4 Lessons from Rob Walling’s MicroConf Talks

MicroConf recently released the entire video vault of all of the talks that have been presented at their conference, completely free of charge on their YouTube channel.

Who better to start off this conference talk binge with than MicroConf’s co-founder, Rob Walling?

I watched 1 or 2 per night over the last couple of weeks, because what else is there to do during the COVID-19 pandemic situation than to spend time at home? I started with his “11 Years to Overnight Success: From Beach Towels to a Successful Exit” talk, and then watched the rest of the playlist in sequence.

Here’s 4 business lessons that I learnt from those talks, some of which I’d already implemented in my business, some I’ve rushed to implement and some which are still to be done. I hope you find these useful too!

1. Follow Up with Customers Who Cancel

When this one came up at the 13:00 mark in “An Inside Story of Self Funded SaaS Growth” (MicroConf 2015), I added this to Bulk Buy Hosting and LaunchCDN the next day.

The billing system asks customers that same question for cancellation reason, and I chuckled when Rob commented about getting ‘asdf’ responses. I often get “-“, and have even had the question above the box copy/pasted in before.

To implement this in these businesses, I created a new email list in Sendy, the self-hosted email marketing tool that I use. When someone submits a cancellation request in the billing system, it triggers a webhook to add them to the “Cancellations” email list.

The “Cancellations” list has an autoresponder, which triggers 30 minutes after the user is added to the list and sends them an unformatted plain email that is sent from my email address with the exact template from Rob’s talk, that I shared above in the screenshot.

It’s still too early to have any replies from it yet, but I’m hoping for some good insights and feedback from this.

You can watch the full talk below:

2. Sell More to Existing Customers

My friend Perry who runs WashDrop started watching all of the same Rob Walling/MicroConf videos based on my suggestion. Afterwards, he said “I was thinking about all your add-ons when watching Rob’s talk,” – so that’s why I’ve included this one in the list.

The section on selling more appears at 56:55, and the overall section on LTV starts at about 43:00

This strategy of “What more can I offer my customers?” is something that I’ve been focussed on for a bit over a year now, when I created the PBN Builds service as an addon to the PBN hosting services that I run (Bulk Buy Hosting and LaunchCDN).

The PBN Builds service makes it much easier for customers to launch new blogs, which then allows them to increase the size of their plan, and then launch more blogs again – it helps to create a flywheel in the hosting businesses for the customers who use it, while also increasing customer lifetime value through both the supplemental revenue from PBN Builds and increased revenue through account expansion in their hosting account.

I created PBN Builds as its own separate brand, and launched the MVP version of it with about a week worth of coding in March 2019. The site was very basic and mostly designed to be used from deep links from the member dashboards. Just recently, I went back and put a new Bootstrap template on the site and fleshed it out a bit more.

The question of “What more can I offer my customers?” also led me to starting a second service offering in the PBN Builds brand, which is a monthly content service for the customer’s PBNs, to keep them fresh and active by publishing new content.

You can watch the full talk below:

3. Add a Free E-Mail Course

Starting at the 42:38 mark in Rob’s “How to 10x in 15 Months” talk, he mentions adding a free e-mail course to HitTail as well as some of the other SaaS apps that he owned.

He claimed that adding that resulted in 10-30% of visitors coming back to your site, which results in an increase in revenue.

I haven’t added this yet, but I do have some course content and training materials from content that I have published in the past, so this is on my list of things to develop and add to Bulk Buy Hosting and LaunchCDN in the next month.

When I do that, I’ll use a WordPress plugin to create the opt-in forms on the marketing sites for LaunchCDN and Bulk Buy Hosting, and add those email addresses to a new email list in Sendy, the email marketing tool that I use.

It will be a simple daily autoresponder sequence that sends a new lesson from the course each day to the subscribers, until they’ve completed the course, with some product mentions along the way to get potential customers to come back to the site and encourage them to sign up. The course content will be mostly the same between both courses, just slightly tweaked for each brand.

You can watch the full talk below:

4. Integration Marketing

The first of the five strategies from Rob’s “Lessons from the Field” (3:47 mark), is Integration Marketing. It’s one that I’m just starting to work on for the PBN Hosting brands now.

The term “integration marketing” was coined by Ruben Gamez (founder of Bidsketch), when he discovered how quickly adding an integration to Freshbooks helped to grow his customer base. The basic concept here being that if you can integrate with other services (eg Freshbooks) and use their marketing to help promote your service because it helps their customers – your potential customers – complete their workflow easier (eg sending an invoice for an accepted proposal), then it’s a win/win.

Since rebuilding the billing and management systems for Bulk Buy Hosting in August/September 2019, I added an API for developers to integrate with the services. I’ve had one partner integrate with the PBN Hosting services so far, and are working on another integration at the moment for another service in the niche to integrate with the PBN Hosting platform.

Both of these integrations are win/win, as it makes it easier for customers to complete more of their workflow using my PBN Hosting services.

The first integration allows a customer to deploy a domain to their account, immediately after vetting it and purchasing it through the partner’s SaaS application for finding expired domains. Building that functionality into my service is something that I’m not interested in doing, so it helps extend the service offering without me needing to code those features.

The integration method is also how I launched and built the PBN Builds service, by having it as an integration in the dashboard for Bulk Buy Hosting and LaunchCDN.

You can watch the full talk below:

The Wrap Up

I hope you found these lessons and takeaways from Rob’s MicroConf talks from the last 7 years to be useful, as well as insight into how I’ve implemented them in my business.

If you’ve been watching them (or decide to check out some/all of them after reading this), then please leave a comment below with your thoughts/takeaways.

The next video series that I’ll be watching are the ones from Patrick McKenzie (@Patio11), and I should have a post out about my takeaways from those videos in the next couple of weeks. Enter your email below to get notified when that goes live.

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