Content marketing your way to multi-million dollars in revenue – iSPIRT Playbook Roundtable

Playbook-RoundTable is one of the most sought after community events of iSPIRT. It’s a gathering of 12 like-minded product startups who are beyond the early stage. RoundTables are facilitated by an iSPIRT maven who is an accomplished practitioner of that Round-Table theme.

The Playbook Roundtable (#PlaybookRT) on content marketing is a brainstorming session on how to acquire users at scale and confer them to customers without paying a dime through content marketing.The playbook roundtable is facilitated by Paras Chopra, founder and CEO of Wingify (the makers of VWO). Paras founded Wingify in 2009 and the company today has 3700 customers across the globe including the likes of Microsoft, AMD and Groupon, and is known as one of the SaaS poster boys of the country.- How to generate initial traction for your product with content marketing?
– How to target your content to the right audience using personas?
– How to get top marketing experts in the world your biggest influencers?
– How to measure RoI on your content marketing?
– How to scale up the team?
– How to get covered on TechCrunch, trend on HackerNews and write for the likes of Moz and Smashing Magazine?

If you are interested, please fill the below mentioned form. If shortlisted, we will confirm by 31st March 2015

Appiterate: Instant publishing & A/B testing on mobile apps using visual editor for iOS and Android apps

Product management and development teams have been using A/B Testing on the web to optimize the experience for users. However, doing A/B testing on mobile has been a challenge especially because the way native apps are deployed currently:

– Native apps are deployed via the marketplaces, making MVP and beta releases very difficult.

– The app stores, especially iTunes, has a review cycle which means apps are available download only after a period of time.

Therefore companies aren’t able to experiment as quickly or thoroughly as they are on the Web. Every app release is a gamble that relies on the assumption that every aspect of the release will appeal to the app’s audience. If it doesn’t, or if there’s a problem, filing an updated version of the app and having it reach the marketplace can take days or weeks.

Developers and product managers need to see how small changes affect engagement, retention, lifetimes value and, of course, monetization of their apps. AppIterate intends to solve this problem with their WYSIWYG A/B testing platform for native mobile apps. It allows app publishers to A/B test and iteratively optimize their designs/UX and functionality of their mobile apps to improve in app purchases, user engagement and conversion metrics. It also allows app publishers to run tests and deploy based on user segments and see real time conversion metrics.

Some of the main features of the app include Real Time A/B testing on native apps, using which developers can test new designs, copy, call-to-action buttons in real-time and push the winning version to all the users without pushing a new update to the app store. Feature Testing and Roll-back is another feature using which developers can test new Features, UX-flows etc during an app update process on a sample population. If the feature does well, deploy it to all of the users, otherwise roll-it back, all without pushing another update through the app store.


Many a times, small changes to the app are required, like a change in copy, change in phone number, increase/change in size/position of a button. The service also gives app-publishers, the ability to make these changes and push them to the users live without re-submitting the app to the app store. Segmentation lets you target a subset of your users based on the criteria defined by you. You can target users based on their OS version, activity, location or any other custom criteria defined by you. Thanks to WYSIWYG editor, even Marketers and Product Managers can create A/B tests easily without any knowledge of coding at all.

Mobile A/B Testing has seen a flurry of activities in the last few months. This includes startups with venture backing such as Apptimize, Swrve and Leanplum. Most of these allow publishers to do A/B testing on native apps using a web interface and get interesting analytics. Other rivals include Pathmapp and Bees & Pollen.  There also players such as BetaGlide which can also measure CPU and memory consumption of an app while it is running and can track it against an event.

Appiterate: Instant publishing & A/B testing on mobile apps using visual editor for iOS and Android apps

AppIterate is a WYSIWYG A/B testing platform for native mobile apps. It allows app publishers to A/B test and iteratively optimize their designs/UX and functionality of their mobile apps to improve in app purchases, user engagement and conversion metrics. It also allows app publishers to run tests and deploy based on user segments and see real time conversion metrics.

On April 21st, Avinash and I had a telephonic chat with Tanuj Mendiratta on the story behind Appiterate, their current traction and future roadmap.

Q. Could you give our readers some background about Airwoot and how you started the venture.

[Appiterate]: Appiterate was founded by 3 cofounders who were each pursing different paths. Anuj and I started working on DSYN while I was still studying at IIM Calcultta. Anuj was my batchmate from DCE. We figured out the in the mobile space a lot of tech was happening but nothing much on design. DSYN was trying to fill this gap. By December 2010, we had signed up a few clients including the likes of Vodafone. We both, then decided to skip the placements. We soon got in touch with Mayank, an IITD grad, who was working on tech offerings in the similar field. Given our complimentary offerings, we decided to partner together. We grew the services company to 35 people, with more than INR 2 Cr annual revenue and signed up clients such as Zomato, Ixigo, Sears, P&G etc.

Q. How and when did you decide to pivot from a services company to a product company?

[Appiterate]: Our services business was growing pretty well. But we wanted to scale quickly and build a big company. A lot of interesting things were happening on mobile, and with age at our side, we wanted to experiment with something that could grow big quite fast. We also felt that running product and services together was impossible as it meant compromising on the services delivery.

We started working on a product in January 2013. By middle of last year, we raised funding from SAIF and by October we closed down the services business completely.

Q. What happened once you decided to close down your services business?

[Appiterate]: Once we decided to pivot, we felt the need to hire a completely new team as working on a product meant different skill sets and approach. However, we worked with every employee to ensure that they were able to transition to positions at other companies. This included working with our clients to absorb some of engineers as well as conducting interviews at our office for our employees.

Q. Was the decision to close down services business completely triggered by having investors on board?

[Appiterate]: No, it was a completely internal decision. We wanted to purely focus on product.

Q. Was the decision to close down services business completely triggered by having investors on board?

[Appiterate]: No, it was a completely internal decision. We wanted to purely focus on product.

Q. How did you identify the product that you wanted to focus on?

[Appiterate]: During our services business, we interacted with a lot of clients to figure out what they were looking and whether we could productize any of these. We figured out that there was no platform in the market that allowed companies to interact and manage relationships with their users for their mobile apps. Hence we narrowed down to Appiterate.

Q. In terms of your approach and mindset, what did it mean to pivot to a product company?

[Appiterate]: There is a mindset challenge that you need to overcome when pivot to a complete product based company. With services, revenue was coming in steadily and we were a decently established profitable company. From this we moved to a company with no customers and start building out a new product from scratch.

Q. There are a couple of other A/B testing platforms that have come up, so of the backed by accelerators such as YC and TechStars. How do you see them?

[Appiterate]: There are a couple of startups that have come up in the silicon valley offering an A/B testing platform for mobile. This is a good validation for us about the market opportunity. However in terms of product, we believe we are more refined than the other players.

Q. Which is your current focused market?

[Appiterate]: We are focused on the global market. At the same, the Indian ecosystem has also matured, and we are seeing traction here as well.

Q. Given that you do not have presence elsewhere, how are you tapping the global market?

[Appiterate]: In today’s globalized world, location does not matter. We travel to meet our potential customers, organize webinars etc. to get in touch with and explain our offerings.

Q. Tell us something about your current team

[Appiterate]: Our current team strength is 10 and that includes some brilliant folks.

Q. What is Appiterate’s business model?

[Appiterate]: We are offering our platform on a SaaS model.

Q. What does Appiterate’s roadmap look like?

[Appiterate]: A/B Testing is just the start for us. We want to help app publishers better monetize post download. We want to be a CRM for mobile apps wherein a product manager can manage all communication with the users.

Q. What is your marketing strategy?

[Appiterate]: We intend to use both inbound and outbound marketing and position ourselves as a complete relationship management platform for mobile apps.

How Visual Website Optimizer got to 2,500+ paid customers through great content and rigorous A/B tests

Last month, I promised to bring you stories of how Indian startups took their products to the world and got the inside scoop on how WebEngage used educational content and live demos to get to 7,000 users in less than 15 months. While I have been slow in bringing more stories to you, this one should more than make up for it.

In this post, I bring you the story of Visual Website Optimizer in conversation with its founder and CEO Paras Chopra. Visual Website Optimizer is an easy-to-use A/B testing tool that allows marketing professionals to create different A/B tests using a point-and-click editor (without needing any HTML knowledge). It is one of India’s fastest growing startups and has got to 2,500+ paid customers including the likes of Microsoft, AMD, Groupon & Airbnb using great content and rigorous A/B tests.

Let’s get started.

How did you get the initial buzz going for your product? 

Paras: Initial buzz was entirely product driven. The concept of visual A/B testing was non-existent then so the product was radical in that sense. A/B testing existed, but it wasn’t this easy.

Did you have marketing built into your product, and were you marketing your product as you were developing it? Or did it all start only after you had a finished product?

Yes, we detected successful A/B tests and requested for a case study from the customer automatically. The case studies gave a lot of buzz. First MVP was done in a month and after that product evolution and marketing started simultaneously.

Did you have a marketing plan in place when you started?

No, I did not have any plan. It was very organic without any plan whatsoever.

Who do you pitch your product to in a company?

Marketing analysts. Our target customer is a person who actually does the A/B tests.

I remember you mentioned on your Mixergy interview that you didn’t want the world to know that you were a one-man show to begin with. Was it difficult to look like a credible company that way? And was that an even bigger issues being an Indian product company?

No, it wasn’t difficult. As long as they were getting a good product and quick service, the customers didn’t care to verify whether it was a one-man show or a 100-people company. Interestingly, many people still don’t know we’re an Indian company.

As Visual Website Optimizer grew, how have you scaled up your marketing? Increased frequency in terms of content? Bigger campaigns? Targeting higher-value customers for your enterprise plan? Also, how have you scaled up your team to take care of these activities?

A bunch of things. Increased frequency from one post per week to two on our blog. Parallel guest posting. Making guides and dedicated landing pages for SEO. Comprehensive retargeting. Started PPC and display to measure ROI. I don’t think marketing should aim to target higher-value customers. They probably need a lot more offline interaction, so marketing works on nurturing them currently.

On the people side, we scaled it by bringing in additional super-smart people. Including me, right now we have a team of three. We’re looking to expand it by adding three more people. Yes, now we have a plan and going forward clearly defined roles in content marketing, generalist tasks, paid marketing and design.

What marketing channels have you used? What has been the most effective for you? Why have they been so effective?

Most effective has been our own case studies and comprehensive guest posts in prominent publications such as Smashing Magazine, SEOMoz, CopyBlogger, MarketingProfs, etc. We also nurture our user base by regularly sending them case studies and use cases.

What about paid channels? How do you go about choosing the right ones? 

We’re still learning on this, but the key is to explore new paid marketing channels that haven’t been exploited yet. All good paid marketing channels dry up ultimately and ROI dwindles. So you have to be on the edge of exploration. That’s how markets work.

How do you measure the success of your marketing campaigns? Do you compare them to your other campaigns? Industry benchmarks? Or just get an overall feel whether they are successful or not?

The only metric our marketing cares about is number of free trials. I believe that once free trial is generated, product should speak for itself so revenue should be a function of product if free trials are from the intended audience. Shares, visits, etc. are all fluff. We don’t obsess about them. We do compare all our activities to see which one gives most bang for the buck and most volume.

How do you use VWO to improve your own conversion rates? What are the top 2-3 biggest successes you have had from A/B testing?

We conduct many tests. Some examples:

Behavioral targeting:


Right now, five different tests are running on our website :)

Apart from the A/B tests, what other numbers do you look up on the website? Funnel drop-offs, bounce rate, what else do you look at?

Navigation paths and traffic sources with highest conversion rate.

I love the blog you have. How did that get started? And how do you measure its impact?

I love writing. Have written a book on Nihilism, so I can write whole day long :) Impact, was measured in terms of traffic to blog and then conversion of that traffic to trials.

What kind of community do you have around your products? How do you keep them engaged?

We have a very lively community on Twitter, GPlus, Facebook and our blog. We have 3000+ followers, 2000+ blog readers and remember that A/B testing is a niche. In terms of content, again case studies with actual learning work best. Just numbers without flesh doesn’t work.

What about partnerships and integrations? ClickTale, Drupal, how have they helped you increase your reach? How did you go about getting them?

Yes, partnerships increase reach if done properly. For commercial companies like ClickTale, they approached us. For open-source like Drupal, we simply developed modules.

What about your personal brand? Have you built that and used it to take the word out about your products in turn?

Yes, I think so. My blog and interviews such as on Mixergy help a lot. Our bootstrapped story helps a ton too.

What about the marketing team? How big is it and what roles do each of them play? What do you think is an ideal marketing team for a tech startup?

Ideal marketing team is: content, paid, generalist and designer.

We have a lot of good products being built in India but very few go on to become blockbusters. Where do you think these startups are faltering with their marketing? What advice do you have for them?

I think they do a very poor job on using the content effectively. My advice would be to product great content consistently, share it with influencers, build a brand of the company around content and eductation and just keep scaling that up.

That’s some great advice Paras. Thanks a lot for sharing them and being an inspiration to the Indian startup community at large.

Dear readers, what did you think of the interview? What else would you like to know when I talk to more successful startups about their marketing? Let me know in the comments.

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