Growth October 16, 2020

I have no idea what I'm doing, and my luck has run out.


My MRR has stagnated for months (any new growth keeps getting cancelled out by churn 🤷). Obviously I deserve it, since I didn't take my startup seriously for a couple of months -- it was summer, and I wanted to have fun.

I have 2 issues right now on how to move forward:

1. I don't know who my ideal customers are.

I thought my ideal customers were affiliate marketers, but when I look into my Stripe subscribers, it seems like majority of them are consultants, bloggers, and even schools. My landing page has been targeted at affiliate marketers, and since it converts pretty well I really don't want to fix what's not broken and risk ruining it.

Should I talk to my customers?

I don't even know what to say or ask.

2. I don't have a repeatable marketing channel.

I tried direct marketing, which worked for my first 10-ish customers, and then it didn't. I engaged/networked on social media, but that's not very scalable, so I blogged. The vast majority of my articles received poor traffic, but 1 in particular that I wrote (a "bottom-of-funnel" article) managed to rank #1 on Google for a long-tail keyword, which has sent me the majority of my traffic, despite my site having a very low page/domain authority. In fact, when I looked into my funnel, the majority of my upgrades came from Google. The social traffic converted very poorly.

Should I continue blogging? Guest posting? Asking for backlinks? It seems so out of my control and serendipitous.

Basically, apart from adding features/fixing bugs, I don't know what I'm doing on the marketing front: they all seem to come from the ether. My conversions look good for now, so I'm confident if I can turn up the knob on traffic my MRR will go up accordingly as well.

I just don't know how to get that traffic apart from depending on luck.

  1. 4

    Should I talk to my customers?

    Yes!!! Figure out who they are, what value they get from the product, why they decided to sign up. You don't need to ask much, apart from 'why did you sign up/pay, what value do you get from the product, what problem does it solve for you' etc. Mom test them, let them do the talking, understand their headaches.

    1. 1

      Okay. I already send out surveys from time to time, but very few actually volunteer their time to answer them.

      My biggest opportunity to talk to the customer is live chat, when they need something, so that's when I get to be face-to-face with them in real time.

      I'll start baking that into my customer support workflow.

      (Apart from that, I have an irrational fear of losing customers whenever I email them, so it's like, before they upgrade, I badger them endlessly with a drip sequence; after they upgrade, I keep as quiet as possible so as to hide from the customer.)

  2. 3

    Either of these questions will help you better understand your customers:

    1. Why did you sign up for [insert name of product/service here]?

    We ask this during the onboarding email sequence and receive at least daily responses with valuable insights from customers. And not just one type of customer, which makes it even more useful.

    1. What problem does [insert name of product/service here] solve for you?

    Knowing the answer to this will help you be clearer on your value proposition. And mean you can focus on this rather than writing for one particular segment when clearly your product appeals to a broader audience.

    However, you could also consider creating more landing pages that directly address these customer segments. If your main landing page is geared towards affiliate marketers, create a variation of the homepage that speaks directly to bloggers, schools etc. And link to these in the footer of your website.

    You can either ask these questions during your onboarding process. Or survey your customers via email.

  3. 2

    Based on what you've written above you already know what you need to do :).

    You need to talk to as many customers as possible. It's not magic. You can do it. JFDI! If you need some help getting started:

    1. For every existing customer send them a email written like a HUMAN asking them if they'll hop on a Zoom call with you for 15 minutes and share their experience with the product with you can share any ideas they have with you.

    2. For ever person that churns do the same. You have a backlog of people that have churned. Email everyone of them now and ask them why and if they will get on a Zoom and share why you weren't a fit. Offer them a $25 dollar Amazon gift card. The yield here will likely be low but do it anyway. The conversations that hit will be gold. Send a follow up asking for just a single sentence if they can't do a Zoom.

    3. Change your cancel form to include a required cancel reason. Read every one of them.

    4. Send an automated email, written like a human, that gets sent after every signup asking them why they signed up i.e. "what problem were you hoping that xyz would solve for you". Offer to hop on Zoom and help them get setup. Read every email do every Zoom.

    Some people will say only focus on churn. That's wrong. You need to work on marketing too. Don't let yourself off the hook here. You've already said what works. Bottom of the funnel pain point SEO. You've got one article that works. Make a list of all the absolute bottom of the funnel things that people would search for before buying your product. Stack rank them and start knocking them off every week e.g. "<competitor x> alternative", "best tool for xyz" etc. See here for more details

    Go hard on the above and you'll make progress.

  4. 2

    What is your product, @boeing767?

    I'd try to dig into #1 as deeply as possible; #2 will 100% depend on what you find out

    • Try pulling some of your users for an in-person interview
    • Add a ton of telemetry
    • Send out "Superhuman" survey (how disappointed you'd be, blah blah blah)

    Look for patterns, there must be some!
    People do signup - that's a pattern already. Try figuring out what they expect and why they churn. One extreme way - try breaking some features and see who complains

  5. 2

    Hi @boeing767, I've been following along your journey for the last few months (year?). I know this is a throwaway account and you don't share any details about what your company is publicly, but would you be willing to share them privately directly to me? I'm interested in learning more about your product and maybe working together on figuring out the marketing aspect of it. Your mysterious posts have always piqued my interest 😂.

    Normally I'd email for such an offer, but obviously you don't have any contact information available :D.

    Hit me up via email if interested (it's in my IH profile).

    1. 1

      I'm fine, thank you though.

      I'm not as courageous as the others here.

      Maybe I'll come out guns blazing when I hit $10k MRR.

  6. 2

    You will have trouble solving #2 until you solve #1.

    And to solve #1; you will likely have to talk to people.

    I recommend two books: The Mom Test; and Obviously Awesome.

    I think if you read both of those books ( or my notes below ) you might get more confident about where you should focus right now.

  7. 2

    What’s your churn? That number should be front and center on your dashboard. With 10+ new subscribes per month you should naturally be trending up, to me it looks like a churn issue (probably related to your point #1)

    1. 1

      My churn is so embarrassing that I didn't want to include it.

      It spiked as high as 27% at one point, I got it down to about a little over half of that now.

      1. 2

        Well there’s your answer! Forget about getting more traffic from marketing channels, focus how do you keep your current customers.

        1. 1

          Hm, you may be on to something.

          If I kept churn really low, like <3-5%, and just keep my current lead flow from SEO, I would have been growing my MRR slowly but surely.

  8. 2

    Gary V. talks a lot about FB ads and how to refine your customer profile using an iterative approach. You pretty much create a campaign based on the user profile of a campaign. You can probably do that multiple times. That way you can improve your social media targeting. That should then enable you to put money in and get money out where out is greater than in.

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