Customer Acquisition is hard

Without customer acquisition you don’t have a business.

Getting people to care about what you are doing, and eventually buy your product is hard.

For a while I coasted off of the attention we got from launching our first product, but as I dive into the SaaS world it’s becoming clear that a better strategy is required.

Customer acquisition is important for any business, but it’s especially important for a SaaS product.

Jason Cohen points out that in a SaaS business, cancellations are more costly than just the lost revenue. In fact, due to customer acquisition costs, if 10 customers cancel, you have to get 12 (or so) to sign up just to stay flat. So 12 new people signed up this month, and you have not grown, you just kept from shrinking.

There are lots of ways to go about this, let’s look at a few.

Content Marketing

Definitely my favorite, but takes the longest to see returns.

All types of businesses do content marketing, you just don’t recognize it as that. Television producers create free content (tv shows) week after week, and make money by selling ads. Newspapers and magazines are the same. On the internet, you can produce articles, podcasts, and videos.

The easiest type of content is blogging, but many times people get lazy with blog posts. They look at the mediocre posts everyone else is doing and think that’s all they need.

Having a strategy and putting in the time to make high quality content is the key. Here are a couple of real life examples of content marketing.

Groove’s transparent journey

My favorite example is the startup journey blog over at Groove.

Groove blog

Groove CEO Alex Turnbull has chronicled the company’s growth from zero to $100K/month. It is shockingly honest, and completely transparent. It is also well written, it has great images, and it contains real numbers.

I would highly recommend reading through it to see how they strategize content marketing. This blog is not a willy-nilly string of posts, it’s execution of a strategy. They are very open with the fact that the content they’ve created has generated real returns for their company.

A guide instead of blog posts

A couple of years ago, I created a WordPress Theme Customization Guide. It’s pretty old now (and hasn’t been updated in years), but that guide ended up doubling that site’s traffic with over 10,000 views per month.

Instead of creating a series of blog posts, I put a little more time into the design, and that made it stand out. That guide got thousands of visitors to that site for years. What would that have cost in ad spend?

The great part about content marketing is that the rewards last for so long after you’ve done it. A high quality article or video you make will bring traffic to your site for years to come. Years.

Find some time to make good content, it’s worth it.

Affiliates

Affiliates can be a great way to acquire new customers.

The trick is to get high quality affiliates that serve your target market. The spray and pray approach will not work here, low quality affiliates are a time-suck. They can also contribute to fraud, and who needs that?

The best way to get high quality affiliates is to develop relationships with people who serve your target market. In my case, I want to get in touch with churches, and show them how to create mobile apps using my product.

I contacted a friend of mine who sells WordPress themes to churches, which is a perfect fit. I’ve also been contacting other friends who do WordPress website design about getting apps for their clients. I’m not hard selling them on being an affiliate, I’m trying to find a plan that works for them just as much as it does for me. So far the response has been good.

Develop relationships with people who serve your target market, and start a dialogue. Figure out an arrangement that works for them, not just for you.

Standard affiliate commissions differ, in the SaaS world it can be anywhere from the first payment, to the first few months payments or more. Whatever you choose, make sure you do the math on how long that customer has to stay to make it worth your while.

Hosting companies sometimes offer the first 6 months of payments, but if you don’t know for sure your customer is staying at least double that time, don’t offer that!

For Reactor affiliates, we are offering a flat commission of $60 per referral. As I learn the value of the customers I get from affiliates I can then adjust that up or down.

Ads

The easiest to start, but one of the hardest to see returns from.

It’s easy to buy a Facebook ad, or start an AdWords campaign, but it’s really expensive these days. You really have to optimize the heck out of it to see any returns.

Buying ads too early is a mistake. If you haven’t reached product/market fit, optimized your landing pages to collect leads, or setup a marketing funnel, it’s a waste of time.

Until you know the exact percentage of prospects to conversions on your site, and you’ve done the math on ad spend to conversions, don’t run ads.

For example, let’s say that 1 in 100 visitors to my website buys something worth $50. If it costs me $30 in Facebook ads to get 100 visitors to my site, then I know I can make $50 on every $30 I spend on ads.

If you simply buy Facebook, Twitter, and AdWords campaigns without a strategy, you’ll see little to no returns.

Finding new channels

I have found that early on, you don’t know which channels are going to be the most profitable.

You have to pick a few and invest some time, then see what the results are. In my case, I haven’t found a silver bullet yet, but I know spending time in content marketing and affiliate partnerships will pay off.

I’ve also embraced Paul Graham’s philosophy to do things that don’t scale. Sometimes that means getting customers one at a time.

Getting a startup or product going is like pushing a boulder uphill, but eventually it gets easier. Maybe someday the boulder will be rolling downhill from it’s own momentum, but until then, I’ll keep pushing.

What type of marketing has worked for you? Let me know in the comments.

The post Customer Acquisition is hard appeared first on Scott Bolinger.

2014 in review — 3 years after quitting my job

It’s that time of year again. Time to buy Christmas presents, wrap up major projects, and ask two simple questions:

  • What went well this year?
  • What did not go well this year?

Yep, it’s time for the annual review!

This will be my fourth year doing an annual review. Here are the previous years:

Now as you read this keep in mind that it is mostly written for my benefit, so I can reflect on the year and have this journal to refer back to later. I do it in public because I think you may enjoy it and be able to learn from it in some way.

So if while reading this you think, “why is he sharing that?” it’s because this is for me. That said some of this does feel a little odd to share. Either way, I hope you learn something from the last year of my life, cliff-notes edition.

What went well

Fitness

A few months ago I commented to Hilary that going to the gym had finally become a habit. Each day going to the gym isn’t a chore. It doesn’t require any energy to force myself to go. Compared to just a few years ago that’s a huge accomplishment.

This year I started to get into Olympic Lifting in addition to the timed Crossfit workouts. While I haven’t made huge progress it’s been fun to see continual improvements each month. Here are my current one rep maxes:

  • Snatch: 125 lbs
  • Push press: 170 lbs
  • Clean and jerk: 180 lbs
  • Back squat: 240 lbs
  • Deadlift: 300 lbs

A few lifts really need work, but it’s way better than the beginning of this year. There should be a much larger difference between my push press and clean and jerk, but my limitation is on how much I can clean.

I’ve also been playing indoor soccer on two different teams, which means most weeks I get to play twice. I’m still pretty new to soccer—I’ve only been playing for a year and a half, but now I’m hooked! Now if only I could find opportunities (and time) to play more than twice a week…

Travel

Traveling is one of my favorite activities. If I don’t have at least one trip booked for the next month I start to get a little restless.

Fun trips

  • Sailing trip to Key West
    • This trip was one of the highlights of my year! We chartered a 40ft sailing catamaran and explored the Florida Keys for a week.
  • Croatia with my brother-in-law
    • A week long excursion in Europe that was just pure fun. The highlights included playing tour guide to a group of 12 strangers in Venice, hiking Plitvice lakes, and riding bicycles along the Croatian coast.

Here are a few photos from sailing in Key West (the cover photo at the top of this post is our sailboat).
hilary
cover-sailboat

sailing

Yes, that’s me riding a paddle-board pulled behind a dinghy. With our sailboat in the background.

Conferences Attended

This year I attended three conferences that I didn’t speak at:

  • Vegas for New Media Expo
  • Prague for MicroConf
  • Portland for WDS

Speaking

And then I spoke at seven more:

  • MicroConf (Las Vegas)
  • BaconBiz (Philadelphia)
  • Pioneer Nation (Portland)
  • Gumroad Creators Studio (San Francisco)
  • The WooCommerce Conference (San Francisco)
  • Boise Code Camp
  • Author workshop (Boise)

My favorite would be a toss-up between Pioneer Nation and BaconBiz. Both were amazing crowds to speak to.

If you organize a conference and would like to speak, get in touch. I’m planning my 2015 calendar now.

Augustus

On May 15th, 2014 my second son, Augustus Daniel Barry, was born. The last seven months have been incredible! Even though his brother Oliver is only a couple years older, it’s amazing how quickly you forget all the details.

Other than some health issues (which I’ll cover later) little August was a much easier baby than Oliver. I’m not sure how much to attribute that to his more mellow personality or the fact that my wife and I are now more experienced parents.

Either way, I’ll take it.

august

IMG_4852

House

This year we bought a house that we love. It’s in a great part of Boise and has everything we need for our little family. After purchasing it we spent 6 months on a $60,000 remodeling project. I was able to help quite a bit on the remodel and really enjoyed everything that I learned.

We’ve rented for the last 5 years and it feels good to finally own a place. Hilary and I are the type of people who want to be able to work on projects and improve where we live, so that was a frustration with always renting in the past.

house

Time off

Back in April I declared that I had “enough” and took a couple months off. That went well. Mostly. It wasn’t as relaxing as I had hoped due to some health issues (more on that later).

The most important part of doing this was the mindset shift of not always pushing for more.

24 hour product challenge

Just a couple weeks ago I embarked on a 24-hour product challenge. The end result was a series of exercises called 10 Days to Better design. You can read all about it here. The rushed deadline gave me a ton of energy and focus and I had a lot of fun with a short break from the big goals I work towards every day.

Podcast

This year I finally launched a podcast! It was on my todo list for last year, so it was good to finally get it live. I released 11 episodes and really enjoyed the process.

The podcast was well received and averaged about 3,000 downloads per episode. I didn’t know what to expect so that seemed low to me, but after talking to other podcast hosts those numbers aren’t bad.

I even hit the top of the Marketing category in iTunes and reached #3 in all of Business. Not bad!

podcast

List growth

In January 2014 I had 14,130 email subscribers. Today, almost a year later, I have 28,057 subscribers. Not quite double.

I’m pretty happy with that! Open rates have declined from averaging 45-50% down to averaging 38-40% when I send to my entire list. That’s not fantastic, so I may go through and scrub my list to remove a few people who aren’t very engaged.

As my audience grew I knew engagement numbers would decline, so this isn’t something I’m particularly worried about. Who knows, I may decide to keep this entire list just for bragging rights (and contract negotiations if I pursue a traditional book deal).

What did not go well

Productivity and happiness

The first three months of the year were insanely productive. Unfortunately the rest of the year wasn’t. This year I broke my chain of writing 1,000 words a day (it was over 650 days in a row). I worked off and on for months without getting anything meaningful accomplished.

I was distracted, unmotivated, and stressed quite often, all without much good reason.

I learned that I get a lot of my self-worth from accomplishments. So being unproductive turned into an unfortunate downward spiral.

Not long after we bought the house we were in the middle of remodeling it. I was very involved in the process and started to get stressed from all the work and decisions to be made. That, and I saw my business revenues dipping significantly.

Health

In the middle of the downward emotional spiral, my son August was born. For the first two weeks he was a pretty easy baby (as far as babies go). But then both he and Oliver got sick at the same time and didn’t sleep well. Over the next two weeks the kids would alternate when they would wake up. As a result I didn’t sleep for more than an hour or two at a time.

I thought I could tough it out, but I was totally wrong.

Just as the kids were starting to sleep a little better I noticed a small rash on my leg. Over the next few days it got bigger and I started to get worried. I couldn’t think of anything I encountered recently that I would have an allergic reaction to.

I went into the doctor and it only took them a few minutes to say, “Yep, you have shingles.” The doctors next question was, “is there anything in your life right now that is causing you extra stress?”

“I have a 3 week old baby, does that count?”

“Yep, that will do it.” The doctor laughed. After going through the previous couple weeks I didn’t think it was funny.

They prescribed anti-viral medication and pain killers, but I hate the way my head feels when I take pain killers. So I just asked for the anti-viral medication.

That was a huge mistake. That afternoon I was back on the phone asking for the pain medication. It just got worse over the next couple days and I had trouble sleeping even with meds.

Pro tip: never decline pain medication.

Anyway, I eventually recovered and life returned to normal. But I took it easy for the next 3-4 months to recover. And I didn’t get back the same level of drive and focus that I had in the beginning of the year until maybe a month ago.

Travel with family

I realized that the only trip Hilary and I went on together was sailing in the Keys. That’s not normal for us. I’d really like to travel more with her and the kids, but she hasn’t been very interested. Travel with two kids is definitely more work and we just didn’t make it a priority this year.

Next year I want to make sure we get out and travel some more.

Finances

We’ll cover this in the next section, but finances were strangely rough this year. Now you’ll see in the next section that I did very well, but even with those numbers money still felt short for more than half of the year.

It started when we paid $65,000 as a down payment on our new house and then immediately spent another $60,000-70,000 on remodeling. Then expenses were far higher this year. I hired out a lot of development on ConvertKit and hired multiple employees. Salaries get expensive.

We still have quite a bit of money invested that I could fall back on if needed, but it was unnerving to go from $150,000 in the bank to dangerously low numbers.

In 2013 I never worried about money. In 2014 I worried quite a bit (whether it was rational or not).

Growing up we didn’t have much money and I was determined to make a lot when I was older. I was also determined to not let my lifestyle creep up to the larger amount of money I made. Unfortunately that happened in 2014. So I’m cutting back a lot in 2015.

That said, I made some very expensive business decisions for 2015 that will require me to watch my finances much more closely (more on that later).

Scarcity mindset

There were some months that I made $10,000 (you can see it in the charts below) and spent $25,000-30,000 (house remodel, etc). This made me very nervous. Combine that with a few launches that didn’t go as well as I would have liked and I started to develop a scarcity mindset.

Instead of thinking that it was very possible to make more money I started to think that my run of making a lot was coming to an end… Something that is just not true.

In 2015 I have to fix those mindset issues and double down on growing my business—while maintaining the lifestyle and priorities that are important to me.

I think the change starts with mindset.

Death

Just in the last month I lost two people who I miss dearly. First my grandmother passed away just before Thanksgiving and then my friend Esau passed away on Sunday.

Both of those hit me really hard and have been weighing heavily on me.

They were both wonderful people and I miss them both a lot.

Finances

Before I get into exact numbers I should make a few notes. First, the year isn’t over yet. So the totals for December and the year are not complete. Second, these are gross revenue numbers. Before any fees, royalties, or expenses. Though I did remove refunds. Fourth, I probably made a mistake somewhere. These numbers should not be considered the equivalent to what my accountant will file with the IRS. Finally, there are things like sponsorships, some royalty payments, and a little contract work that I know is missing. I’m just not ready to compile all that right now.

There are a few things I’d like to point out about these numbers. If you notice any interesting trends please post them in the comments.

2014-revenue

Q1 revenue

At the start of the year I set a goal to make $250,000 in the first quarter of 2014. I didn’t hit that goal. But having such an audacious goal forced me to work hard and I reached over $125,000 in the first quarter! Only half my goal, but still amazing.

Then I took time off. It’s very evident in my revenue chart.

Bestsellers

Authority and Photoshop for Web Design both did very well. Bringing in 25% and 27% of the total revenue. The biggest difference is that they each had launches this year. The Photoshop course actually had three different launches (January, February, and September).

Authority continued to sell really well each month without much promotion. I think it’s because that book has a huge impact on anyone who puts it into action, so it gets the most word of mouth promotion.

Disappointing sales

Now I’m not impressed with the sales from The App Design Handbook and Designing Web Applications. Especially since I split The App Design Handbook revenue 50/50 with my co-author.

But there’s a clear explanation for the low sales: I didn’t launch either of them this year. I also didn’t write about design that much, and when I did it was to promote the Photoshop course.

Both of those books were rather neglected and it shows in the revenue numbers.

They are still fantastic books, so I need to give them the time they deserve in 2015.

A pleasant surprise

Until compiling these graphs I didn’t realize how much Commit had made this year. Over $8,000 is not bad for a $2.99 iPhone app that hasn’t received much promotion.

I never expected much from app sales, but that’s actually really good! A lot of it comes from a spike over a couple days in April that resulted in $1,000 in 3 days. I still don’t know where the sales came from.

Wrap-up

This post is getting pretty long, so it’s time to wrap things up. Despite some challenges, this year has been amazing. I am incredibly blessed to be able to run my small company and make a great living.

My little family makes me very happy and I love to have the flexibility to spend time with them.

One thing I didn’t talk about is ConvertKit, my email marketing company for authors. That’s a big topic and deserves a dedicated post. For now I’ll just say that I’m working on it like crazy. And that work has been paying off very well.

Thank you!

Finally, I want to say thank you for reading this blog and joining me on this journey. I couldn’t have built my little business empire without your support.

 

How to Turn Holiday Shoppers into Year-Round Customers – Starting Right Now

The online holiday season keeps growing by leaps and bounds. For many retailers, it’s the pivotal moment that can either make or break their business. According to ComScore, holiday e-commerce spending is expected to increase by 16% to $61 billion, while mobile commerce continues its upward surge, with 25% growth between 2013 and 2014.

So as an online business, how can you capture your share of the profits not just for the holiday season, but beyond? Here’s how to turn gift-hunting holiday shoppers into lifelong customers that will continue to give your business well into 2015.

It’s the Little Things that Count

Chocomize is an online store that lets visitors create their very own customized chocolate bars. Although their website says that orders will usually arrive within 3-4 days, most customers get theirs within 1-2 days.

If that doesn’t already create a favorable impression, they also include a free gift with every order. Sometimes it’s sample size chocolate bars, sometimes it’s hot chocolate on a spoon. These cost around 50 cents to make, but create more lifetime value per customer.

hot-chocolate

Hot chocolate on a stick! Ingenious!

Chocomize co-founder and CEO Fabian Kaempfer says that, on average, 32% of first time customers order again at least once within the next 12 months. As a result of their marketing efforts, the company’s revenues are on track to exceed over a million dollars in sales.

Make Use of Every Opportunity

There are so many overlooked opportunities to interact with customers that many companies forget about them altogether.

For example, gift cards are the number one most requested item on people’s holiday shopping lists. Many department stores and restaurants will take advantage of this by offering a deal not just for the recipient, but the gift giver as well – buy a $30 gift card to your best friend’s favorite restaurant, get a voucher for a free appetizer on your next visit.

yard

An example of a follow-up promotion for gift and bonus cards

Receipts and email confirmation messages are other great opportunities to maximize revenues by letting shoppers know how much you value them. For example, if you sell electric guitars as Christmas presents in December, why not follow up with a percentage off coupon for lessons or accessories in January?

Including these discounts doesn’t mean giving away the store – it means getting people back in the (virtual) door and keeping your business front of mind for all their shopping needs at every level.

Even returns can be used as an opportunity for a new sale. Great online retailers make it easy to understand their shipping and returns policy, and make it hassle-free for the recipient to return a gift for nearly any reason. Of course, over the holidays, gifts are often returned simply because they don’t fit. This presents the perfect opportunity to let the customer know that you have that same item in a larger or smaller size, or failing that, similar styles in a similar price range that they might appreciate.

Remember that it’s less about pressuring someone for the sale than it is helping that someone find the right gift for the right person and creating a moment in the recipient’s mind that they will treasure forever. Taking these extra steps to build customer goodwill is like depositing money in your Retention Bank. You can build on these relationships over time by continuing to improve the experience that you deliver – but it always starts with one person.

Keep Them Looking Forward

Nearly every kid born before the proliferation of the Internet can remember getting one of these huge catalogs in their mailbox:

wishbook

All major department stores had them, and many a child would gleefully grab a marker and circle all the things they wanted. Sugarplum dreams were replaced by dreams of Lego sets, video games and action figures (at least during my childhood).

Some of the best memories were made browsing through the catalog as a family, even if there was no way you’d get everything you wanted. You could still dream – and Sears in particular was betting big bucks on those dreams.

Now that online shopping and mobile shopping have captured our hearts and our dollars, you may not get the same warmth and joy scrolling through the pages on an iPad – but you can still deliver an experience to look forward to online.

For instance, if someone orders an action movie online, why not throw in a cross-sell flyer with upcoming release dates on related action movies? Then follow that up with a special notification and offer on the day that same movie is released?

Keep in mind that you want your online store to be remembered as more than just an option for holiday gift-giving, so giving customers something to look forward to based on their current preferences is a smart move that can pay for itself month after month.

Accessible and Customized are More than Just Buzzwords

Many well-known stores and companies are turning to mobile as a way to accentuate their in-store or on-site offerings. Target’s Cartwheel, for example, is an app that lets customers scan bar codes for instant savings on their favorite products, as well as get in-store offers for related items they might like.

cartwheel

Target’s Cartwheel app combines coupon clipping with friendly Facebook savings competition

Target spent over a year developing the app and it has finally paid off: in March, customers spent nearly 100,000,000 hours browsing and shopping target on their mobile devices. According to Andrew Lipsman, ComScore’s vice president of marketing an insights, “[i]f you’re not occupying that valuable real estate on people’s home screen with an app, you’re potentially putting your business at risk…[p]eople will gravitate to eBay and Amazon’s apps if others don’t have good ones”.

But you’re not Target, you say, and you don’t have a limitless marketing budget? No problem. You can still use an app or a mobile responsive site to deliver a seamless shopping experience as well as follow-up using retargeting and outreach methods to keep customers informed and excited about your offers.

The keys here are accessible and customizable.

People want to know that they can reach your site and enjoy the same shopping experience and ease of use as they would on a desktop – including adding items and checking out via the cart. They want more personalized recommendations and the ability to customize and share things – but don’t want to be pitched to for everything that isn’t related to their wants and needs. Anything that acts as a stumbling block to prevent them from doing this is just one more reason for them to go elsewhere.

It’s a delicate balance – but marketers who hit that sweet spot are amply rewarded by sales that go well beyond the holiday season.

Do you do the bulk of your business over the holiday season? What are some methods you use to keep customers coming back long after the decorations come down? Share your thoughts and comments with us below!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps businesses improve website design and increase conversions with user-focused design, compelling copywriting and smart analytics. Learn more at iElectrify and get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up. Follow @sherice on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ for more articles like this!

How Google Crawls and Indexes Web Pages

Have you ever wondered how Google crawls and indexes web pages? If you haven’t, you should. Why? Because it affects how well your site ranks on Google.

In order to help you understand Google and improve your rankings, I’ve created the following infographic. It not only breaks down the way Google indexes your website, but it also covers the 7 most common reasons why your website isn’t ranking well.

Click on the image below to see a larger view:

How Google Crawls and Indexes Web Pages

Click here to view an enlarged version of this infographic.

Conclusion

If Google can’t efficiently crawl your website, your rankings will tank. By making things easier for the search engine, you’ll increase the likelihood of your pages being crawled and, more importantly, indexed.

Make sure you avoid the 7 mistakes above and check htaccess to robots.txt files. It’s the little things that can affect your rankings in a negative way.

So, how else can you increase your rankings?

Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):

Top 10 Articles on ConversionXL In 2014

Another one bites the dust. Here are our most read articles for 2014. Make sure you didn’t miss any. 

10#: The Science of Storytelling & Memory and Their Impact on CRO

If your website isn’t converting well, it’s likely the story you’re telling your customer’s journey through the marketing funnel isn’t resonating on some emotional level.

Author: Ankit Oberoi.

9#: How & Why You Should Invest In Getting Good Testimonials w/ Examples

If you’re not investing in testimonials right now, you need to read this.

Author: Tommy Walker

8#: How Creating a Sense of Urgency Helped Me Increase Sales By 332%

I managed to increase my conversion rate from 2.5% to 10.8%. The single largest factor here was increasing the amount of scarcity and urgency.

Author: Marcus Taylor

7#: Mastering The Call To Action – Words, Color, Size & Location

Almost 30% of all A/B tests their customers are running are Call To Action button tests – but most tests fail. Here’s how to make it work.

Author: Ott Niggulis

6#: 7+ Under-Utilized Google Analytics Reports for Conversion Insights

You can find insights for conversion optimization from lots of different reports & some of the juicier reports are lesser known.

Author: Peep Laja

5#: How To Come Up With A Value Proposition When What You Sell ISN’T Unique

You’ve got too many competitors, they’re selling the same stuff, and it looks like all the good value propositions are taken. What can you do?

Author: Tommy Walker

4#: 12 A/B Split Testing Mistakes I See Businesses Make All The Time

A/B testing is fun. However, there’s actually more to it than just setting up a test. Tons of companies are wasting their time and money by making these 12 mistakes.

Author: Peep Laja

3#: How To Calculate & Increase Customer Lifetime Value

That it costs 5-7x more to acquire a customer than it does to retain one isn’t entirely true.

Author: Tommy Walker

2#: How to Design an eCommerce Checkout Flow That Converts

The checkout flow is where the money is at.

Author: Peep Laja

Most popular, #1: The Landing Page Optimization Guide You Wish You’ve Always Had

A list of resources that can be applied specifically to landing page optimization, found here on ConversionXL & from other great websites around the web.

Author: Tommy Walker

Previous lists:

Top 10 of 2013

Top 10 of 2012

The post Top 10 Articles on ConversionXL In 2014 appeared first on ConversionXL.

Stand Out, Serve Hard, Sell Soft & Get Traffic (FS085)

Questions from 4 listeners today take us into the realm of the USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

We share some of our insights about getting to clarity in your offers to increase conversion and engagement. Enjoy!

It’s better to listen on the go!    Subscribe on iTunes 


Listener Questions

Talia Pollock

  • Party in my Plants. Such a fun site.
  • Her audience struggles with engagement. “How do I have an online business when all the audience wants to do is consume privately?”

Paul Ricken

  • PaulRicken.nl is Paul’s Site. Paul’s song and energy in his question are amazing!
  • “How can I build an intimate relationship with my subscribers if they’re not signing up?”

Brian Wampler

Sioux

  • She’s a film maker making some specific films for specific markets, currently writing some website copy.
  • “I don’t feel comfortable with hard-sell copy. Can you suggest some effective websites that don’t use hard-sell tactics?”
  • Resources:

Get More Leads with Brennan Dunn

You could do a lot worse than to take advice from Brennan Dunn. Whether you’re building an agency, a SaaS, a course, or a productized service, he’s done it all and done it well.

In today’s episode we talk to Brennan about the right way to generate leads, how he does it, and how he plans to do it with his newly launched agency. You can find out more about that new agency here.  We’re looking forward to following along on the journey.

For some reason, Brian forgot to say the intro.  Why?  We’ll never know.  So on this episode, we dive right into the good stuff with Brennan.

In this episode

  • We ask Brennan about what he’s been up to and what he has planned for 2015.
  • The mindset required to break free from the typical feast or famine cycle.
  • How Brennan built his agency using a sales funnel that combined in-person networking and email marketing.
  • Brennan’s advice for generating  leads as a freelancer/consultant.
  • The struggle so many developers face in marketing and sales.
  • How Brennan plans to build a sales funnel for his new agency.

Links

The post Get More Leads with Brennan Dunn appeared first on Bootstrapped Web.

Staying Motivated While Juggling Multiple Projects

Sam Soffes, founder of many awesome apps such as Cheddar, Roon, Whiskey, and Shares, talks with us about how he splits his time between freelancing and all his other projects. He's incredibly honest and really opens up about motivation and why he chooses to work on certain projects. Anyone juggling a few different projects will definitely relate to this one.

Show Notes:

  • Sam Soffes
  • ROON
  • Whiskey
  • Shares
  • Ghost
  • Cheddar
  • Vimeo Video Journal
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  • SaaStr on TechCrunch: “Box Will Hit $1 Billion In Revenues Before You Know It”

    TechCrunch yesterday published a short post we did explaining why now, Box will clearly get to $1,000,000,000 in ARR, once it IPOs.

    There’s so much controversy around the space, and Box.   But for us SaaStr’s, its just an example of how recurring revenue models work at scale.  No matter what the product does, really.

    The post at TechCrunch here and below.

    Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 12.08.33 PM

    Editor’s Note: Jason Lemkin is a managing director at Storm Ventures focusing on early stage software as a service and enterprise software startups. 

    There’s probably no enterprise software company more people opine on than Box. In particular, the business model of Box. They’re spending so much, Alex says. I like Google Drive better,Ron says. File sharing is a commodity, Jon says.

    They’re all right, on some level.

    But while opinions are somewhat subjective, math is math, and the physics of software as a service (SaaS) and recurring revenue are highly predictable. And there’s one thing we now know after Box’s recent SEC filings on its run up to an IPO: Box will be at a billion dollars in revenue before we know it. In fact, probably right around 2019.

    And this has absolutely nothing to do with what you or I think of Box as a product, or even what you think about the market per se.

    Here’s what Box’s revenue run rate is today, and will it look like over the next 5 years, based on current and projected growth rates (Box hit a $228,000,000 run rate in Q3):

    Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 5.26.12 PM.png

    From Box’s SEC filings, we can predict the future pretty reliably. Even if growth dramatically declines, Box will still hit a $1,000,000,000 revenue run rate by 2019. Box’s growth rate declined a bit in Q3 ‘14, but it’s still growing at an epic rate — 70 percent year-over-year in 2014.

    • If this gradually declines to 30 percent growth by 2019 — a much lower growth rate than comparable companies like Salesforce experienced at this stage — Box will still cross a $1,000,000,000 run rate in 2019. This is just basic math, the way recurring revenue compounds.

    • Box no longer has any material risk of ever running out of money. In Q3, Box’s magic number decreased from 1.38 to 0.97. In other words, Box now spends less than its first year of customer revenue acquiring and closing its customers. As long as this continues to decline, Box’s losses will decline as well.

    • Add in, say, $250 million from an IPO, and Box should never run out of money. That might have been a risk before Box added an additional $150 million in funding earlier this year, and before sales and marketing expenses declined. But unless an IPO never comes, Box has, for all intents and purposes, infinite cash runway now.

    • The customers are all still renewing. As they almost always do with true Enterprise products. One objection to Box’s business model is the general concern that cloud storage is commoditized to the point of free.

    • File storage may now be free, but clearly, the customers are still renewing. And customers aren’t stupid. They clearly view the enterprise-grade functionality of Box as worth quite a lot. If churn had dramatically grown, the growth rate above could be at risk. But churn isn’t materially growing, according to the latest SEC filings.

    • Box’s customers continue to buy more Box, and pay more for Box, in the second and third years after first buying. This isn’t just true of Box. It’s nothing special. It’s exactly what we’d expect.  Because it’s true of all true enterprise SaaS companies. No matter what their products do:

    Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 5.40.19 PM.png

    You can love Box, hate it, or maybe never even use it but still have an opinion. It’s fun water-cooler talk. But SaaS and recurring revenue is highly predictable once you hit scale. Box will hit a $1 billion run rate around 2019, plus or minus.

    You can bank on that.

    Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 5.38.17 PM