How Insider Founders Built a Digital Experience Platform for Marketers

Accessible from a unified data engine, Insider enables marketers to leverage personalization, predictive segmentation and real-time technologies to boost loyalty and digital growth.

Founded in 2012, Insider is a technology company with offices in London, Moscow, Singapore, Dubai, Warsaw, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. Insider was listed as one of Europe’s 100 Hottest Startups in 2016 by WIRED Magazine, featuring European startups that are having an impact.

Helping world’s leading brands grow beyond the speed of customer expectations, Insider is trusted by over 200 businesses across various industries including Toyota, UNIQLO, Media Markt, Lenovo, Singapore Airlines, MasterCard, BBVA, Fiat, Carrefour, Ticketmaster, Air Arabia, Tune Hotels, Dominos, McDonalds, Avon and CNN.

Insider co-founders’ story

Prior to Insider, Hande and Serhat met at the the London School of Economics and following their graduation started their careers in China and Russia, respectively. One day, the idea of building an international school at the heart of a British town in Turkey inspired them quit their jobs overnight and start their entrepreneurship journey.

They were inspired by the large population of British families living in Fethiye, a British town located at the southwest part of Turkey. They have disrupted the industry by establishing a highly reputable education center which was named English & More International Learning Centre (now IM Academy), where students received world-class education and could choose to home stay with English families.

In three years, they have recruited over 3000 students from over 30 countries. The school was acquired in 2011 ending their first entrepreneurship journey with a lucrative exit, planting the seeds for Insider.

1X entrepreneurs Serhat Soyuerel and Hande Cilingir, following a lucrative exit, established Insider with three other co-founders with this goal in mind. The 32-year old female co-founder was announced as the CEO of the company and recently was granted “The women entrepreneur of the year” award by Microsoft. All co-founders were selected as Endeavor Entrepreneurs in IPS, 2014.

Founding Insider

One of our co-founders (also Serhat & Hande’s colleague from LSE) was working at an international company where he was responsible for the entire digital marketing budget and was under great pressure from the top management to decrease his spend. Even though there were lots of tech providers pitching him marketing tech and analytics solutions, promising to increase conversion rates and revenue, there weren’t any capable of cost optimization.

There were too many web/mobile personalization, segmentation and A/B/n testing tools out there mostly for e-commerce firms, claiming that they increase conversions and revenue. Insider co-founders wanted to develop a technology that would go beyond that and help digital marketers across sectors optimize marketing spend and effort.

For instance, predicting income levels of visitors on a financial institution’s site and knowing which visitors are more likely to apply for a credit card, marketers can deliver relevant offers, accordingly. Insider founders found a technology GAP in the digital customer experience delivery space and filled it with our predictive modelling technology.

The path to success

From e-commerce to finance, media to health, digital marketers across sectors are relying on big data and predictive analytics to gain actionable insights and make better marketing decisions. Leveraging technology to predict the future behaviour of customers is bringing marketers even closer to the preferences of their customers, allowing them to personalize digital experiences on web, mobile web and apps.

The gap between the marketer and the customer is decreasing. In the past marketers were not able to accurately segment customers. Today’s emerging marketing technologies are allowing marketers to segment their customers and deliver hyper-targeted, personalized campaigns.

Predictive modelling and auto-optimization technologies will be disrupting the digital customer experience delivery space. Being able to predict the future behaviour of online and mobile visitors, the gap between marketers and customers will decrease further.

Their product addresses major pains of digital marketers across sectors, mainly retail, media, travel, finance and e-gaming;

1. It helps them optimize marketing spend besides increasing conversions and revenue.

2. It helps marketers deliver hyper-targeted campaigns on web, mobile web and apps by leveraging advanced predictive segmentation capabilities.

3. It provides all the tools digital marketers need to deliver personalized experiences from a unified platform.

Visitor behaviour on web, mobile web and apps are tracked and a machine-learning algorithm places visitors into ready-to-use segments, in real-time. Marketers can use these segments to deliver personalized experiences, campaigns and ads.

For instance, a visitor’s likelihood to make a purchase online is predicted based on their online behaviour and knowing which segments are more or less inclined to buy an item on a given e-commerce site, marketers can easily prioritize who they would like to target with discount messages or advertisements.

Insider records over 600 million unique users/month, 11 billion page views/month and 374 million personalization campaign impressions/month.

7 lezioni che abbiamo imparato rilanciando il nostro prodotto SaaS

Here is a comprehensive re-launch strategy of Everhour. Mike and his team re-built a new version of the product after getting sufficient feedback about the first version. These are strategies and ideas they used for their epic relaunch. 

Hi there! Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Mike (LinkedIn). I am a co-founder of Weavora company, which was opened as a web development /consulting agency in 2010.
Although outsourcing was our core area all the time, we also tried to launch some own projects, but unfortunately they got neither big success, nor we were passionate about them.

Last year (2015-2016) we started active promotion of our new product – Everhour. Just a few words on it so you better understand the core of next paragraphs.

everhour

Everhour is a time tracking system distributed by a SaaS model. If you use Basecamp or Asana in your team, you can integrate timer into your already existing projects. The time tracking button will appear on each of your tasks, you will also get the opportunity to set up estimates and track progress of each team member. Besides, Everhour lets generating highly flexible reports.

We launched the first paid version (as an MVP) in September 2015. After the sufficient amount of users’ feedback had been collected, we started the work on an absolutely new version, which was launched a month ago (Sep, 2016).

In this article I wanted to share our experience of re-launching the product, tell about its stages, ideas, results and mistakes, of course.

1 – “Insights” blog series

Throughout the entire re-launch process, we wrote in public about how we were working on our layouts, architecture and design of the new version. We explained how we want to change the system and why, what new features to add and what old stuff was to be removed. In a very detailed, opened and honest manner.

Why did we do that?

a. We showed the audience that the product underwent constant improvement. So if somebody lacks some feature now, he could suggest it and wait for a new version (in case that we agree with the reason to implement this feature);

b. We were able to validate new ideas on paying users to see the reaction before major engineering expenses;

c. We were able to taught users about new features and concepts in advance;

d. We want to be fully transparent and make our users know that their opinion is really important for us;

e. We get some interesting ideas, which we could never thought by ourselves;

It worked out really well! With each new article we received new emails with questions, suggestions, mock-ups and words of gratitude.

Users left comments in our blog and communicated with each other. We gave them more detailed explanations of concepts and nuances in our support emails.

everhour-feedback

2 – Early adopters

We suggested our existing users to become Beta testers long before we had it already. We simply placed a sign-up link in one of our blog posts. With a simple step like that, we had more than 100+ loyal companies by the start date.

They helped us a lot. They found some unpleasant moments in the first couple of days, which we unfortunately didn’t catch on our side. And there was no negative at all, even more, they were glad to contribute into the project. It’s likely that we could have another situation showcasing to new users right away.

We simply used Mailchimp to collect subscriptions. We also asked the user to specify the type of integration they currently use during signing-up (Asana, Basecamp, or other). So we built a roadmap and planned releases according to the integration’s popularity.

At first we launched a standalone version on the different domain. And it was mentioned several times in invitation emails and other materials, that the new Everhour version had no connection with the old one. Despite this fact, users tried to login with their old credentials anyway and were confused when didn’t see their data in the new version.

Conclusion: Divide invitees into small groups, consider their first feedback and questions, include into the emails mini-instructions for successful registration. Use Bold for important moments.

everhour-blog-series

3 – Webinars

Soon after beta release we organized a wave of webinars to help early adopters to embrace the essence of the new system and its set-up details quickly.

The registration form was included into invitation emails. The percentage of applications was quite large. But, unfortunately, the number of real webinar members was very low.

Of course we were a little bit upset. Lots of time was spent on its preparation. We stayed till late in the office to adjust to the appropriate time zone, to prepare scripts, demo accounts and email reminders. But it doesn’t pay off to run a webinar for a few people.

That’s why just keep in mind that the number of real comers could be 10 times lower than subscribers. And it is better to think about some additional motivation for listeners at the beginning.

Check how intercom does it. They offer 50% discount for the first month of service.

But that is a good experience anyway. For example we thought that we found a suitable tool for webinars – YouTube Live – but, honestly speaking, we were not satisfied with the sound quality. On our first webinar it was just terrible 🙁 Next time we will try something else. BTW, if you have any advice on it please share it in the comments below.

Besides, we learned that it is great to engage at least 2 coworkers in the webinar. One will show a demo, another one will answer the questions in live chat or social media.

everhour-webinars

4 – Staying in touch

Beta version was launched with limited functionality. That’s why we wanted to keep in touch with our users in real-time mode, because we were in doubt of its plainness and possible bugs. Also we didn’t want our users to lose their enthusiasm because of communication delays.

So we decided to try Intercom from the very beginning.

We pushed in-app message after each bug fix and new feature launch. Also we set up some automatic messages for user retention.

It was WAY easier to get the right feedback from users when they feel like chatting with a friend in a messenger. We had dramatically higher open rate of in-app messages in comparison to the emails.

everhour-stay-in-touch

5 – Attracting new users

It may be quite interesting to engage old users with the upgraded product. But we obviously wanted to test the system with absolutely new users ASAP: to check onboarding, compare conversion rates and etc.

On the other hand, we were not ready to invite everyone. There were still could be bugs, not all features were ready, plus on the early stage we wanted a limited number of new users, so we could communicate personally with each of them.

Therefore, we created a special banner on our old promo site to engage a limited amount of viewers in New Beta Version. We selected first one integration, and one browser – Chrome. Thus we showed a banner for a specific group who used that type of integration and browser.

We tried to use HelloBar and SumoMe. There was some technical problem during HelloBar installation, so we just switched to Sumome. The conversion rate was quite good. About 8% of impressions were converted into new leads.

everhour-users

6 – Inviting churned users

On the next step we decided to invite churned users, who signed up into Everhour long ago, but for some reasons moved away. We thought if they had not yet found something suitable, potentially v2 could be the right tool.

We segmented our old leads by the company size, roles, registration dates, type of integration, paid/ or not paid. Then we created special type of email campaign for each segment.

As additional motivation we offered them an extended trial (30 days instead of 14).

Of course we were a little bit afraid of being marked as spam, or receiving any kind of “Red Cards”, because those users had already rejected us one day.

We sent emails in small portions, tried different subjects and texts, analyzing the results.

Open rate was quite high 25-30%, but it is difficult to say something specific about conversions yet. Surprisingly unsubscribe rate was under 1%.

Interesting note we made: after using the name of recipient in email subject, the open rate significantly increased.

7 – Migrating existing customers

The new version promised to be in many ways better than the old one. So our ultimate plan was to stop any further development on the first version and do our best to encourage old users’ transition to the new version.

But at the same time we couldn’t migrate old users’ data because of absolutely new product structure (not really good news for them!). We didn’t know how thrilled our customers would be, so we decided to start by writing about it all in honest and detailed manner in our blog and Knowledge Base.

Our proposal was:

a. We offered our users to start utilizing the new version while they reserve free of charge access to all their historical data in the old version.

b. We left the opportunity to save the old pricing for our old-timers. But they can change it in any moment, if new package will be more profitable for them.

c. If somebody don’t want to change the old version for a new one, they could simply continue using it. But they should keep in mind that there will be no new features at all. Just maintenance.

To cut it short, we made a useful conclusion: don’t be afraid of not letting users to migrate the data. In our case, we had no troubles with it.

Just to sum up, we advise you make a transition as transparent as possible for old and new users. Set up trustful communication, collect a base of loyal customers, make experiments by tiny steps and don’t be afraid of anything.

We really hope that our experience will be the cause of your new ideas and might prevent from possible mistakes in the future.

If you have an interesting experience of relaunching the product, or re-engaging churned customers, please share it in the comments below. It could be very interesting.