Steffen Hedebrandt, Airtame:
Presentation at SlideShare: The importance of reviews and harvesting goodwill.
October 1, 2015
STEFFEN: Thank you, Morten. Let me go back to the beginning. So, as Morten said, I’m Steffen. I joined Airtame just about a year ago, just after they hit the market in the summer of 2015, and I think today I’m going to tell you the most tangible thing you can go back home and do in your own business to make more money. We’ve started to call it the review economy because we can see every time we get a new review all profits go a little bit up. Our turn over will go a little bit up. But before jumping into it, let me just give a quick history of what Airtame is. It’s basically a wireless HDMI dongle that also sits up in these ones. So, what’s on the screen there gets on a bigger screen or a projector. It was launched through an Indiegogo campaign in 2014 and then they spent one and a half year of producing it, and I think then Tommy said, put it to market now, and then it came out in the summer of 2015. It went super well, like there was no problems in the beginning, until they got closer and closer and closer to launching, actually, and the crowd funders were getting really eager to get this product in their hands. And when you’re a crowd funded company you sort of become the symbol of their craziest dreams, sometimes. They picture the product that they bought should be able to do anything, but of course you cannot do everything for everybody. So Airtame also started to run into some trouble with customers getting angry. And there was a guy who actually tweeted that our t-shirts actually do go on fire. So we did upset a lot of people, but we’ve worked really, really hard to catch up on this. But it’s also to say we were part of a big hype and things were easy, but after that we’ve had to get back to the basics and find the way that this is actually possible to scale a company. And like when I started last year, there was no marketing engine at all, so I was like, okay, what can we do? So we had to set up a lot of tests. I’m sure everybody here that have been here before knows that. What it looks like now, the growth team that we have, we do content, we do social, we do reviews, partnerships, paid marketing, PR, mail flows, tracking, and so forth. But the one I want to go into today is specifically reviews. We’ve started to term it the review economy and it’s basically what’s always been happening. You like the products or you tell somebody about it. We use what we call the MPS score. I don’t know –. Hands up how many are familiar with the MPS score. If you are not, I definitely recommend finding out what that is. But it’s basically saying, like from a scale from 1-10 how likely are you that you can recommend this product. If you are a 9 or 10 you cannot shut up about the product. If you are a zero to six you will always talk it down in a discussion with a friend. So the more you have that are positive promoters, the more the product actually sells itself. So you could say that that’s the only way to get a sustainable product that people will actually positively talk about it. And for me it seems like the internet has turned into this monster of reviews. It’s like we have an Amazon page, we have a Trustpilot page, we have a Google store, we have an Apple store as well. There’s a Google page, there’s a Facebook page, and so forth. The internet just keeps eating more reviews and you really need to find a structured way of actually generating more reviews. You see it in shops like hairdressers all around, like physical shops, “Please give us a review if you had a good experience.” On the internet, all the algorithms are starting to use the reviews to actually work really well. Like, okay, which movie should I watch? I think I’ll check it on IMDB. What wireless HDMI dongle should I buy? Let me check Amazon and see who has the best reviews. So the internet keeps demanding more reviews so you need to find a process on how to deal with that. We think we found sort of a solution for it, and this was me in January or February, or something like that, we had just started to gather some reviews, so I was thinking, okay, what are we doing? Okay. We make a lot of noise about our product, then we sell it. But the key part is actually that we also do follow up and ask people was it a good experience or was it a bad experience? If it’s a good experience we go for the review. To tell you the sort of simple plan on how to do it. It’s really, you absolutely have to create value for your customers. Then you need to build a system that identifies who is happy, who is not happy. Then you need to harvest the goodwill to actually get it in, and then you need to get it on an online reflection somewhere. For us it’s been really good with Amazon. For you guys it might be another place. Some platforms recommend software; some platforms recommend movies and so forth. The way we’ve structured it today is that we use something called Delighted.com which 30 days after you buy an Airtame, we flip you an MPS score question: How likely are you to recommend Airtame? If you answer 9 or 10, and do not put anything here, we will flip a question back to you saying, “Could you please give us a review on Amazon?” If you’ve answered, “Oh it’s a little unstable and it would be better if you did not need to install an app…” then we flip another question back but that question goes into Zendesk and then we can start a dialogue on how can we actually make the customer happy. And in this whole process we don’t move a finger. It just happens automatically and then we can deal with every single customer, making sure that they get more happy. So, I simplified it in emojis. Whatever you do, like you sell a service, you sell a product, you have to care about every single experience that is related to your product. Is it a bad experience? You have to do whatever you can to make it better and then you have to build a bit of product. If it’s a good experience then you need to give it an online reflection, and that online reflection will lead you to more growth in the future. It’s that simple. Its every single experience that somebody has with your product. So let me show you a few insights into how we did it. Back in October we launched our firmware version 1.5 which was a very big leap forward from our 1.0. So I wrote this mail saying, “Hey, my name is Steffen, I just started working…Hello Canadian customer, your first name…I just want to check up and see how it’s going with your Airtame. Is it working?” Like really, like just how is it going? We called it [inaudible] mails and it’s working really well for us. A little bit of different text for the Indiegogo people because they had been on a little bit longer journey, but basically, okay, you’re an unhappy customer. Okay. We will flip your certain macro back. If you’re a happy customer, oh now that I’ve heard you’re happy with our product I cannot help myself but asking if you can write a review on Amazon. Then they click there, go to Amazon page and write a good review for us. Super simple but it takes a little bit of work to set it up. And again, same flow. Are they happy? Are they not happy? I just noticed this the other day and I think it’s a really big trend on all sorts of platforms. They sort of skim “are you happy, are you not happy”. Then I tried to press “five,” then I can do a review. I wonder if I press “one” if they wanted me to do a review. So you can think about it in whatever product you do, how can you sort of scan the customer before you actually ask them to do something. Super simple but super valuable. You also see it in Uber. They ask you, “Okay, how was the ride 1 to 5? What was wrong, what was good?” I just want to give you the technical explanation of how we do it. When you buy our product at Shopify, then we use Zapier to take the data from Shopify to Delighted, and then again back to Zapier to Zendesk or to Intercom, depending on what we want to do with them. And then when we identify that they’re happy we take them to Amazon. So let’s get to the case. Can you make money this way? In the beginning we put all our reviews on Trustpilot and absolutely nothing happened to our revenue. I was a little bit – okay, hm okay. Then we started putting them on Amazon instead to just sort of test, okay, what can we do with the reviews there? You have to understand that back in 2015 the first product that came out was really, really bad. But now these days it’s actually getting to a stage where it’s actually pretty solid. And so we had to sort of dig them out of the ground from one star, two star, to actually getting up to an acceptable rate, and now I think it’s 3.6 today. But you get the point. And then we’ve sort of learned how to gain the search engine as well, so we’ve also sometimes been a bestseller in small categories. So Amazon — they have like a huge amount of categories, and if the product has sold the most within the last 12 hours you get a little best-seller badge. And the days we have the best-seller badge we sell 50 percent more. So there’s a certain point where it can actually, it’s worth spending extra advertising money just to sell an extra product to be the one that’s the best-seller. We are still experimenting with this and you can follow your rankings in these categories, but it’s super valuable when you are the best-seller. So, a little bit of bragging. We were at 13,000 dollars in December, and in August we were just around 90,000 dollars sales per month. So it’s been super valuable for us. It’s very easy to understand one review equals more sales. For a product company like us it’s super simple because you have Amazon, but you’ll have to find out what’s in your industry that actually makes the difference. When you get that point, and if you want to sell more on Amazon, there’s tracking services like for monitoring Google. I can see like while this presentation we are ranking number one on that. And Amazon’s search engine, they take into account what people write in the reviews, so think about what you ask people to write into the reviews. So we’ve asked people to review our wireless presentation system, for example. And so the next one we want to do is like “Could you please review our HDMI dongle as well?” And it makes a big, big difference because Amazon — they don’t use keyword density in what you put on the page, but they do use it in the comments. So there’s a big difference. And then the same system, AMC Tracker, also tells you how to optimize your page and what you can do there. When you got all that in place you can start also to do the ads, and Amazon is quite fantastic if you want to sell stuff because they don’t care about products; they care about how much turnover they make. So there’s one called Product Display, where you can say, “Okay, here’s my competitor, I want to show my product next to it.” So then you just have to set up 100 tests, start to run them and see which works, which doesn’t work. Close the ones that doesn’t work and then open more again to test even further. I think the most important thing we’ve learned is like –. This is the CMO of Slack and he was asked what’s the best advice that he could give a younger self. And he was like, “I would tell myself that a brand is the sum of every experience a customer has with your company, and a strong brand will always generate long-term growth and revenue.” So like every single touchpoint you have with the customer is another opportunity to make them happy. And when you have your system in place, you diagnose them as happy, and then you get a review. I think I’ll stop there. That’s how we found some growth on Amazon.