Building in Public January 13, 2021

How we grew MRR 266% with 7% less traffic (2020 Review)

Riley Tomasek @rileyt

A lot changed for us in 2020. I started working on Standard Resume full time, we launched a new version of the app, and we started focusing more on growing the company.

This post outlines what we learned that would be useful to other Indie Hackers.

Pricing is important

  • We ran several pricing tests this year, with wildly different prices and payment models. Our initial theories were all wrong, but we ended up at a higher price subscription model without impacting conversion.
  • Learnings: Changing pricing is easy and will have a significant impact on your MRR

SEO is unpredictable

  • We hired an SEO agency to write articles for us that have received almost no traffic. Even worse, traffic to some of our existing pages decreased. A 37% decrease in SEO traffic was the primary reason our overall traffic decrease in 2020.
  • The good news here is that we started working on SEO on our own, and the early results are looking promising.
  • Learnings: Predicting returns for time/money spent on SEO is complicated.

Email is awesome

  • Our welcome email campaign was a huge success. It increased our conversion rate, helped people find our resume writing help content, and gave customers an easy way to contact us (we explicitly asked for replies in the welcome emails).
  • Learnings: Email onboarding is awesome. Set it up as soon as possible.

Product improvements don't always work

  • While rebuilding the app, we decided to remove account creation and most of our onboarding. It was faster to get to the resume editor, but users were getting there with an empty resume and bouncing.
  • We changed the entire top-level navigation of the app and learned that several of our changes were confusing. Luckily these were relatively easy to fix.
  • Improving the accuracy and speed of our LinkedIn resume builder increased conversion rate.
  • Learnings: Make the smallest possible product changes and monitor/test to assure they had the desired impact.

Ads can be expensive

  • We tested a few different advertising channels and had some spectacular failures. Our $3000 Facebook Ads test resulted in 0 paying customers and an increased number of support emails.
  • Google Ad traffic has converted better than most channels for us, but the cost per click in our keyword space is expensive ($3-10), so we have struggled to make them profitable.
  • Learnings: Be disciplined and monitor spend when testing new ad platforms.

Analytics are crucial

  • We tried a bunch of things this year and were wrong with many of our predictions. If we weren't continually monitoring, validating, and stopping our experiments, the negative changes would have canceled out the positive ones.
  • Learnings: Try new things, but ensure that they have the desired impact.

Hopefully this was helpful. If you have any comments, questions, or feedback, please leave a comment!

For more frequent updates, follow me on Twitter: @rileytomasek

  1. 1

    Great lessons learned! I find the more expensive the lesson the less likely you are to do it again:) Could you have a more targeted approach to your marketing? It would take some time to identify where to focus but should be more effective. Keep up the great work it is an awesome product.

    1. 1

      Haha, yes, the expensive mistakes stay top of mind.

      We tried to increase our targeting on Facebook, but you have to spend a fair amount of money to collect the data to do it systematically. Our other marketing efforts are much more targeted.

      1. 2

        Agreed on FB it costs a lot to get to the right faces

      2. 1

        :) Good to hear more targeted the better you have an affiliate/referral scheme in place? if yes do share [email protected]

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