SaaS case study

This is a Case Study of how we helped grow AppInstitute from Startup to Scaleup with Design, Development and Growth support.

In early 2016 AppInstitute, a UK SaaS startup offering a 'do it yourself' app-building platform aimed at small businesses, was spending north of £70,000 per month on Google Adwords and other CPC channels.

CAC was just above £400, on a £800 customer LTV, with a 14 month pay back. Growth was starting to be hampered by cashflow and a wildly growing burn-rate.

We started off with a deep dive analysis, warts and all, into every available metric the business had. We produced a detailed strategy guide to implement a growth framework, focused around building out marketing channels, as well as specific tactics to be used.

Within 12 months organic traffic grew 375%, that's free traffic, totally eclipsing paid traffic, and growing MRR 100%+

Below we're going to share with you our blueprint for any SaaS business to use to grow their online presence and ultimately increase revenue.

The first area of focus was to improve the onboarding journey for new customers, primarily around the sales site and onboarding funnel.

The sales website was an area where we saw opportunities of getting the most quick wins with. The homepage of the sales site gets the most traffic across the whole site by a large margin, with a sizeable amount coming from paid, but also a few thousand entrances from organic search. As this is the case, we wanted this page to be optimised as tightly as possible to ensure that more conversions take place.

We initially created a rough wireframe so that you could visualise exactly how we envisaged the page working - the wireframe has been designed based on our experience of what we found to work well within other SaaS projects, as a result of a variety of large scale conversion optimisation campaigns.

Wireframe for new site layout

New sales site homepage

Old sales site homepage

The existing design was using parallax designs, which whilst can be a nice effect when scrolling the site, it meant there was a lot of space above-the-fold that's not being used effectively. This was the first thing that most visitors see and should do a good job of helping them understand the core value that AppInstitute brings to them.

  1. The copy needed to be revised within the main header to get across why someone would use the platform. Just the current "Create your own App" wasn't that strong. So we tested some initial ideas:
    • a. "The Simplest Way to Create Your Own App"
    • b. "Build an App in Less Than X Minutes"
    • c. "The Easiest Way to Build an App for Your Business"
    • d. "The Quickest Way to Build Your Own App"
  2. Similarly to the main header tagline, the subheading "Small Business Apps | iOS & Android | No Coding required" could be a lot better. The layout of this subheader would probably work better as a short-stacked list, highlighting some of the most important value propositions. This could highlight some of the following (could be worth running some research with existing customers to find the most important things to them):
    • a. Drag and drop
    • b. Building in X minutes
    • c. Code-free
    • d. iOS & Android support
    • e. Templates for different business types
    • f. Complete customisation
    • g. Affordability
  3. I'd actually remove the form that's currently there and move to buttons that take people through to either the app builder or assisted build form. The two buttons could be as follows:
    • a. "Build a Free App"
    • b. "Hire Us to Build Your App"
  4. The current header image isn't telling me anything, and it looks a bit dated because of the fact that it's a stock image. This is one of the most important parts of the page, if not the entire website, so we want to instantly hit the visitor with what they can expect from the platform. I'd recommend moving to a texture/abstract background and then including an image within the header section that shows either a finished app or the admin area of the platform.
  5. There needs to be more social proof higher up on the page. One of the things that had a big impact for BuildFire was when we added the "featured in" logos of the publications we'd gained mentions. Directly below the fold you should have some logos of customers (biggest and most recognisable) and/or publications that you've been mentioned in. This will do a huge amount towards building trust with the user.
  6. One of the huge benefits that needs to be pushed heavily within the page copy is the speed factor. Potential customers are much more likely to go through and try out the platform if they know that they can build an app in X minutes - this will increase the likelihood that they'll convert on their first visit. From my experience (and I'm sure you're seeing this too), most users that don't convert on their first visit to an app builder are highly unlikely to return.
  7. Illustrate the process of actually building an app with AppInstitute in a few basic steps. Right now, a visitor to the page can't actually see what the platform looks like and what they can expect from it. This will leave them with a number of unanswered questions and more importantly, a reason to leave. The first thing you see on Shoutem, BuildFire, Como and Goodbarber is platform/app shots with the broken down process of how it works.
  8. Completely get rid of the "How to Make an App for Android/iPad" slider section. This seems like it's just been plonked into the page and doesn't really solve anything for the visitor - if anything, it's probably going to confuse visitors even more because it gives mixed signals as to whether they can actually build an app on the AppInstitute platform or not.
  9. A section that should definitely be added in is a showcase of templates across different sections. This could be taken from the onboarding section that a new customer sees when they're making their new app. This will do wonders for helping people decide whether it's right for them. ShoutEm do a great job of this.
  10. There should be more testimonials from customers higher in the page as well. The more trust we're building on this page, the better.
  11. The "Try it Out" CTA in the navigation could be stronger. I'd suggest, "Build a Free App".
  12. Remove pricing from this page. Forcing people to go through to the pricing page will be a better option as it will help qualify visitors with high purchase intent and enable you to do more with the pricing page to encourage them to convert. Also, it will let you push the 'free' aspect as an entry point first. We should A/B test the results of this.

We A/B tested the new sales site layout to the old using Optimizely

increase in sign-ups

Having improved the number of sign-ups, the focus switched to the actual product, improving the onboarding journey.

Much of the improvements around the product revolved around changing customer communications to be triggered around leadscoring mechanisms and red flag metrics.

Implementing Intercom allowed more efficient creation of onboarding funnels, but also moved the trigger creation away from the engineering team and to the internal marketing team, allowing for much more freedom and speed to the optimisation process.

Another process improvement was to implement Segement, this allowed the engineering resources time to be greatly freed up from ongoing integration tasks into the SaaS product. For example we where able to implement further tools such as Elevio (for support and knowledgebase management) and Optimizely (for A/B testing) without any engineering resource.

Second we implemented a full analytics stack, to allow full data driven decision making and itrative optimisation and growth experiments.

Implement further data driven processes

For long term growth we implemented a Content Marketing strategy.

PR Hacking & Content Marketing
increase in backlinks

Short term growth wins, by leveraging other peoples networks, including two Product Hunt Launches

Helped secure +£3m in VC/Angel funding and government aid support