The decision to make Demio free during Beta was not an easy one. Ultimately, we decided that it would be the best thing for our company, our product, and most importantly, our users / future customers. You can read more about why we made that decision here. More than anything, it forced us to focus on what actually matters for us: ease of use, stability, and scalability. And not even 1.5 months later, we already have nearly 700 Beta users.
Other than the obvious downfall of putting off revenue for a few months, most of what came from Demio Beta was incredibly beneficial. Looking back, there are 7 big wins that we’ve had throughout this Beta process, and I’m going to break them down in this post. Hopefully, after Beta in November, some percentage of users will convert into customers; this would obviously be a major win, but it’s too early to know if that will be the case. So, let’s stick to what we know so far.
#1 – Success with Personal Demos
Product usage is a battle that we’ve faced from the beginning. Our target user is not a company doing daily demos, not a company doing internal meetings, but rather a company that wants to use webinars grow their business through marketing, sales, or group training. This presents a few challenges. Webinars are generally one-time events, and many companies run them spontaneously rather than consistently. Our most consistent users to-date have been those who have set up recurring, training webinars on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. However, there are many users who have signed up with “hopes” to run a webinar on Demio when they need it, but don’t have any immediate plans for an upcoming webinar. This is a challenge that we will continue to face.
Another challenge is getting users to run a real webinar with Demio. Many users will run a quick test webinar alone, but this isn’t a good way to fully experience Demio. We’ve found that users who found Demio by attending another Beta user’s webinar on Demio were more likely to run a webinar, and we’ve believe that this is because they had the chance to experience Demio in action before even signing up.
In an attempt to attack both of these challenges head on, we turned to 1-on-1 demos. Our thoughts were that this would allow users to experience the platform first hand to see how easy it is to use and how great the quality is with Demio. It would also allow us to build personal relationships with our users and ask them important questions to learn more about how they’re using webinars and why they decided to try out Demio.
So using Intercom, we were able to send a message to our users immediately after signing up:
This short but effective message has been a huge win for our company. Almost 1/4th of users who sign up reply to setup a demo. If the user replies, we then send over our Calendly link to schedule a 15-minute block of time:
What we’ve learned from these short, personal demos has been incredible. We’ve learned more about why our users are using webinars. We’ve gotten immediate feedback on our product. We’ve learned what objections our users have, or what features they need. And we’ve learned what they don’t like about other webinar platforms. A big win all around.
We’ve placed a huge emphasis on user experience and making things simple to use, so we just assumed that our users would intuitively understand how to use everything. While it ended up being partially true, we were shocked by how many users on demos didn’t know about certain features inside of Demio. More importantly, the demos helped our users feel more comfortable with the product, a major step in the direction of being able to run a real webinar with hundreds of attendees.
After looking at the stats, I wasn’t able to figure out exactly how demos affected users starting a webinar. Now that I think about it, we should probably be tracking that in Intercom. However, I was able to find out that users who engaged with us through Intercom in some way, we’re 3x more likely to start a webinar on Demio than those who didn’t. Additionally, many of the bigger webinars that were hosted on Demio were done by users that did a demo with us.
Since usage is so critical, we will continue to use personal demos as a way to personally onboard our users.
#2 – Viral Sign-Up Effect from Attendees
One of our goals with Demio is to make webinars enjoyable for everyone involved; this means giving a great experience to attendees. It’s only expected that attendees who have a great experience on a webinar platform might check out that platform for themselves if they’re interested in running webinars. Since Demio is free during Beta, we figured that we could really benefit from this. And it’s a win-win: the more we can get our users to use our product, the more people we’ll have signing up for Beta.
We added a link to the bottom of our webinar reminder emails telling registrants that Demio is in Beta and that they can sign up today:
We also added a button to the thank you page that attendees are redirected to after a webinar on Demio ends:
We also learned a ton from attendee feedback on this page, but I’ll save that for later in this post.
When people sign up to Demio Beta, we require them to fill out a short survey. One of the questions on that survey is, “How did you find out about Demio?” Of course, one of the answers is, “I was an attendee on a Demio webinar.”
After looking at the stats, we’ve had over 60 Demio attendees convert into Beta users. Not bad for free, “viral” marketing. Not to mention, these are some of our best users. As we continue to improve the attendee experience, we can only expect this number to go up 🙂
#3 – Invitational Link for Certain Beta Users
There have been many software companies in the past that have used the “invite” model to grow their initial user base, especially consumer software products, like Dropbox; Dropbox gave users more storage early on for inviting friends. We didn’t think that this would be a great strategy for our product, so we didn’t spend the time to develop an “invite” program for all users. However, early on, we had a few users that were big advocates of Demio, and they were happy to share Demio with their friends. In addition, there were some users that asked us for an affiliate link or a way that they can get credit for sharing Demio with their friends. We decided that it couldn’t hurt.
However, we didn’t want to waste time developing this, so we hacked together unique invitation pages with a simple landing page builder. When users sign up on one of these pages, they’re automatically added into a separate list on Active Campaign for that specific invitation page. So every time a user asks about being able to share Demio with their friends or audience, we manually generate a unique invitation page for them. And if any of their invited Beta users convert into customers in November when we launch, then they’ll get affiliate credit for those sales.
These unique, invitation pages have resulted in over 91 Demio beta users. Coming from the internet marketing world, we have a lot of experience working with affiliates. Using affiliates is one of our initial, major growth strategies early on. When we launch on November 9th, we’ll be relying heavily on affiliates to drive sales. Of course, we’ll be able to drive some initial sales early on from our own waiting list and Beta users, we’re guessing that a large percentage of early users will come from affiliates.
#4 – On-boarding Users with Automated Emails and Messages
We started simple with just a few automated emails and messages using Intercom. We had a few goals from these messages:
- Increase Usage
- Drive Personal Demos
- Get Feedback
Many of our emails are triggered by usage, or lack of usage. For example, if somebody signs up to Demio but then doesn’t login to the software for 7 days, we send this email:
The Intercom “goal” of this email is to get users to create an event inside of Demio. From this simple email, a whopping 24% will then go on to create an event after receiving this email. And the 4% that reply to this email give us amazing feedback and insight into why Demio won’t work for them right now. On the other hand, there were some users that had just forgotten that they signed up to begin with. Finally, there were some users that just weren’t ready to run webinars yet:
One of our most effective emails is sent immediately after a user runs their first event on Demio. It looks like this:
Since the timing is so perfect, a very high percentage of users open and then respond to this email. And we’ve gotten some amazing feedback in response. Many responses helped us understand what features are important:
And some users just said some very nice things:
Some were short and sweet:
Overall, the main purpose of many of our automated emails are to get users to take the first step: creating a webinar. However, we also use these emails and messages to engage with our users and find out why they decided to try Demio in the first place:
This email generated some very high quality, in-depth responses from our users. We got some great, initial insight into why our users were looking for another platform to begin with:
These emails have been critically important to driving usage, engagement, and for generating feedback. While we probably won’t make very many immediate changes to these emails until we have more users to get stats, we’ll definitely be making an investment into our on-boarding sequences as we grow.
#5 – Feature Prioritization
Simple but important. Like any early software company would, we’ve received tons and tons of feature requests from our users. This has been very helpful in prioritizing what features we need to tackle first. We have an entire Trello board just designated for customer feature requests:
If a user requests a feature that has already been requested, we add the conversation link into the Trello ticket:
And the more requests we get for a feature, the higher the priority becomes. This makes it easy to know what features we need to tackle first. Additionally, since we’re storing all of the conversations from users that have requested that feature, it allows us to followup with them if we end up releasing that feature:
This is a great way to re-engage with users and also an excellent way to let them know that you’re actually listening.
In my opinion, features should be separated into two separate categories: nice-to-have and need-to-have. While there are some “nice-to-have” features that will get many requests from users, these users will continue to use your software in the mean time, even without these features. On the other hand, “need-to-have” features actually block certain people from being able to use our platform. For example, there were users that needed the ability to un-mute attendees on their webinar, and they simply couldn’t use Demio until that feature existed. During Beta, these are the features that we’re placing a higher prioritization on. After Beta, these “need-to-have” feature requests will turn into prospect objections and will prevent some prospects from becoming customers.
I think it’s important to focus on both types of feature requests, but for us, the “need-to-have” requests are given a higher priority, at least for now.
#6 – Required Account Creation Survey
This has been one of the most important wins during free Beta. Since we got to almost 700 Beta users so quickly, we were able to learn a lot in relatively short period of time. This is important for understanding our target customer, our product, our roadmap, our marketing, and more.
From the beginning, one of our major goals with the Beta phase was to learn about our users, so every single person that has signed up to Demio Beta has had to fill out a short survey:
Every single answer is automatically saved into Intercom as a custom attribute. So not only does this help us learn a ton about who is most attracted to Demio, but it also helps us recognize trends. For example, we can compare usage against the “most common type of webinar” that the user runs.
This survey also helps us learn more about how users found us, which will make it easier to know what marketing channels we should invest in after Beta. Additionally, it allows us to know more about our users on a personal level before ever even getting on a demo call.
While we’re mostly just collecting data right now, we’re very interested to see if we can find any trends after Beta to see which types of Beta users converted into customers.
#7 – Early (Potential) Partnerships
While it wasn’t one of our main goals for Beta, we’ve been able to connect with a few CEO’s of other companies, whether from them using the product, word of mouth, referrals, or user-requests for an integration with Demio. This definitely isn’t a focus of ours right now, but it’s allowed us to plant a few, important seeds and start some cool relationships in the mean time.
For example, many of our users have asked for an integration with Leadpages. When it comes time to go after that integration, it will most likely be a little easier to get since the CEO has actually used our product, and since we have an open conversation with him:
This was possible only because one of our early Beta users was able to connect us.
We’ve also been able to reach out and start a few other conversations for integrations and partnerships that we think will be very important later on.
My Final Thoughts on Free Beta
Overall, making Demio free during Beta seems to have been a great decision for us so far. We have learned a ton, improved the product, found some bugs, got some initial exposure, and the product is actually being used 🙂 Bringing on almost 700 users in such a short period of time has revealed certain technical areas that require focus for more scalability, and this is something we might not have learned so quickly if we only had a small amount of customers right now.
While Beta has been very exciting, we’re starting to shift our focus to the “launch” and on what’s going to happen after Beta. As a company with a team of 8, we have real expenses, and we need to bring in revenue.