A SaaS Company With a Focus on Organic Growth
“There is far more benefit and credibility to being on page 1 of Google organically than any paid plan will get you.”
A Mind Mapping SaaS Company that hit $2000 MRR In Their First Month.
Today, WhalePages was fortunate enough to chat with the team at MindGenius, a mind mapping and idea visualization SaaS company. We’re excited to pick their brains about their experience running and growing their company. So let’s jump into the interview!
First, thank you for joining us today. Can you kick off the interview by telling us a little bit more about MindGenius and what it does?
MindGenius is a software company based in Scotland specialising in Mind Mapping and Project Management applications. MindGenius is a mindset and a way of working that enables individuals and teams to work, communicate and collaborate efficiently and effectively. From our launch in 2008 we have grown to have customers in over 100 countries across the world. Initially we launched a Desktop solution, also called MindGenius but added a SaaS product called MindGenius Online in 2017. As a growing business ourselves, we were driven to take correct decisions, plan how best to proceed and manage resultant actions and resources through to completion. We used the tools internally first in another business we owned, and saw huge benefits, so decided we should share our solution.
When you first launched MindGenius, how did you go about on-boarding your first paying customers? What was the most valuable on-boarding strategy in your earliest days?
One of the reasons we launched MindGenius Online was to react to feedback of our users. Many had moved over to Macs and other browser based devices so we were fortunate that we had an enthusiastic user base to connect with. So our initial users were already our customers. With onboarding we recognised that seeing value was key so we focussed heavily on the user experience over the first couple of sessions. We created helpful video guides, played about with the product tour introduction and sent them supporting and relevant collateral throughout their trial
How has the marketing strategy for MindGenius changed over time? What marketing advice would you give to early stage SaaS founders who are struggling to gain traction early on?
Today Marketing is all about website traffic and getting your share of the audience. You need to define your keywords and align all the activity on the development of your website. The key has to be to create great content to inspire and engage.
Have you engaged in any paid advertising? What has worked and what hasn’t?
Over time we did try paid advertising but the cost of keywords has gradually increased to the point that it brought no financial reward. Our experience is that many users of the internet look below the paid advertising space. There is far more benefit and credibility to being on page 1 of Google organically than any paid plan will get you. I also personally find the modern retargeting approach on Facebook hugely irritating. If you get a user to your website then give them great content. If they leave you probably failed to engage them and paying to try and get them back has more negatives than positives.
That’s interesting you say that. Many of the customers who sign up for our SaaS growth box say the same thing. We saw, that organic was producing huge results (for some of our customers it represents 90% of revenue). The problem for many SaaS founders is that it’s hard and time consuming to build the links, make the right partnerships and then create the content around your desired search terms. Virtually everyone understand the power of organic, but almost everyone underestimates how hard it is to do well. That’s actually the reason why we started WhalePages (we get links for SaaS companies and we help them get mentioend on popular blogs and YouTube channels (see the service here). In our opinion, SaaS founders who take organic placement seriously, are giving themselves a super power.
Let’s move on now and talk about your strategies with design experimentation. How much A/B testing (if any) have you been doing in order to try to optimize the effectiveness of your homepage? In your experience what have been the most important design elements that have helped increase CR on your site?
We are constantly reviewing how the website performs and the journey of a user through the site. The most important element is to create great content. In recent times we have spent considerably more in the addition of video to our website as you can get far more information communicated in this format. It also reflects the way humans have evolved to consume information. Currently many more are happy to watch a short video than read a detailed text – just ask the Youtube generation.
I see you offer a 14 day free trial of MindGenius. How much experimentation have you done with this on-boarding process? Have you tried shorter / longer trial time frames? Have you experimented with credit card vs. no credit card required for the free trial? What big takeaways have you found A/B testing your signup process?
Yes we used to offer 30 days but we found 14 days far more successful. A user has to see the value in what you offer quickly. There is no benefit of driving users to your product to only have one session and leave. You need to ensure your onboarding process is informative and not overpowering. Make sure you get the key points across and get them applying the solution to their task. No credit cards is a definite plus point. In practical terms you don’t need the credit card info until they buy so why put a blocker in the way at the start of your process. Understandably many users believe they will be charged if for example they simply fail to remember to cancel the trial. With regards the signup process, as we offer a team tool we used to provide an option to get your team involved, and send them invite emails, before you’ve even tried the product but we found individuals much prefer to try the tool first and like it before they spread it within their organisation.
I see you have a blog. How much does content marketing and SEO play into your overall marketing strategy? What percentage of your leads come through your content marketing efforts?
SEO and content marketing are the key pillars of our marketing strategy. As the competitive marketplace has increased from our start-up year its very important you get engaging content out in order to get users aware of your product. With no paid advertising all website traffic is from SEO and content marketing
Can you tell us a little bit more about MindGenius’s funding path? Are you self-financed or do you have investors on board? Can you tell us a little bit more about the pros and cons of your decision?
We have always been self-funded as it has suited us to be free to make the best long-term decisions for the business. The cons of that decision is it simply takes you longer to grow as you remain constrained by your own investment and profit. We remain open to other means of growing the business as there are very many businesses were additional investors bring expertise and add value so we wouldn’t rule it out
Tell us a little bit more about some of the early failures you experienced and how you overcame those failures.
Onboarding itself is full of challenges. As I have already said adding team members before the user had trialled the tool didn’t work. The key here is to be constantly reviewing the trial users daily. How many session did they have, what did they do, when did they disengage? We are still doing this review 2 years on so the learning never stops.
Now if you’re comfortable talking about financial milestones (ie. team size, user growth rate, monthly MRR, financial milestones, AAR projection ballpark or any other indicators), can you tell us a little bit more about your SaaS size and growth rate?
Our SaaS product MindGenius Online last year grew to 10% of our turnover and our MRR is 300% up from launch but we still have a long way to go to transition to being a business dominated by SaaS. However, the business has transitioned and we have solutions for all our current users and hopefully we can continue to grow.
How long did it take MindGenius to hit $2000 MRR?
We were fortunate as we had a long established user base with the Desktop product. One of the reasons we brought MindGenius Online to market was to react to our users requests combined with the growth of Mac, Pcs and other browser based devices. We hit the $2000 MRR in month one after product launch.
Lastly, if you had to start over again and do three things differently, what would those three things be?
1. Focus marketing activity on SEO and content and ignore all the paid adwords option.
2. Put much more effort into day 1 of onboarding during the trial period and constantly review the impact of changes.
3. Learn to be more patient. It takes a long time to get momentum and launch a product – very few are overnight successes so keep the belief that it just takes time.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. To our readers, if you want to learn more about MindGenius please head over to their website to learn more!
If you have enjoyed this interview and would like to read more just like it, then head over to our SaaS marketing blog.
Written by Sterling Sweeney: Published Sept 2nd, 2019 | Updated Sept 3rd, 2019.
Sterling Sweeney is a growth hacker and the driving force behind WhalePages, a company that grows SaaS websites. So, if you have a SaaS company and you’re kinda into things like website traffic and increasing your MRR, then our SaaS growth boxes are probably for you.
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