The Testimonial Blog

The Testimonial Blog

From 0 to 300 customers. 12 mistakes we made.

From 0 to 300 customers. 12 mistakes we made.

Written by Wilson Wilson

Cofounder of Senja

From 0 - 300 customers. 12 mistakes we made

Senja just hit 300 customers and $7.4K MRR

If I could start again from zero, I'd fix these 12 mistakes.

1. Building in a niche I had no experience in.

When I first started using Senja, I thought testimonials were cool, but that was about it.

I didn't understand the problem, so building a product from the fundamentals just wasn't possible. All I could do was one-up the competition

That's why when my cofounder Olly, reached out to me and asked if he could join as a co-founder, I happily accepted.

With his vision and my skillset, we built a product that not only solves the problem of collecting and sharing testimonials well but does it in a really elegant way.

Obviously, I was lucky to meet someone like Olly.

But after building for so long, talking to so many amazing people, and trying so many new things, I have all sorts of ideas for problems I know I'd be able to solve well.

2. Not defining our personas early enough.

For the first year of development and marketing, we were just targeting, well... everybody.

I mean, every business needs testimonials, right? So why should we niche down? The sky's the limit!

Problem was, because we never went niche enough, we couldn't funnel all our marketing energy into a single persona.

Ironically it's easier to reach "SaaS companies doing $100K+ ARR with a sales team in London" than it is to reach "business owners"

3. Not setting up reporting early enough

We had basic analytics in, but we were barely tracking or reviewing anything.

For over 6 months, we didn't know how our landing page was performing. We didn't even measure activation or free β†’ paid

Basically, we only measured MRR πŸ˜…

After quite a few tantrums from Olly, we finally set up @segment for tracking events.

That way, we only needed to track events in one place, and they'd get distributed everywhere.

β€” our analytics tools
β€” our email marketing
β€” A/B testing tools etc

For analytics, we're now using PostHog for measuring everything (IMO, the slickest tool out there).

We also have Pirsch Analytics set up for the simple stuff (pageviews, bounce rate, UTM sources)

If we did this from the get-go, we'd have known what was working waaaay earlier.

4. Coding our marketing site from scratch

When we first started, we built our marketing site from scratch with code (Svelte and Ttailwindcss)

The problem? My MARKETING cofounder couldn't make changes. How can a marketer do their job if they don't even have access to the site???

I thought we could do this by moving to a headless CMS (basically, a database that your marketing site pulls from).

But that meant every time I wanted to build something (for example a hero section), I'd need to build it twice. Once in the CMS and another time in the code.

I also needed to re-invent everything from scratch.

β€” Need a table of contents?
β€” Need caching/image optimization
β€” Need a blog with filters/categorization?
β€” Need search on the site?

In every case, you'd need to start building from scratch.

So we moved to Framer and it's been chefs kiss

I really miss the flexibility you get with code...

But we're publishing content 10x faster now so definitely a massive win.

Just waiting for more CMS features πŸ˜…

https://twitter.com/euboid/status/1654424573494829057

5. Not building a proper onboarding

β€” Building a good product got us from 0 - 1
β€” Building an incredible onboarding took us from 1 - 5

Previously we'd just drop users into our app and hope for the best.

We had no guides, no checklists, no place to start, nothing.

So Olly and I spent about a week just building a great onboarding.

We go into the details about how we built it in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP4kcU0jqSY

It's been 9 months since we posted the original video, but we've kept tweaking it and improving it since then.

6. Clinging to the live chat

Using live chat for customer support had always been a mixed bag for us.

On the one hand, we were able to get LOADS of feedback from users quickly.

On the other hand, we got so much spam and low-quality messages.

https://twitter.com/euboid/status/1615096402761371649

Spam, low-quality messages, and tickets from rude users take away time you'd normally use to serve your actual customers.

So after a lot of debate, we decided to kill the live chat.

I honestly expected to see fewer sales and lots of angry users.

But the opposite has happened so far. We've actually been getting MORE customers and LESS tickets.

I'm not saying removing live chat got us more customers.

But it was interesting to see that removing it didn't impact sales as much as I thought it would.

And we were getting fewer, more meaningful tickets from users who were serious about succeeding with our tool

In retrospect, if I were starting again, I'd have picked the live chat every single time. Lower friction for feedback is crucial in the early days.

But when things start getting crazy, I think it's fine to switch.

More details in this post

7. Not doing docs

We wouldn't have been able to kill the live chat had we not focused on fleshing out our support docs.

We didn't have good help docs until one-year post-launch. BIG mistake.

We've now set up loads of help articles with Helpkit

Senja support dashboard - helpkit

I honestly didn't think people cared a lot about docs, but loads of searches come through every day.

A bonus is that seeing what people search for also helps us identify features we should be focusing on.

8. Throwing spaghetti on the wall without waiting for it to stick

Probably the biggest mistake we've made marketing-wise was trying too much at once.

Or rather, experimenting a lot without taking the time to draw actual conclusions.

We'd try cold outreach for two days, get no replies, and say "Cold outreach doesn't work for us!"

Or we'd make one Tiktok and it would get a couple hundred views, and we'd just give up.

Yes we tried a lot of things and that was crucial for getting initial traction, but if we focused on making definitive conclusions from every experiment we took, it would have been much easier to find marketing channels that worked for us.

We niched down our marketing and started going hard on marketing experiments that were worth doing and had high chances for success.

Still haven't perfected this, but our marketing is already much more solid.

9. Perfectionism and marketing don't mix.

We wanted to launch on Product Hunt with the perfect product.

We wanted to get #1 of the day at all costs.

We wanted 1,000+ upvotes.

We wanted a freaking incredible launch.

So we kept postponing...

We eventually planned to launch on December 6th, but we ended up postponing AGAIN because we were behind on everything

So imagine my surprise when I woke up in the morning to find that, on the same day we had planned, someone we never met had gone and stuck us on Product Hunt.

Unexpected product hunt launch

TL;DR we we're #3 of the day and ~650 upvotes

After a few days, we ended up getting a ton of awareness, over 80 signups, and a few incredible users and customers that shaped the future of the product.

If I had to mark Senja's first big turning point, it would be that December.

The lesson? Stop shooting yourself in the foot and just do it πŸ˜„

This didn't just apply to PH. We were doing the same with our other ideas like landingpagesexplained.com where we spent 6 months procrastinating on it.

Once we got over ourselves, it ended up being a hit!

10. We should've focused on building great relationships earlier

The biggest reason we build in public isn't because of the awareness, new users or audience building etc.

It's 100% because of the cool people we meet daily.

We keep meeting people who give us constant feedback, inspo, advice etc

When we apply their suggestions or try similar experiments they're doing, we often strike gold.

11. Not spending time visualizing complex ideas

Building big ideas from scratch is really difficult.

We'd have vague ideas of what we wanted, but we never had anything concrete to start from.

As a result, I'd give whacky estimates for things I thought were simple but were insanely complicated.

Or I'd build a feature I thought Olly and I wanted, only for it to be completely different from what he had imagined.

Horrible way to work πŸ˜…

Now before we build any big feature, we do the right thing.

We sketch it in a tool like Miro or Figjam, and build it before we actually build it.

This is a silly one to add because it's supposed to be standard practice, but it's easy to forget when you're trying to build fast 🏎️

12. Focusing on acquisition instead of customer success

We all want 1,000 signups per day.

But what's even the point if only 3 of those convert?

Other than onboarding tweaks, we hadn't done much for customer success...

This year, though, we started focusing 100% on making it dead simple to go from zero to one in our app.

That meant:
β€” More guides
β€” Adding tips, tricks, and tutorials around the app
β€” Adding case studies to our onboarding emails

By focusing on customer success, our activation increased substantially.

Now even a baby can collect their first testimonial with Senja!

If you're an experienced SaaS founder, you'd notice all of these are rookie mistakes πŸ˜…

Senja is the first SaaS Olly and I have ever made and launched, but thanks to the #buildinpublic community, it's been relatively easy correcting ourselves and veering toward the right path.

Senja just hit 300 customers and $7.4K MRR

If I could start again from zero, I'd fix these 12 mistakes.

1. Building in a niche I had no experience in.

When I first started using Senja, I thought testimonials were cool, but that was about it.

I didn't understand the problem, so building a product from the fundamentals just wasn't possible. All I could do was one-up the competition

That's why when my cofounder Olly, reached out to me and asked if he could join as a co-founder, I happily accepted.

With his vision and my skillset, we built a product that not only solves the problem of collecting and sharing testimonials well but does it in a really elegant way.

Obviously, I was lucky to meet someone like Olly.

But after building for so long, talking to so many amazing people, and trying so many new things, I have all sorts of ideas for problems I know I'd be able to solve well.

2. Not defining our personas early enough.

For the first year of development and marketing, we were just targeting, well... everybody.

I mean, every business needs testimonials, right? So why should we niche down? The sky's the limit!

Problem was, because we never went niche enough, we couldn't funnel all our marketing energy into a single persona.

Ironically it's easier to reach "SaaS companies doing $100K+ ARR with a sales team in London" than it is to reach "business owners"

3. Not setting up reporting early enough

We had basic analytics in, but we were barely tracking or reviewing anything.

For over 6 months, we didn't know how our landing page was performing. We didn't even measure activation or free β†’ paid

Basically, we only measured MRR πŸ˜…

After quite a few tantrums from Olly, we finally set up @segment for tracking events.

That way, we only needed to track events in one place, and they'd get distributed everywhere.

β€” our analytics tools
β€” our email marketing
β€” A/B testing tools etc

For analytics, we're now using PostHog for measuring everything (IMO, the slickest tool out there).

We also have Pirsch Analytics set up for the simple stuff (pageviews, bounce rate, UTM sources)

If we did this from the get-go, we'd have known what was working waaaay earlier.

4. Coding our marketing site from scratch

When we first started, we built our marketing site from scratch with code (Svelte and Ttailwindcss)

The problem? My MARKETING cofounder couldn't make changes. How can a marketer do their job if they don't even have access to the site???

I thought we could do this by moving to a headless CMS (basically, a database that your marketing site pulls from).

But that meant every time I wanted to build something (for example a hero section), I'd need to build it twice. Once in the CMS and another time in the code.

I also needed to re-invent everything from scratch.

β€” Need a table of contents?
β€” Need caching/image optimization
β€” Need a blog with filters/categorization?
β€” Need search on the site?

In every case, you'd need to start building from scratch.

So we moved to Framer and it's been chefs kiss

I really miss the flexibility you get with code...

But we're publishing content 10x faster now so definitely a massive win.

Just waiting for more CMS features πŸ˜…

https://twitter.com/euboid/status/1654424573494829057

5. Not building a proper onboarding

β€” Building a good product got us from 0 - 1
β€” Building an incredible onboarding took us from 1 - 5

Previously we'd just drop users into our app and hope for the best.

We had no guides, no checklists, no place to start, nothing.

So Olly and I spent about a week just building a great onboarding.

We go into the details about how we built it in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP4kcU0jqSY

It's been 9 months since we posted the original video, but we've kept tweaking it and improving it since then.

6. Clinging to the live chat

Using live chat for customer support had always been a mixed bag for us.

On the one hand, we were able to get LOADS of feedback from users quickly.

On the other hand, we got so much spam and low-quality messages.

https://twitter.com/euboid/status/1615096402761371649

Spam, low-quality messages, and tickets from rude users take away time you'd normally use to serve your actual customers.

So after a lot of debate, we decided to kill the live chat.

I honestly expected to see fewer sales and lots of angry users.

But the opposite has happened so far. We've actually been getting MORE customers and LESS tickets.

I'm not saying removing live chat got us more customers.

But it was interesting to see that removing it didn't impact sales as much as I thought it would.

And we were getting fewer, more meaningful tickets from users who were serious about succeeding with our tool

In retrospect, if I were starting again, I'd have picked the live chat every single time. Lower friction for feedback is crucial in the early days.

But when things start getting crazy, I think it's fine to switch.

More details in this post

7. Not doing docs

We wouldn't have been able to kill the live chat had we not focused on fleshing out our support docs.

We didn't have good help docs until one-year post-launch. BIG mistake.

We've now set up loads of help articles with Helpkit

Senja support dashboard - helpkit

I honestly didn't think people cared a lot about docs, but loads of searches come through every day.

A bonus is that seeing what people search for also helps us identify features we should be focusing on.

8. Throwing spaghetti on the wall without waiting for it to stick

Probably the biggest mistake we've made marketing-wise was trying too much at once.

Or rather, experimenting a lot without taking the time to draw actual conclusions.

We'd try cold outreach for two days, get no replies, and say "Cold outreach doesn't work for us!"

Or we'd make one Tiktok and it would get a couple hundred views, and we'd just give up.

Yes we tried a lot of things and that was crucial for getting initial traction, but if we focused on making definitive conclusions from every experiment we took, it would have been much easier to find marketing channels that worked for us.

We niched down our marketing and started going hard on marketing experiments that were worth doing and had high chances for success.

Still haven't perfected this, but our marketing is already much more solid.

9. Perfectionism and marketing don't mix.

We wanted to launch on Product Hunt with the perfect product.

We wanted to get #1 of the day at all costs.

We wanted 1,000+ upvotes.

We wanted a freaking incredible launch.

So we kept postponing...

We eventually planned to launch on December 6th, but we ended up postponing AGAIN because we were behind on everything

So imagine my surprise when I woke up in the morning to find that, on the same day we had planned, someone we never met had gone and stuck us on Product Hunt.

Unexpected product hunt launch

TL;DR we we're #3 of the day and ~650 upvotes

After a few days, we ended up getting a ton of awareness, over 80 signups, and a few incredible users and customers that shaped the future of the product.

If I had to mark Senja's first big turning point, it would be that December.

The lesson? Stop shooting yourself in the foot and just do it πŸ˜„

This didn't just apply to PH. We were doing the same with our other ideas like landingpagesexplained.com where we spent 6 months procrastinating on it.

Once we got over ourselves, it ended up being a hit!

10. We should've focused on building great relationships earlier

The biggest reason we build in public isn't because of the awareness, new users or audience building etc.

It's 100% because of the cool people we meet daily.

We keep meeting people who give us constant feedback, inspo, advice etc

When we apply their suggestions or try similar experiments they're doing, we often strike gold.

11. Not spending time visualizing complex ideas

Building big ideas from scratch is really difficult.

We'd have vague ideas of what we wanted, but we never had anything concrete to start from.

As a result, I'd give whacky estimates for things I thought were simple but were insanely complicated.

Or I'd build a feature I thought Olly and I wanted, only for it to be completely different from what he had imagined.

Horrible way to work πŸ˜…

Now before we build any big feature, we do the right thing.

We sketch it in a tool like Miro or Figjam, and build it before we actually build it.

This is a silly one to add because it's supposed to be standard practice, but it's easy to forget when you're trying to build fast 🏎️

12. Focusing on acquisition instead of customer success

We all want 1,000 signups per day.

But what's even the point if only 3 of those convert?

Other than onboarding tweaks, we hadn't done much for customer success...

This year, though, we started focusing 100% on making it dead simple to go from zero to one in our app.

That meant:
β€” More guides
β€” Adding tips, tricks, and tutorials around the app
β€” Adding case studies to our onboarding emails

By focusing on customer success, our activation increased substantially.

Now even a baby can collect their first testimonial with Senja!

If you're an experienced SaaS founder, you'd notice all of these are rookie mistakes πŸ˜…

Senja is the first SaaS Olly and I have ever made and launched, but thanks to the #buildinpublic community, it's been relatively easy correcting ourselves and veering toward the right path.

Senja just hit 300 customers and $7.4K MRR

If I could start again from zero, I'd fix these 12 mistakes.

1. Building in a niche I had no experience in.

When I first started using Senja, I thought testimonials were cool, but that was about it.

I didn't understand the problem, so building a product from the fundamentals just wasn't possible. All I could do was one-up the competition

That's why when my cofounder Olly, reached out to me and asked if he could join as a co-founder, I happily accepted.

With his vision and my skillset, we built a product that not only solves the problem of collecting and sharing testimonials well but does it in a really elegant way.

Obviously, I was lucky to meet someone like Olly.

But after building for so long, talking to so many amazing people, and trying so many new things, I have all sorts of ideas for problems I know I'd be able to solve well.

2. Not defining our personas early enough.

For the first year of development and marketing, we were just targeting, well... everybody.

I mean, every business needs testimonials, right? So why should we niche down? The sky's the limit!

Problem was, because we never went niche enough, we couldn't funnel all our marketing energy into a single persona.

Ironically it's easier to reach "SaaS companies doing $100K+ ARR with a sales team in London" than it is to reach "business owners"

3. Not setting up reporting early enough

We had basic analytics in, but we were barely tracking or reviewing anything.

For over 6 months, we didn't know how our landing page was performing. We didn't even measure activation or free β†’ paid

Basically, we only measured MRR πŸ˜…

After quite a few tantrums from Olly, we finally set up @segment for tracking events.

That way, we only needed to track events in one place, and they'd get distributed everywhere.

β€” our analytics tools
β€” our email marketing
β€” A/B testing tools etc

For analytics, we're now using PostHog for measuring everything (IMO, the slickest tool out there).

We also have Pirsch Analytics set up for the simple stuff (pageviews, bounce rate, UTM sources)

If we did this from the get-go, we'd have known what was working waaaay earlier.

4. Coding our marketing site from scratch

When we first started, we built our marketing site from scratch with code (Svelte and Ttailwindcss)

The problem? My MARKETING cofounder couldn't make changes. How can a marketer do their job if they don't even have access to the site???

I thought we could do this by moving to a headless CMS (basically, a database that your marketing site pulls from).

But that meant every time I wanted to build something (for example a hero section), I'd need to build it twice. Once in the CMS and another time in the code.

I also needed to re-invent everything from scratch.

β€” Need a table of contents?
β€” Need caching/image optimization
β€” Need a blog with filters/categorization?
β€” Need search on the site?

In every case, you'd need to start building from scratch.

So we moved to Framer and it's been chefs kiss

I really miss the flexibility you get with code...

But we're publishing content 10x faster now so definitely a massive win.

Just waiting for more CMS features πŸ˜…

https://twitter.com/euboid/status/1654424573494829057

5. Not building a proper onboarding

β€” Building a good product got us from 0 - 1
β€” Building an incredible onboarding took us from 1 - 5

Previously we'd just drop users into our app and hope for the best.

We had no guides, no checklists, no place to start, nothing.

So Olly and I spent about a week just building a great onboarding.

We go into the details about how we built it in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP4kcU0jqSY

It's been 9 months since we posted the original video, but we've kept tweaking it and improving it since then.

6. Clinging to the live chat

Using live chat for customer support had always been a mixed bag for us.

On the one hand, we were able to get LOADS of feedback from users quickly.

On the other hand, we got so much spam and low-quality messages.

https://twitter.com/euboid/status/1615096402761371649

Spam, low-quality messages, and tickets from rude users take away time you'd normally use to serve your actual customers.

So after a lot of debate, we decided to kill the live chat.

I honestly expected to see fewer sales and lots of angry users.

But the opposite has happened so far. We've actually been getting MORE customers and LESS tickets.

I'm not saying removing live chat got us more customers.

But it was interesting to see that removing it didn't impact sales as much as I thought it would.

And we were getting fewer, more meaningful tickets from users who were serious about succeeding with our tool

In retrospect, if I were starting again, I'd have picked the live chat every single time. Lower friction for feedback is crucial in the early days.

But when things start getting crazy, I think it's fine to switch.

More details in this post

7. Not doing docs

We wouldn't have been able to kill the live chat had we not focused on fleshing out our support docs.

We didn't have good help docs until one-year post-launch. BIG mistake.

We've now set up loads of help articles with Helpkit

Senja support dashboard - helpkit

I honestly didn't think people cared a lot about docs, but loads of searches come through every day.

A bonus is that seeing what people search for also helps us identify features we should be focusing on.

8. Throwing spaghetti on the wall without waiting for it to stick

Probably the biggest mistake we've made marketing-wise was trying too much at once.

Or rather, experimenting a lot without taking the time to draw actual conclusions.

We'd try cold outreach for two days, get no replies, and say "Cold outreach doesn't work for us!"

Or we'd make one Tiktok and it would get a couple hundred views, and we'd just give up.

Yes we tried a lot of things and that was crucial for getting initial traction, but if we focused on making definitive conclusions from every experiment we took, it would have been much easier to find marketing channels that worked for us.

We niched down our marketing and started going hard on marketing experiments that were worth doing and had high chances for success.

Still haven't perfected this, but our marketing is already much more solid.

9. Perfectionism and marketing don't mix.

We wanted to launch on Product Hunt with the perfect product.

We wanted to get #1 of the day at all costs.

We wanted 1,000+ upvotes.

We wanted a freaking incredible launch.

So we kept postponing...

We eventually planned to launch on December 6th, but we ended up postponing AGAIN because we were behind on everything

So imagine my surprise when I woke up in the morning to find that, on the same day we had planned, someone we never met had gone and stuck us on Product Hunt.

Unexpected product hunt launch

TL;DR we we're #3 of the day and ~650 upvotes

After a few days, we ended up getting a ton of awareness, over 80 signups, and a few incredible users and customers that shaped the future of the product.

If I had to mark Senja's first big turning point, it would be that December.

The lesson? Stop shooting yourself in the foot and just do it πŸ˜„

This didn't just apply to PH. We were doing the same with our other ideas like landingpagesexplained.com where we spent 6 months procrastinating on it.

Once we got over ourselves, it ended up being a hit!

10. We should've focused on building great relationships earlier

The biggest reason we build in public isn't because of the awareness, new users or audience building etc.

It's 100% because of the cool people we meet daily.

We keep meeting people who give us constant feedback, inspo, advice etc

When we apply their suggestions or try similar experiments they're doing, we often strike gold.

11. Not spending time visualizing complex ideas

Building big ideas from scratch is really difficult.

We'd have vague ideas of what we wanted, but we never had anything concrete to start from.

As a result, I'd give whacky estimates for things I thought were simple but were insanely complicated.

Or I'd build a feature I thought Olly and I wanted, only for it to be completely different from what he had imagined.

Horrible way to work πŸ˜…

Now before we build any big feature, we do the right thing.

We sketch it in a tool like Miro or Figjam, and build it before we actually build it.

This is a silly one to add because it's supposed to be standard practice, but it's easy to forget when you're trying to build fast 🏎️

12. Focusing on acquisition instead of customer success

We all want 1,000 signups per day.

But what's even the point if only 3 of those convert?

Other than onboarding tweaks, we hadn't done much for customer success...

This year, though, we started focusing 100% on making it dead simple to go from zero to one in our app.

That meant:
β€” More guides
β€” Adding tips, tricks, and tutorials around the app
β€” Adding case studies to our onboarding emails

By focusing on customer success, our activation increased substantially.

Now even a baby can collect their first testimonial with Senja!

If you're an experienced SaaS founder, you'd notice all of these are rookie mistakes πŸ˜…

Senja is the first SaaS Olly and I have ever made and launched, but thanks to the #buildinpublic community, it's been relatively easy correcting ourselves and veering toward the right path.

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The faster, easier way to collect testimonials

Jump in today and see how easy it is to collect testimonials with Senja.

Testimonials Made Easy

The faster, easier way to collect testimonials

Jump in today and see how easy it is to collect testimonials with Senja.