From 150-200 How I lost 20% revenues in 1 night while having my best week ever.

When I finished my new interface, I started exploring other marketing channels.

I started with give away. I partnered with 2 companies that I thought were great additions to QuickMail offering. The first give away was 1,000 prospect emails through service and the second one was 2 years free usage of, a service to follow up on a 1-to-1 basis.

They both gave limited results. I’m not that great at promoting things unfortunately… mostly because I find this activity boring and tiring.

Another channel I started was to set regular weekly Webinars. This proved really good at converting people. I still don’t have a scientific approach to it, but I love anything that helps me stay close to my audience and get fast feedback. I probably need to revisit the presentation slides and give even more value, but my current problem is to drive enough audience to those webinars (I get around 10 sign ups a week).

I also built an infographic that worked somewhat well. It started slowly but was picked up by someone with lots of followers on Twitter and this lead to many re-tweets and favourites. Hard to say the impact of this because I still don’t track that efficiently but it seems like a good move and I should do one per quarter as images spread more easily.

Meanwhile, I tried to raise the awareness of our Facebook group where lots of useful information can be found. We had 167 users in that group when I started and it needed more exposure as people were clearly missing out.

Because I had no idea what to do, I started to simply add a link in my signature and sure enough, as I replied to support messages, this improved a bit the numbers, but they were not where I wanted them to be.

Then one day, I decided to revisit the welcome message I was sending to new accounts on QuickMail to give more information and direction. One bullet points was about the Facebook group. This worked really well and people started to register at a good rate (263 members currently)… problem solved, moving to the next one.

Holiday season and end of 2014 in general was pretty lame in terms of sales and growth. Part of it was because I simply didn’t put enough efforts into it (see previous post).

But the start of 2015 proved to be a completely different story. In January, QuickMail had its best week with a growth of 14% for a single week. Pretty cool way to start the year.

Interestingly enough, it’s around that time that the Swiss Central Bank decided to drop the peg on the EURO. This may seem like a completely remote event, but I live in Switzerland and therefore spend money in Swiss Francs, while I collect money in dollar with QuickMail.

Within one day, the exchange rate between USD and CHF (Swiss currency) changed by 20%. I lost 20% of my recurring revenues overnight. Since then the gap has reduced to 8% but foreign exchange exposure can lead to these kind of “surprise”. On the bright side, my fix costs (e.g. hosting and other software) are all in USD, so they were not impacted.

As I scaled in users, I started to reach out to less “early adopters” and starting to get very basic support questions I so far never really had to answer. It’s a good sign of broader adoption of my product but it still puzzled me a bit as I wondered if my message was clear enough to describe my service to someone with no prior understanding of cold email. I will probably need to work again on a wizard to help with user on-boarding or do multiple blog articles that I can refer people to. For the moment, I redirect people to a recorded Webinar, but those videos (although of high value) are just too long and answer more than what is often needed.

As a side note, I can’t even imagine how much support I would have had to deal with if I didn’t change the interface, but I do need the on-boarding sequence I had before with mini videos to help.

Usage of the live chat usage on the website increased a lot as well. It helps people getting hold of me when I’m online (or send me a question by email when I’m not). This proved immensely useful for the users and for me. After chatting with a new customer, he told me that he heard that + worked great. I asked him where he read that, and he told me he heard it in a B2B conference. This coincided with my best week, maybe I should consider attending some of those conferences afterall.

Although live support is awesome, it has its limit too. Support started to take a lot of time (in terms of interruptions). In fact, so much time that I had to cut my live chat to be able to have a few uninterrupted hours of development, which is not ideal.

At that point, I usually get people asking me why I don’t just outsource the support and my answer is always the same: it keeps me close to my users, so I can learn what people mistakenly understood about my product and then improve the product to get less support in the future.

There are no better ways to minimize support than having your developer doing the support himself. Pretty soon, the developer will beg you to solve the problems that are coming on a frequent basis so he doesn’t have to do as much support.

Small tips if you have a small business and are not the developer, have a subdomain like where you can host a wiki and/or a wordpress site that you can change at any moment without involving your developer.

Final note: I’m at 20% of my 1k paying users goal. I never though that will be going that fast, but as I reflect on the business, there are no reasons why I should not be at 2,000 already. I guess it’s a good sign that I’m growing more confident to scale my business. Let’s see on the next post how I’ll achieve that…

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