Little experiments like this, to simply increase the number of people who receive an invite and sign up, add up over time. Airbnb also identified “product levers” to see a cause-and-effect relationship play out.
Here are three that Jason highlighted:
We can increase “# of invites per inviter” by offering imports of address books from email services or recommended contacts on the phone.
We can increase “share of active users sending an invite” by improving the discoverability of referrals.
We can increase “conversion to new guest” by allowing referrers to send reminders to invited + signed up users that they have credit available.
They then double-down on each step.
They would try to isolate the times someone was most willing to refer a friend. They triggered the feature at the exact right time, then “segment performance data by entry point” so they could compare results.
Another experiment looked at the copy on individual emails, comparing the results of a self-interested variation with an altruistic one.
The altruistic one won out. The point is that ‘sticky growth,’ or retention, isn’t a single step, hack, or tactic.
It’s the end result of this entire process, from when people first come into contact with your product and through the very first few steps of your growth engine.
And that starts by understanding how users ultimately benefit in the first place.
Claire Suellentrop found this out first-hand while at Calendly:
“The best marketers should actually be working in some support or success capacity before you ever touch anything. You need to live in your own territory before bringing other people into it.”
Her first days on the job weren’t focused on getting users. They already have over 10,000 in beta waiting for her. Getting people interested in the product was the easy part.
The hard part was getting them to stick around.
SaaS economics meant that Calendly needed to retain users over the long haul so the $10/month amounted to something.
So she worked backward, ‘flipping the funnel’ to focus on the most valuable low-hanging fruit.
Claire lined up customer interviews, working alongside both developers and the support team, to understand exactly what your customers experience:
“If a company wants to see the 25–95% profit increase that comes from higher retention rates, it’s crucial to get out of your own company’s bubble and experience firsthand what your customers are actually doing.”
One of those interviews was with Sean McVey, Director of Demand Gen at Virtru. Sean was using the tool Calendly to aid marketing automation.
This was an unexpected use case initially.
So Calendly was able to explore it further and use it as the foundation for new support docs and customer stories to help other potential users just like Sean.
He was unimpressed with “only 25–30% of inbound leads” following-through with scheduling a demo on their old form-based landing and thank you page combination.
Sean tried removing the friction or lag in scheduling, by embedding Calendly directly on the page.
Just this single change resulted in a 50% conversion increase.
But Sean wasn’t done yet. He personalized the form again with a qualifying question to route specific deals to certain sales people (depending on deal size).
In 30 days, the number of inbound leads scheduling a call more than doubled to 61%.
Calendly could then leverage success stories like Sean and Virtus to not only improve the product, but also better understand how to align its messaging with new people.
They’re no longer guessing or throwing words on a page. They’re using words straight from customer mouths that sum up their aspirations, pain points, and end goals.
And they can use these insights to create more “happy first experiences” that will get new users to stick like glue.