In the first months of bootstrapping a startup, there are many “life or death” choices you need to make.
Each choice can lead your startup to the next stage of its evolution, or it can lead it to undesired consequences and crush it down in no time.
The thing is… clarity is not an option. Most of the choices you make, you don’t really know how they will impact the health of the project. The only thing you can do is to calculate the risk, make the decision, and deal with the consequences.
This is the story of the choice of being featured on Appsumo, and how it changed the course of our journey.
Too Small To Succeed 👶
Few months after we launched LeadsBridge, the business was already generating a decent amount of sales and getting positive feedbacks from the clients. The numbers were clear: since the idea was validated by the market, we wanted to invest more on our assets to start taking our business to the next level.
But we had a problem.
Even if our software was performing well and our customers were happy with it… still very few people knew about it.
We were totally lacking visibility, and that was suffocating our growth.
If some companies were “too big to fail”, we were too small to succeed.
If we had a lot of money to invest, a this point, we would have simply started to massively advertise our service to our target audience. But as you can imagine, that wasn’t the case.
With no big budget for marketing activities, we needed to find another (smarter) way to grow. So we started looking for solid sources of visibility: a platform or a website that could get us exposed to hundreds of thousands of targeted email subscribers and potential customers.
That’s when we found out about AppSumo.
What’s the deal? 🤝🏻
If you are not familiar with it, I’ll give you a little bit of context about it.
Appsumo is a daily deals website founded by one of the most brilliant entrepreneur out there, noah kagan. Previous to it, Noah had worked for several major companies (including Facebook) and co-founded Gambit, a very successful payments engine for social games.
Around March 2010, he decided to launch Appsumo with the idea of helping businesses to distribute their web applications at scale, while helping professionals succeed in their businesses at the same time.
Initially, it was just meant to be a side project to make 5000$ per month while travelling the world. He started by advertising deals on Reddit and ended up managing a 7 figure business after just year and a half in.
Today AppSumo has grown even more successful, and it has been well-received by many individuals, startups, and established businesses that have gravitated towards it to grow their state of affairs.
The deals offered on the platform are focused on the tech world and the startup community, and they range from software applications, to marketing tools, to learning courses to improve the workflow, productivity and outputs of developers, SMBs owners, marketers and anyone else in between.
The deals offered are extremely favorable for the users: they usually guarantee lifetime access to a product or service for a single purchase of $39 or $49, and they are emailed every month to the inbox of 750,000+ professionals.
This number is particularly juicy not only for the amount it represents, but also because — molded by the past business experiences — Noah and the Appsumo team put extra effort in growing the list by focusing on the relationship with the subscribers more than the transactions themselves.
As a matter of fact, besides being a deal website, Appsumo is also a vibrant community of people — called “sumo-lings” — who actively engage below each deal offered both on the platform and on a private Facebook group.
That kind of highly profiled audience is an enormous opportunity for quality — yet still underground — digital products to gain visibility and new customers.
Considering where we were at— a year ago — it was exactly the opportunity we were looking for.
So we jumped on the Appsumo train and we offered a lifetime access to the LeadsBridge Hero subscription plan for 49$/yr (almost a 90% less than the original price).
How did it go?
Let’s talk about numbers and explore the reasons why you want to be featured on Appsumo too.
Why Yes 💪
Let’s clear one thing out: if you are expecting extraordinary short-term revenues, just forget about it, because this is not what Appsumo is really meant for.
In fact, to fit in their sales formula and close a thousands of deals in a very short amount of time, your offer has to be outrageously advantageous. Considering that for digitally distributed goods the production costs are extremely low, that isn’t too big a deal. But considering that you’ll also need to share with Appsumo a good percentage of your sales, it’s quite obvious that the final net profit won’t be massive.
So what is the real deal? 🤔
From our experience, this kind of deal can generate from a bottom of 500 sales to a peak of 4–5k sales, depending on different variables.
That’s an insane number of new customer acquired in just two weeks.
Thousands of new customers mean hundreds of new feedbacks on the product, hundreds of new ideas to improve it and an overall boosted brand awareness through word-of-mouth in the community. If you consider also that the average customer retention rate of companies launching on Appsumo scores a solid 80–85%, that’s a true blessing for a business.
But that’s not even the best part of it, nor what you should focus on.
In fact, the real metric that makes the difference once your deal has expired, is the Customer Acquisition growth. The long tail of sales and visibility generated by the launch lasts for quite a long time before it eventually extinguishes. For us, it lasted for about 10 months and our Customer Acquisition growth rate per month increased by +165%.
That was the real deal.
That’s what really helped us taking our business to the next level.
The deal paid off in the long run, and we reaped its fruits through the insane traction it gave to our business.
Sounds amazing, right?
Shouldn’t then ANY startup in the tech world get on Appsumo as soon as possible??
Well.. Not that fast.
Before you do that, it’s important to consider the risk that comes with being featured on Appsumo.
The risk 🚩
The downside of this strategic decision, is to position your brand as “low cost”.
When you offer your product or service at such a dramatically discounted price, people can lose track of its real value.
The guys at Appsumo are super fair and open about this. Actually, they are the ones telling you not to compromise your entire business by deprecating your product too many times over a too-short period of time.
If you try to get the benefits of the Appsumo deal by launching it too often times, people will not pay anymore for it’s real market value, but they will rather wait for the next offer.
We had many people asking via chat if they could get our product at the price we sold it on Appsumo, because they thought it wasn’t worth its real market price.
If you want to position yourself as a premium product/service, for example, or your main target audience are enterprises, featuring your product on Appsumo could be a double-edged weapon and damage your brand image. But the same applies to all other kinds of product as well.
To avoid any possible risk, your offer has to be a “one-night stand”.
Once you have considered that, and you still want to get on Appsumo, this is how to prepare your launch.
Prepare to launch 🚀
The launch of a new deal on Appsumo is literally 🔥🔥🔥.
It usually generates a lot of buzz in the community and it drives a lot of traffic to your website:
You must be ready for it.
There are three major things to meticulously take care of before and after your offers goes live:
- The launch strategy ✔
One of the most important thing to do is to plan your launch strategy thoroughly. The Appsumo team was incredibly generous with us in that regard. Throughout the period of our collaboration, Olman J. and the rest of the team helped us to plan the launch date, the deal offer, the sales copywriting and every other aspect of it. Adjusting our strategy according to their insights, was key to the success of our deal.
- The customer support ✔
You must prepare your customer support for a couple of weeks of madness. If possible, it’s a good idea to dedicate more people to it while the deal is active. Prepare beforehand with your team members by rehearsing all of your product/service features and by trying to anticipate the doubts. If you manage to properly address the requests of the hundreds of visitors flooding your website after the deal launch, they will leave good reviews on the deal thread and you will generate approximately 8x more sales.
- The engagement ✔
The other key aspect to take care of, is to be present among the sumo-ling community by answering their questions, addressing criticism, giving updates about the features of your product and delivering — if possible — the integrations or improvements they desire. For example, during our launch many users asked us if we could also add Pipedrive and other integrations to our platform, and we did that “live” as they were asking. Showing this kind of attitude and promptness towards the users requests was absolutely crucial to generate more sales.
Now, if you do these three things right, you will do great and take home all the benefits I already mentioned above.
To sum it up, our experience with Appsumo has been extraordinary. 🙌
Within 14 days we doubled our customer base, more than doubled our monthly customer acquisition rate, improved our product and increased our annual revenues. As a consequence we managed to expand by hiring new people, from marketers, to developers , to customers heroes who allowed us to scale our business forward.
It’s safe to say that the Appsumo deal played a big part in bootstrapping LeadsBridge to 1M $ in 2017.
That’s why, if you are the founder of a startup with a great product or service to offer, but you need to substantially increase your customer base, I’d advise you to consider Appsumo to hack your growth. Just be smart, and don’t compromise your long-term strategy over short-term results.
To the next choice, and the next chapter of our adventure. ✌️