This is the story of former PM Growth @Buffer, Maxime Berthelot and the founder of PixelMe, the company that has magically grown ever since it was found.
Pixel Me is a URL shortener for savvy marketers, and it works by embedding a retargeting pixel into a respective link that you shorten. This means that afterward, you can retarget the shortened link you people who clicked on your link using Google, LinkedIn Ads, Twitter, and even Facebook.
The story began way in the rice field of Ubud, Bali where Maxime Berthelot and Tom his friend were spending their vacation. Maxime suggests that Ubud is that kind of place where anyone who likes peace would want to have fun there. He describes Ubud as ‘kind of place on earth where time stands still.’’ Reason being, the Balinese people are extremely gracious, kind and nice and looks like it was the perfect place that played a huge role in the inception of the whole PixelMe idea.
Tom and Maxim really wanted to have a side project together and they more often than not tried to explore various ideas. Maxime confirms that “Tom again repeated his idea of embedding a retargeting pixel in a URL to be able to retarget everybody who clicks on a link”. He added that Tom really wanted to have the tool for his SM campaign acquisitions.
Maxime on the other hand, was not that sure about the idea because he wasn’t that used to retargeting and ads and he wasn’t really getting the idea of his friend Tom. However, because at the time, it was the 3rd time Tom had brought the idea to the table, he decided to make a deal with Tom.
So, it is after deciding to make the deal that they decided to create a landing page to see if they would find any sign-ups. And the deal was that they were to get at least 10 signups which would help them find a way to come up with an MVP.
The landing page was designed in a way that their visitors would think that they have a product they wanted to sell already. The page had a CTA button with a “Start your Free Trial” button and if you were among the people who clicked on it you would have thought that you were going to get or start using PixelMe if you clicked on the CTA.
The trick worked though because the main objective of the CTA was to collect emails from the targeted audience and explain to them that PixelMe was not ready which most of them left.
Once the landing page was ready, they now needed to get traffic to it.
Toma and Maxine used Facebook Ads Manager to send most of the traffic to their landing page, and from their word, it was an amazing tool to do that. They created several tag lines that they thought were ideal to catch the attention of their future users.
Traffic started flowing due to that and so they created a simple waiting list option to leverage their traffic. And again, they asked their visitors to invite their friends even when it sounded counterintuitive because, at the time, there was no tool yet. To the Pixel team though, all they wanted to see is a good signal for whatever they were thinking of having.
With the waiting list growing and growing, the team had to do something for them and so they offered them a tool called Prefinary which was free and easy to use as they were not near having their own MVP.
From their statistics of their $23.95 of Ads, they managed to reach 1267 people and they got 10 sign-ups. Within 2 weeks with their referral program, they were at 142 sign-ups. and that was it! The deal they had made about getting “10 sign-ups” had been closed and even though Maxine lost a bet on that, he had to build an MVP as soon as possible.
At this point is where Jeremie joins the team and now real work began. Jeremie, the engineer in the house, managed to develop what would have been done in 2 weeks in just 2 hours and from Tom’sm and Maxine’s experience in the design of the app, they managed to create a simple tool for their users.
After Tom and Maxime attracted their first subscribers, they failed to realize what they wanted to do with their project. All they wanted was to enjoy themselves, build a business with minimal effort and test their marketing strategies while they earn doing what they love.
Shortly after the duo had launched their sole landing page, they were contacted by Appsumo where they ran a 14-day contract for their community. Appsumo deals with the buying services for business to help them grow. They provide enterprises with tools and software at fair prices by leveraging the purchasing power of their uses. Each month, Appsumo promotes tools to their community for entrepreneurs and start-up business.
The PixelMe’s Appsumo deal results
Three days into the promotion, the duo decided to analyze the data using the spreadsheet as it enabled them to extract more interesting information as shown below:
Some of the information they realized using the spreadsheet was:
- They had made 4644 sales of their products during the 14 days.
- 110 refunds were requested.
- The 14-day promotion ended when they achieved sales of 4534 goods.
- The total sales achieved was worth $176,826
They simply achieved $176,826 in two weeks, and the most astonishing fact is that their venture was less than three months old.
PixelMe’s love transparency and unlike other business, the organization shares its data points and learnings. Their data points are learnings are:
- Their refund rate is as low as 2.37 %, and it is expected to rise when the refund period is almost expiring
- On the 14-day promotion, 2682 people redeemed their coupons
- The comparison of their website traffic and their sales are about a 40% conversion rate.
- The promotion helped PixelMe’s to gain 464 users who signed up for their regular plan. Out of the 464 users, 20 users converted their plan, and they became monthly subscribers.
Their venture being less than three months old, the metrics was unexpected but what was incredible was the response from Appsumo community.
PixelMe before Appsumo
Before Appsumo, PixelMe had 50 new signup users, and they ended the month of September with six monthly subscribers generating a monthly recurring revenue (MRR) of $205. The duo was happy with the share they got from the venture, and they kept ignoring the members of the community who made fun of them. The number of profits they made was enough to cover their monthly expenses, and they got their first users who were influential in their growth as they provided them with feedback on their ugly MVP.
During that period, Pixel used a live chat platform called Drift, and it helped in getting the feedback from their users. The platform enables the organization to chat with over 50 users in one-month, important feedback was collected which helped them grow as they used the feedback to refine their landing page and to prepare them for Appsumo promotion.
Launching on Appsumo
The first contact with Appsumo
Tom added their first landing page to beta list where they got some feedback from the adopters. The feedback from the adopters was positive despite them not having a product on their page, and that is how Jeff from Appsumo spotted their app.
There is a minimal room for negotiation on Appsumo as they sale lifetime access for your products for $39 or $49.
After Jeff informed Tom and Maxime that the deal would generate an average of 2000 sign-ups, they agreed on the deal. The deal was a great opportunity for them to get large sign-ups and get relevant feedback for their products helping them grow and get profits.
An agreement was reached on a $49 deal which was launched towards the end of September 2017. The landing page was updated with products, and the deal was twisted to $39. After the completion of the deal, the task was for them to build their product.
Preparation for the launch
Before the launch, Maxime and Tom had to embark on the previous feedback they had received on the previous deals. The feedback was essential in their launch; some of the information achieved from the feedback was:
- The website should be clean and describes the product’s value clearly.
- The product should use cases that are easy to understand so that consumers can get to know how the products can be used.
- There should be an FAQ page where all possible cases and helpful information can be stored.
Tom and Maxime went through iterations of their FAQ page; they decided to install Intercom. Intercom had a simple iteration, the live chat, drip campaign, and page design was vital for the FAQ page. Intercom has a 14-day trial period, and it was key for the duo to try and see how the iteration would be before they could pay for their services. After the end of the 14-day trial period, they decided to use Intercom, and they had to ditch the services of Drift which was a hard decision for them.
The launch of Appsumo
Jeff advised Tom and Maxime to prepare the first day which Appsumo could be launched. A day when they could receive a couple of emails which would reach more than 800,000 subscribers.
The launch of Appsumo was in the following process:
Day 1-6: Soft Launch: The deals were featured on the website, but it was only accessible to a few portions of traffic.
Day 7: 100% Coverage: They ensured that the soft launch was successful and the deal email was accessible to all the subscriber base.
Day 13: Final reminder: One day before the deal could expire, they sent a recap email collecting user number before the deal could expire on the 14th day.
The campaign was supposed to be launched on 2nd October, but due to unforeseen circumstances, Jeff pushed the launch date and the deal went live on 5th October at 7 pm CET.
The deal was done, and Appsumo PixelMe was live.
The launch date was an unforgettable experience for Tom and Maxime. The duo had just landed on Amsterdam airport when they started receiving plenty of messages and comments on their Appsumo page. Intercom also messaged them through their Facebook group. That particular night was one of their greatest experience; the duo slept late that night as they were replying bulk of messages.
After the launch is when their crazy days started, the duo received a couple of questions, and they quickly prepared some Textexpander (see this detailed review from SoftwareHow) which helped them improve their response time for the queries raised by their users.
The feedback given by the users helped the duo update their website, FAQ and the Appsumo page by the best way fitting the subscribers. The preparation and the improvements done on the website of their page was important during the first hours of their promotion. Intercom played a major role in the reduction of the direct questions asked on Appsumo page as the comments that came was positive feedback for their work done well.
After the end of first Friday after the launch, the Appsumo established four trends:
- Their plan limits were small
- There was a huge demand for an agency-specific deal.
- Users requested many ways in which Appsumo could expand their range of products.
- Skeptic users raised questions about their product roadmaps.
The 14-day deal was a success to Appsumo, and they responded positively to the feedback given, and they took action to make changes as per the queries raised. The duo made some of these changes:
- They published a transparent roadmap from which their users could vote for the feature they wanted most. The move helped in the creation of trust between Appsumo and the community.
- They picked the most requested features, and they quickly developed the features according to the wishes of the users.
- They updated their Appsumo page and the Appsumo Facebook group and informed their users that they had increased the number of pixels for every user.
- A second update was done on the weekend enabling the user’s stack coupons to access agency-only Appsumo deals. The update was done by the wishes of the users, and it was received well after the upgrade.
The changes made their users happy, and it was essential in building trust among them and Appsumo. The Appsumo and Pixel deal was the cause of success in the growth of the company as it aided in bringing in more subscribers.
With the updates made based on the feedbacks of the users, Appsumo received fewer messages, comments, and questions and it was easier providing support to their clients. The duo took turns in giving support to their users, Maxime could do his part early in the morning and later in the evening while Tom could do it the rest of the time.
On 11th October at around 11, Appsumo sent their first email to their community. It was 5 am in Europe Tom, and Maxime woke up at 4:45 am took coffee as they waited for their fate. The duo had taken a day off to ensure that they could support their users fully on that day. On that day, Appsumo made 1,000 sales and the day was very busy for the duo.
The emails were also received on 19th October even though they did not expect them on that day. The duo can make a conversation, and Tom worked by himself to handle the sales and request for support on that day.
After the Sales
At the 14-day deal, the duo responded to over 600 comments on the Appsumo page, and a couple of conversation on their Facebook group. The duo also had 963 conversations on Intercom.
Appsumo launch was a success as they never experienced bugs despite ramping up with several users during the 14-day trial period. The issue they had was the user experience (UX) which was handled by their engineer who won the award of being the best developer in the world.
Strategies Used by PixelMe
i) Incorporation of other tools to help in their campaign
PixelMe used other tools which were of big help for their business at the time. When the PixelMe team was going through the FAQ page of their website, they realized there was more to it that they could do than leave it alone.
Tom says that they had to get rid of an awesome tool known as Drift for Intercom, a decision which was not very easy to make. However, he confirms that they though Intercom was the best option at the time as it seemed quite simple in integrating it to the drip campaign and the page design of their new FAQ page.
In fact, Tom confirms that Intercom really played a huge role to help in decreasing the number of questions (direct question) on the Appsumo page and from the Intercom experience they got even better feedback.
Additionally, during their growth process, they incorporated TexExpander a tool recommended by one of Maxime’s friends Deb. Texpander is actually an app that really increased their response time to everything they got from the support.
Take Away Point: Whether you are doing so well with a certain tool in your current system or business, you need to figure out even a better tool(s) that can make your service or business way better even if it means ditching the current working one as long as it is for the better. As a matter of fact, we might not have tried Drift, but if you follow the story of Intercom, you will realize that it is as well ana amazing one.
ii) Referral Program
The PixelMe team really utilized this strategy, especially at the very start. In fact, they were asking first email subscribers on the email list to bring more friends yet they had not even created an MVP of their product. That fact, that they did not have an MVP did not stop them from trying the referral method, and surprisingly it worked. They got even more subscribers without having to give any reward to their users who referred their friends.
Take AwaynPoint: Do not be afraid to try any strategies as long as they are good for your campaign. They might not be effective at the time but they are of small impact and as we know it doesn’t matter how small the impact of any strategy as long as it doesnt cost you.
iii) Landing Page
During the launch of their campaign, Tom added their first-ever landing page of the campaign to betalist to target getting feedback from early adopters of their business. From his confirmation, the feedback was even more positive yet they had not even launched their product yet and that is exactly why Appsumo’s Jeff first spotted PixelMe.
Take Away Point: Landing pages are very important in most online businesses. Aside from increasing traffic directed to your website, they will get you to be noticed by most influencers, promoters or even tool owners who together, if you get a good deal, your business will grow quite fast, just like the Appsumo found PixelMe through the landing page.
iv) Appsumo Deal
As soon as they had contact, the PixelMe team did not hesitate rather jump unto Appsumo’s bandwagon. After negotiations(which are normal in any business) they had a deal and from this deal, it is easy to tell that it was one of the best deals for the two parties. 4644 sales in just a fortnight is not an easy thing t do especially out there or even online but Pixelme through the help of Appsumo they made it.
Take Away Point: Appsumo is one of the greatest tools you can have for your business especially if you are looking to get your product more popular and at the same time making more sales. There are various other tools to use depending what business you are not, but for most online startups you will not regret getting into a deal with Appsumo.
v) Transparent Road Map
This is another strategy used by Pixel me to and through [pubishing a Transparent road map, users could vot6e the feature on Pixelme that they needed most. Also, publishing the transport roadmap created trust between the PixelMeteam and Appsumo.
vi) Updates on Social Media first and secondly on Appsumo as well.
For every new updates or change, the team made sure that their followers were aware of what was going on. Through Facebook Pages and groups they made sure that their customers were aware of the increased Pixel, something t6hat was very crucial in their app.
Take Away Point: Social media marketing and advertising is one of the best ways to get your audience or customers updated. Whether it is through Twitter, Facebook and or any other prominent Social media pages, create pages and accounts that can help you reach your audience in numbers at large.
vii) Providing a quick and solution to the most requested product/feature(s)
The PixelMe team observed and realized that Bulk Import was one of the most requested features on their app and quickly, they did not hesitate to get it on board. Through their super fast engineer, they developed the feature ib just but a weekend and made sure that it was the solution to what their customers wanted.
Take Away Point: Be a solution provider to any needs that arise and it should be quick. Of course, managing to come up with the Bulk Import feature in just but a weekend really made their sales even leap higher.
- Appsumo made 4,644 sales, and it was a dream come true for them. They never expected to make such a huge number of sale during the short period.
- The best part of the trial was the exposure they gained from PixelMe as it increased their weekly sign ups from 13 to 130.
- The trial rewarded the duo for product management strategy as they provided their users with a good User experience as per their request.
- Those starting a product should consider using Appsumo as it helps their users gain more sales for their products.
General Take away points from Tom and Maxime
- Be available always for your customers as they are the key pillar in the growth of your business. Respond to their feedbacks and comment and also consider their suggestions. There will also be negative comments but don’t let them distract you
- Listen to the opinions that the community is giving you; the opinions can be essential in your growth provided it suits with your business well.
- Be active; the small actions you take is essential for the growth of your business. Tom and Maxime took the right action to upgrade their features, and it was vital for their growth.
- Be transparent; your customers are understanding and being honest with them and having open communication will help them understand some of your decisions.
- Have fun, the activity you are taking should not stress you as doing what you love will make you do it well and with passion.
Wrapping it Up
The people who think selling lifetime access to their app is a crazy idea should consider what Tom and Maxime experienced with their app. Appsumo is great seasoned negotiators, and they are credible users. The feedback Tom and Maxime got during the trial period would have taken them a longer period if Appsumo had not intervened. Appsumo is supportive and credible, and they were essential in the growth of PixelMe.