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As I sat in my hotel room in Las Vegas at 11:30pm, a thought crossed my mind.
“This woman is definitely not going to show up for our interview and now I’m just drinking alone.”
You see, the woman in question was Claire Suellentrop, former Director of Marketing at Calendly and one of the co-founders of Forget the Funnel (along with Georgiana Laudi who was previously VP of Marketing at Unbounce).
Claire and I were both speaking at MicroConf at the time, and I had reached out to her asking if she would be interested in shooting an episode of Drunk Entrepreneurs.
She was hesitant of course, because naturally it sounded like a terrible idea. Nevertheless, she agreed. That is, she agreed to meet me for an interview at 8:30pm.
But when 8:30 rolled around, and I still hadn’t heard back from Claire, I started getting worried. I called and I texted but received no response. There was only one possible answer in my drunken mind, and that was that Claire had been kidnapped in Vegas.
Just when I was about to give up and go to bed (in order to catch my early flight the next morning) I received about 8 consecutive text messages.
Claire had not been kidnapped after all.
She was at a dinner and had lost track of time (I know, it’s a pretty lame excuse) but she was still willing to do the interview.
Luckily, she had already had many drinks at her dinner, so we were already on the same level.
About fifteen minutes later, Claire was knocking at my door with a half-consumed bottle of bourbon. The interview was back on.
Here’s how our conversation went:
As you’re watching this interview, please be sure to comment some of your thoughts or questions on the video so we can reply! And of course, don’t forget to like the video and subscribe to Drunk Entrepreneurs. Every action helps!
About Claire Suellentrop
In case you weren’t familiar with Claire, she came into the SaaS world several years ago. Most people are probably familiar with her work at Calendly, the app that simplifies the process for booking meetings directly into your Google Calendar.
Claire was the second employee at Calendly and joined when the company was ready to switch from beta to paid.
But before Calendly, Claire was actually working in entertainment marketing and running her own blog on the side. Eventually she got some consulting clients from her blog and was on the lookout for a scheduling tool (thus she found Calendly).
In the video above, Claire goes into a bit more detail about how exactly her relationship with Calendly shifted from a beta user to one of the earlier employees at the company.
Switching from an acquisition focus to an activation focus
Unlike many software companies, Calendly didn’t have an acquisition problem and they weren’t struggling to come up with content ideas that could lead to massive organic growth. By nature of the tool, it was very referral driven and so Claire needed to shift her mindset a bit.
Rather than focusing on top of the funnel marketing, she now needed to think about the gaps in the onboarding experience, and find ways to better activate and retain users.
Since she appreciated the research part of marketing so much, she was able to really dive deeper into her users needs and identify which areas she could have a strong influence on.
“You could probably call it my first personal understanding of top-of-funnel content…it was my first real experience with the intersection of marketing and content, and product and how they work together. I don’t really look at marketing as this ‘top of the funnel’ thing anymore- so much as I look at it as a part of the whole product experience.”
Despite this interest and fascination with the research aspect of her new job, she admits it was all very new to her, and she found herself creating a lot more educational content and support documentation than she had initially imagined.
Understanding different audience segments
Eventually, Claire started working on a massive project which was a deep-dive of all the different segments that she had identified within the product.
Calendly was made up of a lot of different segments of users as you can imagine, since so many people need a scheduling tool. When Claire spoke about her experiences identifying those segments and creating specific experiences for those segments, I found I could really relate to the problem.
You see, at Venngage we also have a long list of different types of users. Everyone from students, to marketers to people in health care use Venngage to create different types of visuals and graphics. In fact I even used it to create the YouTube banner for this very video.
Eventually, Claire started to see patterns and noticed that a lot of users fell within certain job titles or roles at different companies. So she started to look into what some of the differences were with how each of these users were engaging with the product.
And so she started to interview various users within each of those segments and found it to be a very eye-opening and necessary step in order to improve how users were activating within the tool.
How to get users on the phone for user interviews
Claire states that at a high-level when it comes to conducting user interviews, there are a number of steps you need to follow.
Let’s start by looking at an overview of these requirements:
Start by identifying which people you need to interview based on which users are most successfully using your product.
Find them in your CRM, your admin tool- or whatever tool you are using to keep track of your users.
Reach out to a large sample of them and schedule calls, understanding that many of them will not get back to you, and a smaller sample will actually show up.
Have calls with everyone that does show up and transcribe those calls.
Start looking for the patterns in what those users are doing and saying.
Now let’s dive a bit deeper and get an idea of what an engaged user actually looks like.
We’ll use the example of sales people since they need to get on the phone with a lot of potential clients and close deals. Therefore they are an ideal segment for Calendly, right?
But if you go a step higher than that- someone who has an account with lots of licenses for sales reps is probably a sales manager, so that’s the ideal person to speak with since they are the “decision maker” and identified the need in the product.
Claire recommends trying to get on the phone with at least 10 of these people, since that typically provides you with enough patterns to work with.
In conducting these calls with sales managers, Claire actually learned a lot about how those individuals were learning about the product and implementing it. And what she learned was that some of the most important feedback and data were things that she couldn’t find by simply running quantitative analysis. She needed the run qualitative analysis in order to dive deeper.
In fact, the same way of thinking can also be applied to top-of-the funnel marketing. The idea is to combine a qualitative and quantitative approach to growth, no matter what channel you are focusing on. I share my strategy for taking a data-driven approach to content engagement in this post, so take a look if that is something you are struggling with.
Looking for the “Bright Spots” when filtering through data
Now let’s say you identify that 12 very unique segments are using your product in very similar ways. But rather than trying to improve and optimize the experience for all 12 of those segments, Claire recommends focusing in on just one segment first.
Here’s what she suggests:
Start by picking a segment that is already performing well, and see if you can double down on those people.
Use the results of those experiments to shape what you end up doing for some of your other segments.
One example might be writing a new onboarding sequence just for that one segment (let’s say it’s salespeople).
Isolate that segment from your onboarding and show them or tell them how salespeople gain a ton of value from your product.
Then monitor how that one onboarding sequence is performing in comparison to your general onboarding.
Keep tweaking that one segment until you get an interesting lift.
Once you get that lift, you can identify what worked and replicate that process over all your other segments.
This process will help you to figure out how you can impact the onboarding and activation of your users, without trying to run too many different experiments at once. Because once you have so many different sequences running at the same time, measuring all of those different areas can become very tedious and overwhelming.
As we came to the end of our lengthy conversation, I looked at the clock and noticed it was almost 1:00am.
Our discussion had shifted a lot, from talking about activating users within a product, to what exactly sticky bras were made of.
We wrapped up our filming and decided to take what was left of our bottle of bourbon and wander around our Las Vegas hotel. I was glad that Claire did end up showing up for the interview, even if it was 3 hours later than she said she would. I know I learned a lot, and I hope you did too.
Below are a list of resources that were mentioned during our interview. Please take a moment to look through them, and also to leave a comment on the video by following this link.