From 169 Customers to 8,266 in 28 Days: How Frase Built the Biggest AppSumo Launch Ever
On August 4th, Frase launched on AppSumo. In the 28 days that the campaign was live, we generated nearly $800K in total revenue and added over 8,000 customers to our customer base.
The biggest takeaway, by far, was that every breakthrough in this campaign–every successful experiment, every savvy growth hack–resulted from simply engaging genuinely with and listening closely to our new users.
These new users helped our 5-person team experience some wild growth. Here are some high-level numbers from the 28-day campaign:
- $792,000 in total sales
- Grew from 840 to 13,579 monthly active users
- 500% increase in sustained website traffic (measured two months post-launch)
- From 0 to 312 public reviews on platforms like Capterra, G2, and Trustpilot.
- From 0 to 2,459 members in the Frase Insider Facebook Group (1,492 of which are active on a daily basis).
By the end of it all, we had built the largest 30-day launch in AppSumo’s history.
Here’s a (very) deep dive into how we did it.
First, what’s AppSumo?
AppSumo is a daily deals site that offers heavily-discounted lifetime deals to early adopters. Their reach is substantial: hundreds of thousands of users (lovingly referred to as Sumo-lings) on their mailing list and millions inside their circle of influence on social media.
Their value proposition is simple: AppSumo distributes new products to its audience, and in exchange, takes a percentage of whatever is sold.
AppSumo has been around for over 10 years, has launched over 1,000 companies, and has had many big name companies (Shopify, Intercom, and Zapier, to name a few) gain initial traction by launching on their platform.
And What’s Frase?
Frase is building the future of SEO.
Frase’s AI-powered tools help you easily identify the questions your target audience is asking online, quickly create and optimize content capable of answering those questions, and instantly provide answers to curious or confused site visitors.
Thousands of SEO teams–like Neil Patel, Microsoft, Drift, and Coursera–use Frase every day to better understand user intent, drive organic traffic, and deliver answers wherever their customers look for them.
The decision to launch on AppSumo shouldn’t be taken lightly. You end up discounting your software significantly, and AppSumo takes a percentage of whatever you sell.
Before you agree to run a campaign, you need a hypothesis for the outcome of your AppSumo experiment.
Here were ours:
- That, after the conclusion of the campaign, new visitor traffic to our website would increase more than 100% over pre-campaign levels.
- That a big influx of new users would help us fuel further growth (I’ll get into this later).
We focused all of our efforts on removing any friction associated with becoming a successful user of the platform. The idea was that this would pay dividends through 1) reduced support ticket volume and 2) an increase in activation rates.
In efforts to remove friction we turned our attention to primarily two areas:
Product: In the months leading up to the launch, we completely overhauled our product and simplified it considerably. We dug into usage data and got rid of features that weren’t getting used, and highlighted features that were. We simplified our navigation menu to make it easier for users to find what they were looking for and re-built in-app tutorials that explained each feature.
Onboarding: We completely changed our onboarding email flow by designing highly informative emails that triggered upon specific actions that users took inside the product. In other words, new sign ups to the Frase platform began getting helpful information about how to use a feature immediately after they started experimenting with that feature.
We worked closely with the AppSumo team to create a description of Frase for the deal page and promotional video, which can be seen below.
These marketing assets were by far the most important of the campaign. They got tens of thousands of views, described the problem that Frase was solving, and laid out the pitch.
Within minutes of the launch going live, our site traffic increased about 1800% above normal levels.
It’s hard to believe, but that first day wasn’t our biggest day in terms of site traffic. A few tactics and promotions helped us maintain momentum over the course of the month:
- Featured Deal: Within the first four days we generated about $120K in sales. This got us featured on AppSumo’s homepage and helped us maintain momentum over the course of the launch.
- Deal of the Week Email: Because we got off to such a hot start, AppSumo sent an email to its user base specifically about Frase. This caused our biggest spike in traffic of the entire campaign.
- Webinar: Our webinar got crazy engagement. About 1000 people watched it live and tens of thousands have watched it since.
- Last Chance Email: AppSumo gives a heads up to its audience that a deal is about to end. This triggered FOMO and led to our biggest day of sales of the entire campaign.
AppSumo vs Product Hunt
Way back in May of 2019, we were launched (by a Frase user without any prior notice) on Product Hunt. We ended up as the #3 product of the day.
Our success on AppSumo dwarfed that which we saw on Product Hunt. The below chart shows our website traffic the month of each respective launch.
We had nearly the same amount of new traffic to our site the first day of each launch, but that’s where the similarities ended. The traffic we garnered via AppSumo (blue) dwarfed that which we got via Product Hunt (orange).
Responding to Questions on the AppSumo Deal Page
The AppSumo Deal Page is where your presence is most important during the launch.
On this page, Sumo-lings are encouraged to ask questions about your software. It’s extremely important that you authentically engage with as many of these people as humanly possible. Doing so sends a strong message about the kind of support users can expect to receive if they buy your software.
For Frase, our deal page got off to a pretty…rocky start.
Within a few hours of our launch, we started to get some pushback from Sumo-lings about the structure of our deal. In short, they wanted access to our premium product: the Answer Engine.
Our Answer Engine is designed for a completely different type of persona than what can usually be found in the AppSumo community. It’s not that we didn’t want to make the Answer Assistant available to this community–we just didn’t think they’d be very interested in it.
Turns out, that was very wrong. Sumo-lings really really wanted to try it out.
We could have easily just blown off these users and just forged ahead with the existing deal. Instead, we moved quickly, and after a few dozen frantic internal Slack messages, we opened up the product to Sumo-lings.
Once we announced the change, a large number of AppSumo users who had been holding out ended up changing course. Sales skyrocketed.
This was partly because we were making a cutting-edge tool available to AppSumo users.
But it was also because we were sending a clear message to potential buyers: that we move fast and take user feedback very seriously.
Getting Reviews on the AppSumo Deal Page
Sumo-lings also leave public reviews on the AppSumo deal page.
For obvious reasons, these are very important. They’re social proof and help persuade readers to take a chance on a software they’ve never heard of.
We were so convinced of the importance of reviews on this page that we individually followed up with every single activated customer thanking them for their purchase, supplying some helpful resources to help them get started with Frase, and asking if they’d be willing to leave a review about Frase on the AppSumo deal page.
In general, the AppSumo community was incredibly receptive to this approach, and as a result, we got over 100 glowing reviews, which served as the social proof that we needed to maintain momentum for the duration of the launch.
We did our best to publicly respond to every single review. We figured that if Sumo-lings were taking the time to share their thoughts about Frase with their peers, then we should take the time to personally thank them for doing so.
Being responsive on the Deal Page is just the tip of the iceberg.
Providing reliable and high-quality support once users began actually using our platform helped us ensure they didn’t refund their purchase (all AppSumo customers can refund their purchase within 60 days, no questions asked).
We had a few keys to our approach:
- We relied on our own product to automatically answer visitors’ questions while they were on our website. The Frase Answer Assistant is a new breed of chatbot that uses existing website content to automatically answer questions. On average, our Assistant automatically and accurately answered about 150 questions per day–this went a long way towards keeping our Support Team sane. Here’s what the tool looks like:
- We responded to live chats as quickly as possible. For those that preferred to interact with a human instead of the Frase Assistant, we made it a point to respond as quickly as possible (we use Hubspot chat internally). So we answered a lot of live chats messages. No really, there were a lot of chats:
- We emailed every user that got off to a slow start. We sent an email to every user who hadn’t yet realized value in the product (which we define as creating at least 1 document) and offered a 1:1 walkthrough of the platform. Hundreds of users took us up on this offer. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it. Here’s the template we used:
- We built out “Getting Started” and FAQ resources. We spent a lot of time before the launch overhauling our FAQ and onboarding resources so that users would be able to find what they were looking for without needing to ask us.
- We published a public product roadmap. We were very late to the game on this, but we eventually published a public roadmap which gave the AppSumo community confidence in the future of Frase.
We started getting asked by dozens of new users for a Facebook group where folks could ask questions, share tips/tricks, and learn from other Frase users.
Building a Facebook group wasn’t a very big priority for us, but enough people were asking for one that we decided to put one together. We called it Frase Insider.
Within two hours of the group going live, 800 people had joined. Today, there are nearly 2,500 members.
More importantly, almost 1500 of those members are active in the group every single day.
We…did not expect this
Once we realized how engaged our new users were, we started focusing a lot of our time and energy on nurturing, engaging with, and collecting constructive feedback from this community. Our CEO posts in the group every day–asking questions, announcing new features, and giving shoutouts. We love hearing from and chatting with these folks.
Product reviews can be a valuable driver of brand awareness and growth. They serve as important social proof that prospects consult before giving their hard-earned money to a software they haven’t used before.
Not to mention, they’re free. This can help level the playing field for young startups like Frase that may not have the budget to compete with big brands in traditional marketing channels.
We reached out to our new Facebook group and asked for a favor: that they leave an honest review about Frase on one of the three major software review platforms: Capterra, G2 Crowd, or Trustpilot.
The Facebook community did not disappoint.
We went from having effectively 0 public reviews to having over 300 in a matter of days.
On Capterra alone, we received over 250 reviews and are now one of the 7 most-reviewed SEO tools in the world.
And the reviews were glowing. Each platform operates on a 5-star review framework (with 5 stars being the best 1 star being the worst).
Here were our results:
|5 Star Reviews||265|
|4 Star Reviews||47|
|3 Star Reviews||1|
|2 Star Reviews||0|
|1 Star Review||0|
The Product/Market Fit Survey
With so many new users willing to share their opinions about Frase, we decided to try something new.
About three weeks after the campaign ended, we adopted a technique from Superhuman’s CEO, Rahul Vohra, who refined a methodology for determining if a company has achieved product/market fit.
The methodology focuses on identifying a leading indicator for product/market fit by simply surveying users with a simple question:
“How would you feel if you could no longer use [company]?
- Very disappointed
- Somewhat disappointed
- Not disappointed
According to Vohra, who cites a study with hundreds of companies, if 40% of your respondents indicate that they would be very disappointed if they were no longer able to use your product, you’ve achieved product/market fit.
When Superhuman first surveyed its users, 22% reported that they would be very disappointed if they could no longer use Superhuman, indicating they had work to do to achieve product/market fit:
When Frase surveyed our users, a whopping 64% reported that they would be very disappointed–nearly 25 points above the 40% benchmark.
We didn’t stop there, though. We also asked these users several other questions that helped us segment respondents into different user personas and better understand things like what we were doing well, what we could do better, and most importantly, what we should build next.
Because of the feedback we collected in this survey, we now have new feature releases scheduled every week for the next 12 weeks. Here’s our public roadmap.
The End Results
Our “north star” metric at Frase is Weekly Active Users (WAU’s).
Before the launch, about 300 people used our platform every week.
Now, a full month after the end of the campaign, we have about 5500 people using Frase every week. That’s a 1800% increase.
Our Website traffic is holding steady at about 500% above pre-campaign levels:
And we sold a bunch of software. Nearly $30K per day (just shy of $800K in total).
Summary–Was it Worth it?
Safe to say that it was, though maybe not for the reasons you’d guess.
The most valuable thing for Frase–by far–is what we’re learning from these highly engaged and vocal users on a daily basis.
Because of the feedback we’ve gotten, we’ve already released 10(!) new features since the start of the AppSumo launch and have dozens more planned in the coming weeks.
What’s more, we’ve (mostly accidentally) built a community that is genuinely invested in Frase’s success. Every day, we see new blog posts, webinars, video reviews, podcast shout-outs, and social media posts that extol the benefits of Frase and drive quality new traffic to our site.
In the coming weeks we’ll work closely with this community to continue our focus on the ultimate growth hack: building stuff that people want.