In this episode, we discussed the story of how Dopoll grew 800%.
1:20 – Status quo: What made Dopoll changes their strategy?
3:80 – How they started focusing on growth marketing?
7:32 – How they figured out their value proposition to position themselves better?
10:26 – How they found the activation sweet spot? Converting from 1% to 4% in freemium
15:56 – How they improved landing page conversion from 4% to 14%?
Why pay attention to this podcast
– They converted landing page visitor from 4% to 14%
– They moved from free trial to freemium which led to increasing from 1% to 4% of free to paid conversion.
– In freemium, they realized the customer sees the value with the result of the first 10 surveys aka activation.
So, how were they really able to grow?
– By talking to customers
– By positioning themselves better
– By finding the product qualified leads threshold(hardest to find)
Have you ever felt that you were a total bigger and something and you had to go and learn bigger in and after learning you immediately figured it out how to take that thing to the next level? Right?
And so this story is all about that like learning as big dinner and learning from the First principles to figure out your growth, by the way, this is growth marketing stories podcast where we try to learn from growth marketers, mindset, a a not tips or hacks to learn about problem-solving, to learn from their mindset and to be better growth marketers. This is growth marketing stories.
00:00:44 So this is a story about Mark Thomas. Mark used to be a creative director or a copywriter for different companies before he started his own SaaS company called Doopoll and he was a co-founder or CEO of Doopoll until March 2021 and now is the head of growth powered by search. So this story is more about Doopoll and how he was able to grow the business. Let’s just dive into his story now how it was able to grow to pull 800% in MRR.
Yeah, so the point that this became interesting for us was kind of the end of 2018, my co-founder and I steve, we sat down and we were like, hey, how do we get the business from ice being a pretty healthy business, which has been made of direct sales of software licenses. So direct sales only is what we’ve done to that point, how do we get from there to being a low touch or effectively a no-touch sales model which can serve people all over the world regardless of where they are, regardless of what times there is.
And basically, we wanted to have a scalable sales model. So we started to think about, okay, should we invest in search? What shall we do? I don’t know, sure you paid ads. And we started talking to some consultants because neither Stephen nor I had actually done this before and we were just like, like the consultant stuff is fine but it’s expensive what we really need a framework to think about this and we need some kind of way to assess different growth options for the future too and then to be able to manage and track that without having to pay somebody to come in and say, hey you should try this. And so that’s where we started the project which would eventually, you know, grow MRR quite significantly and generally even after this post ends, the growth really starts and we start seeing a kind of healthy growth across the business, not just in this particular kind of small business segment.
Yeah, it’s been a really big long trip but really enjoyable and exciting and challenging as well makes sense. So what exactly to make you couldn’t do before. So you’re saying that you didn’t know growth marketing before, correct? Yeah. So we literally never done any kind of growth work before other than just pitching to businesses.
So we’d make connections at events and all that kind of stuff. We go out, we do cold outreach sometimes but not in any kind of structured way and we weren’t tracking the kind of the conversion rates and stuff like that.
So we had no real system set up to work out how successful any of our efforts were other than are we getting more money in the bank each month? And that’s really that’s a really poor way to build a business effectively by luck.
You know, you try loads of things and just pray that one of them works out. So what we have done previously was going to all these pictures and things and you know, sometimes that works, sometimes it didn’t, we have quite at the start of this kind of period, we had quite a big like enterprise or larger business model already and that was doing quite well, but we felt that the biggest opportunity was probably in SMEs or SMBs depending on where you are in the world and we’d be able to grow quite a lot more if we invested in building the kind of framework to add it attracts those customers. So what we did was after talking to a bunch of consultants and going, hey, what do we do?
Everyone came up with these ideas, but really I felt like none of them were going to be useful for us. They were all kind of things that would apply to just general marketing and what I realized was like nobody where we are, who we are talking to is thinking like how to grow a start-up there, thinking how to grow, you know, my uncle’s rubbish collection business, you know how to get google business listings and things like that. It’s just really boring.
It’s like, okay, let’s learn how to market startups and how do we do that best? Well like, let’s go to someone and we’ll go and work out if we can find someone to say Silicon Valley who does this for a living day in day out with experience and we’ll get them to teach us.
00:05:10 So we found a Demand Curve and although they’re sort of between Silicon Valley and Canada, we enrolled on their, on their growth training program and that was really, really interesting, really insightful.
It’s a very structured and in-depth kind of way of looking at marketing software a service business in particular. And really that was the start for us of how we could think about SasS marketing, growth marketing in general and apply those concepts to the business of for makes sense.
So what was the goal? What was, what were you trying to achieve?
So and before even that, why did you not double down on cold emailing? Because that would have worked as an engine flywheel as well? Right. Yeah. Okay. So when our experience was we were doing quite well locally, now we’re based in Wales, Wales has a population of about 3.5 million people now, 3.5 million people’s. Okay.
If you’re building a B2C product and you have a general product that could be used by 3.5 million people going to get fairly good conversion right? B2B is obviously a different ball game. You’re looking for businesses with good budgets and you’re looking for a lot of them. If you’ve got an SME product, which we do have, and so we were just like, hey look, we need to get out of these direct-to-customer pitches and we need to start reaching out to a global audience. We’re not going to travel the world. It’s not that kind of business model. We need to attract customers for low or zero cost and we need to do that while we’re sleeping.
There are only three people on our team. So we need to be very effective and we need to make the most of all of the time that we have available. It seems crazy to us that, you know, we’re not getting search traffic for example, but we don’t have the framework that was our mindset. And we were just like, okay, let’s leverage the tools that we have, the internet, it’s leverage search, let’s leverage paid advertising, those, leverage A/B testing and then yeah, sure, we’ll do some cold email because that’s great. That’s a scalable thing in itself. But let’s test out how we can do that in a more scalable way. That was the goal. So in the blog post, you said you have started a growth program and then you added some pricing model in there and then you started a new email, marketing, and ad campaign. What was that about? And can you get a double click on that a little bit in more detail? So what, what we never had before was a value proposition thing.
So we had an idea of where the value was for customers, but ultimately, you need to be able to say concrete lee and this is the value that we’re providing and that’s the basis of all of the work. So that was the fundamental problem that we have to solve first. But the second thing that we did was we actually went and looked really in depth what our competitors are doing. So we’re in a really competitive industry survey tools It’s not necessarily a specialist thing,
it was pretty broad, there’s some huge players and they’re like Surveymonkey, 20 years old as a company, literally in the last Millenium, they were created, you know, they’ve got a, we got a bit of a head start and so we wanted to know, okay, what have they learned was 20 years what works because they clearly are doing something right? And we looked at some of the, some of the smaller players as well, like sliders and then we just sort of thought, okay, how do we take what we’ve learned there and then apply that to work. our So the first thing that we did was we went through our onboarding.
So I effectively signed up to the product with a brand new account and I went through the onboarding pretending that I knew nothing about surveying,, which is kind of, it’s kind of interesting. You learn a lot quickly about what’s not working and and you know, just simple things like for example, what’s, where’s the button to create a new survey? Like that’s the first action I should be taking, where is it? So you make those simple changes quickly and that’s like a series of quick wins after, you know, installing analytics or something like that to work out what, what is working, what’s not. And then we did a series of more focused experiments.
So try cold outreach by email. We can talk about each of these when, when you need me to and we ran some google ads. We did Facebook and Instagram ads. We did some CRO work on Conversion Rate Optimization. Yeah, we changed our pricing model. That was probably the most significant thing that we actually did through the process. And I think actually what is a takeaway here for anyone listening, the majority of growth work is not in managing ads. It’s not in kind of managing, you know, your content strategy. For me the majority of growth work happens in just aligning more closely to the customer expectation of the product is where the biggest winds are For most people. And so that one was a really big one. In fact, that was probably the turning point in our business where our business stopped being about direct sales 100%. And kind of, leveraging this low touch model, what do you mean by like specifically you know.
That you aligned more with the customer, you mean the pricing page, changed it, or the value proposition? You change like what exactly? Yeah. So Okay. So what we did was we took the value propositions from the very start of the project and we looked at a huge bunch of customer data. So what people were doing, so we had a 14-days free trial model. Now, if you have a 14 day free trial of a survey product,, the reality is that you might not get to the goal of actually getting your survey responses in time For the 14 day trial period to be useful. And in any case, a lot of people will sign up not knowing that they want to create a survey at that specific moment, but that they just want to have a look at the product. But if you’ve got a 14-days free trial, by the time they actually want to create a survey for their work, you know.
They can no longer access the platform. So they just got a surveymonkey or google form. That’s obviously a huge issue. But how do you figure that out? Well you look at customer interviews, you look at usage data from your database.
You look at funnel data from you know, segment and that sends obviously to amplitude and stuff like that. Or Google analytics, if you’ve got that set up and you can look at a whole bunch of kind of signals in order to try and get some sort of coherent idea of how you need to change the pricing model.
So what we actually did was we said, Okay, no longer will we have a 14 day free trial, we’ll have a premium product instead. So we took away the trial period entirely. We limited the features and we came up with, we understood what the value proposition for a lot of people or the kind of the ha moment or you know, whatever they want to call that these days. was and that was that when you get 10 responses it On a survey you’re quite likely to go. That’s useful for me. So what we did and I’ve never seen this business model anywhere else. Actually, as we said, Okay, you can see your 1st 10 responses on the report you know, functionality of the thing. But if you want to see the response 11 112 upwards or whatever it was, you got to choose a paid plan.
So we implemented a feature which would basically say, okay unlock more responses. And those responses were literally already there. We collected them, and there was real data for customers. And in order to unlock them, you had to just choose a paid plan. Sure.
The conversion rate just went up. So we had a 1% actually less than 1% conversion from from the 14 day free trial and last month it was a it was a 4% conversion rate no,
now. So free sign ups to pay sign ups. So yeah, so that’s significant. Right? So for business to business products, that’s pretty great if you ask me, especially because it aligns to higher volumes on the top end. So, what this whole strategy focuses on is to improve the conversion rate on the bottom of the funnel. So once you become a free user, we made it effectively by doing the freemium model, we made it easier for you to use the platform for us to acquire free customers.
So we’re getting more free customers at that point in the final and then we’re converting significantly more, ultimately many 1000% increase if you look at it in that way, in terms of free to paid in an absolute number. And then we’re also packing the funnel at the top by ranking for key search terms, you know, the key search terms that we ended up going after a mostly bottom of funnel searches anyway, because we’re mostly interested in hitting pain point customers rather than people, take a hubspot model which is like just plus to the marketing content landscape at the top of the funnel and hope some of them stick eventually we don’t have the resources to do that. So it was much more, let’s focus on creating pain point content.
get people in, then convert them at a higher rate than ever before. So yeah, that strategy really works for us. So I just want to double click here and tell you a couple of things about that market that you can easily learn from. The one thing that is very obvious if you’ve heard this podcast, is to talk to your customers to really find out what is the value proposition and once you figure out the value proposition, you will be able to figure out what they really care about. And in this case it was the activation metric and activation metric was. the It’s a point where a user when they see the application and try the application and they realize the full value.
And that activation metric for marks product was the point where people saw the report of 10 people responding in a survey and if they want to see more then they actually dive into it. So this activation metric is that sweet spot that a lot of companies are unable to figure out more if they figure it out, they unlock this growth opportunity. So that’s one thing. He also tried to implement a couple of other things as well. Testing landing pages. Pay that. So let’s just dive and do a little bit. How did he do with plane landing pages and how did that help him improve his conversion? out there. What about this design first? A/ B test landing page? Like what did you exactly change that? Okay, so with the landing page, we’ve gone through several iterations of value proposition over the years as we’ve learned more and more about our customers, we’ve been really close to them with support requests and a lot of kind of just research surveys that we sent out and stuff like that.
We’ve become clear and clear about what the value is. Okay. huh. Now, in order to get people to convert, you have to tell them as we’ve learned. Like you literally have to tell them what they can use the survey for.
So you can get free users just by saying, hey, great survey, That’s fine. Those users will come if they have learned on your website and it looks halfway credible. But in order to get high quality, ultimately paying customers, you need to be very specific and you need to say, okay, you can use a survey for customer satisfaction and that is what we did. So we tested a page that we’re trying to look at on my monitor here. We tested a page which took us from, yeah, took us from like, it here’s the value proposition.
So the ultimate value thing, which is effectively learning more about your audience and then saying, here’s the features that you can have. So we tested that as the A which is what we’ve always done. That converted about, I think 4% of I’m trying to remember the numbers, 4% of website visitors to free sign ups, which is, you know, okay. And then we tested a different version which focused on the specific use cases. So it literally had, here’s the product, the same value proposition at the top of the page.
But rather than the features, it dives directly into customer satisfaction, employee engagement and live events surveys., That page converted at 14% and it was our first A. B test ever. So it was a really nice, nice outcome. Actually, on that page, we got the inspiration from the notions landing page.
They’ve been really good at this. I’d love to see that conversion data and that kind of set us off on a path of testing things out. Since then we’ve tested some weird stuff. We tested one long-form sales page which had the headline 2020 is the worst year of your life.
So don’t send another boring survey or something like that. I can’t remember. I thought that one would convert really well. I thought people would enjoy the humor of it. It turns out it does not convert. Like less than 1% of people don’t want to be reminded that 2020 sucks. And yeah, so we make a B testing a big thing for us. We also have A/B test in the product, but we don’t do that in a structured way because we haven’t found the right product to facilitate that for our tech stack.
So we do that in a more kind of data-driven way where we monitor that stuff ourselves. Yeah. So last question. And you said in your key learning the growth is about systems rather than hacks. Tell me briefly, what do you mean by that? And why should people not go to a growth hack rather than a growth mindset?
And that’s what I’ve been teaching people on my podcast as well. So I’d love to learn from you a little bit. What do you mean by I and systems? Sure. When you run a startup, they are the first thing to do, when the first thing people do, when they’re worried about their growth is they’ll go, hey, how do I grow my company?
And they’ll post it on, you know, indie hackers or whatever, and they’ll go, hey, how does this, like, how do I grow this? And you’ll get 100 different answers back from people, hey, try making the buttons green or whatever. Green buttons are fine, but ultimately it’s not what causes growth in your startup.
What causes growth is understanding the problems in a systematic way and fixing those things one at a time, you know what it’s like if you growth hack, it’s the equivalent of saying, hey, my computer’s broken, what should I try and you google it on your phone? And the first thing that comes up for my computer’s broken is maybe like removing the monitor but like you don’t want to remove the monitor from your laptop, right? That’s a bad thing to do. But it could be a solution for the next person. Now if you had understood hey, the problem is this, you’d be able to google more specifically.
It’s the same thing with the running growth in a startup. If you understand what the problems are at the top of the funnel or the bottom of the funnel or if you have an idea of what your funnels like at all, you can create tests to see how do I improve that stage or how do I increase conversion at this point? Or how do I get higher lifetime value customers? And how do I get more of those people? These are the things that you actually need to create a predictable growth model because most people are just shooting in the dark. You know they’re doing that pray and spray approach like spraying price sorry, not pray and spray and or are and that’s what I mean by that.
So one thing that we did which has worked really well for us and I would definitely recommend this, this is a hack, but it’s part of a system, you have to have the system. So when you know what you’re kind of what your funnel looks like and you’ve got an idea of a problem. The first thing you should do is come up with an idea for a test to improve that problem. So it’s a hypothesis. You don’t know whether it’s going to work. You just need to try something. The second thing that I would do is because those things are often stuff like changing the landing page entirely or something like that.
You want to do these things as quickly as possible? Now, one thing that I’ve done and this is really paid off for us is I will often institute a growth experiment. So you know that landing page I was talking about earlier, we tested that landing page out in a matter of days and we knew that it wouldn’t work in days because rather than waiting for organic traffic to find us or referral traffic, we just turned on paid ads, we pumped of that bunches and bunches of people into the funnel effectively. So we spent a bit, but we filled up our funnel with interested people and then we turned off the paid ads because we’re not looking to acquire customers profitably, We’re looking to be as quick as passed, quickly disapprove or approve of an experiment and that that is the kind of growth hack that actually works because it’s not a growth hack just on its own, it’s a growth hacker as part of the system.
I feel like every podcast of mine is actually somehow referring towards customer research and you still try to ignore it. That’s something I’m learning all the time and that’s about it. If you like this podcast, tell me at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have run any kind of growth experiments and that helps you and if you have a question regarding how to find the sweet spot of activation metrics,, I’m happy to help you. That’s all from my side. I am looking forward to hearing from you until then. Bye bye.