SaaS Growth: Onboarding 500 Affiliates in One Year

“SaaS is one of the most sought after affiliate categories today as it offers recurring commission.”

Written By Sterling Sweeney: Published Jan 19th, 2020 | Updated Jan 19th, 2020.

Sterling Sweeney is a growth hacker and the driving force behind WhalePages, a SaaS marketing agency. Today, he sits down with the team behind LambdaTest, to chat about their SaaS growth and marketing strategies. 

15 Minute Read

“In the first month of our launch we were able to get 100+ users with word-of-mouth referral alone.”

Today WhalePages had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Asad Khan from  LambdaTest, a cloud based cross browser testing platform, about their SaaS growth journey so far. Let’s jump in!

Hi there and thanks for joining us today. Help us kick off the interview by telling us a little bit more about LambdaTest.

To summarize, LambdaTest is a cloud based cross browser testing platform that allows developers and testers to test their website and webapps on 2000+ different browser environments. The main aim is to cut down on the time and costs involved related to building up, maintaining, and scaling in-house device labs for both manual and automation testing.

So not only can you perform real time live interactive testing on our platform, you can also  run selenium automation tests on our platform and you can do that in parallel. That means that not only can you increase your browser coverage, you can also cut down your test execution times.

Currently LambdaTest is used by 120,000+ users across 130+ countries.

What was it that triggered you to move forward with development and turn your project from an idea into a reality?

We here at LambdaTest were testers ourselves before we started with product development. I was always fascinated to see how adobe has accumulated all tools for web designers under a single umbrella and being into the vertical of software testing I was helpless as I had to hop on different testing tools to make sure my web app runs smoothly.

This is what triggered the idea of LambdaTest and soon after exiting my last company I dedicated all my time to turn the idea into a working project. It was back in 2017 when we made our first version live for the world.

How long did it take you to develop a first version / MVP? What did the MVP development process look like? 

It took us around 6 months of research and development to come up with first release. Though the first usable product was developed in the first 4 months itself, we devoted the next months to performance only. To validate our vision we started off with only live interactive testing features, and gave our 110% in ensuring that our platform gave the highest possible performance.

In the first month of our launch we were able to get 100+ users with word-of-mouth referral alone.

We tried to talk to as many users as possible to get feedback. Our users showed us the way and the next feature set we built were all suggested by our users. We are still a user feedback driven platform.

What was the single hardest development challenge you faced early on? How did you overcome those obstacles?

For us, getting the right performance was the most difficult challenge. We built our first MVP using the best possible technology stack available and the resulting product was still the fastest platform in the market. However that was not good enough for our team. Our first major blocker was to provide a much better streaming than was available at that time. We did some research over this, found out ways how we can streamline our outgoing traffic, how we can optimize the hardware to give the best possible performance, and how to reduce the packet sizes being sent over streaming. It took us a few months of effort, however, we were able to overcome this obstacle.

What have been some of the biggest product decisions you’ve needed to make as a company? Have you ever had to pivot or change your offering? How has LambdaTest changed over time?

We started off with a roadmap in mind and had a strict timeline. Though the major product line and features remained the same as our planned roadmap, the details have changed significantly over time because of user feedback. After every feature release, we made sure to talk to our users to find out their pain points and how those can be solved using our platform. The timeline we planned while starting development extended a lot, however the delay was worth it. Most of the delay has been to develop in-house turn-key scaling solutions and optimize performance.

Are you self funded or do you have outside backing (VCs, angels etc). What are the pros / cons of your funding path?

LambdaTest since 2017 has raised two seed level funding rounds:

1 – $1 million in December 2018 from Leo Capital.
2 – $2 million in November 2019 from Blume Ventures and Leo Capital.

Being a deep tech company you need to either be bootstrapped and manage the business until you become profitable.

Or, you can take the funding route.

LambdaTest took the route to get VC funding as our aim was to become successful and profitable in a short amount of time.

After getting funding from a couple of VC firms I can list down below the pros & cons.

Pros

– You can access resources that may be out of your reach if you are bootstrapped.

– You can fast track your product development speed by hiring seasoned talent.

– You get access to the abundant knowledge of your VC firm which can be helpful in making better and sound decisions.

– You can achieve your goals faster. The amount of money, support, and guidance that you get from a VC could be the difference between venture capital financing making and breaking your lifelong dream.

Cons

– There is no as such cons, except raising capital is hard and getting right partner is also challenging

How long did it take you to hit $1000 MRR?

LambdaTest hit the benchmark figure of $1000 MRR in five months after launching the product with around 3000 active users on our platform, quite a lot of them freemium users.

How long did it take you to hit $2000 MRR?

It just took us one more month (i:e sixth months after product launch) to reach $2000 MRR with around 5500  active users.

When you were first starting out, how did you go about onboarding your first customers? What were the main channels you found your first customers through?

Our first growth spurt was purely word of mouth. We started with sharing information about our launch over social media and leveraged our connections to spread the word.

Soon after launching the first version of our product we began our marketing which was mostly organic. Being from the software development field I reached out to some people who I knew would be interested in trying LambdaTest.

We offered the beta version of our product on 150+ users to gather feedback. Direct interaction with them in order to gather their feedback and suggestions really helped in shaping the first cut.

Once we knew we had the right product we started our marketing efforts in earnest beginning with Product Hunt, and social media promotion.

What were the main channels you found your first customers through?

In our early days channels like Social Media, Quora, Reddit, and Hacker News etc. helped us in driving traffic on LambdaTest. Our launch on the Product Hunt platform turned out to be amazing for us, we scored 800+ upvotes and attracted over 1000 users in a single day. Then as product evangelism grew we started getting more and more organic discovery.

We have a very active in-app chat support that proved instrumental in our earliest conversions. We never hesitated to go on one-to-one calls with users to understand their feedback and know more about their pain points around development and testing. We didn’t have a dedicated support team when we launched but that was never an issue as the whole LambdaTest team, including cofounders, were there on chat support to help out the customers.

As time has gone on, what have proven to be your 3 best customer acquisition channels?

The fun part about being a startup is that you can explore various channels and then decide what works and what does not.

Our marketing team did not hesitate in trying almost all available channels for tech product marketing that they could. After roughly two years of being in business we have identified some channels that have really worked wonders for us.

We get a good number of customers from various dedicated communities like Dzone, Quora, and Indie HackerContent marketing channels worked well for us along with affiliate marketing which is getting us good ROI every month.

What have proven to be your worst performing channels?

The fun with marketing a startup is that you can try various channels that are worth putting your time into.

However there were channels that did not work out for us. For example all pay-per-click channels were not able to give us our desired ROI.

This might have been because running these ads were too complex and we were not able to leverage them properly, but the reality still remained. We were not able to get the ROI we wanted or expected out of PPC channels. We instead focused on going with a content marketing based approach.

Have paid ads ever worked for you on any channel?

Paid advertisements initially were not able to convert for us. In fact even though right now we have optimized our PPC channels to give us satisfactory ROIs, we are still struggling with finding ways to scale it up while preserving the same ROI.

How much of a role has your SaaS affiliate program played in helping you grow?

LambdaTest does have an affiliate program which was started as an experimental channel in October 2018. However, today it has become a significant channel in our growth.

SaaS is one of the most sought after affiliate categories today as it offers recurring commissions.

LambdaTest Affiliate Program is no different, we offer a 50% commission on the first sale followed by a recurring 25% commission on our manual plans. For our automation plans we have a fixed 15% commission for all sales as the ticket price is pretty high.

To give you an insight, in just over one year we have over 500 promoters who are actively promoting LambdaTest in return of some great commissions.

We do consider our affiliate program a success and plan to come up with a channel partner plan to attract more service providers at large.

If you had to start over again and do things differently what would those things be?

We would not focus efforts on any PPC experimentations.

We would focus first on building self-support documentation and infrastructure.

Content marketing is important however it’s better to focus first on user education as compared to working on thought leadership posts. Your help documentation is also content and can help you in organic discovery.

Not all user suggested features are the right features. While as a user driven platform it’s always important to listen to users, you have to keep in mind that you cannot make everyone happy. Everyone has a different definition of ideal ‘user experience’. Your job is to filter the right feature set from a list of hundreds.

What’s a “must read” book for SaaS entrepreneurs?

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Amy Wallace and Edwin Catmull as well as The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

Thank you greatly for taking the time to chat with our SaaS blog readers today. We really appreciate it. To our audience, if you’d like to learn more about LambdaTest, you can follow them on Twitter or head over to their website here

 

Written By Sterling Sweeney: Published Jan 19th, 2020 | Updated Jan 19th, 2020.

Sterling Sweeney is a growth hacker and the driving force behind WhalePages, a SaaS marketing agency So, if you have a SaaS company and you’re kinda into things like website traffic and increasing your MRR, then be sure to check out our homepage. 

 

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