Customer Driven Marketing

I’ve been working on SearchWP 4 for the past few months. It’s so close to being done. That means I’m spending time these days working on all of the content updates that have to happen on the website to reflect the changes.

This process has allowed me to regroup on the site. A full redesign isn’t in the cards right now so I’m working with what I’ve got and want to change things up a bit. Aside from the low hanging fruit of updating screenshots where applicable, I’m scoping out what changes I can make to better utilize the site as a selling machine.

Development of SearchWP has been customer driven since the beginning. In the early days it was to a fault; I introduced features after a single request because it was the first time I had real customers. It’s a pressure I think every product creator feels in the early days, and one you learn to tame as time goes on.

One of the bigger pieces I’m working on right now is a new ~3 minute overview video for the home page. Not an explainer per se, just a simple screen cast that outlines the problem(s) SearchWP solves.

The site has always had a video on the home page because (big surprise) I watch videos like that. One thing I’ve learned as I’ve built SearchWP is to second guess as much as you can, if for nothing else than to have some ground to stand on in my decision making.

I took that advice this time around and because video is such a pain to put together I wanted to make sure it was time well spent and the end product was effective.

First things first I challenged the premise of the video itself: did the current video perform at all? How can I check into that? I don’t do any sort of conversion tracking to provide useful data, so the only metric I have is view count which isn’t useful on its own. I mean, I like the video and think it does a good job, but what good does that do?

I thought about reaching out to some friends to ask for their feedback on what they thought of the video and what should change in this new version, but here’s the thing: my friends aren’t (necessarily) my customers. My friends in this situation have one fatal flaw: they know me already. My site is trying to prove that SearchWP is an effective solution to a problem to people that don’t.

So instead I decided to email all of my customers and ask them two questions:

  1. Do you recall watching the video on
  2. What is the main problem SearchWP solves for you? (i.e. Custom Field searching, document processing, relevance of results, etc)

That’s pretty much the only thing the email said. And I sent it to all of my customers, then waited for replies. No form for them to fill out, no fancy pants segmenting, no automated drip campaign to guide them through feedback that can be Zap’d into a Google Sheet and sent to the moon and back for further AI-powered analysis that spits out ten more questions to ask.

Once I sent the email I pulled out a piece of paper and a pen and started writing tally marks based on what was mentioned the replies. I manually reviewed each response, hearing firsthand what a paying customer had to say.

Hundreds of responses poured in. It was overwhelming and it was awesome because these are my customers and they took the time out of their busy day to answer a dumb question I have about making a video.

And I have to tell you: getting feedback like that is gratifying, humbling, and nerve racking all at once. Yes there were unhappy customers and yes for one reason or another those couple of nasty replies completely take away from the other positive replies for as long as you let them. But the majority contained wonderful, nuanced detail that a survey never would have.

The result was huge: I have (handwritten, tally mark defined, laugh as you may) data outlining exactly what this video should cover. I know how many paying customers watch videos like that and how many (much) prefer a well done Features page and good documentation. This data will help me gauge not only what to put into the video but also qualify how much I need to be nervous about my stutters, talking too fast, and sub-par editing skills.

Getting over my laziness when it comes to customer research is something I’m trying to work on quite a bit. Scratch that: my laziness in wanting to start discussions with my customers is something I’m trying to work on. Getting to know your customers personally instead of thinking about them as a pool of people who did a thing at one time adds so much more gravity in the right place. I know I could be doing this so much better but this experience has been full of insight and I’m grateful for it.