Issue #4: Exploring New Spaces 🧑‍🚀

Exploring the Customer Success industry and stats review for NextCommit

During the first half of the week, I was a bit under the weather, so not many updates in today’s issue. 😭 

But I hope you’ll still find it interesting as I’ll go through something that the process of understanding better a different space. 🧑‍🚀 

Studying the Customer Experience space

As I anticipated in the previous issue, I started exploring the Customer Experience space. I will repeat the same thing I said last week: Customer Experience is HUGE. 🤯 

One thing that I learned is that Customer Experience can be split between pre-sale and post-sale. The pre-sale part is usually for lead generation and as you might imagine it implies a strong collaboration between Sales, Customer Support, and Marketing. The post-sale part is usually what is known as Customer Success.

Even the SaaS in this space tend to focus more either on the pre-sale or the post-sale and eventually the bigger ones start from one and then try to provide an e2e experience.

One of the mantras that was repeated over and over again when I was working at Athenian, was:

We need to be customer-obsessed

Athenian

Customers needed to always be on top of our minds. We strongly believe that making our customers successful was the track for our success, and this might be the main reason I started getting more interested in the Customer Success part. ✨ 

Even narrowing down the Customer Experience to only the post-sale part, it’s still HUGE. 😂 

Once a user becomes a customer, the Customer Success team kicks and starts holding the customer’s hand through the customer journey:

  • onboarding and activation: show the value of the product super fast to engage with them,

  • stabilization: make the customer autonomously use the product and continue interacting for checkpointing,

  • expansion: show the customer how other features or services could be useful to them (upselling)

During the customer journey, a CSM (Customer Success Manager) would also need to track the “health” of a customer, whether a customer is at churn risk, communicate with them, etc.

Having been part of the leadership team at Athenian helped me have a bit more visibility on how we handled customers compared to being an IC, but it’s definitely not enough to understand what are the main concerns of a CSM or a Customer Success team.

Reaching out to my network

The best way to understand more about something you don’t know is to ask people who know. 🤣 

And what’s the best way to start from your own network? 😄 

Indeed, the customer journey I presented above comes from a call I had a few days ago with Josè Caldeira who was the VP of Engineering Success at Athenian and one of his responsibilities was the Customer Success.

It might be obvious to many, but talking to people is really the best way to understand what are the biggest pains, the tasks that waste a lot of time, etc., and from there understand whether you think you could provide some value or not by solving one of those pains. Or it might even help you realize that you cannot.

In both cases it’s a win:

  • you either build something that you think could solve some people’s problem thanks to the data points you got, or

  • you avoid wasting time building something that just doesn’t help anyone.

Of course, the idea is nothing without great execution, and many things could still lead you to failure if you decide to build something in your selected space, but it’s still better than starting blind.

So, reach out to your network, and ask your network to introduce you to other relevant profiles. Also, do it ASAP because people are busy 😂, so you might end up scheduling calls for the next few weeks.

I already have plans to talk with some other founders this week, and a CSM and a Head of CS next week. 🚀 

Using ChatGPT

This section shouldn’t be a surprise 😅.

I use ChatGPT daily, and trying to better understand a space you’re unfamiliar with could be one of the use cases you can try with ChatGPT.

Enough words, you can check out here the conversation that I had.

Preparing the form on the landing

Despite I don’t know yet if I’m going to build something in this space, I bought a domain and added a survey as CTA. You can check it out here.

First page of the survey

There are multiple questions both related to understanding who’s the user answering, and then drilling down towards what are the biggest challenges, etc.

The questions are the same that I’d ask in a discovery call. The goal is always the same, have a better understanding of this space. It is worth highlighting that I’m not implying that once you decide to move forward you should stop talking with potential customers, on the contrary, I’d try to partner with the early one and iterate together. That’s definitely the most valuable asset that an early builder could have. ✨ 

Some of you might be wondering:

Why you bought a domain if you don’t even know if you’re going to build something on it?

That’s a fair question 🤣.

I guess this is a problem that many shares, have more domains than actual live products. 😅 Probably sharing the link to the survey itself through DMs or email would have the same effect, or maybe even better since I’m not driving any traffic to the landing page.

Analyzing the market

Yeah, I did my homework! 🤣 

To further understand the Customer Success space, I studied the top players in the industry:

  • Vitally,

  • Totango,

  • Planhat,

  • Pendo,

  • etc.,

As I mentioned, the customer journey covers many aspects, and each is big enough for a SaaS product. 😅 I wanted to understand their offering and positioning:

  • are they specializing in some specific part of the customer journey?

  • are they trying to cover the whole journey?

  • how do they differ from one and the other?

  • do they target SMBs or Enterprises?

  • what is their price point?

  • are they loved by their customers?

  • etc.

Just by navigating through their landings, you can understand a lot of things, especially in terms of how they want to position themselves in the market. In this case, they all seem to be very much Enterprise-focused, as none of them share the pricing on their page which is something very enterprisey 😅.

CS SaaS 1 pricing

CS SaaS 2 pricing

CS SaaS 3 pricing

CS SaaS 4 pricing

Does this mean that Customer Success only exists for Enterprises? Or maybe Customer Success for SMBs and startups is actually an underserved market, hence an opportunity? However, we cannot negate the fact that the success of customers is paramount for all types of businesses. So maybe Customer Success in SMBs and startups is just too much different as it’s likely led by the founders themselves compared to an actual CS team? 🤔 

I don’t have the answers yet 😅. I have some clues after talking with some people, and that’s again why it’s important to continue speaking with people out there.

On top of that, I realized how interesting it is to read the reviews from G2 and Capterra! The landing pages could not match what customers are really experiencing, so having access to those first-hand reviews is gold. ✨ 

They also offer filters by rating, so you can easily discover what customers love, what customers hate, or what customers are looking for, but are not satisfied with their current tools.

NextCommit traffic, conversion, and feedback

Let’s now jump back on NextCommit! 🚀 

Retrospective on Google Ads

This is the all-time stats for Google Ads from the 11th of April till today.

Google Ads all-time stats

Both campaigns performed quite nicely:

  • NextCommit - CV Analysis: 5.3% CTR

  • NextCommit - Job Board: 5.0% CTR

and all together they brought around 9.2k clicks. However, the problem is that at the end of the day, I’m still at 153 users with only a single paying user who immediately canceled as I mentioned last week. If I look at the analytics data for the app, in the same period that the ads were running, I had 1.5k unique visitors. This means that only 10% of these users saw enough value to justify signing up. One of the reasons could be that I’m not showing enough information or enough filters for the job board to be seen as usable, but I still need to send a survey to the signed-up users. The caveat is that I won’t be able to reach those who didn’t sign up 😅, but it would still be a piece of valuable information.

Anyway, considering the all-time 1.7k unique visitors of the app (not the landing) and converting only 1 to a paying customer is ridiculous (0.06%). 😂 

I can still add a few things here and there like more filters and more info for each job post, but I don’t know how much would increase the conversion. But I don’t think it would make that much of a big difference, and thanks to the traffic brought by the ads, I think the numbers are enough to conclude that trying to monetize the tech candidates is not worth it.

Now the plan for NextCommit is to reach the point where there’s enough traffic that could potentially be interesting for companies to list their sponsored job post. From a tactical perspective this means that as I anticipated in the previous issue, I’m going to focus mostly on SEO and turn off the ads.

You might remember that I added 8k+ pages to the app, added them to the sitemap, and submitted it to Google Search Console.

As expected, the results are not immediate, but something is moving already! 🚀 

Indexed pages

Organic search performance

One thing that I noticed is that some company pages are crawled, but not indexed. This is likely because those pages do not have much content so Google considers them not worthy to be indexed.

I should definitely allocate the time to add more content on those pages, and also a page for each job post.

Feedback

Do you remember that last week I both generated my first revenue and also my first churn? 😅 

What bothered me was the lack of quality being the reason for the churn. 😭 

I tried reaching out to the user through email, but unfortunately, I didn’t get any reply.

Mail sent to the churned user

This is another strong reason for preparing a survey to send to the current signed-up users.

Conclusion

Next week I’ll continue to have an even better understanding of the Customer Success space, and hopefully come up with a decision on what to do next. 🤞 

In the meantime, I’ll work on SEO-ing NextCommit and prepare a survey to ask for feedback from the signed-up users.

Another thing that I’m doing aside is having a proper template that I can reuse for different projects. This includes having the frontend, the BFF, the backend, the database, the stripe integration, the authentication, the error alerting, etc., all set in a short amount of time. That should help moving fast when I want to experiment with different ideas. ✨ 

And who knows, maybe at some point I’ll sell it and get the same success that Marc Lou had with ShipFast! 🤣 

I hope you enjoyed it! 👋 

If you’re interested in following my journey, make sure to subscribe or follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn!

Appendix

Overview of current status

Here are some snapshots of different stats.

NextCommit

Users

In the last 7 days, I got:

  • +15 signups, now at 154 (+21%)

  • 34 active users (sum of daily active users, not weekly unique active users) (it was 77, -33%)

Summary stats (from Clerk)

New sign-ups (from Clerk)

Active users (from Clerk)

Stripe

Gross volume (from Stripe)

Plausible Analytics

Starting this week I’ll split the stats for the landing and the app.

Analytics for the landing

Analytics for the app

Google Search Console

Google Search Console

Personal branding

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X Premium analytics

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