signed up yet. It helped us keep the conversation with the prospects and customers separate.
We have always believed in transparency. I am a user of Loom who have created a public roadmap. 🗺️
It inspired us to create our own and show to our customers that there’s more to Vaizle coming in the next few months. You can view Vaizle product roadmap here.
Apart from serving the purpose of transparency, it also helped us to get votes from our customers. We had mentioned a list of features we were thinking of adding in the future, and they could vote for their favorite ones.
It also had a section where customers can request for new features.
Onboarding and self-help videos
Many users do not prefer talking to customer support and want to navigate on their own.
We had already created video tutorials of Vaizle-available on Vaizle YouTube channel. My still thank me for creating those videos on time. 😁
We added these videos in Vaizle app as self-help videos which customers could access with just a click.
It was crucial to make signing up processes contextual for AppSumo users. We wanted to convey that the deal specifically designed for them. To achieve that, we create a quick welcome video only for AppSumo users. 🎥
The one-minute video also showed how AppSumo users can setup their dashboard and add profiles
We also created onboarding emails welcoming our new AppSumo users using GetResponse. The email also had the link to the welcome video.
Creating AppSumo landing page
From the first conversation, we have found AppSumo’s team extremely professional. And it reflected in their work.
They scheduled a call with us to understand our product better. Using that conversation they created an awesome copy for the landing page. And created promo video.
I must say Chrystie, Senior Content Strategist at AppSumo, is perfect in what she does.
This was was final step in the preparation. Meanwhile, we had made some features of our product even faster and enhanced it performance.
Less than three days to go!
On October 17, around 6:30 PM IST, Vaizle deal goes live on AppSumo.
We’re receiving loads of traffic every few minutes. Within the first few minutes, we are getting comments on AppSumo deal page and multiple chat requests on HubSpot as well as Zendesk Chat.
At the other end, in our office, we’re equally prepared!
We knew, being based in India, a great demand would come from the west particularly the United States, the UK, Canada, and Germany. That meant, most of our support time should be in the night.
So we had already planned ahead for this.
That means, there was one person always live from our team to answer any customer query.
And we did so throughout those 14 days.
The first week: Oct 17 to Oct 23
In the first couple of days, we noticed some patterns from customer requests and questions:
- 25 profiles and 5 swaps in the pro plan were too low. Our users were very vocal about it as well.
- People were demanding Instagram (at launch, we had Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube)
We decided to act quick and address three of these problems by Monday.
Action #1: Making the plan pro-plan better
For all AppSumo users, we offered 25 profiles and 10 swaps (earlier it was only 5). At the same time, we were hungry for feedback — positive or negative.
If you have built a product, you know that’s the only way to improve. So we offered our customers 5 additional profiles (worth $45) for dropping a review on AppSumo deal page.
Action #2: Merging profiles
Additionally, since users wanted more profiles, we allowed users to buy multiple deals. Now, they could buy as much as 10 deals. And to our astonishment, our users did.
Since we had not planned for this, users simply had to create multiple Vaizle profiles for each deal they bought. We decided to merge these profiles later on.
Though we could have sold a lot more if we knew this beforehand. but I’m proud of my team that we adapted this situation well.
Action #3: Integrating Instagram
After an internal meeting, we decided to quicken up on integrating Instagram. We committed to our users to add it within next 30-days (We delivered on our commitment too. Instagram was officially launched on November 20.
Alert: One of the other deal tried to emulate this by incentivizing for a “positive review”. There was a backlash to this approach and caused them to lose sales in the first few days. Don’t do that. Customers know better. Be honest. Be transparent.
Jeff also suggested us to run a webinar for Sumolings (Thanks for another great idea, Jeff). 🙏
The idea was to show a live demo and answer questions of webinar users. Mutually, we decided to run the webinar on October 25.
We also wanted to communicate this to all our users. So we ran retargeting ads so that every one who had visited Vaizle app (app.vaizle.com) would see this.
Apart from running the ads, we also added automated messages using autoresponder for all the new sign ups.
The second week: Oct 24 to Oct 30
On the eve of 24 October IST, Appsumo sends email to its 800,000 community members announcing the deal. There’s a huge spike in all the parameters: number of website hits, chat requests, and sales. We had read case studies from many AppSumo deals and was expecting this.
We continued with our usual 24 hour support and served over 100 support tickets in this period.
The webinar that we had planned also helped us bring trust and help customers understand the use cases.
What had really worked for us was:
- Product roadmap: Without a transparent product roadmap, we probably wouldn’t have had such a great number. Our customers specifically appreciated our roadmap and that they could comment on new features and even request new. You can see tons of conversations that happened on our product roadmap.
- Multi-channel support: We were practically active everywhere. Live chat support was always active. We answered to all questions, and even reviews, every few minutes. I personally replied to all the comments in AppSumo Facebook group. And responded to emails in less than 30 minutes — across the day!
- Token of gratitude (Yes, that’s what it really was): As I mentioned earlier, we gave away 5 additional profiles (worth $45) for every review. This was practically a game changer. Now we have a clear view on what our customers like or dislike about us. Our whole team cherish these reviews. Thanks to my team for setting up an amazing campaign. 🙌 It not only enhanced trust but also made us the most reviewed product on AppSumo. Ever! And we added these 5 extra profiles within 6 hours from receiving the request.
By the end of the second week, we had over 2,000 sales and knew with final email we can end the campaign with a bang. 🤩
The final few days: The less than 48 hours email
If a deal has performed well, AppSumo sends a final email 48 hours before the end of deal. When this email was sent, we had already become the most reviewed product on AppSumo.
People had compared us to a previous deal by Social Insider and mentioned how we were better. One comment even mentioned that Vaizle offered everything what Socialbakers does, the industry leader in social media analytics.
And here’s one of my favorite’s. (Thanks so much, Michael and Protege Media.)
So when email was sent, the sales literally skyrocketed. In the last 48 hours, we sold over $50,000 worth of deal.
Still a major contribution to our success was our product itself. Although there were issues related to reporting feature on certani macbook screens, we fixed them quickly. And users appreciated that. So a big kudos to our tech team too!
AppSumo community also accommodated our minor bugs. It’s great to see how early adopters are ready to grow with us and help us improve.
A summary of the 14 days
After the end of the refund period, we had 777 reviews! (Well, they call it tacos 🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮. Yes, we’re 5-tacos rated 😀) When we were at around 250, we were making bets in our team where the number will stop. The highest number we estimated was 350. So, you can say this was beyond our expectations.
By the end of the campaign, we had:
- Served 535 chat requests using Zendesk on (app.vaizle.com) 😲
- Served 240 chat requests on the website (vaizle.com) using HubSpot Sales
- Exchanged over 1500+ emails with prospects and customers 📧
It didn’t stop here. Even after 60-days since the end of the campaign, we have served 350 chat requests.
For us, YouTube videos were an important part of our self-serve strategy. Since the launch of the campaign, we have added over 80 subscribers. During the campaign, our YouTube video tutorials were watched for 2.1k views and 4.8k minutes, that’s almost 80 hours! 😱
For us, who have always cherished small wins, this was a big one. We know we could have added more into the sales number with better planning and strategy. It’s always good to know you could have done better. We keep those omissions and mistakes as learning.
Life after Appsumo
Well, we are feeling what a mountaineer feels once he has reached a mountain’s summit: a moment of calm and a feeling to climb the next one. After the deal was over, we did rest for a couple of days. Ashima, if I am not wrong, slept for half a day. 😀
From product perspective, we have already delivered what we had committed:
- Instagram Integration: It was launched on 20th of November, just 17 days after the end of the deal.
- Group Feature: Specially designed for agencies, Vaizle users can now club two or more profiles together to create groups. With group feature, now agencies can serve multiple clients.
- Profile merging: We also merged profiles for users who had bought multiple deals. Now, there are users who are using up to 300 profiles and 100 swaps in their Vaizle account! 😎 Keep going, you’re the reason we work so hard! 👨🏾🔧
- Vaizle Community cum Knowledge Base: One line we have been saying to customers all along is, “we can make this product the best in the industry with their feedback and support”. To achieve this, we created Vaizle Community which is not only serving as our knowledge base but also where people can come and discuss. Since 30-days from launch, we have had over 300 unique users visitors.
Apart from that, we also made improvements in Vaizle to enhance user experience.
With this exercise, we learnt a lot about ourselves as a team, market, and customer expectation. Here are some lessons:
- Respond quick: ⏲️ One of the reason we were able to achieve such high sales was our ability to quickly respond to users demand. For instance, decision to add 5 additional profiles and 5 extra swaps. Had there been a delay, I am sure the results wouldn’t have been so good.
- Superb support: People do not simply bought from us because our product was good. We were able to convince them to trust us. With 24-hours customer service, we not only won our customers, we made them trust us.
- Listen and keep your eyes open on all channels: 📞 We were not simply sitting on our live chat dashboard and waiting for people to talk to us. We were listening to them in AppSumo question sections, responding to them, and even reading each and every of the 750+ reviews. Joining the Facebook chat group gave us the idea to learn even more.
- Offerings beyond product: From outset, offering great content that add values in our customers’ lives has been our focus. The webinar we did not only made the customers to stick, but also buy more deals. More power to webinars! 💪
Frankly, we were apprehensive how a product made in India 🇮🇳 would be received by a global audience. With the kind of response we received, we are more confident than ever.
Now, we are planning to make our offering wider and make social media analytics accessible for everyone. This small success has given us an impetus to think ahead and plan for the year. We’re also planning to add new team members and grow quickly.
Meanwhile, we will keep creating more value for our customers with quick support, relevant content (templates, blogs, and reports), and of course, webinars.
I will get back to you soon with more updates and what’s happening inside our young team.