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From 1 to 767 paying users in 3 weeks with no marketing effort

I launched Typebot in June 2020. Typebot is a Typeform alternative that makes you collect 4x more responses thanks to a beautiful conversational experience.

At that time, like many solo entrepreneurs, I was only working on improving the product and its features thinking that the current solution isn't great enough and that it wouldn't convince users to switch to a paid plan.

(It's funny because everyone is saying "don't fall into that trap", but still, I feel like everyone does because we tend to say "Oh, this rule doesn't apply to me" thinking that our situation is different, that the market is different or that the current context has changed. I figured this thought is dangerous, we should instead take a step back and think "How does it apply to me?".)

And in fact, I got lucky because, without marketing (only just a few LinkedIn and Facebook posts), Typebot got its first paying customer. It didn't help because I concluded that I just need to improve the product and people will come. But, that was not the case. After a Product Hunt launch that made it to the top 5, and 4 months of features development, Typebot still didn't have more than 30 active forms and only freemium users. So, like many product-enthusiast developers, I started to work on other projects and stopped working 100% on Typebot.

But this has changed thanks to a lifetime deal campaign 🤯

Lifetime deal

On the 25th of March, I received an email from Ragu who works at SaaS Mantra, a lifetime deal marketplace (like AppSumo) and he proposed to create a Typebot lifetime deal.

SaaS Mantra email

I always thought that a lifetime deal for a SaaS isn't a great idea because you could end up with big customers that cost a lot in server resources. But I had nothing to lose and I needed just this: more users to battle test the product and collect valuable feedback to finally know how I can better distribute Typebot and make it sustainable.

SaaS Mantra was very supportive, and they made me feel we were in this together. I joined their Slack and they actually worked on a deal page: https://saasmantra.com/deals/typebot. I just had to record some presentation videos and the deal was live on the 28th of April.

Here are the results after 3 weeks:
🚀 767 sales ($23,605). We gradually increased the deal price from $25 to $39.
👋 900+ new users
🚪 2,4% refund rate

The results still look unreal to me and I'm grateful for this. SaaS Mantra is taking ~50% of the revenue but it is still worth it.

(Just a quick note on my server costs. Typebot is mostly based on Firebase, it still costs less than $1/month. I host the sites on Vercel for $20/month, I send my emails with Mailgun for $35/month. So it costs on average $56/month in server resources for now and I'm pretty happy with this!)

The launch sprint

During the campaign, I spent almost all of my time talking to new users. It helped to collect as many insights as possible and understand what were their use cases and problems to solve. From one day to another I had so much customer support to do, I couldn't work on new features for a week.

I also received lots of feature requests and I had to store the ideas somewhere, so I decided to make it publicly accessible with a roadmap on Trello:

Public roadmap

And I knew I could decrease my customer support dedicated time by creating a community where users could talk to each other so I created a Facebook group:

Facebook group

I'm glad I created this community because it also creates a channel where I can post updates on what I currently work on and I also receive much love so it motivates me more to build a great product. The group is growing fast and has currently 330+ members 💪

Deal's over, what to do from there?

A week after the deal campaign, I started to have thoughts on how can I make the project sustainable. Because I could keep adding features full-time to make existing users happy but if I do this I will never make a living out of Typebot in the long term.

So I implemented an affiliate program because some users requested it:

Affiliate program annoucement

But, of course, that is no magic. 32 users joined the program and there are still no leads. I will eventually try to join an affiliate network. Why not try to reach out to influencers? If you have any experience with this, I'm interested in your advice.

So I also decided to work half of my time on marketing. We'll see how it goes! Hopefully, I'll have to write an article titled "How I made $1M ARR with a 50/50 marketing strategy" in a year from now 😄.

Should you try a lifetime deal campaign for your business?

Lifetime deal (for a SaaS Product) works for you if:

  • You need early adopters who are still willing to pay a one-time fee for your product and who will help you build the foundation of your tool with their feedback. In exchange, you're rewarding them with premium access for life.
  • You have low server costs. If your product is based on large file storage, machine learning or, anything that is resource-intensive, you must not offer an "unlimited" lifetime deal because it could hurt you in the long term.
  • Your servers can handle traffic spikes (perfect if you're based on a serverless solution like Firebase, Vercel, AWS lambda).

Lifetime deal campaigns have also their downsides. I didn't know this before launching Typebot on SaaS Mantra but The LTD community is big and I feel like people are mostly interested in deals instead of the product/solution itself. So you could potentially end up with early adopters that don't fit your targeted customers.
I feel like it didn't happen for Typebot because some people are telling me that they are a fan of the product and that they will share it with others. But that's something to keep in mind.

Overall, a lifetime deal campaign is a great way of spreading the word about your product. And, the feeling of having so many users come from all around the world use your product and praise it in a such short period of time is amazing. ❤️

  1. 9

    It's been an amazing journey!!!

    1. 2

      Thank you, Ragu, nice teamwork 💪

  2. 6

    This needs to be markedly better than the alternatives to break out. Dont write off the feature adds just yet. I think you are struggling with product market fit at this point so keep getting feedback and use your own product to keep collecting data on what will make this better than every alternative and if you can find the secret sauce it will take off away from you on its own.

  3. 5

    This is great! Thanks for sharing

  4. 4

    Very cool! Curious why did you choose Facebook for your community? Any regrets or awesome things about that?

    1. 2

      Hey! I've always been told that to build a community the most important thing at the beginning is to concentrate all activity into one place. And Facebook group seemed perfect for this, it's just a single thread and it makes everyone knows

      Most of the time, people would be tempted to create a Slack or a Discord server (or even worse, both of them) with multiple channels, etc... But I think it's hard to start like this.

      I'm very satisfied with it for now :)

      This post by Orbit is very interesting

  5. 3

    Love the product. Found it easy to use and feels much more natural than alternative forms. One small bug is that the application seems to hang when you're trying to search for an emoji (using Edge on MacOS).

    1. 1

      Thank you for trying. I'm glad you find it more natural, that's the biggest idea.

      Ok, thank you for reporting this issue. I'll fix this asap

      1. 1

        I guess you've fixed it already, at least it's working much better for me.

  6. 3

    Hey Baptiste! Its Anton, one of Typebot`s earliest adopters. Thanks for a great article and honesty! I will use this artcle for my LTDs website to convince SaaS developers make LTDs for their products.

    PS: If anybody interested in Typebot working example which speaks to website visitors everyday, you can check it on saasninja.ru main page.

  7. 3

    What a journey!! Thanks for sharing - looking forward to the next update 🚀

  8. 3

    "Oh, this rule doesn't apply to me"

    Biggest fallacy but still happens all the time not sure why 🤔

  9. 3

    Hey Baptiste, this is amazing! Also love how you've documented this out to share.

    What kind of marketing/growth work are you going to go for?

    1. 5

      Hey Beth, thank you very much 🙏

      Here is what I'm planning to do:

      • Make the tool more understandable on first use and create documentation that answers every possible question (it will also reduce customer support load) and I'll make sure newcomers have their "ah-ha" moment early. I think this is key, people have to recommend spontaneously Typebot.
      • Write content that people would find valuable. I will write guides on how to create the best forms in different use cases and other topics in the lead generation space.
      • Be active on social media platforms: Twitter, Hacker News, Reddit. Monitor conversation around the web and talk about Typebot and share the produced content.

      I must say I'm greatly inspired by Plausible cofounders.

  10. 3

    Awesome product and execution. Geez, only one guy made this.

    Can't believe

    1. 1

      Thank you Artur, it means a lot. That's a not-easy challenge to do this alone!

      1. 2

        Well, I mean I can't believe how one person came up with such juicy offer and execution.

        Seems like constant feedback loop from your followers allow you to do that.

        Otherwise it's impossible to be on a right track

  11. 2

    Great write up thank you! I am launching on first sass company taskclue.com on AppSumo this Monday and I am excited / nervous but this gave me some encouragement 😬

    1. 1

      Glad to have you on AppSumo! Looking forward to your success.

    2. 1

      Hey bro, good luck with this. Keep us posted :)

  12. 2

    Very interesting! Thanks for all the details... lots to think about for my future roll-out!

  13. 2

    Super helpful breakdown. Thanks for the share! Congrats on all the success!

  14. 2

    Awesome story man! Glad things turned around for you too 🍾.
    As for the referral program bit, it's not a bad idea. I think it was just premature why it didn't work out for you.
    It's best to do referral programs after you've gathered enough data that dictates people achieving that "Aha" moment from your product. This doesn't have to be a perfect picture like what you'll see
    after achieving product market fit, but just enough so you'll be able to judge user sentiments for the likelihood of their willingness to share your product (where the monetary incentive would just be the icing on the cake).
    Another thing too: This is an assumption but I think it's possible that product-based incentives for your referral program would be more attractive though it'll surely won't work for the ones that got the LTD but more for the new users who'll pay a monthly subscription. But again, this all depends on what your data says. As an outsider, I can only assume lol.
    Keep up the good work man👏🏿

    1. 2

      Thank you for the advice, it really helps and I agree with you on all this :)

      1. 1

        No prob Baptiste, and I sent you an email by the way to help you out some more, plus I wanna have a try at the product. I definitely see myself using this a ton not too far down the road.

  15. 2

    It's an incredible journey, and thanks for the insights.

    I tried a lifetime deal in the early stage of Mailist and sold much more paid plans than with the subscription model. Still, the volume was too low and not enough to secure months ahead of the maintenance costs.

    I believe the key here is the volume of how many lifetime deals you can sell in a short period. So definitely, I would use it more as a special periodical offer rather than a long run commercial strategy.

    Have you considered any upsell opportunities to the customers on the lifetime deal?

    Anyway, thanks for sharing Baptiste; it's a precious content piece added to the IH community. 👏

    1. 1

      Hey Marcin, I told users from the LTD that they will have access to upcoming features. That's their reward to thank them to believe in the product.

      Now, I gotta focus on new subscribers :)

  16. 2

    Great post sharing your inner workings and mindset to get Typebot out to users and your fans :) keep up your great work. I am just starting my digital marketing journey after working many hours, doing one on one consulting and coaching. Let me know how I can help I specialise in sustainable strategic management :)

  17. 2

    Whoa, nice one! I've flirted with LTDs before, find it super interesting to get your read on this. Makes me think perhaps I should consider it again.

    Out of interest, what product (if any) did you use to launch affiliate?

    Side note: if you want to put your Trello roadmap at your own domain and customise it, Cloakist can help (https://cloak.ist). Example: http://roadmap.digikeijs.com/

    1. 1

      Hey! Cloakist looks nice, I wonder how it's done technically 🤔

  18. 2

    Cool.. Will like to follow your foot steps now!

  19. 2

    The guy in that article is really handsome

  20. 2

    Awesome job Baptiste! Typebot looks wonderful!

  21. 2

    Go, Baptiste, go! 💪
    Thank you for sharing all those details. Very insightful. As an active user of Typebot, I can only wish you loads of success and a joyful journey. I've tried several chatbots before but I think Typebot is the One. I love it and hope you will raise it for the long run.

    1. 1

      Thank you very much, Laszlo 🥰

  22. 2

    |"How I made $1M ARR with a 50/50 marketing strategy" in a year from now 😄| - Really love your confidence. Good luck @baptisteArno.

    1. 2

      Yeah I found this funny haha. Thank you Gavin!

  23. 1

    Thanks for sharing Baptiste. Love the product. Well done.

    Andy

  24. 1

    Love your story, appreciate the breakdown!

  25. 1

    Fantastic story @baptisteArno! Curious to know what referral management software do you use? (Not trying to sell anything! Just genuinely curious)

    1. 2

      Hey, I use Rewardful! Great experience, plug & play.

  26. 1

    Outstanding Baptiste! Being your early adopter & a ltd customer that the whole credit goes to you. Till now I didn't hear a single complaint about Typebot. Everything just works fluently. All the best for your future.

  27. 1

    Great job on this. Congrats! Have you thought of also trying to work out a deal with appsumo to get a discounted monthly rate or another lifetime sale? This would prob help you for exposure and recognition.

    1. 1

      Hey Darryl, thank you for your message. I thought about it, of course. I feel like people aren't interested in a discounted subscription when they come to appsumo, they want a Lifetime deal.

  28. 1

    Nice. I didn't know about SaaS Mantra before, only AppSumo marketplace.

  29. 1

    Amazing story. Keep going 💪🏾. It’s a very good idea to try Influencers but you’ll probably need to define special offers depending of the influencer to make it more attractive to them.

  30. 1

    Hi Baptiste, thanks for the write up, super interested and good luck with the development of the business :) Is it a side gig ? or do you have a job on the side ? greetings from Paris !

    1. 1

      Hi Laurent, thank you for your message. This is my full-time job. (I did 1,5 years of freelancing before that allowed me to save some cash in the bank)

  31. 1

    Hi Baptiste,

    Thanks for sharing such valuable insights.

    You mentioned that during the campaign, you spent almost all of your time talking to new users.

    Will you please shed some light about how to identify new users?

    Thank You.

    1. 2

      Hey Debo, talking to your users is key! Because I was overwhelmed with customer support, I only talk to users who reached out to me first. But at the early stage of your project, I think you have to proactively reach out to them so that you can get useful insights on how to build a better solution.

  32. 1

    Looks great.

    Can I respectfully make two suggestions?

    You will definitely have users who want to take out the "thinking/speaking" delay. Making the conversation look like WhatsApp is cool, but if you have to run one of these systems and see significant user dropoff on the third chat bubble (as we did), the delay becomes aggravating rather than fun.

    Also, and this may be way outside your product roadmap, but as a conversation becomes more complex, a GUI becomes a frustrating way to keep it updated.

    If the software has some kind of underlying DSL/code that defines the branching, expose that to your more technical users.

    Every (small-scale, not-AI) chatbot project I've seen goes through three stages:

    • "Wow, building this conversation is fun!"
    • "Man, keeping this thing updated is annoying",
    • "Shit! We need to rewrite huge sections of this quickly and it's going to take a day to get it updated, and I can't go any faster than the GUI will let me, and now management is telling me to kill it"

    Being able to see the entire conversational tree as text/DSL helps ensure you don't have out-of-date branches, and makes it (relatively) straightforward to update large sections at once.

    That said, the largest project I worked on was an election bot that had to be 100% accurate and up-to-date, so our requirements may not have been your customers' requirements :)

    Best of luck with it!

    1. 3

      Thank you for your suggestions Grant! The "typing delay" is 100% configurable so you can set it to 0 seconds if you feel like it doesn't need typing emulation.

      You are right, I'm thinking a lot about giving users full control of the internal chatbot configuration. :)

      1. 1

        Awesome. It really does help.

  33. 1

    Hi @baptisteArno , Thank you for sharing this article. I am working on a saas product (Jibber) which I envision will help startups like yours help build the support community on your website with your branding and domain. Jibber can help keep your community informed with your updates, get feedback quickly, monetise easily by retargeting, build social proof and also help build a support ecosystem. Can you please let me know if this would be a potential value add for startups. I would really appreciate your feedback!

    Here is the link to demo video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoMgsmMGfkQ&t=16s

    Thanks a lot!

    1. 1

      Thank you Venu, it looks great! Good luck with this :)

  34. 1

    Typeform + Landbot! Looks great!!!

  35. 1

    Looks like a great product! I'll put it on my upcoming list of techy tools and try it myself. I like the logo (the common chat message bubble logo or person outline is overdone and not interesting - I like the 2 lines and dots). Love the Forest Gump welcome. That's fun!

    Idea/question - would it be possible to program the chat bubble to open a custom welcome greeting, but not on page load, after the user has been on the page for a minute or so?

    1. 1

      Hey, my friend! Sure you can totally do this directly in the tool, you can set up a call-out message and a delay.

  36. 1

    Thanks for the inspiring piece! Just started my first product today.

    1. 1

      Thank you Duane! Good luck with your product 💪

  37. 1

    Great post, thanks for sharing! I like how you constantly adapt your strategy to better respond to the market, best of luck 💪

  38. 1

    Congratulations on your success! It’s funny because I was just listening to the IH podcast yesterday and he was talking about how you only need to be 10-15% better than your competitors and not 10X better like what a lot of people think. If you ever need someone to bounce growth ideas off of, reach out anytime, I would love to be of service!

  39. 1

    Congrats! Was interesting to follow your path

  40. 1

    What an insightful post, thanks for sharing! Have you identified some downsides when preparing your lifetime deal campaign?

    1. 1

      Hey Cica-Laure, glad you appreciated it. Like I said, SaaS Mantra handled everything, I just had to record some video so they were no particular downsides.

  41. 1

    Amazing journey. All the best in the future! I'd like to share one thing tho, everyone should invest a little time to work on marketing to increase exposure and create awareness of your product instead of spending all the time on development only.

    The best marketing is affiliate marketing in this thread. Word-of-mouth marketing is always the best, humans is easily influenced by their friends & family or the person they trust.

  42. 1

    Baptiste, this is such an inspiring story – thanks so much for sharing!

    Lifetime deals get such a bad reputation, so it's great to see a story from the more positive side. It's hard to argue with cold, hard cash from real paying customers.

    Congrats on the success, and I look forward to the "How I made $1M ARR with a 50/50 marketing strategy" article!

    1. 2

      Hey James, thank you! I'm glad it inspired you 😃. Good luck on Screenshow!

  43. 1

    Thank for you this insight, and great journey breakdown.

    1. 1

      Thank you, Greg, glad you like it!

  44. 1

    Great write up! I particularly like your insights on your experience with the lifetime deal offering 🚀.

    1. 1

      Thank you Nathan, I'm glad you like it :)

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