SaaS Breakthrough – Featuring Vrinda Singh

demio saas breakthrough featuring vrinda singhAbout Vrinda Singh:
Vrinda Singh is the Growth Manager at Paperform, a no-code tool that enables anyone to easily create beautiful forms, payment or product pages.

She has over 7 years of experience creating full-funnel campaigns for companies like LinkedIn, Finder, Schneider Electric & Leona Edmiston.

Whilst this may have resulted in permanently compromised eyesight from staring at computer screens all day, there’s nothing she enjoys more than the experimental nature of growth marketing.

 


Show Notes:
03:30
Building Beautiful Forms And Pages Without Prior Technical Knowledge
07:35
The Challenge Of Having A Broad Audience Product
"Putting that early version of our product on places like AppSumo and BetaList was really how we were able to first gauge the demand and interest in the product before we actually dedicated our time to further developing it. So the idea is all about getting the product out there as fast as we could, not really waiting for it to be perfect, but rather using that early feedback to make it as useful as it could for that demand that they were fulfilling."
09:04
Responding Quickly To Market Demands By Creating Custom Apps
"We know that our customers are everyday leaders who need to create forms to automate their workflows, but with a product that's this talent broad, our ICP is definitely broader than most other companies. This means that we need to constantly listen to the market, keep on top of data, follow trends to make sure that we're creating value where we can. And we're constantly uncovering new uses of our product as well. Especially since we, as a company, tend to keep closely in touch with our users."
"One way we've been able to respond really quickly to the demands of the market is by creating custom apps. So these are kind of like video tutorials that we create, which are coupled with smart templates that make it easy for users to create a particular business workflow. So we've released these based on internal trends and patterns that we notice amongst our customers."
11:30
Building Dedicated Landing Pages For Each Of The Targeted Industries
"Content marketing in general has been a real gift in this regard because it's allowed us to reach a wide range of audiences without compromising the integrity and versatility of our product itself."
13:20
Leveraging Content Clusters
"For us it's really been about creating these content clusters. We think of a problem as sort of its own content cluster, if that makes sense. So if we're thinking of real estate agents, that's a cluster for us. So going to build out underneath that, we're going to have the landing page, we're going to have the templates we're going to have the blog posts or relating to that particular need. And you know, that really then helps us be able to be the best solution possible for real estate agents from that perspective. So it's really just been a process of trying to create these clusters and try to make sure that all that content within itself is really well internally linked because obviously that has a lot of SEO benefits attached to it."
15:20
Researching Particular Use Cases And Figuring Out How It's Best Serviced
17:20
Beginning Split Tests With User-Testing
"I personally am a huge believer in beginning split tests with user testing. You know, even though the sample sizes of user tests are generally too small to draw any decisive conclusions, speaking to an actual user and letting them walk us through their mind as they would perceive and experience that landing page can make all the difference. Especially since our perception of it was inherently biased. We'd been looking at it for years and years. "
20:50
The Concepts Of Global And Local Maximum In Optimization
23:25
Key Metrics Vs Vanity Metrics In Optimization
26:20
Small Marketing Teams And Experimentation
"Honestly speaking for us as a small team, it really does come down to time and resources. I feel like we could always be experimenting with the landing page, but, you know, just because of the type, the different projects that we have running on, we can't always be testing. So yeah, it really does come down to the practicality of it all. You know, when we're able to test, when we have the resources to test, when, you know, conversion rates always a focus for us, but it's more so that when other things take precedence, it becomes a little harder to dedicate all that kind of time."
28:00
Hard Lessons About Newsletters
32:30
Leaning Into Growing Opportunities In Times Of Change
35:30
Lightning Questions
Transcript:

DA (02:53):
Thanks so much for joining me today on the SaaS breakthrough podcast. Excited to have you and Paperform here today. How are you doing?

VS (03:01):
I'm good. I'm excited to be here. Excited to have this chat.

DA (03:04):
Yes, I am too. I know you're joining me very early in the morning in Australia. How's it been there and what's the situation right now? I know New Zealand recently reported zero COVID cases.

VS (03:16):
Yeah, that's right. And things are looking good here as well. The weather's a little shoddy, but otherwise everything's really good. We just had a public holiday yesterday. So I think everyone in Australia is collectively feeling a lot more relaxed than they did before this long weekend.

DA (03:32):
I love it. Yeah. That's super helpful to get that extra rest. And you know, mental health is a big part of all the craziness that's going on in the world right now. But again, I appreciate you coming on. I would love to just jump right into this conversation. I know we have some exciting marketing experiments to talk about today, but before we do that, why don't you take a moment and explain a bit about Paperform when it was founded, who your customers are and what you're doing uniquely in the marketplace.

VS (04:00):
So Paperform is a no code form builder, it allows anyone to create beautiful online forms, payment, or product pages, and do it quickly and intuitively without any prior technical knowledge. And that's really our main focus when it came to building the product. People can build really anything from registration pages through to lead gen forms or forms for selling something online. So our founders Dean and Diony MacPherson started the company back in 2016 while they were both working nine to five jobs. So Dean actually has a background in web development and he kept having friends and family coming to him and asking to have custom forms built for that businesses and projects, which kind of led Dean and Diony to identifying a bit of a gap in the market for an easy to use product that allowed businesses to create beautiful forms that were true to their brand.

VS (04:53):
So there were of course, other solutions out there and there still are, but they found that the user experience with a lot of these solutions was often bulky and not quite flexible enough for the needs of their friends and family, at least. So Dean decided to build out the product, the idea of exploring how widespread that need was beyond his circle and, you know, fast track five years, we've really found a unique place for ourselves in this market that embodies our core slogan, which is easy, beautiful, yours. Above all Paperform is super easy to use. And that's something that continues to be the focus of our product. Even as we continue to add new updates and features we have a free text format editor, which means that anyone who's ever really typed a word document can easily use Paperform. This really sets us apart from the rest of the form builders out there, which tend to have more of a drag and drop interface.

VS (05:45):
So our editor really is very fast and very easy to use. Our forms also are extremely flexible with a high level of customization. So every element of the form is customizable, which means it can easily blend together with any webpage when you embed it there, or it can even be shared as a standalone landing page. So either way you can customize it to the point that it really embodies your brand through design upon the very first glance. So in terms of our customers are, since Paperform is such a versatile tool, our target audiences fit a wide variety of industries and personas. These include, but they're not limited to small business owners, marketers, HR managers, event managers, real estate agents, personal trainers, gym owners, just to name a few. But the users really extend far and wide.

DA (06:33):
First of all, I love some of the taglines that you have. Those are really amazing. And I also come from a product that's very similar. We really love the user experience philosophy that you have. I think we have a very similar one here. Where ease of use is a key part of a B2B sales tool. And I think, I think I read an article recently that said like 75% of B2B customers are looking at the ease of use as like one of their biggest buying decisions. So it's really, really helpful there to understand how important that that ease of use is. Like you said, there are a lot of competitors out there, so it's really great that you kind of found your own unique positioning there. We'll have some questions on that in a bit. I just first want to get you know, a perspective. When did you join the team?

VS (07:18):
I joined at the start of 2019, which was almost about two years ago.

DA (07:23):
Yep. Congratulations. Almost two-year anniversary then. That's amazing. So you're coming in a little bit later and you said the company started when?

VS (07:31):
In 2016. So for a long time that it was actually just the founders Dean and Diony kicking things off.

DA (07:38):
Wow, fantastic. Fantastic. And maybe they had some story you know, they had, like you said, they had some pain point, but how did they first find that product market fit or were they just bringing the product to anyone who would take it? And I guess this really just starts to create the entry point for us to talk about, you know, having a wide ranging product, a broad audience product and kind of the challenge that presents.

VS (08:00):
Absolutely. So the Paperform journey back in 2016 really began when they acquired a high number of users early on because they decided to run a promotion through AppSumo. So the product at that point was still in beta. But they decided to offer a lifetime subscription to new users for a one-off fee. And from this point, really, they ended up using the conversations with their new users to better understand their needs and turn that MVP into the robust product that it is today. So putting that early version of our product on places like AppSumo and betalist was really how we were able to first gauge the demand and interest in the product before we actually dedicated our time to further developing it. So the idea is all about getting the product out there as fast as we could, not really waiting for it to be perfect, but rather using that early feedback to make it as useful as it could for that demand that they were fulfilling. Yeah. Ultimately I think Dean and Diony knew that if we built something that was fulfilling a genuine need users would really respond to it and we'd be able to build it from that.

DA (09:07):
I love that. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. So a great kind of pre-launch strategy, well launch strategy I should say, kind of test that MVP test the economic viability of the product, and then build on top of those user quest to build it out. Now, one of the challenges with doing that, and with a wide-ranging product similar to ours and to other people that I've talked to who have, you know, products very similar. And we talked about this on the podcast a lot is when you appeal to everyone, it makes marketing challenging because you're trying to find specific messaging to talk to a specific ICP. When you talk to everyone, it becomes a little bit difficult to do that. How are you handling this at Paperform?

VS (09:48):
Absolutely. and that's a great question because it's funny whenever we hire for the growth team, we invariably end up mentioning, this is one of the greatest challenges of working here. Especially within the marketing team, you know, defining our ICPs has truly been an iterative process and it still is. You know, we know that our customers are everyday leaders who need to create forms to automate their workflows, but with a product that's this talent broad, our ICP is definitely broader than most other companies. This means that we need to constantly listen to the market, keep on top of data, follow trends to make sure that we're creating value where we can. And we're constantly uncovering new uses of our product as well. Especially since we, as a company, tend to keep closely in touch with our users. When we do come across a new type of persona profile, we evaluate whether we have the resources and ability to be able to add value for this particular type of customer.

VS (10:43):
So one way we've been able to respond really quickly to the demands of the market is by creating custom apps. So these are kind of like video tutorials that we create, which are coupled with smart templates that make it easy for users to create a particular business workflow. So we've released these based on internal trends and patterns that we notice amongst our customers. So for example, we started noticing that tattoo artists were using Paperform to create booking and client intake forms. So seeing that there was then also a sufficient demand from an SEO perspective for this type of app and this type of function, we decided to build out a landing page, an app that would help tattoo artists create these forms in minutes with Paperform. And we've done this with about eight or so other industries at this point, and we'll probably continue to fulfill that need where we see fit.

VS (11:29):
As a (inaudible) product our ICP is constantly evolving, you know, but SEO has really been our friend here. As our primary growth channel, we've been able to target a massive range of industries and audiences by creating custom content that speaks to them specifically. You know, not just through these apps, but also through dedicated landing pages for each of the industries that we cater to as well as dedicated landing pages for specific and functions of the product. For example, we've got a specific landing page that targets the real estate industry, which really showcases how the product can be used by real estate agents to create lead gen forms, registration forms for open homes, contact forms, and so on. So these pages then attract that particular segment of the market for us through organic traffic, as well as some dedicated Google ads.

VS (12:15):
This approach also carries through to our blog content, you know, which while we create a lot of broad content that speaks to business owners at large, we also take the time to speak to our users as I mentioned to better understand what their specific needs are within their roles and within that industries. So this acts as inspiration for us to create content that addresses those needs. So, you know, we publish content pieces like how to start an online fundraiser, which might speak to any small charities or NPOs out there who also happen to be a target audience for us. Content marketing in general has been a real gift in this regard because it's allowed us to reach a wide range of audiences without compromising the integrity and versatility of our product itself. You know, beyond this, we look forward to tackling this challenge a little better across different channels, like social media, where admittedly, we haven't quite been able to dedicate enough time and resources to completely nailing our identity as an all-in-one tool, but really that's been our journey when it comes to being a tool that's as broad as it is.

DA (13:23):
First of all, that was a fantastic answer. Lots of good wisdom coming through I should say. The social media thing is tough. I think we've gone back and forth on how we do that, I think really that comes down to the brand conversation like who are you, what's your, you know, voice and tone in your brand. And that becomes like an overarching brand voice versus what you're talking about before is like unique pillars for each individual audience. Now I want to dive into those just a little bit more. So you're talking about using the basic form templates as the cornerstone content for product led growth within an industry. So just picking one at random here, looking at my dogs, you know, dog walkers, dog walker forums and you're going to do an SEO initiative around it. So you guys build some form templates for them, and then you're going to build some landing pages. You're going to build some unique content pages and then maybe some blog content. When you're coming up with that, how are you building out the SEO keywords that you're going to target? And then where are your pages living so you're not overloading menu bars, stuff like that. Like how do you actually think about the organization of the structure when you're building it out?

VS (14:30):
Absolutely. Again, and this has been an evolving process as well, because, you know, we have so many different types of content living on different parts of the website. For us it's really been about creating these content clusters. We think of a problem as sort of its own content cluster, if that makes sense. So if we're thinking of real estate agents, that's a cluster for us. So going to build out underneath that, we're going to have the landing page, we're going to have the templates we're going to have the blog posts or relating to that particular need. And you know, that really then helps us be able to be the best solution possible for real estate agents from that perspective. Yeah. So it's really just been a process of trying to create these clusters and try to make sure that all that content within itself is really well internally linked because obviously that has a lot of SEO benefits attached to it.

VS (15:21):
When it comes to doing the keyword research itself where we'd love to use Ahrefs personally, we try to find you know, any sort of potential keywords that we can within a specific field and then be able to tackle that and look okay, we've got a keyword here that for example says real estate questionnaire, let's go with that. We want to be able to understand is this best service through a template? Is this best service through a blog post? Is this best service through a landing page? You know, who, who was this person searching for this particular term and what kind of information are they really looking for? With a term like real estate questionnaire, we would actually assume that this is someone who's genuinely just looking for a questionnaire to be able to either copy or to be able to use. So in this particular need, we would then go ahead and create a template that then addresses that particular need. So it's really being able to do that research, find that particular use case, and then be able to figure out how it's best serviced. If that makes sense.

DA (16:25):
It definitely makes sense. That was a great answer. To follow up on that how did you know that questionnaire was going to be a template to copy? Are you just going through the links and clicking to see what's actively there? Or are you, you know, how are you trying to determine what medium is best served there?

VS (16:42):
Absolutely. Yeah. So I definitely think looking at the SERPs is a big broom there, just being able to understand what kind of information is actually working at this point. We also want to make sure that, you know, we're not creating information or content that's already there. If we're doing it, we want to do it better. Or we want to be able to provide something that's not fully there yet. So even if we can see a certain template for that particular keyword that shows up, we either want to make a much better one, or we want to make sure that we're creating the type of template that perhaps isn't even out there yet. Yeah. So it's really just about looking at the SERPs and seeing the kind of content that already exists for that keyword.

DA (17:21):
That makes a lot of sense. Yeah, no, I appreciate that. That's really, really good advice. And I like how you guys have designed that, that's a really smart way to handle all of those different segments of the market, but really kind of using SEO to own all of them. Fantastic. Now we're talking about the website here, so we can continue that in our conversation here at marketing experiments, I know on episode number one 30 with Visme, we talked about landing page tests and with Wishpond we've chatted about pricing testing on the website. There's just so many things you can do with your website being kind of your central marketing hub for people finding your product. And I know you guys have been experimenting a ton with your own website as far as the landing page and how that all works. You want to walk us through this experiment?

VS (18:06):
Absolutely. So as a marketer, conversion rate optimization is probably one of my favorite aspects of my role. I, yeah, so at Paperform we'd actually operated with the same landing page from the day I started in 2019 to about July last year. So, and way before that as well, obviously. So when we realized that our conversion rates were strong, but there was certainly room for improvement, we decided to run a few tests. So our old landing pages for context was a simple design. That was essentially a long scroll page that, you know displayed an order playing video above the fold with a signup button sandwich between some copy and that video. So very standard page that we really started with. We decided to run user tests on this page to first better understand how objective audiences respond to each element and to be able to see the page with fresh eyes.

VS (19:01):
So I personally am a huge believer in beginning split tests with user testing. You know, even though the sample sizes of user tests are generally too small to draw any decisive conclusions, speaking to an actual user and letting them walk us through their mind as they would perceive and experience that landing page can make all the difference. Especially since our perception of it was inherently biased. We'd been looking at it for years and years. So usually around five user tests are good numbers to start uncovering certain patterns and responses, you know, say if two or three users out of those five, find themselves stumbling to find a certain button. You can generally pick up that the placement of that button might be a potential issue. So since this was the first time we were conducting any proper user testing on our landing page, we decided to go big and ran something like 20 user tests.

VS (19:55):
And overall we found that our test audiences were overwhelmed by the number of elements they were exposed to when they first landed on the page and when it first loaded. And that really hindered their understanding of the product itself and what it did, which subsequently impacted our conversion rates. You know, we initially decided to tackle this by adjusting one element at a time on our landing page. You know, that's generally the status quo, most split tests, you know, when you land split testing, that's one of the first things they teach you don't change more than one element because then you're not really going to know what worked and what didn't. But these small tests were failing to yield a meaningful shift in our conversion rate, which kind of forced us to look for alternate solutions. The main lesson we took away from those first few tests was that if you're not a business, like, you know, Expedia, that's generating billions in transactions every year, a small percentage increase in conversion rate, won't actually bring you a big return.

VS (20:51):
You know, ultimately by AB testing one element at a time, we were assuming that our original landing page was on the right track to begin with, which was a bold assumption considering we'd never even experimented with it before. And this is where the concepts of global and local maximum really helped us, you know, to explain it simply imagine if you've created a landing page that features a layout you presume your audiences will love. You generate traffic to it and note for a month, your page is converting at something like 4%. So you start testing element by element, first changing headlines and experimenting with buttons and so on. Months go by and eventually, you know, you've run out of things to test. So you've reached, what's called the local maximum of that page, which in AB testing terms is basically the best version of your current page.

VS (21:36):
Optimizing beyond that point would really bring diminishing returns. However, while trying to make this particular landing page as good as it could get, you might actually be failing to consider that there's a better way to just build the whole thing. You know, you can improve your page to a certain point, but while doing so, you may actually miss the global maximum, which is the better design. In most cases, the true strength of an AB test is its ability to identify the page closest to the global maximum. So by testing drastically different designs, you can actually find a page that your visitors prefer and then optimize it there for multivariate testing. So this is the approach we decided to shift to, you know, circling back to our user testing. We decided to use all those insights to create four brand new landing pages. And these were actually all vastly different from each other.

VS (22:26):
We really just took every idea we could, create every type of page we could and experimented for two months to find our global maximum. Ultimately we landed on a much simpler design that succinctly explains our product. It contains a simple signup field above the fold and showcases our customers. And that's really all it does at first load. And in order to scroll further to find out more about the products, the user has to click a learn more button at the bottom of the page. So by eliminating that additional noise from our landing page and shifting the focus solely on our product and social proofing, we saw a lift of 51% in conversions and a lift of 20 qualified leads who, you know, completed onboarding. So, and again, this is a work in progress. The work never really ends when it comes to your landing page, but, you know, by taking that bold risk, we were actually able to reach a landing page that had a drastically better conversion rate, much faster than we could have by just testing one element at a time.

DA (23:26):
Absolutely. I think that is a great lesson. When you are creating these different landing page designs, are you also changing major things like headline copy and like the proposition of the copy? So they're very different pages like marketing or you try to keep those variables the same at the same time?

VS (23:49):
Yeah. So what we really kept consistent across the different pages was the brand itself. So we didn't, you know, and for us the tagline, the main copy that you see when you land online on Paperform is really intrinsic to our brand. So we weren't at that point looking to change it. We still are not, so that remained the same. The coloring somewhat remained the same, but what really changed was the layout, as well as, you know, some of the body copy as well. So, you know, the types of features that we were sort of really pushing for the types of social proofing that we were showing, the types of templates that we were showing on the main page, things like that were drastically different. And the main thing that we really changed was the layout of the page, how the page really felt, if that makes sense.

DA (24:36):
It does make sense. And my follow-up question would be, did you guys come into this with a hypothesis baseline conversion percentage? And were you looking for the page that had the best conversion of that front end conversion, or was it also looking at the onboarding percentage of conversion or were you just looking for the best converting one of the group that you tested?

VS (24:57):
For us it actually came down to onboarding for sure. You know, we were definitely curious because this particular landing page that we now have makes it really easy to actually just sign up for the product. A lot easier than it probably was in the old landing page. So what we were really concerned about was that, well, people can start converting, you know, in droves and, you know, they can, we can technically boost our conversion rate by a lot by, you know, just making it a lot easier to sign up, but that technically could also bring in people into the product who are not yet committed to understanding the product, or really, you know, as interested in using the product as say, someone who might have to work a little harder to sign up. But what we actually found was that this convert, this particular landing page converted even past that point and really made onboarding numbers also a lot higher. So that was what we were looking for. That was the key number we were looking for because obviously what we care about are qualified leads as opposed to people just signing up for the product and then, you know, never making a form.

DA (26:04):
Yeah. And I think that was a really good point. It was just something that I wanted to kind of talk about, cause I think that is the key thing. And you know, a lot of times we talk about vanity metrics on this show and I think that could be easily one that falls into a quote unquote vanity metric, which is just top of funnel of leads. If really what you're looking for is, you know, marketing qualified leads or sales qualified leads, or just conversions into the product onboarding activation, stuff like that. My last question around testing is, and you kind of mentioned this, you said you can never finish testing, but how often do you start testing that page again? Do you say, Hey, can we optimize this more? Is there ever like a moment when you're like, okay, let's leave it for three months and we'll focus on other things or do you guys just pick and choose those decisions?

VS (26:46):
Honestly speaking for us as a small team, it really does come down to time and resources. I feel like we could always be experimenting with the landing page, but, you know, just because of the type, the different projects that we have running on, we can't always be testing. So yeah, it really does come down to the practicality of it all. You know, when we're able to test, when we have the resources to test, when, you know, conversion rates always a focus for us, but it's more so that when other things take precedence, it becomes a little harder to dedicate all that kind of time. Especially that time to be able to doing user testing and then going ahead and creating these landing pages and it's of course, you know, across functional product as well, because we need the developers to be able to, you know, adjust the website and things like that. So it's really just about how, what, like our resources as a team.

DA (27:37):
Yeah. I think that's a very good answer. And I think most people that I talk to on this show have smaller marketing teams. And I think for everybody listening, I mean time and resources is our biggest constraints. No matter the size of team you are on, right. There's always more engineering that you could, you could use in your company, but no that's super helpful. And I think those are great experiments. And I guess looking back since, since your tenure started there at the beginning of 2019, any hard lessons learned from things that didn't work out, that's oftentimes where we learn our biggest lessons. Right?

VS (28:13):
Absolutely. And I think especially in the first few months of working on a product that was kind of just handed to me and it's like, well, this is a fantastic product. This is what we've done so far. We don't really have a growth channel that, you know, we can definitively say this is our growth channel. There were a lot of failures involved, you know, there's a lot of examples there for us, especially, you know, with trying to experiment with cold outreach, trying to experiment with PR, things like that. And then finally obviously finding our focus with SEO. But one big example that comes to mind is when we first began investing in content marketing through our blog we also decided to start an email list for readers at that blog. So, you know, they could keep, keep up to date with our content via a newsletter.

VS (28:58):
This was meant to be a simple Roundup email of content that we would send out fortnightly to anyone who signed up. And you know, we actually even went to the lenght of creating an ebook to speed up the process of building this email list, you know, which I think helped us build something like 3000 subscribers for this email list. So, you know, we were ready to go. We had the subscribers. Were like, okay, we're creating this blog content. You know, it makes practical sense to be able to repurpose this content and, you know, turn it into a newsletter. However, after a few months of running the newsletter, we found that the readership and more importantly engagement was extremely low. While the newsletter did the job of keeping people in the loop with our content, kind of lacked an overarching, you know, we found that it failed to create value for our subscribers, which is obviously the most important thing of running a newsletter unique.

VS (29:48):
It needs to be something that people actually want to read and get value out of as that, you know, taking time to click on your email and read it. But since our content was far too varied and it spoke to too many different audiences and industries, it kind of didn't end up being helpful to any specific person. You know, while this broad focus sort of works for our SEO centric blog, it didn't really work for our newsletter because a lot of the content wasn't relevant to a lot of our readers who really did, you know, all hell from a variety of different backgrounds and industries. And this is again, one of those examples in which having a broad audience can be really challenging because, you know, how do you run a newsletter for someone who's a real estate agent and also a personal trainer and also a florist, you know, it's all really different backgrounds and industries that you're trying to cater to.

VS (30:36):
But you know, again, as we mentioned, small teams due to our lack of resources at the time we decided to hold the production of this newsletter until we sort of had a clearer vision for it. So that was definitely, you know, a failed experiment, but it's something that, you know, fast forward to now, we've decided to ressurect with a renew vision. And you know, what we really want to do with this newsletter now is share the success stories of our users. And in particular, small business owners who use Paperform and a variety of other tools to drive growth for their businesses. And you know, we feel that the real quantitative stories of our users are much more likely to provide value to our readers and the content on our blog, which is obviously much more suited to SEO and, you know, particular keywords.

VS (31:22):
So, you know, in the past year with this pandemic, especially we've had the opportunity to connect with our users more than ever and hear their tales of how they're using Paperform to move their businesses online and adapt to that challenging circumstances. So we've been sharing these stories in our blog here and there. And we found that our readers are really responding to these stories because, you know, not only are they inspiring, but they're also full of great ideas for growing as a small business and, you know, difficult times. So we're really currently in the research phase of this newsletter you know, connecting with our users, getting inspired by their stories and the process. And can't wait to share them with the world because they're all truly doing some fantastic work.

DA (32:04):
I think this is a great idea. I love this. I love a customer generated content, first of all, but also the transparent, real stories. I think it's a great idea to push it forward. One step further, just thinking Convertkit is in my head. I have a Wistia who's been guest on here on the podcast in my head. And Kristen Bryant would definitely be pushing you to do a video series with this stuff and going even further and turn them into like video stories from the customers and you know, kind of building out a show with it. You could definitely do some really cool stuff there, Wistia being a great example of how they've done some of that before. But no, I love that idea. That idea is fantastic. And then kind of moving forward here in 2021, any new challenges or opportunities that you all see from a marketing point of view?

VS (32:48):
I mean, definitely we truly are living in unprecedented times. You know, last year for us was all about being able to chart new territories. As you know, we found a lot of small businesses over the world were flogging to Paperform to be able to go digital and record time. You know, this was restaurants moving their order forms online, or, you know, florists creating online stores in exchange for their physical ones. So, you know, moving forward while this is the new normal, we'll be tracking how small businesses now evolve with their adoption of this tech and, you know, as life, you know, perhaps starts to go back to normal later this year, hopefully, how businesses in general will operate differently to before. So, you know, in some ways the current situations really accelerated a bit of a tech revolution. So it's especially evident, you know, as more and more companies are starting to embrace remote work and digital collaborations.

VS (33:41):
So we're really interested in tracking how Paperform can fit into these needs. You know, as we continue to uncover some really cool uses of product, especially from an HR and administration perspective. So it's a challenge and it's an opportunity because really we don't know exactly the kind of market we're looking at in such uncertain times that there are obviously growing opportunities in times of change that we can certainly lean into. You know, e-commerce is one that saw a real boost yet last year. And, you know, we felt that demand within the product. So we released some new apps again to support that demand internally. You know, our product is becoming a bit more sophisticated with each passing period too. You know, I can't expand on it too much, but we have some exciting new updates coming up. That'll make Paperform more accessible and easy to use than ever before. So I think that in itself breeds more opportunities to democratize digital creation as has been our goal since day one, you know, a goal that couldn't be more relevant in times like these, where people have a real need to be able to access tech, even people who, you know, don't have a technical background and have never done it before. So, you know, it's, I think a time of a no code revolution and we're really excited to be at the forefront of those changes and, you know, be one of the tools that are inspiring this.

DA (34:55):
It definitely is the start of the no-code revolution. I like that a lot. I think you're absolutely right. And I think just kind of listening to you, I think one of the key takeaways is agility and speed in the, in the upcoming year is going to be required just like it was last year, but taking the opportunities that come, however, they come, there's so many unknowns, but just being able to jump on them when the opportunities arise and make the pivots and changes when you need to, to the right areas.

VS (35:26):
Absolutely.

DA (35:28):
I love that. I love that. Okay. What I want to do now is I want to jump over to our lightning round questions. Five quick questions that you can answer with your best thought that comes to mind. You ready to get started?

VS (35:41):
Absolutely. Let's do it.

DA (35:43):
All right. You've been rocking it so far. You're going to do fantastic. So here we go. What advice would you have for early stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?

VS (35:54):
I think for me it really comes back to what I mentioned earlier, which is go live don't strive for perfection with the first iteration of your product. Validate your concept first, find that market gap and listen intently to your target audience, and then shape it to being the most valuable version of itself

DA (36:12):
A thousand percent agree. Fantastic advice. Listen to that twice. If you're listening. What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?

VS (36:23):
Ooh. Well I think at its cool, a great SaaS business is all about an awesome product and killer support. So I think marketing can kind of operate as the real intermediary here, really staying attuned to the needs of customers and acting as drivers of retention. So supporting that support. So, you know, it's not particularly a skill maybe, but more so a need to stay in touch with users, despite being on the marketing end of things. You know, one of the things I loved about my onboarding at Paperform was the chance to actually deal with support requests myself. You know, I had a few months where I was just thrown into Intercom to liaise with customers one-on-one and it made a world of difference. Not just in my technical understanding of the product, but in being able to create those relationships with people who are using our product, you know, understanding their needs and the nature of their businesses. And that just meant that I was better informed when I was creating marketing and retention strategies for these, our customers. So, yes, as marketers, I would say, talk to your customers more, even if you're not on the support end of things. It never stops being important.

DA (37:24):
Good idea. I always love and admire teams that have their, you know, their team members go into the support team. I mean, that's fantastic. What about a best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing or growth?

VS (37:36):
I personally love reading a SmartBear by Jason Cohen regularly. But if you need too growth, I would also really recommend reading Traction by Gabriel Weinberg, you know, as it breaks down the bulls-eye framework for growth, which is for me, my favorite framework for growth.

DA (37:53):
Yeah. That's a great book. Great recommendation. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?

VS (37:59):
Ahrefs, always Ahrefs.

DA (38:02):
So highly recommended tool on here. It's a great tool. If you guys aren't using it, definitely get it. And what about a brand business or team that you admire today?

VS (38:11):
Oh well I'm personally a speck of a well done video marketing particularly in the SaaS space because it's such a game changer. So I really enjoy the content coming out of the Square team. You know, their testimonial videos have this human element that so many of those can often butcher. You know, it's sort of fun, relatable insights into the journey of real customers. So, you know, not only the stories inspiring, but executed in a way that doesn't make you feel like you're being pitched a magic potion, it's just a real relatable take for anyone who's been in the business of taking payments. But yeah, I think just that team in general is constantly really innovative with the way they collaborate with us. We've collaborated with them a few times as well. And I really admire the drive to keep growing through new avenues even at this time when they're so big.

DA (38:59):
Yes. And they are an amazing Demio customer too, just little little props there to us, but I've had lots of good chats with their different teams and they're constantly seeming to look for new ways to build relationships and have that human touch point. So I think that's a fantastic company to admire and you know, their share price went up like 200% over the past year, so good for them. They're getting by. But I just want to say thank you so much for jumping on with me. It was a real pleasure. You've been a fantastic guest. You went through a lot of great information here and clearly you just learned a lot through the journey. So we do appreciate your time and thanks for sharing it with us.

VS (39:38):
Thank you so much for having me. This was a blast.

DA (39:41):
It was a lot of fun. We look forward to chatting again with you soon. Have a great day. We'll talk to you soon.

VS (39:47):
Thanks, David.
(...)

Resources:
Learn More About Paperform:
https://paperform.co/
Connect With Vrinda:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/vrinda-singh/
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