12 October 2020

Growth Strategy Report: What Can We Learn From Userlist And Its Customers?

I analyzed what customers said about Userlist uncovering a lot of growth opportunities in the process like:

  • How to increase reviews with a customer messaging solution.
  • Why ready-to-use templates are crucial for onboarding.
  • How customers use messaging solutions.
  • Why live chat might sink your productivity.

I also review their landing page to give you actionable advice to improve yours.

Userlist is a customer messaging solution for SaaS founders.

I dug through reviews and interviews to find out more about how their customers come to choose Userlist, and what growth opportunities we can learn from it.

I finish with a teardown of the landing page to see how well it answers the questions of its customers and what changes I would do.

Buyer's Journey

What are the use cases customers use customer messaging solutions for? Onboarding, feedback and review requests, view customer activity, product announcements, win-back campaigns

What were the pains that make customers look for new solutions? complexity, tough to make changes, time-consuming, too expensive, too generic, crudely designed.

What solutions were they using until that point? Development frameworks (e.g. Ruby on Rails) coupled with email platforms such as Amazon SES; Drip Ecommerce CRM; Intercom.

What solutions other than Userlist did they consider? ConvertKit, Intercom, Drift, Mailchimp, Drip Ecommerce CRM, Customer.io, Vero, UserGuiding.

What attracted them to Userlist? Ease of use and integration, well designed, ready-to-use templates, great support, focused on customer messaging, great API, affordable price, good documentation.

What did customers gained from using Userlist? Increased retention, improved productivity, more reviews and feedback.

Key Insights For Your Own Growth Strategy

Increase your 5-star reviews in 5 minutes

We're using it to send targeted messages for onboarding, getting important feedback, and to increase positive product reviews. In fact, we just doubled our five star reviews with a Userlist automation that took less than five minutes to set up.

— Ruben Gamez, Docsketch

One message and you can double them. Send an email or in-app message based on the behavior of a satisfied customer. It can be difficult to identify but the benefits are important!

More visibility on review sites will lead to more traffic, build up trust, and the feedback from those reviews will help to make the product better – even if it's 5-star reviews.

Templates are crucial for onboarding

Your product probably has many use cases. And your ideal customers might not be skilled enough to start something from scratch or don't have the time.

Templates for each use case help tremendously to make customers reach the "aha! moment" faster, the point where they understand the value of it.

Writing an onboarding email (and in-app message) sequence is a tough job. The content, the number of messages, the frequency.

Imagine solo founders, oftentimes with a background in tech, which you can see from the solutions they used before, start something like that from scratch. They will be lost!

Six months later, and I'm still using these initial templates.

— Daniel Nalesnik, Hack Chinese

Using templates is one of the best growth hacks.

Userlist even provides free guide on user onboarding based on all the knowledge they have accumulated by helping their customers.

Support, a competitive advantage

Support is something big players have a hard time as founders can't be on support duty anymore. They hire support teams and because they grow quickly, they have a hard time keeping with the quality.

Make your support outstanding for as long as you can. Your competitors will lose this advantage as they grow.

Live chat might sink your productivity

Intercom created a lot of high volume of low-value communication. It didn't get our customers to think through what they wanted to send us before sending it. And customers also expected quick results on problems that may not need immediate support. We saw more headaches with Intercom.

— Aaron Kassover, AgentMethods

If you can't handle live chat, don't use it.

Customers expect quick responses, whatever the time of day.

And chat isn't always the best way to communicate. Automate support as much as you can with great documentation and behavior-based messages.

Focus on 1 customer segment at a time

Work on your ideal customer profile.

Userlist focused on SaaS founders, knew how their design and copywriting skills were and found the right features to be a fit.

They even added a 9$/m plan because they knew their ideal customers would have endured the pain longer without it.

The rise of Micro-SaaS

Userlist is a prime example of the competitive advantage Micro-SaaS can be. Intercom has so many features and so many plans, it's a big headache to get started.

Focus is something many customers demand.

Miss use cases and you will be open to competition

There's a lot of use cases when it comes to customer messaging. So much that you can find competitors to Userlist for each use case: Userlane for onboarding, Refiner for reviews, Headway for product announcements.

Watch out for indirect competition!

Monitor the pricing of your competitors

Our bill with Intercom would double from month to month, and we would just be putting out more fires.

— Aaron Kassover, AgentMethods

Intercom starts at 39$/m and it doesn't include most customer messaging features. Even the 99$/m does not.

Be sure to monitor pricing changes from competitors as they could change their focus to new customer segments and create a gap for the other customers you can fill.

Userlist Landing Page Teardown

First the headline. It seems like a pretty generic headline. You got the product category, the target market, and that's it.

But based on my research, it's in fact a great headline!

Because the alternatives don't target SaaS (at least not specifically), that's how customers discover Userlist. "Perfect for Your SaaS" is on point!

Customers also want a simple solution that is focused on customer messaging. Here, there's no ambiguity.

The description starts by talking about the main use case customers have, onboarding.

Then, it goes on to get into more details: the types of messages available, and the outcome of what "behavior-based" means.

All good here!

After the hero, we get a screenshot of the application and how the messages look in emails and in-app.

It's perfect to highlight that it's well designed and easy-to-use. Exactly what customers demand.

And the example is for their main use case again, onboarding.

I see less and less secondary CTAs for a lead magnet on landing pages for B2B SaaS.

But if it makes sense, they are okay.

Here, it answers a demand of customers. They might not have the skills to use the product without help.

This lead magnet will help them and show the expertise of Userlist.

If it wasn't clear enough before, it's focused on SaaS!

Some criticism here.

User management isn't the best use case to display.

"View customer activity" is one of that popped up frequently during my research and it would have been better to explain this part of the application by talking about customer activity.

No problem with this use case here.

But I would have tried to show off another campaign than onboarding since it's already been shown.

A recurring pain from competitors was the complexity.

I would highlight how easy segmenting is in that section. It's not really obvious.

On the landing page, you want your potential customers to take action.

But if they feel like the onboarding is going to take a long time, they will hesitate.

This quote dissipates doubts.

It shows you can start using the product in a matter of hours.

3 of the most recurring demands that haven't been talked about yet or barely.

If you look at the list of demands in my research, we almost get a bingo now.

The pricing is missing from the landing page, but everything else is here.

The last section is more social proof and focuses on the fact that Userlist customers are founders, probably solo-founders, and bootstrapped if you know one of them already.

How I Would Improve The Landing Page

The landing page does a great job at answering any objections potential customers might have and show empathy with them by highlighting that Userlist is for SaaS and customers are mostly founders (as opposed to marketers or product managers if it was for bigger SaaS).

However, a bigger focus on the potential gains and how pain-free the product is would make the page even better.

Finally, listing the templates or giving a number of available templates would help even more to make sure the product matches all use cases.

It's in the documentation but we don't have a list, even an incomplete one, on the landing page.

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I write weekly marketing & growth playbooks. Get the processes I use with my clients to identify bottlenecks, deflate churn rates, and optimize conversion.