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INSIGHT: Brand24 growth interview with Mick Griffin

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Name: Mick Griffin
Age: 33
Role: Chief Revenue Officer
When did you join brand24 and what did you do before it?
I joined Brand24 in September 2014. Before Brand24 I was Director of Sales for GetResponse Email Marketing for 6 years. Previous to this I was basically taking any job that involved sales. I sold recruitment solutions, affiliate marketing tools, print cartridge recycling bins and even ice creams 🙂

What is your SaaS called: Brand24
Founded: 2010
How many people are on the team right now? 52
Where are you based? Poland
Did you raise money? Yes

Can you tell us what Brand24 are and how you make money?
Brand24 is a internet monitoring solution. We help our clients to collect mentions of any phrase or keyword from all over the web. Fundamentally our clients track their own brand names so they can engage conversations and have a presence online. But clients are now expanding and tracking their competition, their industry, thought leaders and are even collecting sales leads.
We make revenue by allowing our users to both collect and store that data for analysis in our tool. We basically save them time and effort in knowing what is being said about them online.

Brand24 homepage
Brand24 homepage

How did you get this idea?
I think like 90% of startups. We valued what people were saying about us online and we just couldn’t find a tool that matched our spending capacity. So we wanted to fill that void in the market.

How long did you work on it before you launched? When did you see your first dollar?
We worked since mid 2010 until private beta in mid 2011. Commercial release was in Oct 2011 and we had sales day 1.

Number of paying customers: 1900+

Conversion rate from free trial to paying user: 3.4%

Who are your clients? What is your target market?
Our target audience is SMB businesses and agencies. Internet monitoring isn’t a new technology but for years was only available to enterprise clients with deep pockets. We have a strong presence in both the SaaS and Startup spaces. We have clients of all sizes from MIT and BriteVerify to IKEA and Landingi

ARPU: $104 USD

How did you get your first 100 customers?
We started local. We put a lot of miles on our cars and our sneakers and networked our ass off. It paid off for us in a big way and we managed not only to have a strong client foundation, but we also became thought leaders nationally. As those companies expanded internationally, they took us with them and our base grew organically.

What are the 2-3 main distribution channels that work best for you? What channel didn’t work out for you?
Outside of paid advertising our best channels are Community Marketing in spaces we aim to be digital thought leaders (quora, reddit, SaaS Growth Hackers on FB, etc), and Influencer Marketing. We spend a lot of time connecting to both individuals and businesses in our space that we try to add value with and in turn we have mutually beneficial results.

The channel that didn’t work out ‘yet’ but we didn’t give up hope is 3rd party affiliate networks. When you are small and you start your affiliate program, you want to be part of a network of affiliates, so we joined ShareASale, and they don’t convert well comparing to our organic traffic. However, now we have our own community of Brand24 users + new SaaS orientated networks such as Growsumo are starting, this is a channel we hope will improve.

Mick, as a chief revenue officer at Brand24, how does your working day look like?
Basically, my regular day is looking over our customer journey funnel and the conversion within that funnel. I’ll start of course with our Trial to Upgrade conversions. But also lead scoring averages, performance of our marketing automation and platform usage. Tools like intercom, google analytics, and heap analytics are the majority of my day.

Tell us 2-3 growth challenges you encountered recently and how you managed to solve them.
From my specific perspective of focusing on our revenue and business plan, a constant challenge is to ensure we are sticking to our core audience. A prime example of this is that we no longer apply for tenders and RFP processes. As much as we would like to land those mountain deals, our goal is to scale quickly as a self service platform. The time my sales team were taking on RFPs was just counter productive to our goal. Same thing with custom requests for new features etc. We have to ensure feature would benefit our entire audience even one client is willing to cover the costs of development.
So in a nutshell, we have to be better at passing on short term revenue gains for the long term direction of the product.

Some of the tasks are not worth doing in-house. What do you outsource?
Until recently we outsourced all our performance marketing projects. Our retargeting, CPC campaigns were designed internally, but then our agency managed the setup and monitoring of the campaigns. Next month we will add a Performance Manager to our team. We have outsourced content creation, design work and HR development and most likely will continue to do so.

What are the 3 tools you and your team can’t live without?
Intercom, Google Analytics, Heap Analytics. Slack. I know you said 3, but literally I couldn’t do without these 4.

What was the #1 thing that helped you reduce churn?
We did two things simultaneously. We hired an anti-churn manager and we switched to Stripe / Recurly. So much of our churn was based around payment errors that were not being correctly processed and followed up. Since doing this, we have reduced churn by over 20%.

Tell us the biggest mistake you had through building and promoting your SaaS and what you’ve learned from it.
I think that we should have had a more global strategy from day 1. It has been great for us to start local and expand, however I think at the very least having your product available internationally is something we could have focused on from day 1.

If you had to start Brand24 today, what would you do differently?
As above, we would start with more global focus. We also learn a lot of lessons on how to prioritize head count, ratio of IT to say Customer Success / Marketing. However, probably every company has a different approach to that.

were you ever offered to be acquired or invested? Yes

where do you see Brand24 in 5 years from now?
Our core value will continue to be offering services to the SMB marketplace.

Highly dedicated entrepreneur, co-founder of Poptin and Ecpm Digital Marketing. Nine years of experience in the digital marketing field and internet project management. Graduated with an Economics degree from Tel Aviv University. A big fan of A/B testing, SEO and PPC campaigns' optimization, CRO, growth hacking and numbers. Always loves testing new advertising strategies and tools, and analyzing the latest start-up companies.