“If we had to do it all over again…”
BEN: The idea seemed very simple in the beginning—all we have to do is raise the price and tell customers we’re doing it, right? But in reality, it required a technical lift that not everyone anticipated.
Communication is usually the cure-all. We could have probably avoided a lot of the frantic moments if we had gotten everyone in the same room together much earlier to talk through all these issues. As soon as we had a marketing plan written out, we should have organized an all-hands with the engineering, sales, and support teams and said, “Okay, are there any problems with what we’ve just laid out? What actually needs to happen for us to get this program in place?”
ASYA: Since we added the upgrade element so late in the process, it felt like a scramble to get it all out the door. I think we could have gotten more people to switch to Nutshell Pro or a Classic annual subscription if we had thought that through in advance.
On the bright side, the price increase project helped us think about what an always-on upgrade campaign could look like, and how we would make that pitch to customers going forward. Some of the assets that came out of this will be used continuously going forward, like our video showing the difference between Classic and Pro.
JOE: In retrospect, I would have built in the “Lock in your price now'” message right away. That was an obvious one. And I would have been more deliberate in pushing people towards upgrading to Pro.
REBEKKA: I wish we had allowed ourselves more time to do the production of all the different emails, because we did talk about the price increase internally for a long time. Asya and Joe spent months crunching the numbers, but we didn’t actually write the content and set it all into motion until the three- or four-week time period leading up to April 24th. That’s where the crunch was.
IAN: There were a lot of potential user actions that Andy [Fowler, Nutshell Co-founder and CTO] and I had to quickly think through after the price increase was already announced. What happens if they’re annual and switch to monthly, or they’re monthly and switch to annual, or they add users, or remove users? It would have probably helped to think through all of the implications upfront.
Another part of this was just learning how Recurly works, and realizing that if you have a pending change, any other pending change isn’t additive—it just blows away the old thing to makes the new one.
MIKE: If we had to do it all over again, I’d want to map out not only the strategy itself, but also the entire customer journey—they get this email, they click on this link, they go to this thing, etc. You have to wireframe that stuff out in advance. But much credit to our engineering team for jumping in and creating what we needed in very short order.
AUSTIN: I wish that we would’ve had a little more manpower to individually call each one of our bigger Classic users. I was able to have really good conversations with a lot of customers, but I think being able to proactively reach out to your older customers is very valuable, especially as you’re making improvements to your product. Talking to our Classic users is a great way to learn what’s working with Nutshell, and where we should start to improve even more. I’d love to do a deeper dive into that cohort at some point in time.
KATHERINE: It’s important to have relationships with your customers where you’re not just talking to them when something’s going wrong—you’re talking about how they’re finding value in our system, how they’re utilizing the features, what they’re not using at all. That’s really amazing information for us to have, because it helps us do a better job of serving our customers. Going forward, I think we should put more focus on that.
MIKE: This might sound crazy, but I think we should have sent out more emails to customers. When I put together the plan for the Pro upgrade emails, I got some pushback on the frequency of those emails, like, “You want to send how many emails?” And I was like, “All the emails.”
Our users aren’t necessarily used to being communicated to with that level of frequency, but my argument was, “When we’re trying to get attention in someone’s inbox, we’re competing with all the promotional and personal emails that are flooding in all the time.” That’s a debate that still rages on at Nutshell.
JOE: In terms of protecting against churn and contraction, I don’t really think there’s anything that I would have done differently. I think there are companies that would have communicated with their customers less, and taken advantage of the fact that these people aren’t paying that close of attention to their emails.
If we really wanted to reduce churn, we could have written our subject lines less clearly, or tried to be a little more evasive. We could have sent only one notice instead of three. There are things other people would do that we would never do. It doesn’t feel right, and it’s just not us.