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Unbounce’s 2014 Year In Review

One year ago today, we launched this blog. We thought it would be fitting to publish our 2014 Year In Review on Inside Unbounce to celebrate everything that we accomplished.

For Unbounce, 2014 was a year of change and growth, like any fast-growing startup. We grew in customers, more than doubled our brainpower, added some awesome, much anticipated features, including mobile responsive landing pages, opened an office in Montreal & moved offices here in Vancouver, held our very first conference and so much more. Phew, I am out of breath already.

Here’s a quick & dirty snapshot of our year by the numbers just for kicks, but be sure to check out the rest of the post for all the finer details.

In 2014 Unbounce:

  • Added 47 new really awesome team members.
  • Launched Inside Unbounce & published 74 blog posts on Inside Unbounce from 31 Unbounce employees
  • Published 131 blog posts on the Unbounce Conversion Marketing blog from 73 contributors
  • Solved 18,527 support tickets and helped customers 8,809 times via live chat
  • Gave away 3,201 Unbounce t shirts
  • Hosted our first-ever conference with 300+ attendees and 12 expert speakers
  • Opened 1 office in Montreal & moved 1 office in Vancouver
  • Maintained 99.99% uptime
  • Raised $3,237 for charity
  • Earned $6,938,938 dollars, spent $6,379,446 dollars
  • And so much more! Read further to get all the details.

This is a long post. To make it convenient, we’ve broken it into several sections so you can jump around.


Growth and Revenue |  People, Culture and Two New Offices  |  Customers  |  Content, Community and Our First-Ever Conference  |  Technical Developments  |   2015 And Beyond

 Growth & Revenue

Unbounce Monthly Revenue in USD

Overall our performance was good. The first half of 2014 was awesome, however, the last half, especially September to December, wasn’t where we wanted to be. The seasonal summer slowdown hit us more than usual (near flat growth in Sept), and things just didn’t really pick up as expected in October through to November. As a result, we averaged 4.33% month over month growth in 2014, down from a monthly average of 6.62% in 2013. Results were largely self-inflicted, but we’ve geared up and have bigger and bolder plans for 2015. On the plus side, in 2013 we decreased churn by one full percentage point and this year we decreased it again by 0.5% to about an average of 6.7%. For a self-serve SAAS company, with no sales team and a $150 CAC this is a respectable number. The other metric I’m excited about is the number of customers with us over nine months, our “lifers” with their nominal churn rate, has more than doubled in 2014 to over 4000. Here’s a look at our KPIs and some comparisons to this time last year.

KPIs, as of Dec 31, 2014:

  • Number of Paying Customers: 7842
  • Monthly Recurring Revenue: $628,000, up from $378,000 Dec 2013
  • Average Monthly Revenue Per Customer ~$80 up from $73 Dec 2013
  • Average annual contract value $960
  • Total Revenue in 2014: $6,938,938, up from 3,239,234 in 2013
  • Gross Margin: 90.42%
  • Average CAC in 2014: ~$158, up from $128 in 2013
  • Full-Time Employees: 78, up from 38 in 2013
  • Average Annual Revenue Per Employee $124K, up from about 119K in 2013

 People, Culture and Two New Offices

Growing the Unbounce Team

Unbounce Employee by Department 2014

sales = 0

Unbounce Employee Headcount

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been a tremendous year for our team at Unbounce. We ended 2014 with 78 Unbouncers, having welcomed a whopping 47 new team members over the last year – that’s almost 1 person each week. We had 6 people who moved on to new adventures, and overall our team experienced 111% growth over 2014. Wow! By the way, did I mention we’re hiring?

A Glimpse Into Unbounce’s Gender Diversity

Unbounce is 41% female, with 7 females in management positions. Though we’ve got some work to do to increase diversity in our technical departments, we are really proud of this number, especially in comparison to some of the bigger tech companies.

Unbounce Female to Male Ratio

Culture & Values

Unbounce Values

Our core values on display in our new office

We’ve obviously had a ton of growth here in 2014, but hiring and company growth is done very deliberately with respect to culture. And in 2014 maintaining and growing an awesome company culture was something I was razor focused on – or as I see it, hiring good people and getting out of their way.

In early 2014 we worked on establishing and redefining Unbounce’s vision, mission and core values.

Vision: Unbounce exists to empower every business to create better marketing experiences.

Mission: To give marketers indispensable tools and resources to easily create high converting landing pages for every campaign.

Core Values

  • Be Transparent about everything we do.
  • Be Humble because we can always improve, and should be grateful for all the feedback we receive and the experiences we get to have.
  • Empower others to do more and be better.
  • Have the Courage to make tough decisions, to speak up when you have something to say, and do things that aren’t easy.
  • Delight everyone — whether it’s a thoughtful surprise for a coworker, an amazing experience for a customer, or an unexpected new feature in Unbounce.
  • Be Generous with what we share, and always give more than we expect in return.

Launching Inside Unbounce

Last January, we launched Inside Unbounce. Inspired by our friend Rand Fishkin and his transparent blog and the amazing people at Buffer, we decided to reinvent our company blog to be a staff-written un-curated window into our journey and the lessons learned along the way.

Since it’s launch, we’ve had 74 blog posts on Inside Unbounce from 31 Unbounce employees across all departments.

Culture & Charity Go Hand in Hand

Headbands Made By Vivi For Charity

Vivi’s hand-knit headbands for charity.

On October 1st, we co-hosted Techpong a massive ping pong tournament. However, ping pong was just the means to an end: raising money for charities in the Downtown Eastside. The tech community helped raise over $73,000 for Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and internally, we raised $3,237.

By rallying behind a cause, charity became a fun activity around our office. While I auctioned off vegetables from my vegetables, Vivi was knitting popular headbands. Gary & Stef sang for donations with an orchestrated, Jimmy Fallon lip-sync battle and our Customer Success team added challenges to their daily work routine. For example, every time the phone rang more than three times, team members made a donation to their fundraising group.

We combined charity and team engagement. Overall, it got everyone engaged and we look forward to doing more of that in 2015.

Not One, But Two New Offices

In March, we established a presence on the East Coast of Canada and opened an office in Montreal. Starting with a small office of 3 employees, our East-Coast office is now 7 strong.

And in July, the Unbounce team in Vancouver packed and moved to a much bigger office that we all fit into. Gone are the days with one meeting room (no, really – we only had one meeting room). Now we have 8 spacious meeting rooms and room to grow. If you’re in Vancouver and haven’t seen our new digs, join us Friday, January 30th for our monthly open house!

 Customers

Helping our Customers

This year, our Customer Success team solved a whopping 18,527 support tickets with an average first reply time of 4.6-hours. That’s just over 7,000 tickets more than in 2013, with customers hearing back from us almost 3-hours faster, on average. We also helped people 8,809 times via live chat, with customers waiting a mere 32-seconds until they got a response from a real, live CS team member. We switched telecom providers this summer, so we don’t have all the data on that, but we’ve averaged about 460 calls per month since August 1st, which means we helped somewhere in the neighbourhood of 5,000+ customers over good old fashioned phone as well.

Customer Success Beyond The Numbers

Connecting with our customers and building a relationship with them is something we pride ourselves on here at Unbounce. Each quarter we have an internal town-hall and one of our favourite moments are the stories about how Customer Success team delights our customers in creative and meaningful ways.

Here are a couple of our favorites over 2014:

    • Chocolate Coins. Our Customer, Michael, sent us Chocolate Coins. We made a video. And Ryan wrote an entire Inside Unbounce post. I encourage you to read the entire story here.
    • Unbounce Pizza. Jonathan works at Disruptive Advertising and is a longtime customer of Unbounce and one of our trusted partners. After a support ticket was resolved, Justin, one of our Customer Support Coaches and Jonathan had a random back and forth where they exchanged Pizza GIFs to one another. Since we’re big fans of Disruptive, we decided to send him a pizza with the Unbounce logo in pepperoni.
    • Surfs Up. Nicholas was having a rough month and needed to downgrade his subscription. He loves Unbounce, has been with us for a while – but he just needed to refocus his income for the month (Such is #startuplife). Justin sent him a book about surfing to cheer him up (according to Twitter, he’s an aspiring surfer). With the book, this personal note was included:

Hey Nick! I know it’s been a tight month, but just remember life is a lot like surfing.. “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf. – Your friends at Unbounce

Nick’s response:

Justin/Ryan-

I’ve been meaning to send you a thank you and just received the mail today. Are you friggin kidding???? This is the nicest, coolest, most awesomest thing any partner/provider has ever done.

You’ve truly inspired me.

Thank you.

Nick

 Content, Community and Our First-Ever Conference

Content: The Conversion Marketing Blog, Ebooks, Webinars & Page Fights

We were busy as ever on the blog this year, publishing 131 blog posts from 73 contributors. Here are some of the posts published in 2014 that our readers loved:

  1. 22 Brutally Honest Landing Page Critiques by Oli Gardner
  2. 12 Beautiful Landing Page Templates Designed Just For You by Corey Dilley
  3. 32 Clever Lead Generation Ideas For Your Next Marketing Campaign by Josh Haynam
  4. Get Prospects to Say “Yes” With This Simple Landing Page Copy Hack by Michael Aagaard
  5. How To Set Measurable Goals for Your Social Media Marketing by Daniel Prager

Prefer curling up by the fire with a book (or your smartphone)? We also launched 3 value-packed ebooks to help marketers become better at their jobs:

Finally, we launched The Conversion Marketing Glossary – a hub for all the terms, concepts, advice and resources you’ll ever need to improve your conversion rates. We’ve got 104 conversion marketing terms (and counting), with helpful links and videos from marketing experts and CRO heavyweights.

We hosted 14 webinars in 2014, with 11,242 unique plays. We hosted 9 live episodes of Page Fights with 1,189 landing pages submitted for critique and 14,348 PageFights YouTube views.

Community

Our overall community grew 38%. Twitter grew 32% with 20,828 retweets, Facebook grew 42% with 8,884 stories created, LinkedIn grew 141% with 305 updates, Google+ grew 104% with 7,288 +1s.

Here’s some of the content that our social audience loved the most this year:

On Twitter:

On Facebook:

On Google+:

On LinkedIn:

Oli Hits The Road

In 2014 Oli started public speaking. We’ve been trying to persuade him for 4 years! And if you know Oli Gardner, he doesn’t half-ass anything. Since then, he’s spoken at 12 different conferences in the US, Canada, Germany, England and Poland, getting a lot of praise along the way. He’ll be speaking at even more events in 2015, so keep an eye out.

Call To Action Conference

Call To Action Conference

#CTAConf

On September 12th, 300+ people attended our first-ever conference, some coming from as far as Japan and Sweden! It was a one-track, action-packed day of entertaining and engaging sessions where we listened to some of the best and brightest minds in the world of conversion marketing. Missed it? Check out the videos and the photos.

Mark your calendars, this year the conference dates are set: September 14th & 15th. You can expect twice the speakers, twice the days, twice the learning and twice the fun. Buy your early bird tickets now!

 Technical Developments

Product Releases

Carter

From Carter

Templates (envato)

Templates has always been in high demand from our customers, and until last year, our Creative team was designing them all in-house which was hard to keep up with. The first step we took to solve this was build a small feature that allowed users to download Unbounce pages as a “.unbounce” file, and then upload these files back into any Unbounce account. Our marketing team then set out to form a partnership with Envato’s Themeforest marketplace who added a new category for Unbounce Landing Pages. After launching a contest offering $12,000 in prizes, we’ve now got:

  • 70 different templates for all different types of industries campaign types (this is in addition to the templates we offer directly inside Unbounce)
  • Our customers have purchased templates 3,898 times, spending a total of $81,183

Dynamic Text Replacement

The majority of Unbounce customers use landing pages for their PPC campaigns driven by networks like Google AdWords. Being able to pass dynamic content into an Unbounce page quickly became necessary in order to maximize the message match between ad and landing page, as well as positively impact Quality Scores for multiple keyword groups. In April we launched Dynamic Text Replacement which has been adopted by 731 customers, some of whom are seeing conversion rate increases of 400+%.

Script Manager

Unbounce has always allowed customers to add custom javascript to their pages. This has enabled countless integrations with analytics tools like Google Analytics and KissMetrics or conversion tracking for Google AdWords, Facebook, etc. Doing this on every page had become painful for some of our power users who have 1000+ pages so we built the Script Manager to manage these scripts at a domain level. Since releasing the feature in November, we’ve seen:

  • 825 customers using the Script Manager for a feature adoption rate of 9%
  • 2,289 scripts published across 23,169 pages on 1,614 different domains

Of those scripts:

  • 703 are for Google Analytics
  • 217 are for Google Adwords
  • 143 are for Facebook
  • 114 are for Google Tag Manager

Responsive

In the history of Unbounce, we’ve never heard such a unanimous demand for a single feature as we did for Mobile Responsive. As mobile advertising grows, Marketers need to ensure their pages are optimized to convert both desktop and mobile users. We wrapped up 2014 by releasing Mobile Responsive, and have seen:

  • 37,817 mobile responsive pages created, 13,499 of which have been published.
  • 2,952 customers have created a mobile responsive page, 2,124 of whom have published one.
  • 12% of our customers have adopted Mobile Responsive into their campaigns.
  • Surveying our customers, the feature itself has gained an NPS (Net Promoter Score) of 37.

Technology

Carl Headshot Circle

From Carl:

We launched our next generation page server infrastructure, which was a ground-up rewrite of the previous generation. This put in place a lot of the plumbing we needed to build features like Dynamic Text Replacement, Script Manager and Spam Filtering, and also allowed us to start serving landing pages out of multiple data centers simultaneously (whereas previously we could only serve from one data center). We now host over 17,000 active domains on this new infrastructure, aggregating page statistics in real-time from four data centers around the world.

We also beefed up our ability to push out software changes without you noticing a thing. In addition to blue-green deployments for our web app, we built a cool new system for deploying our Page Builder that let us run a beta group for Mobile Responsive in production. That resulted in one of the smoothest launches we’ve ever had for such a large feature.

Ripping things apart has been a bit of a theme for us this year. Many software companies get themselves into a tight spot by building all of their features within one giant codebase. As they try to scale up and have multiple teams delivering features simultaneously, they find they slow down due to the difficulty of coordinating changes amongst everyone. We’re hoping to avoid that fate by pulling our codebase apart before it gets too big. This year we launched separate services for handling leads downloads, bundling up pages for downloading, filtering bots and spam, managing global scripts, and more. This “micro services”-based architecture will be a continuing theme for us through 2015.

The uptime for our web application was pretty solid for 2014. We target four-nines availability for our web application and we achieved a very respectable 99.993%. For our page serving, our target is five-nines availability. That’s a target that’s very difficult to achieve, but we did get pretty close this year at 99.991%. We would have been even closer at 99.996% for the year, however in November we had an hour-long period where our CDN provider was having issues and only serving up about half of the traffic it should have been. The bottom line is that we’re very pleased with our overall availability numbers this year, and are looking forward to beating those in 2015!

 2015 And Beyond

While 2014 has been a pretty awesome year, 2015 will be even better. Let me summarize the plans we have for the next 4 quarters. I have them written on a piece of paper I keep in my wallet… Ah darn, I left my wallet at home today. But no worries, I think I remember something about lowering churn, increasing ARPU and LTV and blowing up top of funnel by being more global, more mobile, more Google and more community. You’ll just have to keep checking these pages from time to time to stay on top of our progress. Cheers!

-Rick Perreault
CEO & Co-Founder, Unbounce

  • http://blog.bmannconsulting.com/ Boris Mann

    Rick & Unbounce team — what an awesome job you’re doing in talking the talk AND walking the walk. Transparency FTW. Congrats on an awesome 2014, hope to see you continue to hit it out of the park for 2015.

    • Rick Perreault

      Thank you Boris. 2015 will be awesome.

  • http://kalv.co.uk/ Kalvir Sandhu

    Yes, Unbounce is killing it. This transparency on what you did in 2014 is excellent!!

    I’ve got a hunch on what you’re going to do in 2015 :)

  • http://www.gathercontent.com/ James Deer

    Really enjoy following your story Rick.

    You guys are a good number of steps ahead of my start-up and it’s really great to that you and the team are so transparent in how you are building your company. Lot’s for my team and I to learn.

    A quick question: your churn rate, is that 6.7% over the year, or monthly?

    Hope 2015 is as good as 2014 was! :)

    • Rick Perreault

      6.7% monthly. Some context required, as a self-serve saas, we have high churn in the first few months as we get alot of non qualified subscriptions, but the churn on the cohort declines significantly over time.

      • http://www.gathercontent.com/ James Deer

        Thanks Rick- very interesting. I think Moz once wrote about being similar to this as well. I’m in a similar situation with losing non-qualified customers within the first couple of months.

        Would you ever think about tilting up-market to try and combat this? Do you worry about plateauing as your total customer base grows? You eventually are acquiring as many customers as you a churning?

        Thanks for being so open as well!

        • Rick Perreault

          Moz and Unbounce share alot in common. Let me see if I can answer these. I don’t see it as losing customers, many who start a subscription weren’t really customers to begin with, they don’t need Unbounce and fail for reason’s outside our ability to affect. We could significantly lower churn tomorrow if we put a barrier to qualify customers, like enterprise saas models, but that’s not our model. Actually, part of the problem is we use enterprise saas best practise to measure and communicate our business metrics yet we are not traditional enterprise saas. Thinking out loud, should probably ignore first couple months, start counting a customer month 3 and adjust CAC accordingly, maybe?

          When I think of lowering churn, I’m generally not thinking of addressing these first couple months, I”m thinking of customers that have adopted, have a real need for Unbounce, but churn out 5, 6 or 12 months out. That’s the focus today…. Though we still have work to do in onboarding those who actually need Unbounce but don’t adopt, small % of early churn but it’s real.

          Customers on higher paid plans do churn at a lower rate and we are acquiring a higher % of these as the product matures and will continue to, so yes, nudging up market is part of the strategy but without giving away the details, we are planning capabilities that should have a big impact here as well.

          I don’t worry about plateauing, not anytime soon. Our market is big and growing.

          Hope this is useful

          Cheers

  • http://www.mealime.com/ Jeffrey Bunn

    This is great Rick! So nice to see UB growing with so many improvements.

  • Yoav Schwartz

    Really inspiring post Rick – congrats!

  • http://hello.piging.com/ Jose Gomez

    Great transparency. It show how proud you are of your company and your team.
    Congratulations,

  • http://www.HubSpot.com Dharmesh Shah

    This is brilliant. Thanks very much for sharing your journey and helping others learn. Great to have companies like you in the industry.

    Wish you all continued success.

  • Jackson Murphy

    Rick, really dig the transparency and year end wrap up. Nicely done. Keep up the hustle.

  • https://www.linkedin.com/in/avtarramsingh Avtar Ram Singh

    This is astounding. My connection with Unbounce was made after I encountered Tia Kelly in the deep realm of Twitter I believe, and ever since I’ve been following Unbounce, the blog, the people, the content – it’s fascinating to see real success with a great product. Kudos to you guys! :)

  • pdg74

    Rick, what happened in late 2013 that increased the growth rate?

    • Rick Perreault

      A few things, 1) on the marketing side we started doing more, webinars, ebooks 2) we dropped $10 & $25 price plans & focused on the needs of the $99 customer 3) launched a customer on boarding program.

      • pdg74

        Thanks. I love that you guys have achieved this without raising a ton of money.

  • http://thisiskeep.com/ Keep.

    Love the transparency. Here’s to a massively successful 2015!

  • http://www.davidrdgratton.com Ddonat

    Congratulations Rich et al. This is incredibly impressive in both results and approach. Great leadership.

    • Rick Perreault

      Thank you David!

  • Jason Williams

    Excellent post summarizing an amazing 2014. Thanks for all the great resources :) Congrats Rick & Unbounce! Good luck beating your metrics again in 2015.