Building a Startup – April 2018 Stats

In the last 30 days, I’ve attempted to not change any of the notification settings, nor did I advertise the business. Might sound strange, but I wanted to ensure a stellar experience and you only have one chance at a first impression. You can’t make a good impression with a load of bugs. The goal was two fold, improve for advertising this month (April) and identify attrition rates (if any) and attempt to reduce the attribtion.

Bug Smashing & Feature Improvements

Regarding bugs, this month I’ve closed out 41 issues with the website, mostly identified by current users (hence the ~$2000 from feedback refunds).

The web site repository recap:

The data science engine repository recap:

Combine this with the feedback and I still have 27 outstanding tasks related to, so improvements will continue!

Email Notification Stats

Email notifications are a corner stone of the business. The number of emails we send, along with the open rate, and click rate is a key metric for determining growth / engagement. The fact is, we are already blowing away many of the industry metrics for news notifications. This could be huge for us, in terms of selling the service to other applciations such as Robin Hood (their news section leaves much to be desired).

With that in mind, we’re excited to see we’ve sent just over 2500 emails between March 1, 2018 and March 30, 2018 (a 66% increase):

Our average open rate of 34% (10% decrease) and 5% (40% decrease) click rate:

In contrast, from January 30, 2018 to Feburary 28, 2018 we saw only 1500 emails sent:

With an average open rate of 40% and click rate of 8%:

Unfortunately, that does mean a decrease in engagement across our users (although not massive). Given the tweaks to the notification emails, where there is more detailed information on the news updates, I did suspect the click rate would drop (no need to click a link, if the info is right there).

The more pressing question is the reduced open rate. Upon inspection it appears people didn’t open notifications over the weekend(s) last month, where the month prior we did. In part this could be due to the weather improving, sheer luck, or perhaps the new users habits (I really have no idea). Regardless, we’ll be monitoring open rate and attempting to improve where we can.

We also decided to slightly modify the notification email to be more information dense. Hopefully, this improves the value to opening the email.

Growth & Revenue

This month we have:

  • Gained 8 new paying or feedback providing users
  • Saw a 50% increase in survey completion
  • Lowered the monthly price from $50 to $10
  • Added a referral program (90 days free, per referral)
  • Added payment and survey notifications
  • Improved onboarding (shows a 3x engagement)

Overall, not really a “good” month, we are still averaging slightly over one new user per day since launching the “beta #3”, but would like to see it improve. The more impressive part, is that we haven’t advertised at all in the past 6 weeks. Meaning, every user who’s registered is hearing it from a friend. Importantly, we also have a high conversion rate of ~50% to paying customers, with no disputed charges, and all 8 users came through referrals.

During the month of April 2018, the target is around 30 new users.

We lowered the price for the beta from the standard $50 / month to $10 / month to reflect this. The real goal is to get more feedback, not make money (yet). The incentive to provide feedback in leiu of money has been insanely effective. If we charged the customers outright today, we’d net somewhere around $2000 / month, with applied discounts. However, today we’re doing around $500 / month (enough to cover costs).

Finally, we’ve also seen a massive increase in the number of trends being followed:

This is entirely attributed to our new onboarding system, which we launched March 10th. Each new person who registered started with at least 5 topics being followed and automatically jumped into the tutorial. Those users who registered after the onboarding process change(s) appear to engage 4x (on average) more than prior to the onboarding process change(s).

Future Outlook

Given the improvements regarding onboarding, I’m optimistic. Steady progress is being made technically and users feedback is being addressed almost as quick as it’s coming in. There are a few hurdles regarding some entity recognition I’m working on, but overall the platform is scaling well.

We saw a 66% increase in emails sent, while seeing a 15% drop in open rate, and the ~40% drop in click rate can be explained by the increased information in the email itself. Assuming the open rate and click rate stabilize soon (i.e. above 25% for open rate and around 5% for click rate), we’ll have a stellar product, compared to industry standards.

Finally, the new onboarding (with limited test subjects) has seen a 4x improvement in engagement. We are poised to continue to grow. The goal of beta #3 (the current release) is to figure out how to market to and keep users engaged and I think it’s going very well. For reference, the next beta release (#4) is targeted to release in May – specifically targeting platform enhancements.

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