Update 4: Is it time to change our target customer?

By Steven Hylands on February 10, 2020

Welcome to our fourth progress update. Updates will now be shared every 2 weeks to allow more time for us to learn between posts.

Over the past fortnight, we’ve been trying to work out if we should continue to focus on Slack communities, or change direction and start to target teams using Slack for workplace communication.

To inform this decision, we tried to get Lowdown in front of as many community owners as we could and get speaking to them. Here’s what we tried:

  • Feature in an email newsletter of Community Managers
  • Content marketing
  • Facebook ads
  • Cold outreach
  • ProductHunt Launch

Let’s have a look at how each went.

Newsletter feature

On January 29th Lowdown was the featured tool in the CMX weekly newsletter. CMX connects, trains and advocates for community professionals world-wide. Their newsletter is sent to 10,000 people, so we were pretty excited in the potential for this to reach our audience. We even thought about scaling up our servers just in case of an influx of signups.

Well, this was a real lesson in keeping your expectations low. We didn’t acquire any new users. In fact, we barely got received any web traffic. It’s hard to quantify why too. Was our product not good enough? Are we communicating its value poorly? Is the CMX newsletter subscriber base unengaged? Perhaps it’s not the right audience at all? While we were disappointed, we moved on.

Newsletter feature

Content marketing

I’ve wanted to write an in-depth guide on how to set up a Slack community and landing page for a while. There’s actually quite a lot of things community owners should do that they don’t realise. Often I learnt this the hard way from running Impact Makers. For example, by default anyone can install an app to your Slack. name

This post felt like something of real value we could share. And as a byproduct perhaps it would bring in a few new users. The post has been well received but again we have yet to see any signups from this approach. The value of any content marketing is generally seen later as it appears in search engines. Time will tell how this one works out.

Content marketing

Facebook ads

Advertising is something we’re not massive fans of, but with our struggles to acquire users, it felt like the right time to try. In particular, it was an opportunity to test different imagery and text to learn what resonates most with our target user base of community owners and managers.

We set aside a budget of £100 and ran the test over 2 days. Here are the results:

  • 155 clicks
  • £0.645 cost per click
  • 0 sign ups

Not great here again. The global average cost per click rate is around half of that. Here’s our most popular advert.

Facebook ad

We did learn a little about what text was working, but there wasn’t enough data of real value to draw firm conclusions. I have had previous experience with creating successful Facebook ads, so at this point, I’m really starting to wonder if we are targetting the right users. If we are what is it that’s turning them off about Lowdown?

Cold outreach

Our initial users were all brought in from cold outreach via email and Slack. Cold outreach can be a bit of a slog, and the success rate from my experience is low. Still, after a while, you usually get a few worthwhile conversations going. From these conversations, we again did not gain any new users. However, we did learn more, specifically, on several points we’ve heard a few times now:

  1. I don’t have budget to invest in our Slack community
  2. I already have a newsletter and aren’t sure about sending another one
  3. I want to be able to customise the newsletter more
  4. I want to be able to import my existing mailing list
  5. I want to see proof that the newsletter improves engagement

Alongside these issues, two things have worried me from the start about targetting Slack communities:

  1. Are there enough of them to warrant a product?
  2. If there are, will they pay?

I believe some communities will pay, but most want to do things a particular way, and our early-stage product isn’t providing them with the flexibility or value they need to warrant paying. I’m less and less convinced there enough of them that will consider paying too. Many have no business interest in their community, and spending cash on it isn’t an option.

Product Hunt launch

To top off the fortnight, we decided to do one last push to try and get some new users in the door to learn from. The plan was to launch specifically for our communities use case. Honestly, I didn’t expect much since the audience of Product Hunt aren’t really community organisers.

Surprisingly it went great, and we finished 4th on Friday 9th February - check out our listing. From this, we’ve so far acquired 19 new users. Interestingly 13 of those are product companies or agencies. This may be because that is more in line with Product Hunt’s audience. Still, it’s interesting that they were willing to sign up despite the very community focused Product Hunt listing.

Product Hunt

The next 2 weeks

First of all, we want to speak to our new users and learn why they signed up. We also plan to park our focus on Slack communities and begin to explore how Lowdown can be used for workplace communication. We’ll be trying to speak to as many people who work in companies actively using Slack as possible. If that sounds like you let me know!

It’s a tricky decision to switch your target user, but it’s important to remember it doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. You can always go back if you need to. We feel what we’ve learnt over the past few weeks warrants exploring a change in direction.

We’re looking forward to seeing how Lowdown can help teams!


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Author

Steven Hylands

Steven is a co-founder and CEO here at Lowdown. He's obsessed with finding the signal amongst the noise of real-time chat.

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