As we head into December 2013 I put together a summary of the last 11 months for the Vero team.
I wanted to share it with you too.
Before I get into the details I want to say a huge thank you from all of us at Vero. We’ve had an awesome year working with some amazing customers. Everyone’s feedback and contributions have been unbelievable and it’s phenomenal to hear the success stories coming from those using Vero.
Thank you to everyone who has stuck with us, helped us improve and used Vero to make a dent in their marketing. We’re excited for what the next year holds. At Vero we’re going through a period of high growth and are looking forward to the many exciting updates we plan to roll out over the next 12 months!
The following summary is broken down into four parts: product, growth, support and the future. Since the start of the year we’ve already grown over 1300%. This should be no surprise for a young internet company. In fact, we think we should be growing faster! It’s been a year we can be proud of (and we’re not done yet). Here’s what we’ve achieved, what we could have done better and what we’re planning for 2014 and beyond.
The first email ever sent using Vero went out on 1 June 2012. It was, of course, a test email on our own account but a momentous day none-the-less.
Validating quickly, we got our first paying customers in August 2012, nearly all of whom are still with us (you guys know who you are and you are awesome!)
Just 15 months later we find ourselves, finally, with a robust product. Watching Dan from Optimizely speak recently at YC we nodded our heads as he talked about the first 12 months being a journey to product/market fit. This was completely the case for Vero and we only truly feel we’ve cracked the nut in the last few months.
In September and October we ran two little surveys that gave us some great feedback. Firstly, we asked customers how likely they were to share or recommend Vero to a friend. This is regularly termed Net Promoter Score (NPS) and we used Qualaroo to make life easy.
The average score was 8 out of 10, with nearly 80% of respondents giving a score of 7 or higher and nearly 45% of customers scoring 9-10. We know we can get this number higher but it’s an excellent place to be at right now and we’re grateful. We hope that by Q1 2014 60%+ will give a score of 9-10. We’re working hard to make this happen!
We also sent out our Customer Happiness Survey Q4 2013 which was much more robust and asked all sorts of juicy questions. Most importantly, from a product perspective, were the questions “How would you feel if you could no longer use Vero?” and “How could we improve Vero to better meet your needs?”.
Nearly 60% of customers said they’d be very disappointed if Vero ceased to exist, and all of you said you’d be somewhat disappointed at the very least. Combined with the responses we received for the second question it is clear that the product has the core functionality locked down and is helping you achieve results. The focus now is refining the features we’ve got in order to make your life 10 times easier. By Q1 2014 we hope that the response to that first question will be nearly 80%.
No mean feat, but we’ve been focusing a lot on product internally since the end of October and we’re slowly making headway. There is so much to do and we’re loving every minute of it.
Here’s a chart of our growth over the year (revenue):
I know, I know – where’s the Y axis 😉
Our fastest growth month-on-month this year was 40%. We consistently aim to grow 30% month-on-month and although we think this will slow a little as we get larger we believe we’ll be able to keep growth at 20% or above (month-on-month).
It’s fair to say content has been a great marketing strategy for us. 80% of customers read at least one blog article before signing up to Vero and our blog has helped us build a mini-brand. Our goal with every post is to try and uncover something interesting or share some cold, hard data you can put into effect straight away. Data-driven marketing is the only kind of marketing and the Vero blog is doing well carving a niche for itself.
Having said that, we know we can make the blog a lot better and we’re working to do two things over the next few months:
- Experiment with posts outside the realm of email marketing (like our post on partnership hacks and even this one), and
- Work with some guest writers, all going well.
We are excited about what we’ve achieved and are keen to achieve 10 times as much in 2014.
Support is huge for us.
We’ve always wanted to live up to the reputation of great companies like Buffer and Mailgun that set the bar when it comes to email support response times: sub-1 hour is the rule of thumb. This has been a big challenge, though a very rewarding one.
We share support across the team. This takes time but it is extremely valuable as we don’t lose sight of what is important and everyone, especially me, gets a chance to interact with you. We’ve been experimenting with all sorts of ways to share the support load better and maintain quality responses and we’re getting there – your input is always welcome.
Despite our goal to keep response times super short they have suffered over the last two months as we’ve been hard at work with scaling issues, the product and working better as a team.
Our plan is to find someone to come on board as a customer success manager early in 2014, preferably in the EST timezone so we can have virtually global coverage, and work with me to lift the support bar to ridiculous new heights. With this in place we’ll be able to get our response times back under the 1-2 hour threshold.
The Year Ahead
2014 is looking to be an exciting year. Now that we’ve built a product that has the features you want, keeps you sending emails and is reliable, it’s time to smooth out all of the remaining jitters and bugs and, as a team, transition to growth mode.
This is a natural progression and means we can finally put in place so many of the great things we’ve wanted to since day one to make Vero a truly great and useful product.
In January we’re bringing on a system administrator to help us improve our infrastructure every day. We’ve made some great improvements recently leveraging ElasticSearch, Redis and better sharding of our application but there is so much more we can do to make Vero snappy. We’re looking forward to this addition to the team.
We’re also hiring for three more roles over the coming 3-5 months. If you know someone who you think is suitable, let them know and send them to that page!
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the past year, what we could have done better and what you’ve seen that has made you insanely happy working with us. If you ever feel like your voice isn’t being heard make sure you email me personally.
Once again, thank you to everyone who has been a part of the journey so far!