Erica Douglass – How to Measurably Move the Needle With Your Software Company- MicroConf 2013

The MicroConf Hub Page with links to all the notes for all the talks can be found here.

Speaker: Erica Douglass (@ericabiz)

Watch the video (sorry, but I’m not allowed to embed it here)

Case Study #1 – Changing Your Pricing

  • Worked with WPEngine
  • before:
    • 3 packages at $49, $199 and “Call”
    • people don’t understand difference between “multiple sites hosted” and “WordPress-multisite”
    • convoluted design
    • “Enterprise-Class WordPress-Hosting for Serious Bloggers”
    • Main problem: “No blogger has just ONE website”
  • after:
    • changed all the copy on the pricing plan
    • 4 plans at $29, $99, $249 and “Call”
    • “The Fastest WordPress hosting”
    • changed the homepage as well – new copy: “Hassle-Free WordPress Hosting”
    • Get a toll-free phone number and display it prominantly

Case Study #2: Doing Things That Don’t Scale

  • Email your customers individually and manually
    • Don’t say “me”, say “you”
    • Show that you read stuff from your customer
    • name-dropping is social proof!
  • Guest posts don’t scale, but “Be Everywhere” really helps you launch your product
    • email 10 people / day for 3-5 months
    • follow up, if no response – good copy: “Did you receive my last email?”
    • 10 / day * 5 / week * 4 weeks / month * 3-5 months = 1,000 emails !

Case Study #3: I DId This. It Doesn’t Scale. Do It Anyway

  • Offer free consultation and integration for customers that have $100+ / month plans
  • Try to learn:
    • What words are they using?
    • What problems do they have?
    • How are they solving those problems right now?
  • Get a feel for the step-by-step process your customers use to get results
  • Try to manually improve their website / business – keep them more than happy
  • Use your learnings (which words do they use) in the copy of your homepage
  • 1-on-1’s are a great way to get incredible testimonials
  • Make your customers more than “happy-enough”
  • Being frugal does NOT help you grow your business
  • You are not your customer
    • Your customers are probably willing to accept higher prices
    • increase from $9 to $49, $499 and $999 / mo
    • doubled average revenue per customer ($40 –> $80)
    • next step: Get rid of $49 / mo plan
    • “What would make it worth $99/mo to them?”
  • WARNING: This may force you to re-evaluate your entire business
  • Went from selling “SEO software” to “Marketing Software”
    • White-label marketing software for agencies and hosting companies
    • Make your customers look good in the eyes of their customers


WhooshTraffic MarketVibe

  • no longer startup-y company, now selling to enterprise companies
  • VP of Coca-Cola: “Your name is WHAT? That’s effing dumb!”
    • “OK. We are going to change the name”
  • Million-dollar business Billion-dollar business
  • Be brave
    • Charge more & deliver the experience
    • Do what others can’t or won’t do
    • Do what doesn’t scale
    • your paying customers will heart you spending time with them
    • Best user-testing is with your current customers
    • Go bigger

Questions & Answers

  • How do you manage the culture change associated with “SEO software” to “Marketing Software”?
    Either we are going to shoot this business in the head, because it just doesn’t work for us. OR we make this into something MORE AWESOME.
  • Did you implement every feature that was suggested by customers or did you wait for multiple mentions?
    The main problems our customers had was reporting. So we added that. With features that were only mentioned once, we did it – if it took less than 2-3 days. Some customers then came back and said “That feature is great. We just didn’t think about it”

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About Christoph

Christoph lives in Munich, Germany and is bootstrapping his own SaaS application as a part-time entrepreneur.

He likes to write on this blog about anything of relevance to single-founder bootstrapped software startups.


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