The Yottled Journey

What is this?

Will and I thought we would take the time to share what we’re doing from the business perspective.  What we’re learning each week, trying to do with our customers, and how we’re trying to make Yottled successful.  This might end up being a lot of nothing…but it also might turn into something…who knows!

Who is likely to read this?

We would expect anyone in the tech industry to benefit from this blog.  It’s a weekly update of what we’re trying.  This is our first post.

Some context before reading further

Will and I are two people that want others to succeed. Our goal is to enable others to make money…and we want to make money too. We work full time at Cisco and StockX and this is a side project we work on during PTO, at night, and on the weekends. We’re investing our own money and time to make this as delightful as possible. We don’t know if we’ll be able to “get funding”, turn this into something profitable, or…who knows what…but at the very least…maybe someone else can benefit from our learnings.

What has been done so far?

Back in the April-ish time frame, we started to see the impact COVID-19 was having on the world.  Major areas of the economy were being shut down.  I am familiar with technology but not everyone is and it became apparent that livelihoods were at stake if people could not work.

I got on the phone with a few family friends that were impacted.  These were people that traditionally relied on client-service businesses.  Tutors, trainers, musicians.  They were trying to figure out how to connect with people.  It was a hodgepodge of Zoom, odd billing, the inability to effectively maintain a schedule, and more than anything, look professional and get customers.  

After several interviews, peoples primary way to get clients was word of mouth, in person exchanges, and they always felt better represented in person.

Next, I did a Google Survey (recommended by a colleague) to continue to validate the problem space.  Over 60% of the respondents said they had some problem with going remote.  Now that I had confidence in a problem space, I wanted to figure out if there was a viable business to be made.  The Google survey cost around $300.

I hired a web designer and developer to make a professional looking landing page along with some webapp prototypes to continue testing and validating use cases with users.  The site was intentionally generic.  It targeted “any” client relationship business with the goal of enabling them to go remote.  The web designer and developer also helped me get a set of ads to use on Facebook.  I spent $1950 on the webapp design prototype, website designs, Facebook ad copy, and to have the site fully implemented in wordpress.  I have a degree in computer science and math, but not an eye for design.  I needed help making the site look professional.

Once the site was ready, I drove two weeks worth of traffic to the site.  My total cost per lead was $15.  My target customer in this case is “technically” a business but I viewed it more like a consumer since it’s a sole proprietorship that I’d be dealing with.  This was really hard to get a metric to weigh against.

Industry average cost per lead with social ads will vary across different platforms.  After the initial test of cost per lead at $15, we were significantly lower than any benchmark.  Looking at data for b2b cost per lead (again, we’re walking a line between b2b and b2c so finding a concrete cost per lead was hard), we felt reasonable in moving forward. The Integrated Marketing Association site shows that the low end for our industry should be around $39 cost per lead.  We were 61% better so it was now feeling like a big problem to solve.

I offered $10 Amazon gift cards for 30 minute interviews and had 5 people respond.  Everyone of the 5 were fitness professionals in varying capacities.  At this point, I had enough use cases and justification to support building the web application, specifically targeting fitness.  My buddy Mat Kellogg was a major push to conduct the interviews.

The build

I approached Will Guedes, major bad ass from Brazil to help me with this endeavor.  We re-engaged the web developer and designer to have the site redone and focus on fitness.  Major feedback from our interviews were:

Will got to work on creating a minimal viable product and we started asking for more interviews.  After two weeks, we had a working prototype and a new site targeted towards fitness.  Once again, we spun up another set of ads with facebook to test the viability of our new fitness target market.

At the same time, we started working with an attorney to help draft an operating agreement and create Yottled as a business.  There were tons of questions that we had to answer.  Our goal as a company is to facilitate an environment that we would want to work for.  Transparency, shared information, clear expectations, and we help people grow.

Will and I are laser focused on delighting end users with simple.  If users have any friction, they will abandon the flow during sign up.  Further, we know there are rough edges in the app.  We believe it’s critical to get functionality out, refine, and learn than push out big bangs.  We’ll go through the weeks from our launch along with what we’re tracking for success.

Launch week 6/14

Micro goal for the week:

The launch consisted of a personal page, up to 10 unique sessions, and talking to google calendar.  During the initial release, customers’ biggest piece of feedback was “I want to change my picture and upload my own images”.  We quickly prioritized that over anything else.

We also observed that the website above the fold text needed to be adjusted along with altering several of our ads.  Finally, we had cast a large net with our ads.  We re-factored the facebook audience to be more targeted to coaches, trainers, etc. as opposed to people that would be looking for a trainer.

Launch +1 – 6/21

Metrics:

Micro goal for the week:

We have identified one metric that matters for us.  It’s total sessions booked.  For now, we’d like to keep this number private.  At some point, we’ll reveal it but we’re still learning, stumbling, and failing…but know that we believe our main thing that matters is the number of sessions our coaches are able to book with their clients.  Everything else is just vanity metrics.

We had two ad campaigns going with facebook; one that targeted conversions and one that focused on driving page loads.  Few things to note:

We added a major feature which we had been getting questions about – setting availability in Yottled.  It’s much more of an expected item than a “look what you can do!”.  The usability still needs work but it should accomplish the goal.  We also sent out emails via mailchimp, twitter, and facebook.

Last, we ordered stainless water bottles for users that got their calendars setup, with a personal page, and sessions configured.  We’ve been asking if people want them and send them out for free.  It’s been a delightful way to get feedback about one or two features and understand if we’re on the right track.

Launch +2 6/28

Metrics:

Micro goals:

We had a major snag happen this week and our Facebook ad account was deactivated.  Our goal right now with advertising is to test our go to market and baseline our metrics.  Advertising for the sake of advertising is not excellent and it’s likely that people do it “because they think they need to”.  Right now, we’re gaining a lot of value from our initial users by understanding what they’re doing, where our scaling issues are, and what message is working.

While we worked with Facebook, we started engineering a few items.  The two biggest pieces of feedback so far from users are:

Will and I decided to prioritize integrated payment.  Paypal was a bear to work with.  They put up several barriers and we ultimately never got any answers.  Stripe however was a delight.  Will got to work and started working with a Stripe implementation.  Payments are challenging and we wanted to get this right.

At the same time, we started experimenting with a cost model.  Here’s what we came up with:

We need a cost model to prove we can be effective somewhere in this range.  We put a pricing page up on our site, still offering free early access, showing an annual cost of $19 and a monthly cost of $29.  Our goal is to see if people will still sign up and how many people actually view the pricing page.

Launch +3 – 7/5

Metrics:

Micro goals:

We’ve seen a slow increase in our cost per lead which is not ideal.  It could be due to many things.  COVID was more present in May, our original site touted getting paid, our first gtm had not been specific to fitness…several ideas and we’re still going to work to figure out the top of funnel.

This week, our facebook ad account went back on.  We also moved our knowledge base over to Zendesk due to outages with Helpcrunch.  Our goal is to delight our customers and could not have high latency or outages, even with our knowledge base.

We also had been resistant to send out emails to our customers but decided to start testing several items.  We first sent out a “top coaches” email.  It highlighted the top 5 coaches by the most page views.  That drove a lot of consequent traffic but we did not see any subsequent engagement by virtue of “I want to set up my page now!”  We also sent out an email of “how to coach remotely”.  There were several views on the free content we provided, including email samples and free workout template samples.  Finally, we sent out a ToS update in preparation for our integration with Stripe launch.  Not one person unsubscribed from our emails which was a surprise to both of us.  We’ve decided to email valuable content to our customers and risk unsubscribes.

We also saw an increase to our one metric that matters.  Our hypothesis is the majority of our coaches so far are new to the coaching space.  In other words, their primary objective is to get new customers.  It is taking them longer to establish their pages before they send it out, and then find customers.  There is a long tail before we see sessions booked.  We are trying to find ways to shorten that magic moment for new subscribers so they can see a session booked almost immediately.

Last, since putting up a pricing page, 4% of people have viewed it.  We do not believe the 4% of people have been a major driver in an increase in our raise in cost per lead but it’s something to consider.

Launch +4 – 7/12

Metrics:

Micro goals:

We expected this week to be a slam dunk.  On Sunday, Will pushed integrated payment out to the wild.  I contacted by text/email some of our most engaged users to excitedly tell them they could use Stripe.  We had a population of them set up the integration within a day or two.  In addition, we also created ads on Google and Facebook to help promote the new feature.  Finally, we published a blog on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to help drive traffic to our site and help with SEO.

We also updated the website, Zendesk, created videos…we were ready for business and ready to see people get paid immediately.  We were going to knock this out of the park.  Wrong.

Our users set up the integration which was incredible.  We also created several ads to funnel traffic to their individual pages for them.  We saw increased session time on our marketing site, people were landing on our users’ pages that had setup Stripe, things looked like they should be going well.

Unfortunately, our conversion campaign had increased to over $75 per lead.  After doing some “hallway” testing with trusted advisors, Will and I had wiffed with the term “integrated payment”.  People had misunderstood it to be “they were going to pay us”.  We stopped the ad and created new content for the website and updated the ad copy to say “get paid quickly”.  New ads went up on Thursday.

Now that we’re all caught up…our next goals are:

Questions?  Advice for us?  Should we be doing something different?  Email us at [email protected] and we’d love to hear from you!

Best,

Trevor and Will

Lead cost was corrected on July 27, 2020 due to a reporting error.