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This week: How successful companies approach communication, product managers explain product management and more.

In SaaS Roundup, we comb through the noise to find you only the best SaaS-flavored reads of the week — just our top three.

You can also receive SaaS Roundup in your email inbox every Friday — just drop your email here and you’ll receive the next issue.

This week’s top reads A better way to fund SaaS companies

Bill Boebel, Pingboard

“the best funding source for a SaaS company is closer to an IV drip than it is to a shot of adrenaline to the heart. We need more funding sources that understand this reality and are as iterative with their checks as their portfolio companies are with their product, sales and marketing.”

SaaS as a mature market requires a different approach to early-stage growth than the early days. As Bill argues here, we’re dealing with flywheels rather than rocket ships. There are some interesting arguments here regarding the approach to fundraising, comparing “traditional” fundraising rounds to the waterfall model of software development. So what does more agile, iterative fundraising look like? Read the full post

SaaS product management explained by 6 product managers

Tarif Rahman, Roadmunk

“The nature of SaaS implies that your customer is constantly re-evaluating your product — weekly, monthly, or yearly. Switching has become easier. And for a PM, differentiation becomes more critical. It’s a reminder to go back to the basics of ensuring we’re solving the right problems to create products that customers love.”

This post shares insights from some big-hitting PM talent from Atlassian, Zendesk, Zuora and more. Everything from trends in SaaS Product Management to metrics and past failures. Read the full post

9 Ways to Make Your SaaS Customers Hate You, Ranked

Amy Hoy, Stacking The Bricks

“Poorly thought-out price increases are actually much worse than accidental overcharging because it’s a willful act and violates the trust in the relationship. Raising your price isn’t bad. Doing it badly is bad.”

This is a great piece! Amy goes far deeper than your average list post. It’s also clear that her considerable experience mopping up issues in SaaS support have given her a highly-trained sense of customer hate. I don’t want to spoil the ranking here, but make sure you read into the reasoning too. Read the full post

That’s all for this week! Don’t forget you can still get upcoming issues of SaaS Roundup delivered straight to your email inbox. See you next Friday.

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Having access to reliable data in real time within ChartMogul helps Meditopia find the sweet spot between growing sustainably and reaching as many people as possible.

What is Meditopia

Meditopia is a mental wellness platform that provides personalized content — mindfulness-based meditations, sleep meditations, and more —  to help people build mental resilience in their daily lives.

In a world with a high level of stress and external stimulants, Meditopia wants to reach as many people as possible and to help them mend the connection between their bodies and their minds. The platform offers over 400 recorded sessions on a broad range of topics: stress, anxiety, pregnancy, sexuality, etc.

After answering a few questions, you can start your mindfulness practice with 5 to 20-minute sessions which are prepared by top professionals in their fields.

You can find content for every occasion you are in: if you are in the office, preparing for an important meeting, having a walk in the park or preparing for tomorrow’s exam. Meditopia offers high-quality audio content to help you connect with yourself.

Meditopia’s team of 20+ employees is split between offices in Berlin and Istanbul and several remote freelancers who are responsible for translating and localizing the platform.

The team is united around a single mission that goes beyond revenue: they want to reach and support as many people worldwide as possible. However, to do that, they also need to find a business model that allows them to achieve that in a sustainable way. ChartMogul has been instrumental in helping them achieve that fine balance.

We spoke to Berk Yilmaz, the CEO of Meditopia, to learn about how he and the rest of the Meditopia team use ChartMogul to grow sustainably and continue to provide the service to their customers.

The Challenge: Tracking and analyzing user data is a big job

Meditopia operates as a web and mobile platform, with apps for iOS and Android devices. It is also a highly diversified business. They have over 4.5 million users worldwide, the content is available in 6 different languages (English, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Turkish) and they’re growing quickly.

As a subscription business, it is important for the team to do analytics and to understand the number and behavior of their customers. 

Meditopia relies on a freemium model where they first acquire users for the app and then look to turn them into paid customers. Because of that, the team has to be sure they’re putting their resources into targeting the people who are the best fit for the app. They achieve that by looking at their metrics.

Measuring churn, looking at conversion rates by country, and doing cohort analysis are all complicated and time-consuming, so doing analytics properly is a big job for Meditopia!

Before they started using ChartMogul, Berk was thinking about hiring a full-time analyst to collect all this data and help them make sense of it. 

Multi-platform adds another challenge

In the beginning, Berk and his team were using the native analytics of the platforms where they offered their app — the Apple App Store and Google Play.

However, as they expanded with the addition of a web platform, they understood they needed a comprehensive solution that would allow them to integrate their data from all the sources they were using, and to perform more complicated analyses.

In addition, the native analytics of the platforms did not allow them to get some of the insight Berk and his team needed — such as retention analysis.

Data security was the final consideration

Berk shared with us that the security of the data they added in their analytics platform was a deciding factor when they were looking at alternatives.

Some platforms provide analytics for free, but there’s always the risk that they use your data in some way that you wouldn’t be happy with. We needed something that would guarantee the security of our data and help us make sense of our subscribers.

Berk Yilmaz, CEO

Initially, the team briefly considered building an analytics tool internally, but they quickly dismissed the idea because it would have required them to dedicate too many resources. That’s when they decided to look for a product that would fit their needs.

Berk splits his time between Istanbul and Berlin where the two main offices of Meditopia are. He met ChartMogul CEO Nick Franklin at a meetup in Berlin. As Nick was telling him about ChartMogul, Berk realized it sounded exactly like the analytics platform they were looking for.

The Solution: ChartMogul provided new insights into Meditopia’s business

Berk shared that integrating with ChartMogul was quick and easy — thanks to the native integrations, the API, and the Developer Hub, they found it easy to bring their data into the platform. 

The ChartMogul success team provided integration guidelines and helped them get their data from Google Play. (This is now even easier to do thanks to the native integration with Google Play.)

ChartMogul provides transparency to the team

Soon after they started using ChartMogul, Meditopia began to see the value of the tool.

The team looks at multiple metrics to understand their performance. The most important KPIs they track include the following: 

  • active users
  • subscriber growth
  • MRR growth
  • daily conversion rates
  • free trials
  • people who are about to churn in the next 7/14 days.

They use this data to understand what drives conversions and churn, to take action on that insight, and to forecast their future growth.

Using ChartMogul allows them to take action on these metrics, as soon as they notice a trend.

In addition, Berk says that cohort analysis (segmented by location and subscription plan) is a big feature for Meditopia because of the fact they operate in 7 main markets (defined by the languages they offer in the app).

ChartMogul helps us see all the important metrics in one dashboard and quickly understand where our business goes day-by-day.

Berk Yilmaz, CEO
Benefits beyond the boardroom

Berk is not the only person who uses ChartMogul to understand how Meditopia is developing and what initiatives need to be prioritized.

Our Product Manager relies on ChartMogul when they run AB tests — they keep an eye on how the experiments they’re running affect subscriptions and conversion rates and decide whether each test is a success based on this data.

Berk Yilmaz, CEO
The Result: Tracking and achieving against the North Star metric

The number of active subscribers is the most important metric the Meditopia team tracks on a weekly basis. Berk says that ChartMogul gives his team overall visibility and that directly contributes to achieving their top-line goals.

Since we adopted ChartMogul, we’ve grown our active subscribers over 5 times.

Berk Yilmaz, CEO

The insight ChartMogul provides drives business decisions for the Meditopia team. Operating in so many different markets is challenging because people in each locale can have very different reactions to a specific feature, plan, etc. The team always aims to learn about their audience in each market and optimize their plans accordingly.

That’s why Meditopia offers different plans for each market they operate in. AB testing and looking at retention data in ChartMogul allows them to find the best pricing structure for each language and country.

Berk says that the team routinely takes decisions about changing the pricing plans they use for different markets based on the data they get from ChartMogul.

Meditopia: Achieving a mission beyond revenue

The Meditopia team is on a mission to change the lives of millions of people around the world.

They want to reach as many people as possible all while running the business in a sustainable way. Finding the optimal monetization strategy is key.

ChartMogul plays a pivotal role in helping us find the sweet spot for growth and create a value-driven business that can reach and offer services to the highest possible audience worldwide.

Berk Yilmaz, CEO
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Content marketing is becoming harder. What has worked so far, might not be as effective anymore. We asked Sujan Patel to walk us through the content marketing trends that will help you succeed in the rest of 2019.

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Sujan Patel. Sujan is a partner at Ramp Ventures and has over 14 years of marketing experience. He has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.

If there’s one thing that stays the same, it’s that everything changes — and content marketing is no exception. The last several months have been productive ones for gaining insight into the current state of content marketing. 

If you’ve been wondering how things have changed — or, most importantly — what’s working for content marketing in 2019, read on.

The latest thinking

Recent research from Hubspot reveals that marketers appear to be feeling a lot more settled with their marketing strategies and more comfortable with the way they’re doing their jobs. While you shouldn’t confuse being comfortable with being complacent, it’s good to have some breathing room.

“89% of marketers now feel that their content marketing strategy is linked to all other parts of their business.” 

Kirsty Daniel, Hubspot

The Content Marketing Institute’s most recent research is also revealing. Even though their findings point to the importance of building trust with your audience, they also suggest that a majority of marketers are still not actually talking to this audience. This is a dichotomy that will require work in 2019, and both storytelling and AI will be key.

“Only 42% of B2B content marketers say they have conversations with customers as part of their audience research.”

Lisa Murton Beets, Content Marketing Institute

Across the board, and most notably in Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends report, experts continue to remind marketers to stay vigilant about data transparency and privacy concerns. Even though GDPR has faded from the media spotlight, its ramifications still influence everything we do. 

So, what works for content marketing in 2019? Allowing content marketing to mature

Many reports in recent years have indicated that content marketing as a business activity has begun to mature. Marketers are more comfortable with both strategic and tactical goals, and the rush of groundbreaking new tech has slowed a little.

But this is not the moment to relax. Now that content marketers have a little more breathing room, they should use that opportunity to tweak and personalize the technologies they’re using and double-down on approaches that have already proven successful.

Taking a new approach to influencers

Influencer marketing has peaked and, for some, the bubble has burst, but most research shows influencers still have a major role to play.

Source

Although the public may be a little jaded, and influencer marketing can only be said to be working when you’re seeing decent ROI, 2019 could be the year that your business finds a new way to incorporate influencer marketing into your overall strategy. If you do, you should see some impressive results.

Getting to grips with cutting-edge tech

Tech that was previously considered cutting-edge — like personalization, AI, and voice search — is becoming more mainstream and accessible even to small and medium-sized businesses.

Once everyone is able to access this tech, it will play a role across the board and is likely to transform the way we “do” marketing. If you haven’t yet had a chance to explore some of the (very cool) tech that’s influencing and improving content marketing, 2019 is the perfect time to do so. 

Keeping an eye on regulatory trends 

As mentioned above, regulatory trends have slipped a little from the media’s eye but have by no means disappeared. 

If you’re collecting personal data, cold emailing, or working on your in 2019, you’ll need to remain 100% alert. Ensure you maintain a clean email list by verifying your email list regularly

Source

The trickle-down effect of GDPR and new changes to the data collection policy in the App Store are two aspects you need to be aware of right now, but the pressure won’t let up any time soon. More preemptive strikes may be in sight as companies tighten up their standards and prioritize transparency when it comes to staying ahead of the privacy posse. 

Breaking down “storytelling”

Storytelling has become somewhat of a buzzword in modern times, but, as audiences become more demanding and content marketing needs to cut through the masses to get to the target, it’s still crucial. 

Source

Many marketers still don’t have a proper grasp on storytelling, how to do it right, or how to enable others to do it, but if you want your content marketing to stay relevant, 2019 definitely needs to be the year this changes.

Making data work for you

If there’s just one thing marketers master in 2019, it should be the ability to make data work for their brand. Until now, many companies have gotten by paying lip service to the concept of data-driven marketing. With the data deluge that’s quickly becoming standard, however, businesses that don’t manage to use data in a meaningful way will soon find themselves struggling. Luckily for the data doubters, there are various developments on the horizon that will make this job much easier. 

In summary: Content marketing trends for 2019
  • Take advantage of your marketing mastery 
  • Find a new way to deal with influencers
  • Give yourself a chance to check out new tech
  • Keep one eye on GDPR
  • Dominate storytelling
  • Keep data-driven insights front and center
Your easy wins

Sure, in an ideal world, you’d try to incorporate all of this advice, but in reality, you’re probably going to have to prioritize one or two strategies. Two of the most important ones are likely going to be data and storytelling.

Data and storytelling could be considered two sides of the same coin. Without data, any storytelling-based content risks being vague and unfocused; but without a basis in storytelling, your data-driven approaches are unlikely to create any productive emotional link with your audience. Marry the two, and you’ll have a formidable basis for your marketing.

Overall, 2019 is shaping up to be a great moment in content marketing. We have unparalleled technological resources at our fingertips and an increasingly comfortable relationship with what exactly we’re trying to achieve with content marketing and how we’re going to do it. 

Instead of despairing about the waves of data, decreasing reach, and content overwhelm, it’s a great time to consolidate personal know-how, get support from technological tools, and feel confident in the knowledge that as experienced marketers, we know what our audience wants. 

With that in mind, focus on making a real mark on your company’s content marketing before 2019 is out.

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Whether you’re driving new streams of revenue or engaging on-the-go users, you need to know how your app is performing. These are the key metrics that will help you understand your mobile growth operations.

From all corners of the world (from Vancouver to Seoul), the ChartMogul team is buzzing about mobile.

Our new Google Play integration and the advent of our mobile subscription analytics solution has thrust us into exciting conversations with app developers and mobile growth leads.

It’s invigorating (however challenging) to launch a new product. But that’s the dream, right? We’re learning heaps, having fun, and as always, finding new ways to help subscription businesses. So, in the usual spirit of our curated resources, we drew up The Ultimate Mobile Analytics Cheat Sheet. Ta-da!

If you can’t wait to take a peek, go right ahead — we don’t gate our content.

If you want a sneak preview, read on, you burgeoning featured app, you.

What’s inside

The cheat sheet focuses on key metrics for your mobile app or business. We break them down by category:

  • App discovery and user acquisition
  • Usage and engagement metrics
  • Retention and cohort analysis
  • Revenue metrics

We tried to focus on mobile metrics that encapsulate the subscriber lifecycle from acquisition to renewal and of course, bottom line. With high volumes of data and sometimes multiple sources (iOS, Firebase, Stripe), you need to define and track the metrics that matter.

This is a quick and easy-to-use resource to learn why the following metrics are important and how to measure them:

  • Daily (DAU) and Monthly Active Users (MAU)
  • Stickiness ratio
  • Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) from in-app subscriptions
  • Churn rate
  • Cost per Acquisition (CPA)
  • Average Revenue per User (ARPU)
  • Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)
  • …and much more!
There’s no better time to learn mobile analytics

As we work more with mobile teams, we see an ever-increasing number of businesses make a bet on mobile.

If you’re not thinking about your mobile strategy yet, you probably need to start planning for this side of your business before it’s too late. 

Understanding mobile metrics and picking a North Star metric that you will track against is one of the first steps in this process. The cheat sheet will give you a headstart on understanding the core metrics of mobile and help you zero in on the one that’s most relevant to your business.

Download for free

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SaaS companies have a lot to learn from Slack's relentless focus on building a great product and aligning it with a business model that supports it.

Slack will go public later today on a $15.7B valuation, the biggest SaaS IPO in history and the first direct listing of a SaaS company. We are truly living through a golden age of business software.

While the core functionality of Slack is similar to IRC, it’s clearly something beyond the core product that has enabled Slack to become so valuable.

The success of the company speaks for itself — Slack is the fastest growing workplace app ever and its shares have been popular in private trading for a while.

So where does this success come from?

I believe it’s rooted in two (connected) factors:

  • The Slack team has built a truly great product: one that is connected in existing behavior, improves on it, and is very sticky. In the process, they’ve created a new (huge) category in which they hold a formidable advantage.
  • They’ve come up with a business model which supports the product: it allows the company to capture the lion’s share of this new category/market and grow sustainably.

This explains why Slack is so bullish on their public offering — it’s planned as a direct listing (technically not an IPO), meaning the company won’t be issuing new shares, but rather allowing investors to monetize their existing stock. Also, there would be no limitations to selling, which creates a risk about the price of Slack’s shares.

Because of the reasons I explained above, I believe Slack’s public offering will be a success.

In the following sections, I will go into detail on what makes Slack’s product and business model so good and so well-aligned.

But before we get to it, let’s quickly go over Slack’s numbers.

A look at Slack’s numbers

A look at Slack’s S-1 statement reveals some truly fascinating statistics about the company:

Slack’s revenue was $134.8m in Q1 2019

Slack generated $134.8m in revenue in Q1 of 2019. That means sales grew 66.6% in one year.

That level of growth is amazing for a company that generates over $100m in sales on a quarterly basis.

The fact that revenue continues to grow so fast, combined with where this growth is coming from (more on this below), signals that Slack’s (long-term) business strategy is working.

The question is, how much runway do they have…

Slack recorded a net loss of $31.9m in Q1 of 2019

Slack continues to burn through a significant amount of cash per quarter.

However, it’s also important to look at their numbers from the perspective of the $792m in cash Slack have sitting in their bank account.

At their current rate, they would have around 6 years of runway.

That’s plenty of time to figure out how to make money (also, it’s aligned with their overall strategy, which I’ll get to in a bit).

40% of revenue comes from 0.7% of customers

That’s perhaps the biggest threat to Slack, if there’s one.

Out of 95 thousand paying customers, there are 645 organizations that generate >$100,000 in annual recurring revenue.

These large customers contribute about 40% of Slack’s total revenue.

Clearly, relying on such a small number of customers is a risk, but it also shows how successful Slack is at growing through existing customers — they can enter an organization just by getting one team/department to use Slack and then expand internally by getting the whole company to switch.

Net dollar retention rate of 143%

Slack is well into net negative churn territory. In fact, the company has one of the best net dollar retention rates a SaaS company going public has ever reported:

What the 143% is telling us is that Slack’s customers are growing and expanding their use of the product faster than they are churning.

This is a critical piece of Slack’s business model. However, before we get to it, we should look at how Slack created a product that became so sticky.

Find an existing (broken) behavior and fix it

Organizations have relied on email for quick (asynchronous) communication for years, but email is not a good fit for that purpose.

Slack identified this and built a tool, which is much better aligned with the goals that users want to achieve.

The similarity with IRC is not by chance — early in the life of the company when they were working on developing an MMORPG game, they were using IRC as a team.

However, the team quickly realized what were the limitations of IRC and started building and expanding on it. After the game didn’t pan out as expected, CEO Stewart Butterfield decided to pivot and spin out their tool for internal communication as a separate product. Thus, Slack was born.

Slack not only created a new tool that was well aligned with the needs of professional teams, but they also created a whole new category.

Being pioneers and having a great product positioned Slack to capture the lion’s share in their category.

However, that didn’t prompt the team to exploit this position for quick returns. Instead, Slack focussed on building a business model that would allow them to capture a lot more value in the long term.

Unsurprisingly, we’re also big fans of Slack at ChartMogul — check out our Ultimate Slack Cheat Sheet to learn some of the best tips & tricks we love to use!

Focus on integrating then building all the tools

Professional software is a gradually more fragmented field. The average large company in the US uses software from around 1000 different vendors.

Yet, most companies look at expanding their own suite of products as a way to grow.

Slack has chosen a different way. The company admits its product offering is limited, but that’s by design.

Instead of trying to expand by building a tool for every task and behavior as a way to grow, Slack has chosen to focus on integrating as many popular tools as possible to work with their chat tool.

That means their users don’t have to switch their behavior and learn a new tool. That lowers friction for people to start using Slack and makes the product sticky.

Thus, Slack has become a platform — it allows external developers to integrate and build on top of the tool.

This creates a long-term network effect: the more people use Slack, the more other popular tools would want to integrate with it, thus sparking further growth in the number of teams that want to use Slack, and so forth.

(To learn more about what it means for Slack to be a platform and how they’re marketing it, check out this interview with Ceci Stallsmith, Slack’s Director of Platform Marketing)

Build a business model that supports your product strategy

According to the S-1 filing, there are over 600,000 teams worldwide that use Slack, but only around 95,000 (or ~16%) are paying for the product.

That might seem like a precarious position to be in, but you also need to consider the fact that only 8% of their customers start with a paid plan.

For Slack, the freemium model is a great lead generation tool — once a team joins and starts chatting, integrating with other tools they’re using, and adding their information to the platform, it would be very hard to switch to another tool.

That way, Slack can “enter” a team early with their free tier, establish a foothold, and stay for the long haul — the stickiness of the product minimizes the chance customers leave early. The net negative churn numbers we saw above are a testament that the strategy works.

Slack is going to be successful as a public company

Let’s do this. pic.twitter.com/YfGc8OwJOD

— kris (@kris) June 19, 2019

Slack sets a great example for all types of subscription companies.

Butterfield and team succeeded by focusing on defining their market well and building a product that’s both great at fulfilling the needs of their market and sticky.

Additionally, they also did a great job of formulating their strategy and business model in a way that supports the product strategy.

Because of the above, I am very optimistic about Slack’s future as a public company. Even if market analysts seem to be pretty cautious at the moment.

Disclaimer: As of writing I own no shares in Slack, though this could change following their listing later today. This article does not constitute investment or financial advice.

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Creative plays a critical role in how we prepare for SaaS conferences. We believe it's the cornerstone in making our participation a success.

Conferences are becoming an increasingly important part of running a SaaS business. They are a chance to meet existing and prospective customers, learn about new trends and topics in the industry, and — above all — get inspired.

When it comes to events, SaaStock Dublin is the highlight of the year for our team. The 3 days of the conference are jam-packed with great people to meet, interesting talks, and many opportunities to get to know the people behind the companies you work with.

For us at ChartMogul, SaaStock is also the best chance to get our product in front of new customers and to improve the knowledge of our existing audience.

So, the conference experience we create is the cornerstone when it comes to the success of our efforts.

We want to be memorable and compelling, so that we maximize our time (and spend!) onsite and to help with follow up.

You know that slew of emails and calls you get from salespeople after a show? How can you remember that conversation or product? In our case, creative helps. A lot.

In addition, the design team at ChartMogul plays a central role when it comes to the marketing collateral our team hands out and the email campaigns we send out after the event.

Tradeshow season is nearly here. Recognizing that not every startup or SaaS business has a track record with events, we thought it would be helpful to share our insight about how our design team participates in making conference attendance a success.

Things to consider when designing the booth

Having a successful experience at a conference starts long before you and your team get on the plane to the conference location. Usually, we start our conference prep at least 3 months in advance by thinking about the following aspects.

Floor plan

Once we register for a conference, we choose a location. Naturally, we always prefer that we’re in a high traffic area near the entrance or close to areas reserved for coffee and networking.

You’ll want to ask yourself questions like:

  • What do your buyers care about?
  • What areas of the conference will they want to explore?

Answering those questions help us come up with an overall concept for our conference experience — we know how to design a booth that will attract conference attendees and what messages to promote through our booth and our collateral.

Conferences often organize the floor plan by industry or category.

It is always important to be in an area where you’re most likely to meet your ideal customer.

For example, let’s say you’re selling learning management software, but you know your customers are struggling with analytics. In this case, it would probably be better to get situated in an area with all the other analytics products, rather than set up your booth next to all the e-learning platforms.

Booth layout

For conferences like SaaStock, we usually opt for a big booth with two walls, two stools, a counter, and a TV.

We choose this type of booth because it allows us to build a focussed space which presents our brand in the best possible way. Having two walls also makes our presence more remarkable and gives us the chance to display more information.

When conference attendees approach us, there’s little to distract them, so they get to connect and understand what we stand for.

We believe this is the best way for us to leave a lasting impression with them.

Messaging and booth experience

Designing the booth experience starts with a joint discussion with the marketing team. The goal of this step of the process is to come up with an overall vision/message for each specific tradeshow.

Once we have agreed on the overall vision, the design team starts work on the overall booth experience. Our goal with this is to create an experience that is:

  • Memorable: When your sales team follows up with prospects, do they remember what happened at your booth?
  • Crisp: Is the design simple, and straight-forward with a short and clear message?
  • Productive: Do conference attendees leave your booth having learned or benefited from the conversation?
  • Cohesive and on brand: Can you be easily identified and found?
Overall design concept

The mission of the design is to catch people’s attention and make them want to come in.

To do that, the booth must look bright, open, clean and inviting — i.e. it must create a friendly atmosphere.

The tradeshow floor will be filled with competitors, giveaways, and almost certainly, lots of noise. Therefore, the role of the design we use is to stand out and create a remarkable experience that can capture attention in a second or two when attendees walk by.

Furthermore, in the huge venue, the distance from attendees is another important thing to consider. Simple, bold, and clear graphics with effective short messages are enough. Never overdesign or fill in every empty space.

It is important to consider the scale of the hall where you will have your booth

There’s no point in trying to “sell” the product with overcomplicated design and/or lots of messaging — too much text with lots of graphics and too many different colors are more likely to confuse visitors than earn you attention.

Once people approach you at the booth, you will have time to talk about your product in detail. Good simple design creates that initial attraction.

LED lights worked really well with out choice of color

Here are some things we’ve found to work really well when we’ve worked on our booths in the past:

  • Color: To make the message standout better, we are selective with color. Using too many colors can make the whole booth look messy and can confuse the main message.
  • Light: We’ve found that the use of LED lights works well with a white background.
  • Screen: We install a television screen — typically near one side or another — to showcase our product. This way, attendees can see ChartMogul in action on site.
Booth design at SaaStock 2018

Here’s an example of one of our recent booth designs. This was shortly after we launched a new brand, so the concept of booth design was focused on promoting our new look.

As I mentioned above, the LED lighting worked really well with the design concept. On the other hand, one of the things we could have done better was to use bigger font in order to make our messaging more noticeable.

Marketing Collateral

Swag. Freebies are probably the most fun part of every tradeshow and booth experience. Our brand is clean, modern, and serious and our collateral has to reflect that.

We always want our trade show materials to be memorable and give a good impression to attendees.

To get attention, we prepare giveaways that won’t take up a lot of room and will stick around after the show for weeks to come. This year we are planning to prepare:

  • 3-4 different cheat sheets on A5 handy size
  • Business cards
  • Logo stickers
  • T-shirts for employees and attendees
  • Logo printed laptop camera cover

Some of these seem to be pretty standard and repeatable (business cards for example), but for some of the other material we produce (brochures), we may try to come up with a design which is tied around the specific campaign we’re using for the conference.

After the Event

The event might be done, but that doesn’t mean our event work is done.

If the event’s gone well, that means our team has a bunch of warm leads to work with.

After the event, we always make sure to send out follow-up emails to the people we connected with during the conference. The design and sales teams work on this together — we create an email template that’s tied to the visual concept we used for the conference. The sales team provides the details, which allow us to send out a personalized email to each customer that we spoke with.

Good design is key for SaaS conference success

We believe in good design and try to make it an integral part of every aspect of our business — from the product to our conference participation, our creative team is always heavily involved in our preparations.

For us, the creative process is not just an opportunity to put up an impressive booth and wow conference attendees, but also a chance to project what we believe in as a team. We find that this allows us to start and nurture many relationships which turn into meaningful long-term partnerships.

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With only 2 people on our Finance & Operations team, we have to be smart about how we use our resources. These are the tools that help us scale our work.

Finance & Operations. Exciting, right?

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of a SaaS business?

Probably not.

Yet, people lie at the heart of every software company, so taking good care of them is imperative for every SaaS business that wants to succeed.

With just 2 dedicated people on the Finance and Ops team at ChartMogul, we have to be careful with our resources and make sure we don’t get spread too thin.

For us the software we use is the keystone that allows us to scale what we do. In this post, I want to share with you our favorite tools and how they allow us to run ChartMogul better.

But before I get into that, here are a few details about our team.

The Finance & Operations Team at ChartMogul
Olga Evsenko

Olga is maybe the archetypal international ChartMogul employee — originally from Russia, she spent an exchange year in Berlin during her studies in Economics and Finance. After that, she supported multiple non-profits in the US on the finance side for multiple years before returning to Berlin. She’s been with ChartMogul for almost a year now and has helped us a lot to improve & document our reporting and other processes.

Martin Raißle

I (Martin) also felt the urge to return to Germany, but that’s because it’s home for me. After completing my studies in Industrial Engineering, I had a 3-year stint in the Middle East to gain practical exposure to the Finance side of things. While I enjoyed crunching the numbers, I realized I wasn’t made for working in a corporate environment or living in the desert. So I returned to Europe in 2016 and joined ChartMogul in the same year. Since then I’ve been in charge of fast and accurate reporting, regulatory compliance, and all the other small things that make sure everyone else can do their job.

And now to the tools we use to give superpowers to our small team!

Excel

Excel is still the powerhouse in this category. Unsurprisingly, it is also at the top of my list. Finance teams all over the world use it for everything from A as in Attainment Reporting, to O as in OPEX Planning to Z as in … avoiding Zero-sum games, I guess?

The OPEX template we use

This is also true for us at ChartMogul. With its immense flexibility and power, Microsoft Excel is the draft horse of pretty much anything we do that deals with large amounts of numbers. PivotTables easily handle hundreds of thousands of lines to derive — often very specific — insight.

For our regular reports, we do have templates and macros prepared that help us stem the monthly workload. For everything else… there’s ChartMogul.

ChartMogul

Of course, we’re also using our own product! With all our revenue data captured in ChartMogul, the data it holds is the foundation for many of the reports our team produces regularly and on an ad-hoc basis.

At the very beginning of the month, we do high-level investor reporting. Not all the metrics covered in this report come from ChartMogul — there are better options to keep track of your OPEX, hiring plan, the engineering roadmap, etc. However, the core figures that every SaaS investor cares about come straight from our tool: How did our MRR develop and how do we track against the plan?

A bit later in the month, we prepare a revenue report for tax purposes. This is based not on MRR, but GAAP revenues. Luckily, ChartMogul also offers Revenue Recognition functionality. Its detailed export allows us to send separate lists for issued invoices, received payments and deferred revenue to our accountants.

The recognized revenue report makes it easy to prepare accounting documents

From the very same report, we derive our VAT reporting. As a business based in Europe, we need to differentiate between customers in our home country, those in the EU VAT area, and those in the rest of the world. Thanks to the filters available in ChartMogul, this is done easily.

Finally, when it comes time to do payroll, we prepare the sales attainment report for our account executives. We cannot get a ready-made report out of ChartMogul for that (yet) — our commission rules are a bit too specific for that. However, the combination of Zapier (which automatically assigns accounts in ChartMogul to account executives based on data from our CRM tool Close), detailed exports for MRR movements in any given month and existing customers, and a custom-made Excel template allow us to calculate everyone’s achievement in a breeze.

These two tools were kind of expected given one is the foundation of every Finance team and the other is our own product. There are, however, also a few tools that you might not have heard of — but that have proven to be very valuable for us.

Spendesk

How many credit cards does your company have?

How many critical services are paid through the same card, that is also used for non-essential purposes that carry a higher risk of fraud?

How often did you have to update the credit card details in the 20+ SaaS solutions that you use?

How much time do you spend trying to find out who made that purchase on the credit card?

Unless you are already a quite mature company, the answers are probably: not enough, too many, too often, and too much. Spendesk is here to ease your pain.

There are two parts to it: We started with the digital-only part, with which you can generate virtual credit cards that are only used for a single transaction or subscription. Whoever needs to make a purchase just files a request that will go through a flexible approval flow and — once approved — lead to the creation of a prepaid MasterCard funded from your Spendesk wallet. This way, you don’t need to share physical cards or use the same card for multiple services. Also, because each card is tied to a requester, you know who to hunt down if the receipt is missing (Spendesk actually does that itself already).

The second bit is physical prepaid cards that you can hand out to employees, especially those who travel often or otherwise regularly spend money offline. The workflow is similar — you can either assign a monthly budget (similar to a subscription) or the employee can request one-off top-ups. A mobile app prompts users to upload a photo of the receipt and automatically matches it to the corresponding transaction.

In both cases, you can easily track how much of the budget is used already and all subscription cards will be topped up at the beginning of the month from your Spendesk wallet — which you can fund through a bank transfer.

The best bit: Spendesk does support cards denominated in different currencies — so that we can generate USD cards, fund them with the Dollars that we get paid in, and save the FX fees along the way.

HelloSign

Not all the tools we use are about numbers though! Some are about letters, or whatever you call these illegible scribbles that some people use to conclude contracts.

HelloSign moves this solution into the digital world at a very affordable price and with a very user-friendly interface.

Most of our utilization falls into one of three use cases:

  1. Employment & freelancer contracts: A fast process is crucial to hiring the best talent, and a great e-signing solution helps to speed up the signature process a lot. Keep in mind that some jurisdictions have limitations in place about what can be agreed without wet ink signatures.
  2. Service Orders: What is true for hiring is just as true for the sales process. Bigger customers often want to negotiate specific terms — we accommodate this request by offering them to sign service orders. Once the terms are agreed, e-signing helps to formalize everything quickly so that the customer can get access to ChartMogul as soon as possible.
  3. Data Protection Agreements and other templates: What I really like about HelloSign is its option to create templates for documents that are regularly signed by different parties but are essentially the same for everyone. Once you upload a document template and place the fields that the other party has to fill, you will be provided with a link that you can send directly to customers or employees. Whenever somebody signs a template, both of you will be provided with a copy of the executed agreement via email and HelloSign will also keep a copy for you.
TravelPerk

Another solution to enable our employees to self-service typical problems without giving up control is TravelPerk. As the name suggests, this is about business travel. While our employees do not travel that much, every now & then we do attend conferences or even host our own customer meetups.

While Spendesk makes sure you know who to bug for the invoice, TravelPerk makes it even easier by providing a central billing system that automatically sends the invoice to your accounting system. Here as well you can define flexible approval flows & travel policies that reduce interaction to a minimum.

This ensures that employees can book trains, flights, hotels, and even Airbnbs themselves, without the risk of travel spend overrunning the allocated budget.

Currently, hotel selection seems to be a bit limited in some cities. However, TravelPerk will allow you to book accommodation that you find with other providers through its platform, so that all spend can be found here.

Point9 & Alven Community

Finally, there is something that — while not being a software tool — makes our work life much easier. Both Point9 and Alven, our two biggest investors, maintain Slack groups in which their portfolio companies can swap ideas and get input from others that might have had a similar problem. Being able to get some quick free feedback is incredibly valuable, especially on such topics that we’re not very familiar with ourselves — like which benefits are common in Canada vs. Germany, which external DPO other companies in Germany are using, or how to deal with certain HR topics.

Both companies also regularly host events. Because Alven is based in Paris attending those is more difficult. Both ChartMogul and Point9 are based in Berlin though, so I recently attended the Point9 Portfolio CFO Meetup in which we discussed our current challenges and recent learnings.

Scale your Finance & Ops department with the right tools

Using smart software tools is a great opportunity to empower nimble teams to support a great SaaS team.

The software and communities I shared above are what we use inside ChartMogul, but there are many more out there.

I’d be curious to hear about your favorite tools in this category — reach out to us @chartmogul and let me know. Maybe I can even find something to add to our arsenal.

If you want to learn more about the internal operations of our Finance & Ops team, check out this post from an interview I did with Quaderno.

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In this post, our friends at Proof will cover what exactly SaaS companies need to know about personalization. Plus, they’ll give you a quick run through of some quick examples you can use to execute on your own site.

Ben Johnson is the Head of Content at Proof, a Y Combinator-backed startup that provides real-time social proof and personalization software. Over 18,000 sites trust Proof to help increase their conversion rates.

We recommend Proof’s impressive blog and their podcast, Scale or Die. Thanks Ben!

Personalization — it’s nothing new. In fact, we’ve seen the tactic at play in the real-world for years. Here are a few examples of when you might have encountered a personalized experience in your non-Internet life:

  • When you check into a fancy, 5-star hotel and your favorite snacks are waiting for you upon your pillow alongside a handwritten note from the staff.
  • At the local coffee shop, when the barista knows your order and can write your name on the cup before you even say it.
  • A handmade custom shirt — tailored and monogrammed just for you.

Over the past several years, this level of human attention that we’ve seen offline has made its way online, making the Internet a more delightful and efficient place to be a consumer. Nowadays, the top SaaS marketers are turning to personalization to increase their conversion rates, improve customer happiness, and increase the number of MQLs for their brand.

Personalization defined

So, what is personalization?

In marketing, personalization is the concept of building a customized experience for each visitor. Rather than showing a one-size-fits page to a visitor — you use available first-party (your own data) and third-party data (enriched from an external source) to make the page more relevant for each and every person that lands on-site.

This can be accomplished by adjusting headlines, CTAs, subheadings, value props, and so much more. Really any piece of content can be swapped out in real-time for a more relevant one.

Here’s a quick example to better explain the concept. On our homepage at Proof, we have a generic headline that we display when we don’t have information on a visitor’s industry:

But when we are able to accurately identify a visitor, we can adjust the headline to seem more relevant for our visitor. Here’s one variation for E-commerce visitors that toutes Proof as “the most powerful social proof platform for E-commerce brands.”

By running this personalization experiment with a handful of other tests, we’ve seen a 51% increase in demo registrations and a 31% increase in new trials.

Personalization can occur across mediums — from ad copy to landing pages to mobile apps to the web. But for SaaS businesses, the most notable and important instance of personalization occurs on the web and in-app. We’ll talk through some examples you can launch on your site later in this post.

Why personalization matters for SaaS in 2019

While personalization has been around in the offline world for decades, it’s emergence to the online world is pretty recent. In the past, marketers wanting to personalize their sites faced a few big problems:

  1. Not enough data for personalization: For businesses that want to personalize, data is key. Until 3rd party data-sources such as FullContact, Clearbit, and Datanyze emerged, there was no easy way to pull visitor data. Now with an IP address or email, you can perform a real-time pull of a plethora of information around a visitor.
  2. Difficult to map customer journey: Even if you were able to collect information about a visitor, it was hard to have it update across your CRM, on your site, and in your app. Luckily, in 2019, software tools are a whole lot better at integrating and talking to one another. Plus, you have tools such as Segment that can help create a single place to store and aggregate your date from various endpoints.
  3. Time and resource constraints: Personalization is easier than ever before — but until platforms like Experiences emerged, these tactics were hard to implement and most companies didn’t have the engineering time to commit to personalization. With an influx of integrations and little-engineering-required software for personalization, this has all changed.

So, you’re probably thinking, “this is great and all — but is it worth my time?”

Here are a few reasons we think it’s pretty appealing for SaaS marketers looking to improve their conversion rates, lifetime value, or other metrics in 2019:

It’s also important to note: SaaS customers are some of the earliest adopters and most scrupulous consumers. You’ve likely seen that SaaS companies are amongst the first to launch new tactics, try out software, and run growth experiments — a testing mentality is just part of the role.

For these reasons, your SaaS customers are going to expect personalization and hyper-relevant marketing. If you’re not already personalizing, it’s something you should consider launching on your site today. It creates a better customer experience and leads to improved metrics for your marketing team.

3 personalization experiments you can launch today

Curious how exactly to integrate personalization on your site? Here a few quick ideas of experiments you can start running on your site today:

Swap out CTAs

Based on your visitors stage in the sales cycle, you’ll want to adjust your headlines, subheadlines, and imagery to appeal to your users’ unique properties. An even more powerful method for SaaS businesses is to personalize a CTA to push the visitor to the most relevant next action:


Book a demo: On a visitor’s first visit to your site, push them towards a demo signup to show them exactly what your SaaS can do for their site. Start a trial: Once a visitor has watched a demo, it feels sloppy to push them back to the same demo tape. Instead, push them to signup for a free trial.
Log in: If a customer starts their trial (or continues on to become a customer), the most relevant action is to push them towards logging in to their account.   Match ad headlines to your landing pages

It might seem like a simple task, but you’d be surprised by the number of SaaS businesses that don’t personalize their landing pages to match their ads.

By taking the headline you’re using on Facebook, Adwords, or other ad platforms — you can easily adjust your pages to match the landing page to what a visitor is expecting to see when they click an ad. And the genius part of this tactic is you can create one optimized page — and simply swap out elements on the page based on a visitor’s unique qualities.

Here’s an example from BigCommerce of a Facebook ad they’re running with the headline “Start Your Online Business Today. It’s Easy.”

Then, behind this ad is a landing page that perfectly matches the ad you clicked on.


Welcome back existing customers

If you just launched a new website, one of the most pleasant ways to surprise and delight customers is to deploy a personalization that adjusts the homepage when a visitor lands.

If a visitor has already converted and started to pay your business, why do most sites still push towards pitching their software and pretend like they’re running an outbound sales cycle? It’s sloppy and reflects badly on your brand.

Gusto provides an incredible example of how to adjust the homepage to account for whether a visitor is a customer or not. Here’s the page you’ll see if you’re visiting without a Gusto account.

But once you visit as a customer, the page adjusts. The headline adjusts to say “Welcome back,” the signup form disappears, and the CTA reads “Sign in.”

The result? A more human experience for visitors to the site.

If you’re looking for a lightweight way to get started with this tactic, you can use pretty much any live chat software to customize the messaging for return visitors. You can get more advanced with your message targeting, but it’s normally simple to set up a “welcome back” message based on the number of site visits.

How exactly do you launch personalization experiments

You might be thinking — I’m ready to start personalizing but I simply don’t know where to begin.

Luckily for you, there’s a whole host of software tools that can help you launch delightful experiences and increase conversions for your SaaS.

In terms of data, you’ll need to utilize a third-party data provider such as Clearbit, Datanyze, or FullContact to enrich the amount of information you receive from a visitor. Then, you’ll also want to utilize a data integration tool such as Segment or Hull.io to manage that customer data.

To easily deploy these online experiments, Proof Experiences is our a new personalization platform built exclusively for B2B SaaS companies. With our visual editor, you can quickly and easily deploy unique experiences for your visitors without having to bring in your engineering team. It’s fast, easy, and powerful.

Interested in learning more about how to use the tools mentioned above in a personalization strategy? Our new guide walks you through how to organize and store your customer data for personalization.

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