From 1 to 767 paying users in 3 weeks with no marketing effort

This has been originally posted on Indie Hackers.

I launched Typebot in June 2020. Typebot is a Typeform alternative that makes you collect 4x more responses thanks to a beautiful conversational experience.

At that time, like many solo entrepreneurs, I was only working on improving the product and its features thinking that the current solution isn't great enough and that it wouldn't convince users to switch to a paid plan.

(It's funny because everyone is saying "don't fall into that trap", but still, I feel like everyone does because we tend to say "Oh, this rule doesn't apply to me" thinking that our situation is different, that the market is different or that the current context has changed. I figured this thought is dangerous, we should instead take a step back and think "How does it apply to me?".)

And in fact, I got lucky because, without marketing (only just a few LinkedIn and Facebook posts), Typebot got its first paying customer. It didn't help because I concluded that I just need to improve the product and people will come. But, that was not the case. After a Product Hunt launch that made it to the top 5, and 4 months of features development, Typebot still didn't have more than 30 active forms and only freemium users. So, like many product-enthusiast developers, I started to work on other projects and stopped working 100% on Typebot.

But this has changed thanks to a lifetime deal campaign 🤯

Lifetime deal

On the 25th of March, I received an email from Ragu who works at SaaS Mantra, a lifetime deal marketplace (like AppSumo) and he proposed to create a Typebot lifetime deal.

I always thought that a lifetime deal for a SaaS isn't a great idea because you could end up with big customers that cost a lot in server resources. But I had nothing to lose and I needed just this: more users to battle test the product and collect valuable feedback to finally know how I can better distribute Typebot and make it sustainable.

SaaS Mantra was very supportive, and they made me feel we were in this together. I joined their Slack and they actually worked on a deal page: I just had to record some presentation videos and the deal was live on the 28th of April.

Here are the results after 3 weeks:

🚀 767 sales ($23,605). We gradually increased the deal price from $25 to $39.

👋 900+ new users

🚪 2,4% refund rate

The results still look unreal to me and I'm grateful for this. SaaS Mantra is taking ~50% of the revenue but it is still worth it.

(Just a quick note on my server costs. Typebot is mostly based on Firebase, it still costs less than $1/month. I host the sites on Vercel for $20/month, I send my emails with Mailgun for $35/month. So it costs on average $56/month in server resources for now and I'm pretty happy with this!)

The launch sprint

During the campaign, I spent almost all of my time talking to new users. It helped to collect as many insights as possible and understand what were their use cases and problems to solve. From one day to another I had so much customer support to do, I couldn't work on new features for a week.

I also received lots of feature requests and I had to store the ideas somewhere, so I decided to make it publicly accessible with a roadmap on Trello:

And I knew I could decrease my customer support dedicated time by creating a community where users could talk to each other so I created a Facebook group:

I'm glad I created this community because it also creates a channel where I can post updates on what I currently work on and I also receive much love so it motivates me more to build a great product. The group is growing fast and has currently 330+ members 💪

Deal's over, what to do from there?

A week after the deal campaign, I started to have thoughts on how can I make the project sustainable. Because I could keep adding features full-time to make existing users happy but if I do this I will never make a living out of Typebot in the long term.

So I implemented an affiliate program because some users requested it:

But, of course, that is no magic. 32 users joined the program and there are still no leads. I will eventually try to join an affiliate network. Why not try to reach out to influencers? If you have any experience with this, I'm interested in your advice.

So I also decided to work half of my time on marketing. We'll see how it goes! Hopefully, I'll have to write an article titled "How I made $1M ARR with a 50/50 marketing strategy" in a year from now 😄.

Should you try a lifetime deal campaign for your business?

Lifetime deal (for a SaaS Product) works for you if:

  • You need early adopters who are still willing to pay a one-time fee for your product and who will help you build the foundation of your tool with their feedback. In exchange, you're rewarding them with premium access for life.
  • You have low server costs. If your product is based on large file storage, machine learning or, anything that is resource-intensive, you must not offer an "unlimited" lifetime deal because it could hurt you in the long term.
  • Your servers can handle traffic spikes (perfect if you're based on a serverless solution like Firebase, Vercel, AWS lambda).
  • Lifetime deal campaigns have also their downsides. I didn't know this before launching Typebot on SaaS Mantra but The LTD community is big and I feel like people are mostly interested in deals instead of the product/solution itself. So you could potentially end up with early adopters that don't fit your targeted customers. I feel like it didn't happen for Typebot because some people are telling me that they are a fan of the product and that they will share it with others. But that's something to keep in mind.

    Overall, a lifetime deal campaign is a great way of spreading the word about your product. And, the feeling of having so many users come from all around the world use your product and praise it in a such short period of time is amazing. ❤️