Why #SaaSx4 Product Teardown is for all SaaS startups

Whether you’re an early stage, late stage or VC funded startup (pun intended). There is one thing all of us struggle with always and that is ‘Growth’. So, how to keep this repeatable in constantly changing market dynamics?

Acommunity is a great place to learn, unlearn and grow at the pace you never imagined. For SaaS startups in India(bravery award goes to you), SaaSx is a community built by thought leaders for other builders to nail this process in and out. #SaaSx4 was a tech event that provided SaaS founders the opportunity to network and share product insights with other SaaS founders.

How we got into #SaaSx4 Product Teardown..

Widely is an early stage SaaS startup, we’re right now hustling, learning and trying to respond to the amazing traction we’re receiving. While all this was happening, we got a call from Prasanna K to attend SaaSx, that was the first time we heard about Product Teardown and horror stories around it. Imagine your product being grilled down to levels in front of the whole community.

It did seem scary, but we said YES!

Because very often when something scares you, it’s the very thing worth doing.

So, what were our asks?

Initially they were simple, to validate our thought process, marketing channels, and product roadmap, but subsequent calls and discussions with Avlesh Singh, CEO, WebEngage, Bharath Balasubramanian, Director of Design, Freshdesk, and Shekhar Kirani, Accel Partners, made us realize it is an opportunity to deep dive and their critical remarks made us rethink over pricing to customer onboarding.

#SaaSx4 Event Day: The D-Day

This was my first SaaSx & by the end of the day, I was left amused and happy to become part of the SaaSx community. It is by SaaS founders for SaaS founders, hence, the learning becomes easier & straight cut out for us.

UnConference, Product teardown & Fireside chats, also in between meeting Investors (trust me that was not the driving force for anyone joining in there), the energy was to learn and grasp as much as possible. When you hear guys like Girish, Sudhir, & Avlesh talking about their mistakes, you feel confident within.

There comes the Scary Product Teardown

So, how it began?

I was called on the stage, Bharath, Avlesh and Shekhar ready with their inputs. The hall was full of awesome SaaS founders, including those of India’s best SaaS companies, interacting constantly over the good and bad parts of products(Imagine receiving suggestions from the experienced).

Widely Product Introduction
  • Introduction: I went up and gave some context to the audience

Widely helps online businesses to acquire new mobile users, increase conversions and grow user retention with nothing but their existing website by upgrading it into a progressive web app in minutes. Introducing native mobile app features into a website, the plug and play setup with the analytics based dashboard to trigger and customize a Progressive Web App (Mobile Web App).

  • Product teardown segments & Widely’s State

Product teardown was segmented into three sections primarily, Finding Customers, Keeping Customers & What is my market.

  1. Widely’s primary traction channels are SEM and SEO,
  2. Also, our customer segment is a marketer or a product manager.
  3. For us to convert a website visitor into a customer is a simple 2 step process, a signup and then 15 minutes plug & play integration into their website.
Widely Setup Flow

These details were used in teardown, and so teardown was designed in a way to be helpful for others struggling in the similar space.

  • The Teardown began

As an early stage startup with a goal to reach the global audience, we’ve identified search and ads as great ways to go ahead. So, exactly this was the first step, Widely’s SEM at one side works great, SEO is where our keywords don’t match. That was eye opening to me as sometimes while building and selling the product we tend to forget most basic things.

Then came product landing, with few ifs and buts, here we saw our moments of wows & learning, in the form of better representation.

Product Landing Page

Bharath pointed out key areas we need to improve upon during Sign up too, although this is something we’re constantly working upon and rigorously followed making website our best marketing person, but exactly the point, improvements to become sticky for the set of next 100 customers should be the focus.

The Wow Moment

The final step to Setup!

So, out of all signups we get every day there are many who don’t integrate (A huge loss to our marketing efforts), there could be many reasons, we’re constantly using visualizations and website conversion optimization tools to see where our funnel breaks and fix those parts immediately. For us to come at something which we saw next would have taken some next 100 signups we believe,

Current State of Setup Flow using Widely
The whole process

The next step of teardown focused on our claim of no coding required, though that is not required but looking at the setup it feels a coder is required, and for us targeting product managers this doesn’t look related at all.

Suggestions by Bharath for the setup screen

Sign Up After Landing
Easy UX

The designs in themselves speak louder than words and hence, something we loved instantly, apart from great design and user experience inputs. We got great insights from,

Girish — Website landing page heading should initially focus on technicalities, then functionalities and later on the larger message when the brand is big enough.

Ex: Coca-Cola — open happiness.

Ex: We say ‘Upgrade into a Progressive Web App’, this is good for us initially as an early stage startup, segmented only for the crowd who knows.

Shekhar — Asking telephone numbers from our initial customers is a great way to increase conversions rapidly, our signup should have that one field.

The last but not the least, Product Positioning and Market

All the above insights make no sense when we don’t know our market. I did talk about the positioning of early stage startups and how we did it for widely.

As there is this increasing need of brands to be accessible by all mobile users, we get queries from enterprises, brands, services/agencies related to our solution, we’ve been on and off on where to focus and what we should leave. This also made us change our pricing many times.

The last part of teardown was a relief when the founders sitting there, Shekhar & Avlesh made us believe you don’t need to stay at one, until you get where the best market is. All this made sense, as then we could generate higher revenue by understanding our value add to the users.

At the same time, we received Girish’s point of view on growing freemium way and onboard as many users as we can,

So here is the beauty of SaaSx, you get everything, now it is going to be a tough fight within the team to choose a way.

Key takeaways..

An enthralling experience in Widely’s product journey, SaaSx, and product teardown happened to be extremely helpful. In my opinion, teardown is a great way to eliminate blockers and move faster against competition and changing market.

I’d like to end by a note I sent out to Avlesh, Shekhar, Bharat & Avinash.

Thank you note SaaSx

Definitely I’m in awe and I’d like to mention Product Teardown of Omnify & Product Teardown of 99Tests, these were our fellow product teardown startups, they have explained the process extensively to explore further. Hope it helps more SaaS startups growing and hustling.

Anshuli Gupta, Co-Founder @WidelyHQ, My twitter handle @anshulix

Survival is not enough if you are a SaaS founder in India

In an explosive SaaS market with entries from all over the world, survival is not enough. “Survival is not Enough” is the theme of #SaaSx4, scheduled for 17th March in Chennai, and like last time we are heading to the beach. 🙂

SaaSx is a community for SaaS founders by SaaS founders, so if you are just contemplating starting a SaaS business, this event is not for you. This is the 4th edition of the event where all the SaaS founders come together to share notes, network and go back with a lot of lessons.

SaaSx4 home

Take a look at the previous editions here where founders have shared their learnings and also had lots of fun.

Here’s a sneak peek into what’s in store for you (some of these are subject to change):

  • We’ll start with an Unconference session on “Getting the basics right: Right problem, Right market”. This session will help those on the quest for the right product-market fit, and how to get there quickly and efficiently. Experts who have been there will share their stories of how they set the right foundation for their growth. This is meant for folks who are in the early stages of their SaaS journey.
  • For SaaS founders who have crossed $1MN in ARR, we have a Org/Growth teardown for 5-8 growth stage startups. This is a closed door session and you will need to get an invite after your registration is confirmed. If you don’t hear from us then please assume we couldn’t accommodate you.
  • If there is enough interest and companies in the range of $300k-1M, we might run a Metrics workshop on the cards.
  • Like last time, we will have Product Tear Down sessions where 3 founders will get an opportunity to talk about their product and get feedback. Take a look at the previous edition to see what it is like. This is a great opportunity for new startups to have their product analysed by an expert panel from various angles such as opportunity, UI/UX, funding, etc.
  • If you are wondering “How do I make Biryani, i.e. building a differentiated product?”, we are also planning a session to list popular examples and tear them down by “aspects of differentiation and moat”. We’ll discuss the “Aha” factors of your SaaS product and will also do a Biryani teardown for startups that have crossed $300k ARR.
  • We will have a dedicated session on “What is the right org/model that needs to be put together for diff types of SaaS biz”…Our community has been buzzing with many such questions lately and SaaSx3 might be a great way to address some of the questions here.


Apart from these sessions, you will have ample opportunities to network with some of the leading SaaS founders from India. If you are coming from Bangalore, the sessions start right from the bus!

We only have seats for 150 founders, and we’ll have to give a heavy-hearted “no” to lots of disappointed people!
If you would like to be part of this, reserve your slot right away!

Register now if you would like to be a part of this fun-filled, unconference!

See you in Chennai soon and let’s get high on SaaS!

Product Market Fit – Pre Event playbook by @Avlesh @WebEngage & Arvind Kumar, @attunetech

The morning of the SaaSx2 event saw a great pre-event playbook at the Attune Tech’s Office.

Playbook by Avlesh

Avlesh from WebEngage, Arvind from Attune Tech. and Suresh from KiSSFLOW came together to host the session and anchor the round table.

With a casual round of introductions, Suresh kickstarted the entire roundtable discussion with a question:

Who is your ideal user?

Identifying the ideal user for your product is the key to your entire product. Is it a product for developers? Is it for CEOs? Is it for mobile users? Is it for users of spreadsheets?

Once you identify your user, identify the ‘buying title’ and the ‘influencing title’. The ‘buying title’ would be the shot-caller whereas the ‘influencing title’ would play a major role in influencing the shot-caller to buy your product.

Sometimes, if your on-boarding process is straightforward, you can sidestep your segment. Figure out what’s happening, is your product gaining traction, etc., And then iterate your product.

Aligning Metrics – The key

This is when Avlesh (Webengage) (he was lost in the land of Chennai, damn the cabbie) joined the discussion. He stated a very crucial point, that sometimes entrepreneurs forget during their journey of building their product.

“Try aligning your product to your users’ metrics” was a great insight from him.

If you’re launching a second product, run it by your current customers.

Try answering these questions:

What’s that one thing that your user can relate to? What does he/she get out of this? What are you improving for them?

These are very practical and a data-driven points to consider before taking that step forward towards your market fit.

Instant Gratification -Connecting the dots

Arvind, connected these points to the psychological concept of ‘Instant Gratification’.  What pain point are you trying to address? What’s that ‘wow’ moment they get when they start using your product? Something as simple as what they do everyday and how you can help them do it differently. If users get an immediate result from your product, they would be hooked to it.

Stickiness. The sole determiner.

Suresh mentioned a very simple but powerful point to elucidate product market fit.

“People who like your product will help you in scaling your product. But people who love your product will be your early adopters. Will be your referrers. Will be your evangelists. And they will help you achieve your product’s market fit!”

He also spoke about how product fit is not necessarily a price fit but much more than that. If users love your product, they really wouldn’t mind shelling out some extra money to buy it.

If you had noticed, all these points have something to do with user engagement.

Users see. Users love. Users buy. Users stick on.

Product Market Fit: The process

Product Market Fit isn’t a destination you aim to reach, but it’s a continuous journey.

Here are a few pointers to follow before you set out to find your fit.

  • Understand your market.
  • Estimate the market size.
  • Don’t go after a broad range of things. You can’t be everything for everybody.
  • Identify your segment. Your niche. That sweet-spot!
  • Then, iterate your product. Strip/add features to suit the market.

Mohit from Jombay, who had some thoughtful points to add on to the entire discussion, mentioned about how it’s important to know what to focus on! Positioning your product is a prerequisite in obtaining a market fit.

Are we there yet?

When do you know your product has obtained a market fit? To understand the answer, ask this question. Are more strangers paying for your product? (not just your mom’s friends or cousin’s colleagues). Are you solving your users’ problem?

Sean Ellis answers this beautifully, in his blog.

“I’ve tried to make the concept less abstract by offering a specific metric for determining product/market fit. I ask existing users of a product how they would feel if they could no longer use the product. In my experience, achieving product/market fit requires at least 40% of users saying they would be “very disappointed” without your product. Admittedly this threshold is a bit arbitrary, but I defined it after comparing results across nearly 100 startups. Those that struggle for traction are always under 40%, while most that gain strong traction exceed 40%.”


Some quick points to sum up my takeaways from the session:

  • Product market Fit isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.
  • Understand your market.
  • Know your customers.
  • It’s not about the product. It’s about how you position it.
  • Keep your product sticky.
  • Align your products to your users’ metrics.

Avlesh’s sense of humor, Arvind’s sarcasm and Suresh’s guffaws helped maintain a lively atmosphere for the discussion 🙂 It was a great session overall with some brilliant takeaways from all of them.

Guest Post contributed by Anusha Murthy, ChargeBee

Why WebEngage’s CEO @avlesh wishes #PNgrowth existed a few years ago?

WebEngage is probably the most important product startup from India’s business capital Mumbai – it builds customer engagement tools for SaaS businesses, is very popular and successful, and is used by thousands of businesses worldwide. Avlesh is one of the original hustlers of the Indian ecosystem, and he has built a world class product company in a matter of just four years.

When we talked to Avlesh about #PNgrowth, he was very excited, and stressed the importance of peer to peer learning in an ecosystem like ours which still hasn’t got as much attention as it should have. As he stresses, it would be very helpful for people if they don’t make mistakes in the first place, rather than learn after making a few. #PNgrowth would have helped him and WebEngage if such an initiative exited when they were starting out, he said.

Avlesh says that #PNgrowth can help entrepreneurs share different ideas of growth among them, and in doing so, share stories of how they scaled, the challenges they faced, and how they got to where they are.

#PNgrowth, in collaboration with Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, iSPIRT’s #PNgrowth initiative aims to get the people who want to learn, and the people they need to ask in a room, and give them the perfect space to learn and grow.

You can learn more and apply for the program here.

Notes from the iSPIRT Playbook Roundtable – Nuances of Customer Acquisition #PlaybookRT

Saturday, June 16 was the day, the iSPIRT Playbook Roundtable finally arrived in Mumbai. The topic for the Roundtable was Nuances of Customer Acquisition. 

The Roundtable was hosted at the office of WebEngage by their CEO Avlesh Singh and saw participation from CEOs of around 14 startups from in and around Mumbai.

10488869_10153099109185639_609878204_nThe event went on for around 6 hours but given the variety of issues discussed each issue could be touched upon briefly. Since this was the initial event of this kind in Mumbai, a lot of participants were meeting each other for the first time. Some time therefore had to be spent in understanding each other’s businesses, back-stories and some of the special challenges they faced.

In terms of business stage, this was a very diverse group ranging from companies signing up their initial customers to those on their way to scaling up from a well established customer base. The challenges each one faced and techniques they employed were understandably different.

Some of the hot issues that got debated were effective usage of content marketing and social media for customer acquisition, working with resellers and using out of the box ideas to increase brand awareness.

Content Marketing and Social Media

There seemed to be almost unanimous feedback that there is great potential in these techniques and there will be a lot of experimentation and learning required to figure out what would work best in an Indian scenario and for that particular product category. One size definitely does not fit all, however that should not discourage you from trying. Challenges in creating content for an international audience were also discussed. A participant pointed out that one Indian company was finding it more effective to get content written by its US based team.

Different Mantras For Different Markets

There was a discussion about different customer behaviours in different Indian cities. For one company inviting potential customers to educational seminars worked well in Bangalore but did not have the same results in Mumbai. Also they saw good demand from Kolkata. The CEO of another SaaS based startup reported excellent pick up from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. He mentioned that if he was to begin now, he would probably focus more on those cities than the major Indian metros.

Resellers and Customization Requests

In the B2B market, even when selling SaaS products, face-to-face meetings are still important when selling in India. Resellers can really help here by providing the requisite feet on the street and leveraging their existing client relationships. However it takes a lot of time and effort to find and educate resellers.

Requests from customers for product customization are pretty common in India. This may not always be a good thing for product companies. So companies are learning to tactfully deal with such requests without jeopardizing the deal itself. This is especially important when dealing with requests from customers contacted through resellers. One of the successful tacts in dealing with customisation requests was to quote a high price which either results in good revenue or ends up in dropping the request. Either way, customisation should always be merged into the product roadmap to avoid maintenance nightmares.

10473799_10153099108785639_379159022_nSales Bible

One of the cardinal principles in sales is to create a sales bible. Ensure that every person talks and positions the product the same way and you follow a well thought out strategy in terms of furthering the customer decision making process to your advantage. In the growth phase if this is not done, you end up having inconsistencies in your sales process which significantly reduces the chances of successful acquisition. Some high level aspects of creating your sales bible:

  • Identify what kind of collateral you need
  • Qualifying the customer
  • Sharing price at the right stage
  • Determining timeline and budget
  • Figure out whether they are buying based on need or want
  • Identify early on whether they are long tail prospects and how much human touch should be built into your sales cycle. Spend your time on long tail vs short tail judiciously based on the ticket size.
  • Have aggressive goals and set weekly sales targets for your team
  • Adhere to your sales bible and redraft it from time to time based on learnings so your process becomes better over time.

Ticket Size

Ticket size is extremely important part of customer acquisition. Your product may sell well to a Fortune 1000 company and you may make 1 sale a year. You can also position the same “product” but in a new avatar for a smaller ticket size and sell 100s every year. So traction in customer acquisition can have a major boost or roadblock depending upon how you decide your ideal target customer profile. One such customer decided to keep their ticket price to US$ 3k so as to avoid getting into budgetary approvals by the buyer organisation and got significant traction in spontaneous purchase decisions. Another participant had the reverse problem as they sell analytics tools and did not want to target SMEs who have relatively smaller spends on social media.

Other ideas

It is important to try different marketing ideas as it is difficult to judge what will click. One excellent example of an out of the box idea for brand awareness was www.chotuchaiwala.com. The company behind this saw great results from the campaign.

One of the most important lessons early on is identifying the right customer. In case of one company they started selling to graphic designers but after finding that they were not tech savvy, they shifted focus to ad agencies and found their product market fit. It also makes sense to piggy back on sales channels which are selling a complimentary product and who may be able to sell your product easily to the same target group.

Using APIs to extend your ecosystem is another effective strategy. Done well, you can then latch on to the traction in other products that you can integrate with, and therefore expand your leads inorganically.

10486350_10153099108485639_2090687747_nFree vs Paid

It is generally believed that SaaS companies offering a free plan for their products do not see many free to paid conversions. However some companies reported that the free plan allowed them to increase their brand awareness. For example if the free plan user’s web site featured the product brand, independent visitors to the web site get exposed to the brand and generate leads for selling the paid version. In effect, the free plan rarely works to convert to paid plans but serves well when used as an advertising medium. Some others used an incentive during the free trial period to sign up early and bypass the long evaluation cycle.

To sum it up, this was a very good and important beginning. And everyone is looking forward to more in-depth sessions in the coming months!

Guest Post by Shiraz Ahmed, Founder & CEO – ITAZ Technologies


How educational content and live demos got 7,000 websites using WebEngage in 15 months

I believe one of the best ways to learn marketing and business in general is to learn from other people’s successes. And in a bid to do that, I am going to bring to you interviews of Indian startups that have taken their products to the world. We will talk about how they got the initial buzz going, where they got their first set of customers from, how did they scale that up, what marketing metrics they measured, the mediums they used, the stories they went to press with, the biggest mistakes they made, how they handled criticism and more.

Here I am in conversation with Avlesh Singh, co-founder and CEO of Webklipper, the company behind WebEngage. WebEngage is a powerful customer engagement suite for your website that lets you collect feedback, gather customer insights and ultimately drive sales and conversions. They have gone from nothing to 7,000 customers (both free and paid) in less than 15 months and have done it all with a very lean team. Let’s get started.

What does WebEngage do? How does it help websites engage their visitors better?
Avlesh: WebEngage is an in-site marketing toolkit for online businesses. We help companies improves sales/conversions and help them collect awesome insights from their customers. All in real-time.

Using our Notifications, companies run targeted promotions by offering discounts and value adds to people “most likely” to purchase. Surveys on the other hand help customers collect insights to measure customer satisfaction and do lead generation on their site. And our Feedback product is the world’s simplest customer support tool that gets you up and running with a no-frills support channel on your website in less than a minute.

So who do you pitch your products to in a company? Marketing?
Our primary audience is Marketing and Product Management. They see the most value in this tool.

What’s your pitch to them?
Simple. In this order:

  1. Ever walked into an offline store? How often did the salesmen try to educate you or nudge you into buying something? We let you do something similar; ah, for your online store!
  2. Not sold yet? Okay, your marketers can run in-site campaigns without changing any code on the site; without seeking any developer or IT help. Oh yes. This is true. And these are truly rich messages with dynamic targeting capabilities. Care about user insights on your product or catalog? Care about user feedback?
  3. Not sold yet? Okay, see who uses our products. Also see some live demos on these sites.
  4. Not sold yet? Okay, take a live demo.
  5. Not sold yet? Here’s the website and our blog. Look forward to work with you. Bye.

Let’s back up a bit here. Tell me how you got the initial buzz going for your product? What part of it were you able to convert to real paying customers? Where did you get your first customer (or first set of customers) from?
We were in private beta for 5 months. Forget paying customers, we had a tough time finding the bigger guys to use our product. We focused a lot on education through content on our website and blog, answered direct question on Quora etc. Our live demo feature went viral and a lot of developers came out of curiosity to the site to find out how that thing worked. Here’s a sample of how curious developers got :-)

From free to paid, it was a three month journey. We went live in Oct 2011 and it took as good 2 months to get our first set of paying customers. We reached out to our beta users announcing the paid plans and features that would come along with it. Some tried out but never paid; a few took the big leap of faith and became our first set of paid customers – Art.com, Park-n-Fly, MobileDevelopmentIntelligence, Cleartrip, Justeat, Makemytrip etc to name a few.

75% of our customer base (free and paid) is outside India. That is how it was to begin with, too. With most Indian customers, early on, we had to go for F2F demos and explain the product in-depth for them to take the plunge.

Did the marketing start as you were developing the product or only after it?
It almost went hand-in-hand. So far, we have only done content marketing. And we have been done a fair job. Our plan is to do 100x better with content.

Did you have a marketing plan in place? Did you have numbers, like say, I would be able to get 100 signups if I do this and this and this? How much of that worked out?
No, we never had that. And it’s difficult for our category because customers are not “looking” for a push messaging tool on Google. We are trying to “create” a market and content is the only predictable way to go about it. This is definitely not true for customer support tools as they can direct their marketing spends on Google because too many people look for such tools everyday.

Also I see you have a Powered by WebEngage link in your surveys and feedback? Is that like a major marketing channel for you? What kind of traffic and conversions does it bring in?
It is the biggest source of inbound leads for us. Over 40% of our sign-ups happen from those logos in the three products. It is also a blessing in disguise because over a period of time we have started commanding huge premium from our enterprise customers who would otherwise want to get rid of those logos on their sites. We end up losing a lot of visibility but then get paid well for it too.

What other marketing channels have you used? What has been the most effective for you? How do you go about figuring which marketing channel will work for you?
We tried display ads. We tried paid app directory listings. We tried outsourced sales and marketing arms in the US. None of these worked very well from customer acquisition viewpoint. Content continues to rule our marketing plans. We are spending a lot of time and money now on building great quality content – videos, how-tos, galleries, use-cases etc. In the next month or two, you’ll see a lot of stuff on this front. We plan to do display advertising too, but with some corrections by incorporating learnings from our previous experiences.

As WebEngage grew, how have you scaled up your marketing?
In our case, we focused a lot on support. We used to (and still do) take calls at 2 in the night, pretty much everyday. We have managed to do this with great success. Happy customers are the best marketers. We got a lot of referrals from them. Most of our marketing efforts are around content creation. And so far, we have managed to do it in-house. We haven’t spent too many ad dollars.

How do you measure the success of your marketing? Compare them to historical data, industry benchmarks or…? And by marketing I don’t just mean paid campaigns, even a new website, new onboarding emails or anything on those lines.
We measure it based on conversions. Be it paid marketing or content, we have always believed in creating a workflow to measure and track conversions. Free tier sign-ups through paid marketing don’t work for us. That’s the reason we don’t spend ad-dollars. Content gives us a low cost channel of customer acquisition which we can further up-sell/cross-sell to. That’s one area we are trying to improve upon.

For our website, blog, video etc, we measure the success by amount of time spent on each of these. Customers on an average spend over 7 minutes on the site. It used to be less than a minute 6 months ago. In any SaaS business, customers want to read a lot and be sure that they want to pay before choosing to do so. Content helps in decision-making.

How do you keep a visitor engaged right from the first time he hits your website to him becoming a customer? How does your tool itself help with this?
We eat our own dog food. Spend a minute on our pricing page and you’ll come to know :-) . Take a look here – http://blog.webengage.com/2012/11/24/how-we-eat-our-own-dog-food-at-webengage/
Plus our live demo feature keeps users busy and educates them very well on what we do; it generates a lot of leads for us too.

What are the top 2-3 insights you got using WebEngage that you wouldn’t have got otherwise?
Here, in this order:

  1. The amount of time and effort needed to sell a $100/month product is the same as $1000/month product. I’d rather channelize my efforts into finding high ticket size deals than smaller ones; I used to think otherwise until an year ago.
  2. There is no better marketing tool than a bunch of happy customers. Some of our biggest enterprise deals have been through warm intros by such customers. How did we keep them happy? Beautiful product and proactive support; I undervalued the importance of latter until an year ago.

What are some of the biggest mistakes you have made on the marketing side of things?
We “outsourced” our sales/marketing to a sales-on-demand team in the US. I won’t name them. We spent crazy money in “retainer” fees and had 0 conversions by the end of pilot. Their so called “smart team” had no clue of what we were building, even towards the end of the pilot.

What marketing numbers do you measure? How often?
Money spent. Number of conversions – free and paid. Every month.

Let’s talk pricing. How did you get to the $15-$99/month model you have? Is that the price you started off with as well?
Mostly by talking to customers on how much are they willing to pay. Yes, this is our original pricing. But, we have made a lot of tweaks to the features being offered in each of these plans.

What tools and systems do you use?
Our own for tool for in-site marketing. And Adwords. Nothing major apart from that.

Your new website is a massive improvement over the old one. How has it increased your conversions? What objectives did you have in mind going into the new website?
Oh yes. We had only one objective, have people spend more time on the site and “see” what we do. Everywhere you go to, there are links to see our products in action. That was the only way to educate people on what we do. Take a look at this page – webengage.com/how-it-works

What advice do you have for startups planning to do an overhaul of their website?
Only one – decide what you want from it. Sign-ups, Conversions, Branding, Education … You can’t design a site to do all of the above. That’s the area we generally go wrong. Designing it with one objective always helps.

What kind of community do you have around your products?
None, yet. We want to build one.

What about partnerships and integrations?
We have focused a lot on integrations. Take a look here – webengage.com/integrate-with/your-website. This has worked out very well, because all of a sudden, customers start discovering you on new platforms. They would have otherwise not even known about us. We continue to focus on this. Second, we are building robust API’s with a larger goal of involving developers in building some intriguing applications on top of WebEngage. First cut here – docs.webengage.com

We have just started exploring partnership opportunities. Too early to comment.

What about your personal brand? How have you used that to increase the visibility of your products?
Yes, I am a classified spammer in the virtual and real world who leaves no stone unturned when it comes to promoting my product. Too bad, I know.

What do you think is an ideal marketing team for a tech startup?
I keep saying this – initial selling and marketing has to be done in-house and preferably by the founders themselves. If you, as a founder, cannot sell your product, no sales guy can. It is that simple. But its tough to understand as well, because I see most founders in tech companies get uncomfortable upon hearing this.

With 6700+ customers, you have been very successful in taking your products to the world. What advice do you have for other Indian startups who are looking to take their products to the world at large?
See, how fast things are changing. That number is now 7100+, both free and paid :-)

Here, in this order:

  1. Build a good product. Great brands were not built by advertising or marketing.
  2. Make sure there’s zero human touch in the product. Customers outside India don’t like getting stuck in a workflow that needs human intervention.
  3. Selling and marketing is a D-I-Y job until you reach significant scale.
  4. Network with right people. Don’t shy away from seeking help or intros.
  5. Have a good website. There’s no alternative.

Educational content and live demos definitely go a long way with marketing a product that customers are not looking for. Thanks Avlesh for the great insights.

Dear readers, if you have any follow up questions for Avlesh, please leave them in the comments below. He’s a busy man but I will get him to answer them :)

This article was originally published on Sanket Nadhani’s blog Poke and Bite