Our year in review article has quickly become one of my favorite activities of the year.
So often as entrepreneurs, we get stuck in what Dan Sullivan calls, “The Gap.” We forget to celebrate everything that we’ve accomplished and just turn our attention to what hasn’t been done yet.
My goal with this article is to share with you what’s gone on behind the scenes at LeadQuizzes this year and share in a way that you will be able to learn from our experience. I will try to be extremely transparent with the mistakes we’ve made, the wins we’ve had, and what we’re working on improving at LeadQuizzes.
Alright, let’s talk first about what you probably care the most about.
Over the past year, we’ve gotten incredible feedback from our users about what needs to be improved with LeadQuizzes. Let me introduce a few of the major improvements we will be launching this quarter:
You’ve heard the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well as an example, if you had a quiz on “What’s Preventing Your Weight Loss?” it might be helpful to ask a question about belly fat using images that someone can visually relate to, helping them give a more accurate response and helping you give a more accurate result.
There were a lot of changes needed to our user experience to speed up the process of quiz creation. For example the ability to resize images right within the app:
And the ability to rearrange questions:
Stay tuned for an exhaustive list of updates being released to users this quarter!
While priorities may change based on feedback, our current product roadmap for quarter one of 2017 includes:
This will include the ability to track where quiz takers are dropping out of your quiz so you can optimize your quiz for the highest possible lead capture rate. Additionally, you will be able to visualize how your users are answering your questions from within LeadQuizzes so that you can improve your products, marketing and sales messaging.
This will give you the ability to change questions that quiz takers see based on their answer to previous questions. For example, if someone answers that they are a female, you can direct them to specific female based questions. This will allow further personalization in your quiz questions and a deeper ability to collect data and segment your leads.
Testing is one of the most important jobs of a marketer so we’ll be adding improved ability to split test your quiz and the offers you make based on quiz results to increase your leads and sales effectiveness.
We will be adding some additional native integrations with some highly requested marketing platforms like HubSpot, Salesforce, and Marketo. We’ll also be improving our native integrations so that you can better leverage your contact’s data in your marketing.
So that’s all very exciting but what have our users been able to accomplish this year?
Since we launched LeadQuizzes on January 25th of 2016, you’ve had over 3,227,327 quiz takers!
This has generated over 1,084,392 leads for our users, a 33.6% average conversion rate!
Which has resulted in millions of dollars of sales for our users. Many of which you can read about on our case study page here! (Interested in having your case study featured on our website? Email us at email@example.com)
That puts our users on track to end 2016 with over 4,000,000 quiz takers and over 1,320,000 leads.
As you may know, LeadQuizzes was launched in 2016 out of a service company called Yazamo. While we had development experience, there has been a lot we’ve learned about building and growing a software product. I want to first talk about a concept many software developers are probably familiar with; something called technical debt. Technical debt is a concept in programming that reflects the extra development work that arises when code that is easy to implement in the short run is used instead of applying the best overall solution.
Now if a software company mis-manages their technical debt, short term they may fly out of the gate with some amazing features and product updates but long term they’ve built their software with a poor foundation.
It’s why you’ve seen some established software companies in the marketing space seem to make very little progress on any real updates while being plagued with bugs. It’s because they built their platform with short term thinking and they created so much technical debt that the best choice may be to recode the entire platform from the ground up – a very costly and time intensive project that many companies just simply can’t afford.
So the point is that creating technical debt is something software companies have to constantly evaluate. Is it worth launching something quickly to please their user base or should they slow development down so that they build a better long-term product?
Over the past year, we’ve been working on building a stronger foundation for the future so we don’t have massive amounts of technical debt to overcome. These aren’t as fun for you as our earlier product announcements because you don’t see the immediate impact. Regardless, here are some of those things we’ve worked on:
For our product development to move faster, we decided to setup automated testing for the majority of LeadQuizzes.
When you launch anything from a website to a new sales funnel, you have to run quality assurance testing to make sure everything works properly. Well with software, as your product becomes more complex and you want to move faster, it’s important to set up something called automated testing. This allows your software to run tests automatically without having to manually review everything. For example when we created image based quizzes, we can find out if that code somehow broke one of our integration like MailChimp and fix it before we push the code live for all of our users.
As our users increased, the amount of quiz takers have increased. We decided that we wanted to move our servers over to a long term solution (AWS) to handle traffic spikes from new users or promotions and increased resource demand from things like image based quizzes. We wanted to ensure uptime of the software as well as decrease quiz load time.
One of the other major areas we’ve focused on this year has been building and growing our development team. When we started Yazamo in 2012, we had to hire contractors who worked for us part time or on a project basis. Let me tell you, that’s an extremely difficult way to grow a business. It’s hard to get them to develop their capabilities, move quickly, and take ownership of the long term success of your product.
With LeadQuizzes we wanted to bring our development team in house and make them full time. This year, we took a lot of time to hire two new full time developers who are really committed to the long term growth of LeadQuizzes.
Over the past year, our LeadQuizzes team has grown to eleven full time people and we’ve learned a lot from that.
This past year we made some hires that were bad culture fits. When your culture is in good shape, making a bad hire is like letting a bull run loose in a china shop. It can very easily destroy progress and momentum in your company.
When your core values align with a new hire, their experience is less important. It’s how we’ve been able to build our team where the average person is in their twenties; by looking for people with ownership attitudes, curiosity to learn and grow, and a mindset that’s focused on finding solutions – not making excuses.
Hiring based on culture is critical.
As LeadQuizzes grew this year, it was important to grow our team. Our growth stalled at some points because we couldn’t hire fast enough. We learned that it was crucial to build a bench of candidates before you need them. That way when you are ready to put your foot on the gas, you aren’t tempted to hire a bad culture fit out of necessity. We learned to focus a lot more of our time proactively sourcing and vetting out leads to hire before we needed them.
We wanted to set team goals that everyone could get behind. We didn’t just want our sales team to be rewarded for growth. One of the goals we set was to take the team on a paid retreat to Rocky Point for hitting $100,000/month in sales. We hit that goal in August and took our team down to Mexico to celebrate.
As we grew to over $100,000/month in sales this year, one of our biggest shifts in marketing has been focused on getting much clearer on our data.
I remember a year or two ago, sitting in a business mastermind and one of the biggest difference between our business and someone that was twice our size was that this other company knew their metrics really well. That enabled him to make data driven decisions instead of guessing where to make improvements. Understanding and tracking your data is really hard and really painful, but it’s crucial.
This year we committed to first and foremost understanding our metrics.
We choose to start this journey by launching a new technology stack using HubSpot and Salesforce. Neither were cheap investments but we knew they would be great long term solutions, allow us to track our data, and scale our business.
Next we spent several months getting Salesforce, HubSpot and our billing platform Chargify integrated. Once we got these platforms integrated and working with each other, we were able to start analyzing what was working and what wasn’t. That led to the discovery of some huge areas of potential like:
One of the primary sources of new leads and sales for our business this year was driving people from Facebook ads to a quiz, case study, training video, etc. We captured name, email, and phone number.
After delivering what we promised, we developed a sales model to call every lead and offer them a coaching call. The goal was to help give them some ideas around quizzes and afterwards, suggest a way we could help – either through our higher ticket managed service or one of our annual software subscriptions.
This model wasn’t profitable right away. We looked at our data and started making adjustments over the next couple of months like calling leads faster to improve the contact rate of our leads, improving follow up to improve the show up rate of our scheduled calls, and coaching of our team to overcome common buying objections for qualified leads.
After a couple months of advertising and working on these metrics, we dialed the model in and scaled it by hiring someone just to dial and schedule calls with our team. Once we got it working, this model became consistently profitable, immediately covering our advertising spend and became a huge reason we were able to grow LeadQuizzes to over $100,000/month in sales.
Looking forward to 2017, here are a couple of the marketing areas we will be initially investing in to continue to grow LeadQuizzes:
In 2017, we will be hiring a marketing director; one person to be in charge of optimizing and scaling our $10,000+ monthly advertising budget, tracking and converting our 50,000+ monthly website visitors, and improving our email marketing campaigns, among other things.
A phone sales model is highly effective but has greater limitations to scaling quickly as building a sales team requires time and effort. (I highly recommend the phone sales model for early businesses as it is helpful in selling higher ticket items and making your campaigns profitable quickly without a large investment in ads and testing of your sales funnel).
Most companies go negative or break even when generating leads and customers. Many software companies go negative for six months or longer because they know the life time value of their customers on recurring revenue and can afford the investment.
As a 100% bootstrapped business one of our marketing goals next year will be to really dial in a webinar model that sells a high ticket offer at the end so we can immediately offset our ad spend without getting on a call with anyone and scale our advertising campaigns and free trial signups much faster.
We’ve been wanting to create more content for a while but have been limited by capacity. Look out for some amazing things in 2017.
On the customer service front, it’s been an interesting challenge going from less than fifty managed clients at Yazamo to thousands of users using LeadQuizzes and learning how to help them succeed in a way that’s sustainable.
At first our whole team hopped in to help support our user base but that became taxing as our user base grew and it took more time from everyone’s day.
Many software companies talk about how their customer service and sales team should be combined so that’s what we decided to try. We hired two account executives whose jobs were to provide massive value and then make a product suggestion so that our users and leads would be able to get results faster and easier.
This tied into our sales model and from a financial standpoint it worked really well. However, we got some negative feedback that our account execs were being too salesy and not offering enough value.
We’re in the process of testing some different things on this front to make both models work.
We’ve been using HubSpot’s smart fields and progressive profiling to collect additional information on our leads after they have already opted in. However, advertising LeadQuizzes through email campaigns, our website, or advertising sources has been the absolute best way to generate more information and qualify our leads as we collect over fifteen data points (qualifying questions) from a quiz taker at one time.
Our goal at LeadQuizzes is to positively impact one billion people.
Through your support we’ve been able to loan out $10,375 through Kiva to deserving entrepreneurs around the world to start or grow their businesses.
In 2017, we have our goals set much higher and we think we have a huge opportunity to involve you, our users in making a much greater impact.
First, we are looking for another great organization to support.
Second, we will be adding a contribution section to our signup process so all of our users can have an impact. We plan on matching a percentage of funds ourselves in addition to finding partners that can also match funds – to stretch your contribution that much further.
If you’re interested in helping match donations of our users or getting involved, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We learned a lot of lessons in 2016 on our journey to earning more than $100,000/month in sales and launching our software LeadQuizzes. I’ll leave you with just a few more:
The plateaus in our business usually came from our limited thinking or resourcefulness. As they say, “The skills that got you out of Egypt aren’t the same skills that will get you to the promised land.” Never stop learning.
It’s going to be extremely hard work but suck it up and do it. Once you start to make actual data driven decisions, you’ll become addicted to it.
Success is usually on the opposite side of adversity. Never give up.
Please share your thoughts and comments below!
Thanks for reading 🙂