Growing a SaaS Using Videos & Help Tutorials
“So I started by interviewing a bunch of digital agency owners to find out their biggest problems. Every single one of them mentioned content, and they got very passionate about it.”
KICK-STARTING GROWTH WITH VIDEO CONTENT AND HELP TUTORIALS.
Today, WhalePages was fortunate enough to chat with James, the co-founder of Content Snare, a SaaS company focused on helping agencies improve their content workflow. We’re excited to pick Jame’s brain about his experience running and growing his SaaS company. So let’s jump into the interview!
Hi there and thanks for joining us today James. Kick off the interview by telling us a little bit more about Content Snare. What was it that triggered you to move forward with development and turn your project from an idea into a reality?
In our web design business, we worked with local clients to build their websites. The process has a lot of bottlenecks. One in particular was the process of collecting content from stakeholders.
At the time it was probably our biggest problem, and I couldn’t find a decent solution for it.
Just having a problem wasn’t enough though. We needed to validate it first. I’ve read so much about failed startups, where people built something only to find people aren’t willing to pay for it.
So I started by interviewing a bunch of digital agency owners to find out their biggest problems. Every single one of them mentioned content, and they got very passionate about it.
After that we started building an email list of web designers just by creating content and sharing it in the right places.
Eventually, we allowed people to pre-purchase a year license to the software, before we wrote any code.
We were happy with the purchases, so that’s when we decided to move ahead.
How long did it take you to develop a first version / MVP? What did the MVP development process look like?
About 6 months.
We were fairly confident the idea would work. That’s because of the pre-sales, email list, and customer feedback we received. So we spent a bit more than we normally would on an MVP.
The first step was to choose what features should go into the MVP. had a lot of feature ideas from the beginning, so it was just a matter of prioritising which ones we wanted in the MVP in a spreadsheet.
The next step was getting the help of a UX designer to create wireframes and then designs.
Having designs made the development much easier. I think that’s important when you’re working with developers.
Because we had a software business, we already had vetted developers, so we worked with them to create the initial product.
What was the single hardest developmental challenge you faced early on? How did you overcome those obstacles.
Early on there weren’t many development challenges. However after about 1.5 years we realised we’d let some developers run away producing some code that ended up costing us a lot in technical debt. We got too busy with other parts of our business and didn’t monitor the product enough.
The code base made it really hard to release new features, which was a massive problem as we had people asking for things to be implemented.
Two weeks ago we finally released a new version that was almost a ground-up rewrite. That was the only real way to fix this.
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 Content Snare changed over time?
We are kind of in the middle of that now. The product was built for web designers and digital agencies but we’ve had a lot of signups from industries that we didn’t anticipate.
This includes education, event planning and some large enterprises. Right now we’re discussing what we need to do to cater for these industries in addition to digital agencies.
So right now we haven’t changed too much from the original vision, but watch this space.
What’s interesting is that it has opened up other opportunities. While talking about our business, I speak about automation regularly, as it helps us save a lot of time. People began asking me about it a lot, so I ended up creating a Zapier course as a side business out of this.
Are you self funded or do you have outside backing (VCs, angels etc). What are the pros / cons of your funding path?
Self funded. We used cash and developers from our existing business.
The pro’s are obviously that we own the entire business and get to make our own decisions.
The con’s are that growth is harder without a bunch of money to throw at marketing. However I think that money would have been mostly wasted in the beginning as it took a while to get our messaging right.
How long did it take you to hit $1000 MRR
How long did it take you to hit $2000 MRR
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?
Mostly through videos and help articles. It was self serve unless people had specific questions, and I’d record them a short video. We had the option to book a video onboarding call, but it didn’t have much take-up.
Most people found us through our community – a Facebook group and my relationships with leaders of other communities. So partnerships really.
As time has gone on, what have proven to be your 3 best customer acquisition channels?
Partnerships, SEO & content.
Partnerships is pretty broad. That includes going on podcasts, guest posts, being promoted in email lists, webinars etc.
Content is both our blog and podcast I host, Agency Highway.
What have proven to be your worst performing channels?
Pretty much all paid ads. We convert a lot of trials out of paid ads, but their conversion to paid is very low. So at this point we mostly use them for awareness & remarketing, just in case someone comes along and forgets about us.
If you had to start over again and do three things differently what would those three things be?
That’s a hard one.
For sure we would better monitor the code development.
I’d start aiming our product at larger businesses/agencies earlier, rather than speaking to so many freelancers. Unfortunately freelancers aren’t in the best position to make the most of our product.
Finally I’d hire writers sooner instead of producing all our content myself.
What’s a “must read” book for SaaS entrepreneurs?
Rework by Jason Fried
Thank you James for taking the time to chat with our blog audience today about Content Snare. It’s been enjoyable and insightful learning about your journey. To our audience, if you’d like to learn more about Content Snare you can follow them on Twitter or head over to their website here.
If you have enjoyed this interview and would like to read more just like it, then head over to our SaaS marketing blog.
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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