Software Licenses vs Software as a Service – A customer’s perspective

As creators of the WordPress service Nelio A/B testing we get again and again the question of why we chose a service model instead of developing a standalone plugin.

We have now (partially) answered this question on this blog post:

Five reasons why WordPress services are better than commercial plugins

where we try to explain the benefits of the SaaS model from the customer’s point of view (and with emphasis on the WordPress ecosystem though what we say is generally applicable to other platforms).

We hope this helps people hesitating to take the service option do the maths with a different perspective!

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Even negative tweets hide some valuable feedback

The best way to improve your business is by getting as much feedback as possible (alwasy keep in mind “Bad feedback is good. No feedback is bad“). And this includes getting feedback from non-customers if you are somehow able to learn why they decided not to buy your product.

Unfortunately, you can’t know who does not sign up for you service unless that person decides to say so. If s/he says it in private then great! you can start a conversation and maybe, even, change her mind (though your focus should be to learn as much as possible not trying to push your service, this won’t work).

The problem is when they say it in public as recently happened to us:

Does anyone have any recommendations on good A/B testing solutions for a WordPress site? I’m looking at wp-abtesting.com – not great.

The person that wrote this tweet is not one of our clients nor has he ever contacted us to discuss his opinion on our service. Our first reaction was obviously to get mad at him. Why should he tell to his several thousands followers that he does not like our service if he did not even try it?. But getting mad does not help so we reached out to see if he could learn more about the reasons behind his tweet.

He replied by saying

The pricing structure on your website is totally inconsistent. Makes it tough to trust the product! pic.twitter.com/xQjmvQGVij

At that point we realized he got confused because the webpage displays the price in $ but the payment page managed by FastSpring was showing the price in his local currency (Canadian dollars). So, he was wrong (the price WAS consistent) and because of his wrong perception now quite a few people may have the feeling that our serivce is “not great”. We can’t delete his tweet and he won’t do it either but at least we can use this conversation to learn that we should improve the way we display prices to avoid this problem in the future.

Negative tweets are not the best way to get feedback but make the best out of it and learn something useful for your business!

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My 20 emails rule for freelancers

EmailsOf the two services we offer (Migrating your site to WordPress and native A/B testing for WordPress sites), the first one is more a consultant-like service.

We did develop migration scripts to semi-automate the work but each migration is different so there is a “discovery and negotiation” period where we discuss with the clients about their exact needs, the complexity of the migration, proposing alternatives,….

In this phase, we obviously exchange quite a few emails with them. This exchange is for free, all the information we provide at this stage is aimed at understanding what the client wants and making sure s/he understand what she’ll get at the end and why this is the best way to proceed.

Some clients end up declining our offer, and that’s fine as well. We did some work for free but we hope they at least learnt something useful about their site and who knows we may be able to help them in the future.

What is terrible for the business is to get caught in an seemingly infinite exchange of emails that bring you nowhere. These clients do not even know what they want or have unrealistic expectations impossible to answer to, no matter how much time you put in it. The sooner you realize you should “fire” them, the better. And, after dealing with a few hundred of clients until now, my rule of thumb is the following:

In 20 emails a clear path to completion must be agreed upon, otherwise it won’t happen regardless the number of exchanged

After reaching this point, I always send them an email emphasizing the time invested (again, with no results, 20 is not the total number of emails to finish the work, is the number of emails I need to see if we have a chance to understand each other), summarizing the disucssion so far and clearly letting them know that it’s not a good idea, for neither of us, to continue the business relationship. Some become suddenly reasonable, others just get angry but I´m happier since we imposed this rule (and in the end, this is all it matters).

Sure, in your business, this number can be different but decide your limit and stick to it. It’s good for you, it’s good for your business.

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The essence of marketing in one image

marketing sales

Once again, it’s not about adding one more feature to your product and, in most cases, it’s not even a price issue, it’s “just” about presenting it in a way that makes people want it (but don’t forget that marketing doesn’t do miracles)

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Crazy ideas that work: Kinder egg surprise videos

kinder surprise videosI’m a firm believer that for the sucess of a business, the implementation of the business idea is much more important than the idea itself.

The problem with this belief is that then it’s easy to end up thinking that sucess just boils down to better CPA, margins, SEO,… than your competitors and that putting some time in finding original and creative ideas is not worth (or plain impossible).

Therefore, every time I see a crazy idea that makes some good money I take this as a humbling experience and a reminder that there’s life beyond building software for to-do lists or project management. Some time ago I talked about L’entrecôte – a restaurant with a single main course option but today’s one is even crazier: Make money with youtube videos showing how you open Kinder Surprise eggs!

I discovered these videos thanks to my two year-old daughter. Not sure how we ended up in the first one (probably jumping from a video about Disney characters) but my daughter immediately fell in love with them and, several weeks later, I still need to play them over and over (yes, you can feel sorry for me!). Not sure why but she specially likes the videos of the DisneyCollectorBR user. To my surprise this user has posted over 700 videos which overall have generated hundreds of milions of visits (just the most popular one has 45 milion views, remind you, for a video showing two hands opening a few surprise eggs!).

Sure, It’s Getting Harder to Make Money on YouTube but let me assure this young lady makes more money than myself “just” by opening surprise eggs. Keep this lady in mind next time you think everything has been invented already.

And of course, I couldn’t finihs this post without showing you one of her videos. Enjoy!

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Are you in it for the money? That’s fine, no need to hide it

treasurchestThere are two reasons why people start a company: to make money or to make a difference. This is mostly known as the Rich vs King decision (better explained in Rich vs. King in the Real World: Why I sold my company).

So far so good. Based on this, I should be able to find examples of both kinds of companies. Well, the problem is that I only find companies that want to change the world. Just yesterday, I was reading the announcement of feedly starting a pro package

Where is the money from feedly pro going to?
We are investing the funds into scaling up the feedly cloud infrastructure, developing new features and improving customer support.

No mention to “hey, we want to get some money for our huge efforts in making feedly a great tool”

Sure, feedly can be one of a “King-type” company but at this point I’ve seen so many “king-type” companies to be sure that there is an statistical anomaly here (and believe me, thanks to our new product we are becoming experts on this :-) ). I don’t believe everybody wants to make a difference, it’s just that everybody says it.

I’m sure all these companies believe this is a good marketing strategy (nobody wants to pay, so if we beg our “clients” for money let’s at least assure them the money is not to have a comfortable life but just to be able to cover the minimum expenses to provide them with a great service). To me this is just bullshit. If you’re in it for the money, that’s fine, there’s no need to hide it. In fact, I’d appreciate your honesty (and at least with me, honesty is the best marketing strategy). That you want to be rich doesn’t mean that you don’t want to take care of your customers or provide good service, just means that you want to be well-paid for your efforts (which, btw, in many cases are making your clients richer).

By now, I’m sure you already guessed what kind of companies/products I try to built :-) In fact, I’d like to be both Rich and King but since it’s almost impossible to be both at the same time I’m choosing the path that maximizes my options: first to be Rich to later become King (IMHO the opposite is much less probable).

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Made the front page of Hacker News but for the wrong reasons

hacker newsWe all dream our new software product / service to make the front page of Hacker News. Even if most of us are (or should be) aware that, most likely, the long term impact of this achievement will be quite limited , this is still some kind of milestone many of us aspire to.

Well, the (pre)launch of our new WordPress A/B testing service made it. So, you may think I’m ecstatic. Well, I’m not it turns out that “our success” was not because of the huge interest in our product but in the huge interest people had in reading about our disaster prelaunch: “Worst timing ever – Google flagged us as malware on our prelaunch announcement day”.

I guess I should not complain (in the end we managed to fix the problem soon enough and still the huge peak of traffic from Hacker News was a good compensation for the “failed” prelaunch) but I do hope next time I’m on hacker news is because we did something exciting and not because of something bad happening to us!

FYI: this is the “hacker news effect” in the number of visitors during the peak

hacker news impact on the site

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