src=”https://buffer.com/resources/content/images/2022/05/spacex.jpeg” alt=”What We’ve Learned Launching a New Product as an 11-Year-Old Company”>
Buffer spends a lot time thinking about growth. To be more precise, small business growth. We love stories about start-up candles companies growing their revenue by 5x via social media, and brands that have gained over 400,000 followers within four years.
We’ve noticed a consistent theme in many of these stories.
To grow, focus on doing less.
In our experience, when growing a business/brand/product, deciding what to do is probably less important than deciding what not to do.
This is what we’ve seen at Buffer.
We launched Start Page six months ago, a free landing-page builder that gathers all your best content into one place.
12,724 pages were created since the launch. Over the past week, 865 Start Pages were created and 696 people have loaded Start Pages. These metrics are amazing and we love seeing new Start Pages being shared every day on Twitter.
We are aware that there is more to do.
Like the thousands of small businesses that exist, we tried to do less by building Start Page. We are aware that there is more to do. We chose to start with a minimum viable product (or MVP) and then asked our customers to tell us what they would like to see.
Continue reading to see how we used this approach.
Customers can create the roadmap
Buffer knows that it is impossible to predict the future, no matter how much knowledge and insight you may have. We didn’t set out to provide everything that customers might need when we launched Start Page. We focused on the basics and encouraged customers to tell us what they want to build next.
Every Buffer user is invited to fill out our Typeform survey and request new features.
This survey connects to an internal Slack channel, #feature-requests. On average, around 10 new requests are received each day. Every request is reviewed by our product team. All requests are then grouped into categories to help us identify trends.
We noticed that many customers were asking for statistics about Start Page after the launch. We are talking about page views and link clickings.
We would have struggled to prioritise this feature before launch. There were many features that we knew our users would like.
Customers reaching out to us and asking for it proved it was a priority. A statistics feature was built and launched in December, just two months after we started.
Product releases can be a lesson in humility and sacrifice. It is necessary to be willing to sacrifice features that you don’t need. Blogs that you don’t need to write. A message that doesn’t resonate. When bringing a product on the market, it is important to focus.
We’ve been able to create a strong user-base by releasing our software early and letting customers design our roadmap. This has allowed us to avoid months or years of development.
However, users are not always a given. They won’t always be there if you don’t build it. Here are some lessons learned from building a user-base.
Growth loops double-down
My first job as a product marketer was to assume that launches were the only way to gain new customers.
You’ll be a success if you do it correctly. You’ll never get another chance if you do it wrong.
However, it’s not the only option, as experienced marketers will tell,
Launches can increase awareness, interest and engagement for a product. But, most of the hype is short-lived.
Customers will forget about the launch after a day or two. The email is archived and the post is read.
You need to create growth loops in your marketing and product design so that you can grow the usage of a product over time.
What is a growth loop?
Loops are closed systems in which the outputs of a process produce more than the inputs. This allows for the inputs to be reinvested back into the input. Growth loops can be used to create different types of value, such as new users, returning users or efficiency.” (Reforge2020)
We purposely built Start Page a growth loop into its user interface. This is how it works:
- The customer creates a Start Page
- The customer shares the Start Page link in his bio
- Follower views the Start Page
- The follower scrolls down to the bottom and clicks Powered By Buffer
- Follower creates their Start Page
The loop continues
Up to now, 3,362 people clicked the ” Powered by Buffer”link. 91 (2.71%) of them went on to create their Start Page.
These numbers aren’t huge, but they’re a good indicator of a cycle that will continue to provide value as the usage grows.
These loops are unique because they don’t require any marketing effort. If you do it correctly, the growth will happen naturally, especially if there are a few Start Page viralities. We noticed that NATO had created a Start Page just a day after the launch. That was quite a cool endorsement.
We also saw a very popular BTS fan account that shared a Start Page, which received 5,957 retweets earlier this year.
Although the BTS Start Page has been removed, the results were amazing. 2,337 people clicked on the “Powered by Buffer” link from a Start Page for BTS’s PTD gigs. It’s not bad for a link at the bottom of the page.
However, not all growth loops have to be viral. There are simple growth loops we can all build.
Mike Eckstein is a Senior Product Marketinger at Buffer. He realized that we were sending thousands upon thousands of onboarding emails every month to new customers. Only 10% of them created a Start Page.
Why not modify those onboarding emails in order to promote Start Page?
This tiny loop made a huge impact.
Onboarding emails alone were responsible for doubling traffic to the Start Page landing pages from January to March. This model of gaining users can be sustained, just like other growth loops.
- Sign up for Buffer to receive the onboarding email sequence
- Click the link to create your Start Page
- These users shared the Start Page with their audience.
- This audience learns about Buffer and creates a Buffer account.
The loop continues.
Today, 73% of all Start Pages are created today by Buffer users. This is a testament to the huge impact that small tweaks can have.
This is not all. Our login page now features Start Page, which is viewed around 400,000 times per month. This has greatly increased awareness. We also launched a new landing page that increased conversions by 0.8 percent to 3.5%.
Our approach to product marketing and product development at Start Page has been to be focused. We focus on the features and marketing campaigns which will bring results and then double down.
Based on customer feedback, five new features have been launched on the product side. On the marketing side, our landing page has been relaunched to rank higher on Google for terms such as “link in bio”. Soon, we’ll update the blog with an update.
You can create your Start Page now for free.
Did you miss our previous article…