Archives for June 2018

June 26, 2018 - 35 comments

Dropbox grew 3900% with a simple referral program. Here’s how!

This is the 3rd addition to the "How the hell did they pull this" series- it’s not official, I just like to name things.

During the past few months we wrote about:

It’s already a cliche to try to convince you if referral programs work or not (of course they do) and why, so instead this article is solely focused on the how.

Numbers are important

Dropbox’s referral program is possibly one of the most famous cases of referral marketing done right.

Almost a decade later, it’s still used in numerous case studies showcasing how referral programs can contribute to a company’s growth engine- or even be the engine itself.

Let’s have a quick dive into Dropbox’s metric history:

  • September 2008: 100K registered users
  • December 2009: 4M registered users
  • September 2017: 10B evaluation + 1B revenue.

What happened between 2008 and 2010? Well, Dropbox managed to double its user base every 3 months, resulting in their users sending 2.8M invites in April 2010.

Dropbox Viral Loops referral

People, we’re talking about a 3900% growth in 15 months

OK, enough with numbers. Let’s get straight to the chase: how did they do it?

Obviously, it’s not all due to the referral program; they gathered a ton of feedback, they constantly improved their product and they kinda put a battle in order for VC’s to trust their money to them.

Since I’m not the best dude to talk about business development, I’ll have to put this aside and try to explain the factors that put this referral to the pantheon.

How the Dropbox's referral program functioned

The philosophy of Dropbox’s referral program was very plain. Since the product offered storage space in the cloud, they decided to reward people with more free space not only for referring their friends but also for accepting an invitation.

dropbox Referral Viral Loops

In order words, we’re talking about a 2-side referral program for a compelling product, that rewarded both sides for completing the desired task; registering for Dropbox.

We provide the easiest way to build a referral program inspired by Dropbox.

The details that made a champion

It was part of the onboarding process

Onboarding users can be such a pain. When people go on to start using a software or service, they expect they’ll have to fill out some details.

I don’t know about you, but when the onboarding process of a product I’m dying to use is easy, a smile carves my face.

Dropbox knew this and not only made the whole onboarding a six-step piece of cake, but they integrated their referral program in it as a final step

Just like saying ‘thank you’ by offering more of the product.

People had a clear view of the benefits

According to Dropbox's founder/CEO Drew Houston, Dropbox's referral program got inspired by Paypal refer-a-friend program.

Paypal rewarded referrals with cash (as this is what their business was about), so Dropbox had to use their product's main value in their rewarding system.

When someone decides to use a product, they exactly know what they want from it (whether they get what they expected or not is another story). In Dropbox’s case, people wanted cloud storage; the more, the better.

dropbox-viral-loops-referral-marketing

I get constantly asked what is one of the top 5 skills in marketing. I’ll be damned if copywriting is not one of them. Because context beats content.

That’s why instead of ‘Invite your friends’, Dropbox framed the referral as ‘Get more space’.

The ridiculously easy invitation process

After the user got hooked with ‘getting more space’, the next step was to make it as easy as possible to get it. It was clear that they had to bring their friends on board.

They could do so via social media sharing or by just sending their unique referral link in whatever way they wanted (messenger apps, email, SMS, handwritten cards, etc.)

viral-loops-dropbox-referral

But here lies one of the best invitation hacks I’ve ever witnessed. Email is powerful, but sending your invitations to your contacts one by one, Dropbox offered the option to sync your contacts from Gmail, AOL, Yahoo!, etc.

Victory!

People knew their referral status

If you’re planning to create a referral program, listen to me; and listen to me good. You want to push users to make enough referrals in order to attain a prize goal.

How do you do it?

The easiest way is to make it visible to them how close they are to attaining this goal. I see this in a lot of referral campaigns; I complete the steps, invite my friends and then...Nothing!

viral-loops-dropbox-referral-

No notifications or no email, informing how many of my friends actually successfully registered from my referral link. This is a huge mistake, people!

Dropbox included a panel that was accessible anytime by users, so they can see how the invites performed.

A Viral Loop on steroids

I became a member of Dropbox from a referral (what a surprise, huh?). I received an email from a friend, signed up, and then I received another email informing me that I was given 500mb for accepting my friend’s invitation.

“Sweet”, I thought. In the very same email, there was a P.S.; ‘To get even more space, invite your friends or upgrade your Dropbox’, with 2 links placed respectively.

Dropbox grabbed the opportunity in my WOW moment and offered me additional value by prompting me to get more without paying a dime. Their referral’s goal was to attain a bigger audience reach, not a boost in their revenue.

It was a chance to open their funnel in a very cost-effective way by just showcasing their will to offer more for less.

TL;DR

Let’s recap all the important info from the Dropbox story. First, they managed to attain 3900% user growth in 15 months. They did so, by constantly improving the product, coming head to head with VCs, and by building a legendary referral program

The referral program had 2-side rewards and was an overall success because:

  1. Offered an extended version of the same product.
  2. It was part of the onboarding process.
  3. People had a clear view of the benefits.
  4. It made it ridiculously easy for people to invite their friends.
  5. People knew their referral status at any given time.
  6. They managed to build a Viral Loop.

There you have it! Now, I’m going to step back and think what the next addition to the ‘How the hell did they pull this’ series (the name remains totally fictional, but I’ll fight for it).

viral-loops-dropbox-referral

In case you’re interested to build a Dropbox-style referral program, we have your back! Save yourself some time.

Cheers 🙂

Note: Puggy recently started spreading her knowledge on Referral Marketing, so 👉 Push the "Send to Messenger" button below to grab her exclusive content 🐶

June 19, 2018 - No Comments!

From Visitor to Ambassador: The art of referral marketing

A few months ago we decided to give a try to Messenger chatbots. The plan was to craft an exclusive playbook for our subscribers and publish one chapter each week.

We named it “From Visitor to Ambassador: The art of Referral Marketing

It’s a playbook that includes all the means one can use to turn their website visitors into brand ambassadors for their product or service.

The topics we cover are:

💪 What an Ambassador Referral Campaign is and how it works.

You might have heard how Harry’s gathered 100,000 emails in one week before they launched. They used an ambassador referral campaign to achieve it and we show exactly how you can do it as well.

🎯 How to turn your Visitors into Ambassadors

This is the value proposition of the playbook. You will get a deep understanding of what it takes to succeed, and how to remove all the obstacles in the way.

⚙️ Building Viral Landing Pages

Landing pages are all about conversion rates, and we have the best recipe to create pages that convert like crazy; exactly the stuff you need for your ambassador referral campaign.

🏆 Choosing the best rewards for your ambassadors.

It’s another thing to bribe people to talk about you, and a totally different thing to reward them for doing so. Inside the playbook, we are talking about how you can avoid falling into the trap of bribing people, and how you can choose rewards that express your real gratitude.

🔥 Boosting your campaign’s performance.

Just launching an ambassador referral campaign/ program doesn’t mean that there’s an autopilot. You might need to iterate in order to achieve pure greatness.

We see ourselves as iteration maniacs, and after reading this playbook you’ll become one too.

💡 Technical growth hacks that can save the day.

We give you some clever ways to use apps out there in order to blow people's minds away. These are testing and proven to work, so we explain how to do it yourself in minutes.

Our Messenger bot worked pretty well and managed to gather a few thousands of subscribers very quickly. But this is not the reason I’m writing these lines.

As we started adding chapter after chapter, we soon realized that the content we created deserves something better than just existing in a document on the cloud.

So, we decided to make it an actual book.

The playbook is live on Product Hunt, and we used its “Upcoming” feature to gather as many people as possible, prior to the actual launch.

We also used the growth hack that Josh Fechter shared a few days ago: we uploaded a portion of our email list on the “Upcoming” for social proof—as we got more than 16,000 people are in the campaign 🙃

R U ready to Turn Visitors To Ambassadors?

We're really proud of the outcome. We could sell it, instead of giving it for free.

Download your free copy now! 

We 💗 you!

June 5, 2018 - 4 comments

Virality and the 4 Steps To Design It In Your Product

One of the most promising acquisition channels startups explore - or at least should explore - is virality.

But what does virality mean?

Virality: vʌɪˈralɪti/

noun
the tendency of an image, video, or piece of information to be circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another; the quality or fact of being viral.

Due to the explosion of digital marketing, marketers around the globe started using a new technique that allowed them to implement virality to products or services. Viral Marketing got born.

Viral marketing is scalable. Even if you’re an early stage company, it can help you get high-quality customers with low acquisition costs.

The difficult part you need to figure out, however, is how you can make your customers become your marketers. How one user brings others in.

A lot of people believe that virality happens either by luck or magic. Others think that all you need is a crazy video.

But this is not the case. PPAP (Pen Pineapple Apple Pen) is not what you’re looking for, and won’t get your business too far.

Viral marketing should be the heart of your product.

Virality is a business design problem, not a marketing or engineering effort . — Andrew Chen

Virality Vs. Word Of Mouth

First things first. Virality is not Word Of Mouth. They are closely related and one reinforces the other. But they’re not the same.

Word Of Mouth (WoM) happens when people love so much a product that they can’t stop talking about it. 

There are several ways of making people talk about your business. From offering them a great product and experience to giving them awesome support or asking them to pay $100 for a cheesesteak.

A few weeks ago, Typeform faced a minor issue and two of our forms, including Build Viral Loops in Public did not gather two submissions. We didn’t realize it before they told us so. And they went beyond that. They refunded our subscription for the last month. Wow! ✌️

When they notified us about it (I didn’t even expect that), they also included the exact reason of the issue as stated by their CTO.

Email from Typeform

At that moment, I realized that these guys are truly honest. And their customer support is great.

I immediately forwarded this email to my colleagues mentioning how cool that was and that we should do the same in any similar situation. — online WoM

I keep mentioning this incident in workshops and seminars. — offline WoM

 I also write about it right now, too. — online WoM

Their immediate action of letting us know about the issue without even noticing it, as well as their transparency, made us love Typeform even more. Not just because it is a great product, but also because their team treated us so special.

Typeform, we ❤ you guys! 🤗

Virality, on the other hand, happens when people spread the word about a product or service in the context of using it. 

When I invite someone to talk over Skype, it doesn’t mean I love it. But if I don’t have someone on Skype, I won’t be able to use it at all.

When virality is inherent to a product, the existing users gain value out of taking an action which, in turn, exposes the underlying platform to new users.

So, how can you design your product for viral growth?

Let me show you how we designed and engineered it into our own product.

Understanding what type of viral marketing fits to our product

Viral Loops is an all-in-one viral and referral marketing platform helping startups, professional bloggers and eCommerce stores acquire more customers and increase their revenues through referral programs, giveaways, sweepstakes and prelaunch campaigns.

The first thing we did was to understand the type of virality that could help our product grow while taking into account that we’re a B2B SaaS platform and not Snapchat.

I really like the way Philip La puts it. He categorizes product virality in two main types:

Pull Product Virality (PPV): Product virality where existing users require people in their network to join to gain value out of a feature.

Think of Dropbox, Slack and Facebook. You need to have your friends or colleagues in there, else you just can’t use it.

Distribution Product Virality (DPV): Product virality where existing users spread awareness of a product to their network.

Instagram has leveraged DPV extremely well. The time people post their photos on Instagram, they also share them on Facebook because of social currency.

Josh Elman also explains the different types of virality in one of his latest articles, at Greylock Perspectives.

In our case, we chose to start with DPV, as a marketer or blogger can use our platform without needing to have others in the same network.

How to design your product for viral growth

From the very first time, we knew that virality would be one of our main traction channels. Not only because it is a great channel, but also because if we can’t make it work for our own company, how will our customers?

Our design process was based on the four questions Sangeet Paul Choudarymentions in his book “Platform Scale: How an emerging business model helps startups build large empires with minimum investment.

1. Why will the sender send units out of the platform?

This is about finding the right sender incentives.

Our customers use our product to run their campaigns. So, inevitably they want to spread the word about their campaigns as much as they can. This way, they also spread the word about us.

This behavior is similar to when someone creates a Kickstarter campaign. When (s)he promotes his campaign, (s)he also promotes Kickstarter because this is the platform the campaign runs on.

Developer Economics’ Campaign

2. What is the minimum transferable unit on the platform that can move on an external network?

At this point, we needed to come up with our spreadable unit.

We took advantage of the classic marketing tactic “Powered by.” This is used by a lot of platforms out there, including Intercom, Eventbrite, and many others.

Waiting List of Ellp’s Campaign

Our spreadable units are our widgets and emails. We chose the “with ❤ by Viral Loops.” So, we use this badge everywhere. This brings more eyeballs to Viral Loops.

It also made us change our roadmap and come up with more widgets that will help our customers acquire more participants for their campaigns while increasing the virality of our product.

For example, we built a public embeddable leaderboard so our customers can put it on their main website in order to show off their advocates and engage them more.

3. Where will the unit of the platform meet non-users?

And now our external network.

Our customers share their campaign through several distribution channels they use for their marketing activities. So, by sharing the campaign, they share Viral Loops, too.

Viral Loops’ Referral Dashboard

On top of that, the participants of the campaigns (the customers of our customers) invite their friends through the sharing options we offer, including Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Email, and others.

4. Why will a non-user on an external network convert to a user on the platform?

For the last question, we needed to think of the recipient incentives.

This was a bit tricky for us, as we cannot control who participates in the campaigns of our customers. So, we decided to focus on two things that can affect it:

  • Build features so our customers can acquire more users and run very successful campaigns.
  • Provide a stellar experience for the participants of the campaign through our widgets and the whole campaign setup.

This way if one of our target customers participates in a campaign of our users (e.g. a marketer or startup founder) and the experience is unique, then he will be curious to see how this campaign is built. And then, our tiny “ with ❤ by Viral Loops” will lead him to us!

If you believe viral marketing could work for your business, this is the easiest way to design your viral loops and start experimenting. As with every marketing campaign, there are 5 must-watch metrics for your Viral Marketing Campaign:

  1. The Viral Coefficient (K-Factor).
  2. The Participant Conversion Rate.
  3. The Participant Share Rate.
  4. The Invitation Click Through Rate.
  5. The Invitation Conversion Rate.

Have you followed another process? I’d love to hear about it. 😊

Note: Puggy recently started spreading her knowledge on Referral Marketing, so 👉 Push the "Send to Messenger" button below to grab her exclusive content 🐶