A Journey of Bootstrapping and ZERO outbound marketing: VisualWebsiteOptimizer hits 1500+ paying customers

NCR based A/B testing company, VisualWebsiteOptimizer has hit a milestone of 1500+ paying customers and interestingly, all these customers came from inbound marketing channel. Founder, Paras Chopra mentions that the company has done zero outbound marketing till date and doesn’t even attends events pertaining to the industry.vwo_1500

“Content marketing and blogging has been the biggest drivers of customers. We have two fold strategy: Contribute quality content to outlets like Smashing Magazine, SEOMoz, CopyBlogger, etc. and then have a weekly updated blog on split testing with real life customer case studies and general articles. We try to educate the market on A/B testing and conversion rate optimization and then introducing Visual Website Optimizer as a tool for that, rather than shameless selling Visual Website Optimizer right away. When your target market sees you producing good content, they realize that you know what you are talking about and slowly you become accepted in the community of which you were earlier an outsider as a new startup.

Recently, we are just trying to start out with guides, whitepapers and reports as a way to collect leads. Our recent campaign on Why Google Content Experiments might not fulfil your testing needs got us hundreds of qualified leads which we then followed up for sales.

Other techniques we try using (but not on as large scale as content marketing):

  • Retargeting on other website: we show a free 30 day trial ad to visitors who have already visited our site
  • Adwords: we are just experimenting with it but CPC in our industry is high so it is not as profitable as content ParasChopra
  • Facebook: we had tried in the past but again ROI was not at par with content.
  • Sponsoring industry specific blogs and outlets: we rarely do it.
  • Doing deals such as Appsumo or partnerships.

In terms of team strength, the Delhi based startup has 11 team members, out of which 9 are engineers (rest: one sales manager and one marketing manager). And importantly, the company is 100% bootstrapped and is not really looking for external funding right now.

“..even though we have been approached by lots of VCs and angels regularly, we are happily bootstrapped. For a small team, we are producing enough revenue to easily fuel our future plans. We are not against raising funding, but we believe that we are in a unique position of not needing external funding right now.”, shares Paras.

From our earlier interview with Paras [The Story of Visual Website Optimizer “Startups Are All About Markets”]:

You dabbled with few web2.0 ideas and got great press coverage. But it all failed. What was your major learning.

Major learning was this: startups are not technology problems, they are marketing and customer acquisition problem. Those web2.0 projects were all about ideas, but since then I have realized startups are all about markets.

Most of your marketing has been mostly inbound. What metrics have you kept for yourself?

Revenue. Ideally if your revenue has been increasing every month, I believe that’s the best indicator that you have been doing good. Conversion rate by different sources is another important metric that can provide actionable information. If you find that visitors from your guest posts are converting the best, it is time to put more thrust on it.

Working from India, cracking the US market is a huge pain. How do you plan to solve that.

Webex and Skype have solved a lot of things. If you are willing to work late (say 1-2 am), most of your customers in US won’t even notice that you are not even US based.

You have built a global product – share some thoughts on what product aspects you have taken care of while building VWO.

The most important point is having feedback loops built into the product. We try to seek feedback from user from at least 5 different touch points. If you sign up for VWO, you will get emails asking for feedback, we have buttons screaming for feedback inside application, even the support replies have signature that asks for feedback.

In my opinion, it is vital to keep learning how users have been finding the product and keep improving on it. That’s the key!

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Recommended Read: How to Choose Marketing Mix? [Hint: If you have more money than brains, go for outbound marketing]

Also see: “Validation cycle is too long in India” – Gaurav Sharma, Pinpuff founder on Building A Global Product from India