Hey Daniel. Thanks so much for joining me here on the SaaS breakthrough podcast. Really excited to learn about Cyclr. Learn a little bit more about what you guys are doing over there. How are you doing today?
Oh, thanks for having me, David. Yeah, I'm very well. Thank you. Over in the UK. Doing good and it's a pleasure to be aboard.
Yeah, I'm really excited to have you here. We got to meet at SaaStock in Dublin. Obviously not that big of a trip for, you know, flew across the pond as you guys say.
Yep. Just a short escape.
Perfect. Well, for those listeners who don't know about Cyclr yet, and I was really blown away when I learned about your SaaS and what you guys are doing over there now. Give us a quick explanation, a quick rundown of what Cyclr does, when it was founded, who your target customers are. Maybe a little bit about the evolution of the product there in the marketplace.
Yeah, absolutely. So Cyclr is an integration platform primarily for SaaS platforms looking to provide integrations for their, for their clients within their own platform. So we kind of started in 2014, I think it was, and we've developing for a few years and actually had products in the market, which was a bit different to how you see it now. It was a different target market where now we're very much like SaaS for SaaS, before it was kind of aimed at the business users that want to automate their own processes within a company, the sisters and integrators. And we actually ended up pivoting and changing the platform, to concentrate on what we were best at, which was the embedded nature and the white labeled aspect of giving SaaS teams, a platform that they can build integrations in a maintainable and easy way and then publish them directly to their APP.
That's amazing. And when did you first joined the team? Maybe what was the company size or ARR at that time?
Yeah, I was, it was just over two years ago that I joined the team. I was number six. And very, very small. I think the product is only been on the market for maybe six months if that. So the ARR, the revenue is very small and the model was very different to how it was now as well and a lower price point. So yeah, it was, it was pretty, pretty small.
So when you first joined, it was a small revenue stream coming in, a totally different product. Is your first first initiative to find product market fit? Was it part of this pivot where you trying to determine do we even have the right target market?
So obviously I was pre pivot. So at that time I was there to find, help find the product market fit and look for channels that we could start finding customers. And yeah, it was my task, to go out and explore, see where the customers were, see what they're looking for, and then kind of set out a few plans to reach them. So starting with something like Pay-per-click and then spreading out from there.
How'd that go? I love to learn a little bit about that. Like how did you guys end up figuring out that this was the wrong target market that you needed to do a pivot during that time?
Yeah, well we just found that the technology we had within the platform was better suited for as it is now working within a SaaS. The main kind of interests we were getting were around using that and the actual product stemmed from another SaaS. So it really went back to its roots and we developed out those features further and further to the point that we kind of rebranded and pivot properly that was, that was probably about just over a year ago I think. So the product as we have it now, it's just been on the market for just over a year.
When you come out of that pivot, do you guys go back into a beta version? Do you have to reach back out to SaaS customers you talked before? How do you then find out that that pivot had the right product market fit now?
So when we initially pivoted yes, we went back and we looked at who we've been speaking to, who've been trialing the product, we reach out to them, say, look, this is what we have now. And then it was just a case of kind of almost going back to square one but with a better idea of what we were, what the market looked like. We already had a few things in place, was a partnerships that were useful, so it was good to chat, to chat to people in the other SaaS and say, this is what we're doing. Have you got any recommendations or flight where we should be heading and who we should be telling, telling about this platform? So a lot of speaking to people really, asking you for advice and getting data. Using channels like, channel marketing platforms, things like Capterra and Getapp. You can look through different verticals and kind of you get a good idea about where you fit somewhere, your value proposition lies.
Yeah, that's really good advice to kind of look through this channel, channel tools and see feedback from other customers where people are lacking what they need. I really like that. So we'll talk about channels and what has worked to reach out. You specifically mentioned partnerships and partnership campaigns. I know that's been a big part of what you guys have been working on since the beginning. How do you actually attract and build those connections specifically in terms of growth? How are you getting the contacts and getting in front of them?
A lot of time it's just reaching out. it could be something as simple as just kind of go in a website and saying, hi, my name's Daniel, I just wanted to chat to someone within your team about this. You can go a bit deeper and do some research online. I mean, Linkedin is a hell of a tool. And just talking to people about and say what you want to do, with them. I mean we're quite lucky in the way that our platform enhances other platforms in a way. So our proposition is usually pretty strong. yeah.
Are you approaching value first? We want to support you and give you results or are you typically just saying, hey, we would like to do some type of maybe marketing campaign together, provide customers for both of us, would you guys be okay?
It could be a bit of both. I don't necessarily would have seen a partnership as a channel being a revenue opportunity. One of the main parts I was kind of brought on to do as well as was awareness and I think working with partners initially for awareness, with revenue being a secondary objective, it is a good way to go about it because then that way you're complementing each other. You're getting your name, you're getting your brand out there. And you're producing non salesy content that hopefully people enjoy and will remember you for.
What are you guys tracking to see if your awareness campaigns are working? Is that more, what's our lead generation or lead scores? Obviously it's much easier to just say, hey, customers converted that's good ROI on marketing dollars, but what does awareness as like a KPI actually mean?
It's a tricky one. I think a lot of it boils down to search, looking at website statistics, seeing how, where people have been coming from, making sure if you've got any links in partner partner channels, you've got a utms setup. And just going through that and that way you get an indication of where people are coming from, where they're going, if they're kind of looking at your site and then going elsewhere after 10 seconds or if they're actually genuinely interested and what they're interested in.
Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. So stepping back from partnerships in particular, I know that's something you guys have done well. What other channels did you guys look to focus on and how has messaging specifically since the pivot started to evolve. Have you learned anything along the way?
Yeah, absolutely. I think a big, help has been using AB testing tools for the websites. So we can fine tune now messaging, that's taken a while to get to get right. And then that combined with something like Google Adwords, or Google Ads as it is now to just to be able to test different headlines, different messages through there and you can combine, you can compare what's working, what isn't. I mean something that's getting a lot of clicks through, but then you're looking at out the other end, are people engaged with the site? You probably got the wrong message there even though you're getting clicks, so you got to look for what people are engaging the other side of the click.
I think a lot of people can get or fall down a rabbit hole when it comes to testing. They're trying to figure out what to AB split test, especially early on. Maybe they don't have that much traffic. Would you say the best rule of thumb here is just start by testing headlines as far as the quote unquote messaging that you're testing?
I would always think above the fold first. You want to think about what people are initially seeing, and then try, try variations on that. Track what's working. Don't go mad with it. Just trying your main pages or maybe a couple of pages that aren't performing as you want and build it out from there.
When you do that, do you have a baseline of what you're aiming for? Do you try to make hey this test experiment should have a five percent click through rate. Anything less it as quote unquote bad? Or are you just testing against some based...
Usually is against a baseline we already have. There will be rather than just ab, it might be a, b, c, and d, and then we compare it. We are comparing all of them and seeing what works. For some, you might get more engagement from a page. It won't not necessarily send the user to where you want them to, say the call to action needs work, but otherwise the engagement's great. At the end of the day, your call to action is kind of what you're building everything around.
How many times have you guys had to go back to the drawing board and look at, look at your website, look at the ab split test if you're kind of building for the right thing for you?
A few. It's not been as bad as all that. Luckily I think we nailed the right market fairly early on, changed it up a little bit and then we changed our messaging. and then it's just the case of continual testing. I don't think it's the case of say, oh, we're a few months in, let's see if we can rework this. You just keep tests going and work on it consistently.
I love that. Yeah, I think it's easy to just want to pull the rug out and say, let's start over. let's do it again. But I love that idea of just consistently testing to just go in the direction of improvement. So you have these tests that are up. It's been really helpful for your messaging. Obviously you still need to drive the traffic to see those tests. So talk to me about, you know, maybe your content marketing channels. How have you guys been doing organic search and you know, what are those initial...
You know, organic search has always been a big thing for us. So we know, I personally came from a SEO background, so I've always, that's probably my key skill set in marketing. So from doing the pivot and having any website that was a great opportunity to rework everything from structure and then content. It actually coming up with a content plan becomes a relatively easy thing once you've looked at what you're offering, what your customers are looking for and filling in the gaps between there and the. We currently have a kind of regular schedule that we post content on our blog or anywhere on our site and it can be a mix of a, I like to do kind of educational pieces of using the Cyclr platform just to try and do kind of unique things with it and give people ideas of what's possible once you kind of get stuck into a monster of a tool, where our CEO Fraser has a previous life as a VC. So because we're working with startups and SaaS companies, he has pieces in the series on looking at SaaS and investors from the other side other way round so you can compare being a VC to now being a CEO of a SaaS. So we tried to kind of get a balance that way.
Makes a lot of sense. As far as the SEO perspective, when you write those case studies of educational pieces, are you looking to rank those or do those become more of the awareness based articles to bring people into Cyclr? Are there specific articles just for SEO and then outside articles like by your CEO and stuff, are those going through a different distribution channel?
Distribution? Not massively different, but yes, you're right in certain articles are there for SEO purposes, a lot of the time we'll then use other articles almost like satellites (inaudible) schools that are related and maybe link through to them as well. But it, it really varies. I think with the kind of technical pieces, it's more for our kind of audience and people. So you want to play with the tool, they got access to it and they want to do something new, but when we're looking at say concepts, say an API orchestration or say SaaS integration, which is core what we do, we need to fully explore it as written content for both SEO and for the consumer so they know what they're kind of dealing with.
Does that mean you have to create content in a certain way to be both technical and have all the SEO items plus you need to also be written in a way that people can understand and find interesting? I always, sometimes find a balance there. it's like you have the SEO based articles that are more just like content heavy for the SEO perspective. Then you have articles written for your user base, which is often more voice, more fun, more uniqueness to it.
Yeah. Finding the voices is definitely a tough thing when you're doing technical content, the split really helps with that and the different content themes that we're gonna run in our, our blog, but I think it's something that ever evolves and I don't necessarily think we've found that voice yet, it's hit our score month by month. It's kind of coming.
That's awesome. And my last question about the articles and content marketing, which I find so interesting in the article that's written for an SEO purpose to drive traffic to the site from an organic search keyword, do you guys have a certain strategy that you use when people land on that post, either link them to, I don't know, maybe some free trial or a webinar or to another case study, some piece of content that is now directly related to Cyclr itself? Or how do you get those people back, if you're doIng retargeting? How are you moving them forward in the funnel?
It's, our approach is probably not quite as refined as that. All the things that we, we do to try and get people to stay engaged. So whether that be initially kind of sign up (inaudible) so you get more of this content, which then during those newsletters we don't spam them out on a daily or weekly basis, just a once a month you get this, this is what's been going on and here's something that might be useful to you guys. That will be the first, first port of call, getting them, making sure that we can keep in contact with them. We've been using like our messenger so we can use that for pop up messages, say, hey, do you want a free demo? And things like that. Trying to engage that way, but then that's, that's kind of it really. We've got, we've tried a few other methods so we have a couple of changes to the website planned. So I'm guessing that it's gotta be more involved with, our approach in the future.
That's exciting. Yeah, that's definitely something that I personally struggled with. Figuring out what the best approach is. So just asking for my own curiosity there.
No, it makes sense. I think it's gonna be a hard balance because there's one thing writing quality content that you're happy with and you know, people are going to like and then almost like what it feels like you cheapen it, when you say, oh, you can read this in a minute, sign up, sign up with us now, take their attention away.
Exactly. So it's that, it's that fine balance like you said, I think retargeting ads are obviously a really amazing way to do that without affecting the readership of that blog post. Also, you know, dynamic optins or dynamic training that pops up for them if they get through it related to that article. So there's a lot of different cool things I've seen, Groovehq do that with their blog where they have like a dynamic dynamic gift for you for each blog post, which is a lot of work obviously, but can be very helpful.
Well, as the team grows then I think something like that could be in order.
Yeah, definitely. So as you guys started looking at those channels, another one that's been working really well for you guys is live events. That's a tough one when you're first starting. I think you guys have done something really cool to see ROI from that. A lot of companies don't. What has worked for you guys and what would you advise for marketers thinking about getting into live events?
Yeah. So very tough space just because of the wider (inaudible) out there. I think we, we knew who our target market were pretty quickly. We knew we were SaaS for SaaS so we wanted to be in a room with a lot of SaaS people. Know other SaaSies. So when it came to actually choosing the events, we can narrow them down pretty quickly. But then as for seeing if they work, it was a case of starting small, so not necessarily doing a big, two to four day event somewhere. It might be a one day conference that you're sponsoring and you have a presence there because that gives you a bit of time to hone your pitch. Just talk to people, see what they think of, of your product and the way it's been presented. Once you've got that down, you can really build out and go for larger events Live, as you said before, we met on SaaStock and that was, that was great. That was a really good experience, where we come from a much bigger stand and I think we had our message hones very well by then. It had all been a buildup to that, that point. And one thing we did a bit differently for that is rather than having a swag to give out on the stand, we did something where we gave out these leaflets. Everyone got one as they came in and if they came, came to the stand and spoke to us, we were donating money to charity. So we, we kind of took a different approach to lure people in rather than just have some branded tat that probably gets left on a desk or throwing away after a few days, we thought we'd join and use our budget for something a bit more meaningful. And we got really good feedback from it. Yeah, we're really happy with the results of it.
It's a really unique and smart strategy. I think it's easy to get just kinda in the same flow as everyone else. Handing out tee shirts, handing out swag and just like any marketing, it's easy to just become another piece of noise in an already noisy room of an event, like all these different sponsorships. So have you guys found that just having some unique hook, refining your pitch and then having a really good tagline right now that's clear and visible for people have been like kind of the major takeaways?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean don't overdo your stand or your display, get your key messages out there nice and visible. You want people to be able to spot them from, from afar because the people that don't know you, they just going to see you as they're walking past. So you want to be able to grab their attention, one way or another.
Do you see events a good way to get direct sales ROI? Or is it more of, again, an awareness type of campaign, getting your name out there, getting interest, getting feedback on a live area?
Definitely a combination of both. You've got the benefit of both. I mean starting out where we were doing smaller events that was great for awareness and doing series of them throughout the last year leading up to SaaStock where we had people coming up to us and they knew who we were, which was great. And they want to know more and things, going into, going from awareness to people sending its customers. So yeah, it's a build up and I don't think doing just one event, overtime it's going to help. I think you really need to commit and do a series of them for it to be successful.
That's great advice. I think that for most of these channels, right, if you're going to do them, you got to commit all the ways that you can continually learn or find. Figure out what's working, what's not. I, I've seen myself do this so many times, which is starting to experiment, start a new channel or initiative and then let it go too early and not really have the time to commit to it.
Yeah, I definitely see that, it happens.
It does happen. Yeah, absolutely. And I think a lot of it has to do with the KPIs. Do we have a good outline of what tests do we want to run? Do we know what that stuff is? So how do you guys pretty much look at marketing as far as here's our goals, here's the KPI's you want, do you have monthly KPIs? Are you looking at weekly KPIs? What do you expect to get as a marketer?
It's been a case of just gradual growth really. So KPI wise, I'm looking month to month to see what's working, what isn't, what needs tweaking, what we can put more budget into because it is working and going from that, because of the lack of time since we've kind of changed our proposition, you don't have as much data to go off of. So going on a monthly basis is working and now we've got more lucky years worth of data. We know where we fit into the market, we know what works and we know where to put our budget, which is definitely a help.
Yeah, definitely. I think it took probably quite a bit of patience to allow yourselves to build up. Those years of the data, sometimes you feel like you're just kind of jumping to conclusions. You don't really have any enough data to make good decisions, but you guys weathered the storm, you're there. And by the way I heard you guys just opened a second office, so congratulations on that.
Yeah, thanks for that. Yeah, we opened one in London a couple of weeks ago so yeah, it's been been good.
That's awesome. So where do you guys see growth coming into 2019? Where do you see some new challenges, maybe new opportunities for you guys as you continue to grow and marketing?
Marketing wise? I still think there's a vast, vast amount that we could, we could tap to grow. The last year has definitely been a case of awareness and we've been growing with that. And then the next year is there to capitalize. I mean as we grow, we're growing. The team is physically growing, as you said, we've got a new office. We have our first presence in the States now as well, so (inaudible) an office over there is going to be next on the cards in the next few months. And yeah, basically growing, from the UK and then channel wise, kind of enhancing what we're doing at the moment, refining the message more as it never stops. And yeah, just keep on tracking.
That's awesome. No, that's really exciting. You guys are, you know, you push through that first year, you're about to, to hone it in. Any specific initiatives to take those awareness customers or awareness leads I should say, or leads that you have and start turning them into customers or do you guys have any new conversion mechanisms are you going to be playing with?
So at the moment we still talk to people. Our sales team will talk to people that we've met and demo and do video chats to most people in the world. So I think having a presence in the States, will enhance that, and being the kind of tool that we are, I do think we're always going to have this physical presence during the sales process. It's not necessarily going to be a kind of click here and it's all done just because of the nature of what we offer, what the tool can be.
Makes a lot of sense. Absolutely. And I think people like the (inaudible) people probably like that, that physical touch point, having that person to talk to, to answer their questions. I can see you guys having a lot of, unique integrations for each platform and a lot of questions probably do pop up.
Yeah. Yeah. Always. Everything's is different. When you've got a platform that works on so many different verticals, they all want different types of integration, in their own SaaS. So you've got to come up with different ways of being able to guide them and suggest what would be the best course of action.
Yeah, totally makes sense. I love that. Alright. What I want to do now is I want to move us over to the lightning round questions. Just five quick questions asking you about marketing knowledge. You'll have fun with this, is a ton of fun, you're ready to get started?
Yeah, let's go.
Let's do it. Alright. What advice for early stage SaaS companies starting today, would you give?
I'd say work tightly with your, with the rest of the team in all departments. Learn the business, learn what the pain points are, what you're offering on a technical level, if you come from a technical SaaS how that's going to benefit your users.
Learn, understand, and then market.
Yes, absolutely. You can't do it, you can't do it with a guess.
What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?
I would, along the same lines, know your products and if you're not a master of your own products, I don't know how your users can be.
Yeah. One hundred percent sure, you absolutely, absolutely have to be educated on the product. Something that we're absolutely always pushing for here as well. What about a best educational resource you recommend for learning about marketing or growth?
I've always been very much online with, with blogs from the early days of starting SEO with Moz. So now these days I kind of troll through GrowthHackers and (inaudible) on Youtube has always been good. But have an rss feed with reliable sources is a must do.
Yeah. You mentioned Moz and Growth Hackers. Both, great, great places to go. You still like Moz even without....?
Yeah. I don't tune in as much as I used to, it was religious for a long time... Not quite as much I have to say, but I think that's because my personal what I'm doing personally with marketing has kind of shifted a bit, isn't as CEO focused.
Totally. Makes sense. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?
Can I be really cheesy and say Cyclr?
You can. It is cheesy, but any other tool?
From an SEO perspective, ScreamingFrog is always just a solid choice for understanding what, what's going on in your website and how the structure working. Yeah, I'd always swipe on that.
I have not heard of that one. What's it called?
Screaming frog. Okay. I'll have to check that one out. That sounds awesome. What about a brand, business or team that you admire today?
SaaS content wise, I always read, I'm a big fan of Hubspot's content and the talks that they do events have always been top notch. I'm a do, really liked (inaudible) develop content, they do have, they make some great how to do content that you can follow, which, yeah, I think it's excellent.
Clearly has a pretty fantastic team itself. I had a conversation with someone from (inaudible) the other day and they are just doing some amazing things. A lot of products, a lot of people and they're growing, so that's a great company. but yeah, definitely Hubspot as well as has always been a fantastic pillar of the SaaS community. So great answers. Really appreciate your time today, Daniel. You did a great job, loved having you guys on here, loved learning about Cyclr, so thanks so much for joining me.
Thanks very much, David.
It was a real pleasure and we'll talk to you soon. Thanks again.
All right, well that was a wonderful episode. Big shout out big thank you to Daniel and the Cyclr team for allowing us to go through their journey and giving us more information about how they found the right product market fit, the pivots that it took to get there and how they're now bringing in a great deal of SaaS users. (...)