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Over the past two years, I've struggled with getting comfortable about the money we're spending on retargeting. People would ask me if our retargeting was ROI positive and my answer usually went something like "Probably. I mean, I'm pretty sure it is...I just don't know by how much."

It's this sentiment of general uneasiness that has led me to write this blog post. All of the stuff I didn't know or didn't feel comfortable with led me to waste a lot of time thinking about ways to measure the ROI we were getting from retargeting. I wanted to talk about those things in hopes that I would save some people the trouble that I went through.

To be clear, this article isn't a primer on what retargeting is, it's the pieces of advice I wish someone had told me before I got started with it. And also this advice is geared specifically towards B2B startups...specifically ones that are sub-3MM ARR.

Oh, and your mileage may vary.

Our User Onboarding Toolbox

Posted by Steve Klein on September 4, 2014

They say first impressions are everything. Well, it's as true for your startup as is it for anything else. If users don't have a great experience the first time they use your product, it's likely they won't stick around for long.

When users don't stick around, it's bad for business. For starters, it's harder to convert a user who has tried your product in the past and decided against it than it is to convert a user who is trying your product for the first time. Secondly, people who try your product and decide they don't like it tend to become detractors and say things like "we tried their product but their UI was too confusing to get started" to other potential customers.

So giving users a great experience the first time they use your product is actually really important. In web startup lingo, we refer to the process of converting new signups into consistent users as user onboarding. It's a combination of demonstrating value, educating users how to use your product, and then guiding them through using the product for the first time.

When we launched StatusPage.io in February of 2013, there were only two people on the team. The two of us were responsible for every single function of the company: building product, writing blog posts, doing customer support, and all of the administrative work around owning a company. Today there are four of us and not much has changed. Wearing lots of hats is just a reality of early stage software startups.

If you've ever been part of an early stage software startup, you know what this is like. Wearing lots of hats is hard. There's lots of context switching and you have to do jobs you don't want to do.

Founders want to stick to what they're good at, which is usually being in charge of product. So they look for ways to get rid of these distractions, allowing them to focus on the things that they're good at. What often happens is founders will outsource and hire other people to do all the jobs that they don't want to be doing.

For some areas this makes a lot of sense, but founders should do customer support for as long as possible.

Happy Birthday StatusPage.io!

Posted by Steve Klein on February 5, 2014

Well, we've officially turned one year old . As we look back over our first year, we're proud of what we've accomplished but we're more excited for what's to come in our second year. Here are some graphs, stats and other interesting tidbits that happened in our first year.

Back in July we wrote a post on 5 steps to $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and promised we would write follow up posts for $25k, and $100k in MRR. We're excited to announce we've reached $25,000 per month! Here are 6 things that helped out.

1. Building product people want

After YC ended, we got right back to cranking out product. A few of the new features and enhancements included:

  • Custom HTML
  • Activity Log (pictured below)
  • HipChat Integration
  • Custom Metrics
  • Component Subscriptions (launching out of beta soon...)
  • Redesigned notifications

None of these features were built in a vacuum. Instead, we identified a group of potential customers that would find a new feature useful and stayed in contact with them from idea to launch. By the time a feature is launched, we would have 5-10 existing customers already using the feature.

What to take away from this

Startups are inherently underdogs. Everyone likes to root for an underdog - you just need to give your customers reasons to. Without a multi-million dollar marketing budget, the only ways to do this are to ship quality product fast and to provide incredible customer support. When you identify groups of customers that would find a new feature useful and involve them in product development (initial feature scope, usability tests...etc), they feel empowered to help you succeed, and in turn are usually the ones singing your praises to the other decision makers in their networks.

2. Riding coat-tails

If there’s any ‘growth hack’ that worked well for us, it’s been product integrations with successful companies. Early on, we looked at other companies with whom we shared mutual customers and with whom a product integration would be mutually beneficial. We built integrations with New Relic, Datadog, Pingdom, Librato, TempoDB, Heroku, and HipChat. Now, our signups love the fact that they can hook their status page up to their their existing tools with only a few clicks.

Podio Quote

How it helped

StatusPage.io featured as a New Relic Connect Partner

Worked with HipChat Marketing to launch an integration on their blog

StatusPage.io featured in Heroku Add-ons store

What to take away from this

While you’re building an integration, approach the conversation with someone in BD or Marketing at the other company by asking yourself how the integration will help the company's customers. A few examples using the integrations above:

  • Our New Relic integration will let any New Relic customer power a status page using their very own New Relic metrics.
  • Our HipChat integration will let any HipChat customer pipe status page updates into a company wide HipChat room, eliminating the need for status emails and keeping the entire company on the same page during an incident.
  • Our Heroku integration will let any Heroku customer launch a status page in one click, without every having to leave the Heroku ecosystem.

Companies love when developers build on their APIs and will gladly help you get the word out if you build something their customers will value without them having to do any of the leg work.

3. Increasing In-app Referrals

At the bottom of every status page, we include a small, “Powered by StatusPage.io” link. While we felt uneasy about this at first, one of our mentors encouraged us to include the link and it has worked incredibly well. It turns out that our customers don’t mind displaying the link, essentially letting their customers know that the status page is hosted outside of their own infrastructure.

How it helped

One-third of new signups and customers originate from our existing customers' status pages.

What to take away from this

There’s no black and white answer here, but it seems like SaaS customers have become more willing to display subtle branding. Focus on building a product that your customers love and there’s a good chance they’ll want to help you spread the word.

4. Building a brand by writing targeted, interesting content

One path SaaS companies take to begin building a brand is with solid content. Our brand is not just about downtime communication. It’s about the three of us and what we’ve learned along the way. It’s about working as a distributed team. It’s about creating a product that solves a specific pain point and delivering on needed features. It’s about customer support and being human.

How it helped

Content can lead to immediate spikes (our top posts garnered 50,000 and 25,000 visits), but the payoff is usually in the long-tail. During every conversation with prospective customers, we always ask the question “How did you hear about us”? Many responses go something like this - “I think I may have seen a blog post of yours,” or “You guys wrote that post on reaching $5k in MRR, right?,” and “I honestly can’t remember, but I may have seen a post of yours or one of your customer's status pages” Ironically, it seems like the less people actually remember how they heard about you, the better job you’ve done at content marketing.

What to take away from this

There’s no hack to writing actionable, interesting content. When writing a new post that we plan to submit to Hacker News, we constantly ask ourselves, “Is this actually interesting?”, “Will this actually teach something new or offer a new perspective on a topic?” We usually re-write a blog post 2 to 3 times before it goes live.

Also, when people first hear about your product, they're most likely not ready to buy, let alone sign up. An active blog lets you stay top of mind for when the time is right. In our case, this means we need to establish mindshare before a company has an outage.

5. Increasing ARPU

If you have a product that people want, you’ll also have a constant backlog of features that customers ask for. The backlog means you’re doing something right, but it also means you need to figure out how to spend your time and how to prioritize product development. One question we ask ourselves is, “Will feature x help our core customer base”? If so, “Which customers specifically do we think will use this feature or upgrade for this feature and most imporantly, why?”

For example, from Day 1, an enterprise customer of ours asked for a specific feature called Component Subscriptions. We punted on the feature at first since they were the only ones to ask and it really wasn’t needed by the majority of our customer base. Over time, however, we began to hear a substantial amount of interest both from the enterprise company and from other core customers leading us to move forward with the feature. See below for a quick breakdown on our initial projections.

Feature Potential

How it helped

We’ve been able to increase Average Revenue Per User from $54/month/customer to $71/month/customer and we’ve upgraded 57 customers over the past 6 months by being judicious with product development and building features for our core customer base. We like to keep an eye on these numbers using the graphs from Baremetrics.io below.

ARPU

Upgrades

What to take away from this

It’s easy to be a ‘yes’ person and acquiesce to all customer requests. It’s hard to get to the core of why a customer requested a specific feature. Is it because their boss asked them to request it? Is it because they’re confused on how to use your product? Or is it actually because they need the feature?

If you’re new to product development, try going through the five whys when talking to a customer about a request to get to the core of the issue.

You’ll know if you’ve made the right call on building a feature if you’re able to either a) get more signups to hit an activated threshold or b) get core customers to upgrade for that feature.

6. Limiting Churn

Every SaaS company knows that in order to be successful, you need to keep churn low. We’re no different. Our churn in terms of number of canceled vs active accounts per month is 2.52%. In terms of canceled revenue versus active revenue, churn is closer to 1%.

Churn

What to take away from this

The reasons for churn will always be a mix of pricing objections, product objections, poor customer support, and competitive products. To adequately fix churn problems, you need to figure out why customers churn in the first place. For us, the vast majority of our churned customers initially signed up for our lowest tier $19/month account and didn’t end up using the product or we were too expensive. Overall, most of these customers were not a good fit from the get-go so we’re fairly satisfied with our churn levels.

What's next for $25k - $100k?

  • Testing out a variety of paid marketing channels
  • Staying in touch with companies that don't convert after 2 weeks with retargeting, better drip campaigns, and individual follow-ups.
  • Hiring one or two more developers to ship more product faster
  • Expanding our core product offering
  • Hiring for an entry level sales/account management position

Thanks to everyone who has helped us reach this milestone and stay tuned for more!

Discuss this on Hacker News

This is the kickoff of a series of blog posts on building a SaaS sales process for startup founders. As a founder wearing many hats, it's easy to be overwhelmed by a non stop flood of trello cards, emails, bug fixes, meetings, and product development. Unfortunately, without a process in place for sales, communicating with new signups can often unconsciously get the axe, leading to missed opportunities and slower growth.

Each post in the series will focus on a specific part of the process, from tooling up, to organizing and following up with inbound leads, to evaluating the time vs. value tradeoff of building a feature for Enterprise Co. For the first post we’re focusing on getting actionable data into your CRM.

Step 1 - Get all user event data into all of your tools

If you don’t use Segment, go buy a subscription. Segment provides an API to ingest all of your user event data, acting as the middle man between your data and popular sales and marketing tools. When a user first signs up for StatusPage, we send the creation event and future event data (new team member joins, user creates an incident, etc) to Segment, which then pipes the information to Mixpanel, Salesforce, Customer.io, Optimizely, and whole host of other tools. Don’t litter your code with event tracking code from 10 different vendors. Don’t wrestle with Salesforce’s SOAP API. Use Segment.

Segment

Once you have Segment setup using one of their relevant backend libraries, it's time to look at implementing marketing analytics software and your CRM of choice. For us, Mixpanel and Salesforce made the most sense since the Segment integrations were already built and we have past experience with both tools.

With Mixpanel, Segment, and Salesforce implemented, you can start using the three in tandem. Here's what's happening in the Analytics.rb code sample below:

A - Specify a few attributes for Segment’s Salesforce wrapper. The attributes essentially let Segment know to create or update a lead in Salesforce using the email address we have stored in the database for an account.

B - Lookup the Mixpanel user using a specific id ('code' in this case). Use Mixpanel's Engage method to find referral information including browser city and initial referrer for that account.

C - Use Segment's Identify method to actually create or update a lead with the information obtained from Mixpanel. Segment will first look for a lead field to update such as browser_city. If Segment does not find the designated field, it will create the field within Salesforce.

This isn’t the prettiest code by any means, but it gets the job done:

Segment-Mixpanel

Making Segment, Mixpanel, and Salesforce play nicely together may take a day or two of tweaking, but the end result of a lead view with contextual information attached, as you'll see below, is well worth the effort.

Step 2 - Develop your own simple lead scoring

If you're new to startup marketing analytics, check out Dave McClure's in depth talks on AARRR metrics. Activation is usually defined as the first 'happy' experience someone has with your product. The faster a user hits activation, the more likely he/she will buy your product.

Since we're unsure of what single action defines an account as activated for StatusPage, we've instead implemented an activation score based on activity level (feature setup) within the account. We consider a user 'activated' with an activation score > 8. To make this happen, we developed a simple formula that assigns point values to features. We’ll dig deeper into activity scores in a future blog post, but here are a few of the main events we care about.

Points

Now that we have activation scores for every account, we use a cron job to update the scores daily in our database and pipe the scores through Segment into Salesforce. Assigning activation scores gives us the context needed to communicate appropriately with signups and figure out who is dropping off without ever getting their page setup.

Step 3 - Verify the data in your CRM

With a process in place for creating and updating leads, you should have the data you need to follow up with relevant emails and/or calls. You can also start answering questions like, “What are the top referral sources that lead to activated accounts and purchased plans? How many qualified leads activated this week compared to last week?”

Take a look at the screenshot below. You’ll see someone from GoCardless signed up in London, found us through Server Density’s status page, and is ‘active’ with an Activity Score of 9. That’s pretty cool.

Lead

Step 4: Make decisions based off the data

Once you have signup data in one centralized place, you can start digging in a bit more to make the information actionable. Examples include:

1) If users from a particular initial referrer have a higher activation rate and/or purchase rate, double down on that channel.

2) If only a small % of users are reaching a sufficient activation score, dedicate more time to usability testing and user onboarding.

Real world example

We decided to spend a few days in London a month ago after attending WebSummit in Dublin. While seeing the sights and eating way too much fish and chips were top priorities, we figured it would be a good idea to set up some meetings. With a quick Salesforce search using browser_city == London, we pulled up 25 signups to individually contact. The search led to 10 in person meetings and 2 sales off the bat.

Coming Up

  • Effectively organizing and following up with inbound leads.
  • Distinguishing between leads and opportunities
  • Building retention cohorts without wanting to punch yourself in the face
  • Evaluating the time vs. value tradeoff of building a new feature

Add your email below if you'd like to receive all blog posts in this series!

Discuss this on Hacker News

How StatusPage.io Was Built

Posted by Danny Olinsky on November 5, 2013

Scott recently took some time to discuss the early stages of StatusPage with Yonas Beshawred, Founder of Leanstack.io. Here are a few highlights and you can also read through the interview in it's entirety to learn more about building our MVP.

“Empathy is the single most scarce resource that we have as human beings…When we came up with the MVP, we had to stop thinking “what’s the cool tech we can build” or “what’s gonna be fun to work on” from a developer’s perspective.”

“We design for the novice, configure for the pro. But where you put that line in the sand for designing for the novice is up for debate. And a lot of times, you have to talk to a lot of people to figure out where that line is.”

“We were live for about six weeks and accepting payments from real customers before we had even launched on HackerNews… That’s one of the big disconnects with people that build products. You think that you just code in your basement and then you flip the switch and TechCrunch writes an article about you. And that’s usually not at all how it goes.”

Most definitions of User Experience center around how the user feels while using a certain product. When people write about User Experience, they usually focus specifically on the features/usability of the product and how that relates to what the person is feeling.

It strikes me as odd that people focus only the features/usability of the product when talking about User Experience. Things outside of the features/usability of a product effect how your users feel about the product too. A good User Experience doesn't end with just a good product. When you provide amazing customer experience or you stand for a cause that your users relate to, they actually enjoy using your product more.

Here are some things you can start doing for your customers today that will make their experience with your product better.

Here Are Some Of The Things We Do

Say Thank You With No Strings Attached

Take the time to find out who's buying from you and get to know them a bit. Sincerely tell them thank you. We send every company that signs up a hand-written letter telling them how awesome they are. And a little bag of Skittles. Who doesn't love Skittles?

It takes us around five minutes per customer to look up their address and write a personalized letter to honestly thank them for using your product. Spend the five minutes, it's worth it.

Be Proactive With Olark

One of the best User Experience moments you can create is fixing a bug in real time. Our application errors get posted directly into our HipChat room. Most of the time we're able to reach directly out (using Olark) to the person who encountered the bug, let them know we saw the error, fix the issue, deploy, and let them know the problem has been fixed.

Talk With Them On Twitter

If you haven't read Creating Customer Evangelists or The Thank You Economy, do yourself a favor and read them. I listened to both of them on the drive back from Mountain View, CA to Raleigh, NC this Summer and they changed the way I think about customer service.

Both talk about how Twitter allows you to have personal moments with potential customers that you would have otherwise never knew existed. It is an open arena where your customers are talking and you have the opportunity to talk back. People notice when you care enough to comment on one of their tweets.

Reward Those Who Go Above And Beyond

We are extremely thankful to the people that take time out of their day to do awesome things for us. For example, Mathias from TravisCI created a Hubot script to control status pages via chat programs. Warwick, a.k.a. Rick created this awesome fake US Government Status Page that took off on Twitter and was tweeted about over 1,000 times.

We sent these people (and several others) a legit quadrocopter as our way of saying thank you.

P.S. if you do something awesome, there's a decent chance you'll get one too.

Be Humble In Your Screw Ups

When StatusPage.io goes down, we are proactive about telling customers and keeping them up to date as best as we can. There is no greater customer service failure than your servers going down and you leaving your customers completely in the dark. I hear there's some newfangled company out there that helps you easily create your own status page -- so you don't have an excuse.

Here Are Some Things Other Companies Do

From Intercom.io

We create segments to identify new paying customers who receive stickers, and a thank you card in the mail. When someone upgrades we offer them the chance of exposure through their Twitter account, with an in-app message like this. For customers who upgrade but have yet to use certain features, we offer them a short Skype call to learn about their needs too.

- Des Traynor, Co-founder @intercom

From Customer.io

One of our customers wrote code to make it easier for other people to use our product. We were really happy they were generous enough to share it. I looked at their twitter account and saw they loved to travel so we sent them the book "1000 places to see before you die". Small surprises that have a lot of meaning to the recipient go a long way towards building long relationships.

- Colin Nederkoorn, Founder and CEO @customerio

From EasyPost

Our view is that Support is Sales. The goal isn't just to resolve the support issue, it's to get to know the Customer. An easy way to start is by always asking questions in support responses. "What are you building?" "I noticed you work here -- are you looking to integrate X for Y? Things like that." The better you know your customer, the better your product will be.

- Jarrett Streebin, Co-founder @easypost

From Segment.io

We help our customers pull together amazing analytics setups. Part of that is making it easy to record analytics data, but another major part is helping our customers understand how to use the data that they're collecting. So we gave away free copies of Lean Startup and Lean Analytics to visitors reading Analytics Academy (https://segment.io/academy/) who did the homework on each article. May their businesses prosper!

- Peter Reinhardt, Co-founder @segmentio

This Is What I Want You To Take Away From This Post

Most of the stuff I just talked about has one common thread and it's that your customers, your users, those people on the other side of the screen -- they're humans too. They love it when people make them feel special. They want to feel like they're a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to connect with other humans. They want to know the other person is sorry when they've been wronged. So take the time to say thank you, shine a light on them for the good things they've done, and leave the corporate speak behind so they know you're just a human too.

Trust me, it will go a long way.

Discuss this on Hacker News

The Growth Hacker Movement Is Poisonous

Posted by Steve Klein on September 30, 2013

The growth hacker movement has been all the rage for the past year and it's becoming poisonous. Everyone and their mother is writing about "How to do the growth hack!" - the term is quickly becoming diluted from overuse.

Just to be clear, growth hacking itself isn't bad. How could it be? It's just a more modern definition of what people in charge of growing a user/customer base does. There are some serious problems the community is suffering from that stem from the recent idolization of growth hackers.

The movement is devaluing actual growth hackers

How many 652 Actionable Growth Hacks You Can Do Today! articles have you seen lately? The articles are usually filled with generic, one-size-fits-all advice with obvious things like "SEO!" and "test your button colors!". Apparently, all you have to do apply this bag-of-tricks to be a growth hacker. There is usually some merit to the advice given in these articles, but it's often so obvious that it's like suggesting "Remember to use your arms!" in an article about how to be a professional swimmer.

Finding huge, long-term drivers of growth is hard and usually very specific to the company that employs them. Suggesting that all one has to do to be a growth hacker is "just A/B test it!" downplays the difficulty of the job.

It's taking the focus away from building a remarkable product

This issue is a second-order effect of all of the cursory articles.

Remember kids, if you aren't getting a healthy flow of new users, just apply the old grab-bag of tricks. I worry people will forget that products that provide real lasting value are the ones that are successful in the long-term. Growth is a false proxy for long-term success and this movement glorifies vanity metrics.

A photo from a recent blog post on the Intercom.io blog illustrates this perfectly.

Maybe we should be focusing on retention hacking instead of growth hacking?

Takeaways

Unfortunately, Growth Hackers will suffer the same fate as the "Social Media Experts" and "SEO Experts" before them. The definition gets so watered-down as everyone who doesn't code appends it to the end of their Twitter bio.

Try to remember that finding large, long-term drivers of growth is actually really hard to do and takes a lot of creativity and testing. Maybe more importantly, remember that remarkable products win in the long-term, not the ones that blow up in a few weeks because they require you to authenticate with Facebook before watching your cat vids.

Discuss this on Hacker News

It's been 6 months since we launched the first version of StatusPage. Looking back on this early phase of our company, we thought it would be helpful to talk about how we got to our first $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue. As we continue to grow and hopefully reach $25,000, $50,000 and $100,000 in monthly recurring revenue, we'll follow up with new blog posts detailing how getting to each milestone is different than the one before.

Let's get to it.

Step 0: Find A Problem Worth Solving

As web developers, we consistently rely on a multitude of web services to build our applications. While we do take the time to build exception handling into our apps, often times our relationships with our outside providers are at best opaque and we are left in the dark when it comes to outages and server incidents. Without a way to peer into their systems or get proactively notified when a service is having issues, we're forced to context switch, contact support, and wait for a response when all we really want to be doing is building our product.

Thinking through our problem a bit more, we had a hunch that all other developers feel the same way. We also had a hunch that companies strive to be transparent, but fail due to lack of time and resources. So, instead of just complaining, we decided to build a product to solve our own problem.

The problem

Companies don't want to spend the time and money to build and maintain status pages outside of their infrastructures, instead, preferring to work on their core products. As web and mobile applications become increasingly reliant on other services, understanding the status of all of your vendors and integration partners is key.

The hypothesis

If we can make it as easy as possible to get setup with a beautiful status page in under 30 minutes, we'll bridge the communication gap between software companies and their customers, leading to a transparent web and happy developers.

Step 1: Get To Hacking

What we did

We're fortunate to be building a product that we wanted to exist in the world. Taking a couple cues from some shining examples of existing status pages, we mapped out our MVP.

  • Users can create incidents describing issues they were having
  • Users can display the status of the separate components of their infrastructure
  • End-users (our user's customers) can get email and SMS alerts of updates
  • Redundant infrastructure so that we're not down if our users are
Key takeaways

In our minds, there is no better way to build a product that people want than to be the customer you plan to sell to. From Day 1, you're already a leg up by thoroughly understanding the problem and the way your customers think.

Total MRR

$0

Step 2: Soft Launch To Early Adopters

What we did

Once we had our MVP built it was time to get some users. We went about this in two ways. First, being in the community, we had a bunch of friends that were great customer candidates. Second, we knew that Hacker News was the perfect place to get our initial customer base so a Show HN made complete sense. From the initial connections and users we picked up from the post, we were able to convert 20 users into $50/month paying customers.

Key takeaways

Take the time before you start your company to build personal connections in the industry you plan to create products. For us, this meant web infrastructure companies. Second, take the time beforehand to participate in your industry's community. Scott is an avid participator on HN, allowing us to quickly get some attention on the front page.

Total MRR

$1,000

Step 3: Synthesize Feedback, Build More

What we did

Within a month of our soft launch, we were able to pick up 200 free trial signups. The inbound interest helped out in a couple ways. First, it was a telling sign we were building something people wanted. Second, it gave us a perfect pool of users to talk to and figure out what we should build over the next few months.

From these conversations we realized a few things:

  • Companies didn't just want to post incident updates. They wanted a way to tangibly show performance metrics as a hands off customer support and marketing tool.
  • Companies wanted to use a status page for various types of communication, not just for external customers. As an example, Ryan, CTO of InternMatch, discussed tagging incidents as public or private for internal vs. external stakeholders. Interestingly, many companies signed up looking to use the page for internal purposes.
  • Enterprise companies wanted more control over the look and feel of the page. Branding is huge for them and every little detail matters.

Fast forward a couple months and we were able to ship our Public Metrics feature with 5 data integration partners. With a backlog of leads who had asked for this functionality, we followed up and asked for the sale, leading to $1,000 in new MRR.

Key takeaways

Get in touch with your users as quick as possible and figure out what you need to build. Segment your users based on the features they had asked for. From there, you'll be able to follow up with the right people as you make progress. It's an easy way to say, "Hey, you wanted this, here's some proof that we are building it, stay excited." Hand hold users through the sign up process. At this point, you shouldn't be worrying about what's scalable and what isn't. Take the time to figure out where your user experience sucks and make the necessary changes. Ask for the sale.

Total MRR

$2,000

Step 4: Expand The Funnel

What we did

Feeling that the product was worth the price tag, it was time to feed the user acquisition engine. Observing interest from small startups to enterprises from our initial launch, we made the decision to change pricing from free and $50/mo. to $19 - $249 per month along with an enterprise tier.

Using our initial traction as the main story for press, we officially 'launched' on Hacker News and TechCrunch. Now came the true test. These companies had never heard of us before and we made it a point to personally reach out to every signup. The point of these emails is to start the conversation as early as possible. Here's an example. And another one. Our personal emails had a high hit rate of leading to calls where we could manually help get the users' pages setup.

The official launch and personalized sales process led to an additional $1,500 in MRR.

Key takeaways

Do not underestimate the value of talking to your users on the phone (or better, in person). While not every startup will have an article written in TechCrunch, every startup will have opportunities to provide users with insanely great experiences.

Write a personal email to every single user that signs up. Use something like GoToMeeting and give access to the user so they can share their screen with you as you guide them through the setup process. Use Olark to reach out to users when they're having problems. For the users that never respond to you, make sure to have a process in place to monitor their account activity. For us, a lead score is fed into our CRM daily. From there, we have a running list of qualified, unreached leads who are active and a list of qualified, unreached leads who are inactive. Along with a signup drip campaign, each of these segments receives personalized communication from us.

As an example, one of the easiest ways to create product evangelists is to fix bugs in real time without the user even telling you about the problem they experienced. "Hey John, just saw an error come through on our backend. Looks like our file uploader plugin was throwing 404's and failing silently. Just fixed and should be good to go now." You'd be amazed at how much just giving a shit makes others want you to succeed.

Let the larger customers who need bigger plans pay you more. Create an enterprise tier for potential custom work even if none is coming your way at the given moment.

Total MRR

$3,500

Step 5: The Aha! Experience

What we did

The idea of creating and maintaining a status page outside of your infrastructure is like a cold that won't go away. You should probably see the doctor, but keep putting it off until suddenly you're on your way to the ER coughing up a lung. Similarly, a status page is one of those things you should create before you experience downtime, but end up building at 4am in the morning when your hosting provider goes down. Understanding this pain point, we knew there was a huge opportunity to absolutely delight users with the first experience, eliminating the 'I'll get to it later excuse'.

Taking the time to manually onboard customers, we kept noticing the same pattern. A light bulb would go off immediately with the users that got through the signup wizard in under 5 minutes, added a metric, and viewed their page for the first time. We could literally feel the weight coming off their chest. It was the aha! moment.

Before building Public Metrics and optimizing our setup process, StatusPage mainly became valuable when a user had her first incident to report. Now, users immediately understand the value by setting up a page like the one below from Day 1.

Key takeaways

Flip the pain point on its head and find your aha moment as quickly as possible. You'll see it come through on the faces of your users. You'll see it in the email responses you receive. And best of all, you'll see it from the money in your bank.

Total MRR

$5,000

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StatusPage.io helps companies better communicate with customers and internal teams around downtime.