Unbounce’s 2015 Year in Review
Happy to finally present the Unbounce annual year in review for 2015. A little late but better than never. I would say that 2015 was a real transformative year for us. We had some wins, some losses, many firsts, and lots of learning. It’s the year we started to have trouble remembering everyone’s names, when diversity at Unbounce became a discussion, when we started thinking more long term, a little differently – and more globally. We benefited from the Canada/US exchange rate in ways we never predicted and learned some valuable lessons from the challenges associated with rapidly adding to headcount.
Let’s take a look at Unbounce in 2015.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Served over 1 billion page visits
- Helped customers collect over 60 million leads
- Maintained 99.99% uptime
- Averaged 83.12 Net Promoter Score for Support, 62.36 for Product.
- Added 43 new really awesome team members, ending 2015 with 108 full-time employees
- Made our first aqusition, Rooster (and their team)
- Brought on Jeremy Wallace as CMO
- Recruited Sascha Williams as new COO
- Published 258 blog posts on the Unbounce marketing blog from 47 contributors
- Spearheaded International CRO Day
- Solved 26,719 support tickets and helped customers 14,199 times via live chat
- Gave away a lot of Unbounce t-shirts, so many we lost track
- Hosted our 2nd successful Call to Action conference with 402 attendees and 19 expert speakers (3rd just announced here)
- Launched our first podcast, making it to #1 in the iTunes store
- Hired our first employee, Ben Harmanus, in Berlin
- Launched German language website
- Became a sponsor and the new home for Ladies Learning Code
- Moved both the Vancouver and Montreal offices
- Raised over $10k for charity
- Earned $12,400,000 in revenue
- 389,327 landing pages built in Unbounce in all of 2015 across 26,000 active domains we host
- We served over 1 billion visits in 2015, averaging 4 million per day by Dec. 2015
- Helped our customers collect just over 60 million leads in 2015
- Passed the 100 million mark for total leads collected since we launched in 2009
We had only one availability event related to serving hosted pages in all of 2015 that lasted 28 minutes, bringing our total page serving availability to 99.995% for the year. We had a number of smaller issues with respect to the Unbounce application, bringing us in at 99.987%.
- Ended 2015 with over 11,000 paying customers
- Grew monthly recurring revenue (MRR) to over $1,000,000 USD, over 12 million USD in annual recurring revenue (ARR)
- Average monthly revenue per user (ARPU) reached nearly $92
- Average cost of acquiring a customer (CAC) in 2015 was about $342
- Total Revenue $12,400,000 CDN, up from $6,900,000 in 2014
- Average Gross Margin 92%
People & Culture
We had 54 new hires in 2015, and we also had 11 people leave us (more on that below), so a net new employee count of 43. That’s 57% growth.
By team: Creative (+3) Customer Success (+10) Marketing (+18) Business (+7) Product Development (+16)
- Launched a leadership development program for all current and up-and-coming leaders with mostly positive results to date
- We’re supporting healthy lifestyle activities and introduced a wellness reimbursement program of up to $500 per year for all employees
- We also launched a mentorship program back in February, and have had 2 rounds of it so far
- The Unbounce Dodgeball team, “The Dodge Grand Caravans,” won the local dodgeball championship.
The year wasn’t without its growth-related challenges, some of which prevented us from retaining some really good employees. Operating a company of over 100 people separated by walls and floors (and time zones) is much more challenging than operating a 30-person startup with everyone mostly in the same room. Keeping everyone aligned and on the same page is hard during the best of times and in early 2015 it was probably our biggest growth-related challenge. By year’s end we made some progress and have resolved to communicate more often, use different formats, and repeat, repeat, repeat. This is an area that will require constant attention as we continue to grow.
Properly integrating new employees (or existing employees into new roles) and setting them up for success was probably the second biggest challenge of our growth in 2015. The level of employee churn was not expected and as we dug into the causes, we learned some good lessons. Building on that, we’ve made employee success one of four key priorities in 2016.
Last year I noted that when it came to gender diversity, Unbounce was about 40% female. I said we would do better in 2015 and we ended this year around the same 40% with less than 20% of the leadership team being female. This isn’t good enough and we know it. As we grow, we are looking for strong female leadership. In 2016 we’re looking to pick up our socks. We recently added two very talented directors who happen to be female. We also announced a parental leave policy.
So much marketing. It was the marketing department that had the most growth in terms of people this year.
- 258 blog posts were published on the Unbounce Marketing Blog (wow!) and we had 47 guest authors
- Held one amazing conference!
- Hosted 14 marketing webinars
- Launched and hosted CRO Day — 24+ hours’ worth of exciting free webinars, Hangouts On Air, Twitter chats, AMAs, and in-person meetups.
- Kicked off our marketing automation program using HubSpot
- Started our first paid marketing campaigns
- Got even more serious about CRO and hired Michael Aagaard
- Oli spoke at 22 conferences and guest-starred on 14 webinars – he was the no. 1 rated speaker at 9 events
- Said goodbye to Page Fights and launched an on-demand web series called The Landing Page Sessions
- Held the Unbounce Conversion Road Trip — a mini-conference series in NY, Toronto, Boston and Chicago
- Launched the Call To Action Podcast, which debuted at #1 in the iTunes store and had 41 awesome episodes
Published 3 e-books: Attention Driven Design, Landing Page Copywriting and Holiday Email + Landing Pages Guide
- Chat – 14,199 chats with an average wait time of 25 seconds, which is up over 60% from last year for volume and an average of seven seconds faster.
- Tickets – 26,719 solved tickets with an average first reply time of 4 hours, which is up 40% from last year with an average of one hour faster reply time.
- Phone – 8,514 completed calls. Since we switched phone systems in the summer of 2014, I can’t do a direct comparison from 2014 vs. 2015, but if you compare August 2014 – December 2014 vs. August 2015 – December 2015, we saw a 41% increase in phone calls as well.
We started the year in Customer Education with a pretty broad mandate to build content that would reduce churn. As a team, CS had focused almost entirely on “How-To” content that didn’t really answer the “why” our customers were asking for. As a team, our first need was a channel to share that kind of content. Hence, Unbounce Academy was born.
We launched Unbounce Academy in three build phases:
- February: Academy site launched combining revamped Documentation and Community
- May: added workshops
- we ran 40 live workshops in 2015
- August: added ecourses
- launched 3 ecourses
- to improve adoption for new customers, product expansion for existing customers, and to help agencies incorporate landing pages into their offerings.
With such a huge project we faced some stumbling blocks along the way:
- Ecourses proved to be a bit of a process behemoth and – in our effort to move fast – we overlooked how involved building an ecourse actually was. We shook things up mid-way into production of our first ecourse and built out a much more robust process to help going forward
- Managing the build of such a large project (that was largely silo-ed from other projects at Unbounce) was tough – we had a group of people from different disciplines working toward the same outcome without a real framework for how that should look. Thankfully, we were blessed to have an awesome group of talented, patient people helping every step of the way.
- We realized that while the Academy was the team’s main channel, it didn’t define everything we did so we rebranded the Academy Team the Customer Education Team.
The first goal of the Customer Engagement team was to hire dedicated Customer Success Managers that could cultivate strong 1:1 relationships with assisted accounts, help boost customer loyalty and ultimately ensure customers renew.
At Unbounce, Customer Success Managers are responsible for driving customer adoption, growth, and subscription renewal.
Having two CSMs, one focused on Marketing Teams and the other focused on Marketing Agencies, means we now concentrate our efforts on building meaningful relationships with two very different customer demographics.
Key highlights for the Engagement Team:
- We hired a dedicated CS Data Analyst
- We added two Customer Success Managers to the Engagement Team — one dedicated to Marketing Teams and one dedicated to Marketing Agencies
- CSMs now work with strategic accounts (Pro199+) to find out more about their business goals and determine how we can help them be even more successful with Unbounce
- Proactive involvement with customers has yielded both strategic and business value
- We grew our strategic accounts (Pro199, Pro499, Pro999) by 85%
- We grew our “Enterprise” accounts (Pro499/Pro999) by 123%
- Year over year growth for upgrades increased by 67%
- We are implementing a Customer Success Insights Platform that will help CSMs manage their assisted accounts
We added a lot of details and polished up the builder. This included everything from copy & paste, to fancy background styling to more custom fonts. Our builder is now easier to use!
The Big Things:
- SSL Launched on Pro plans! With SSL, customers can serve up landing pages securely at https:// for better results in google rankings and more trust and credibility
- Copy & Paste any element on your page from one page to another. We dramatically decreased the time it takes marketers to re-use content they’ve already created elsewhere, letting them focus less on building the same form time and time again, and more on creating great content for their campaign
- We launched an integration with WordPress! We made it easy to publish your Unbounce pages to your WordPress domain. No more dealing with CNAMEs and sub-domains.
- We launched annual billing as an option on all plans to help our customers’ accounting departments deal with a single invoice every year and save on their subscription
- Acquired Rooster— exit-intent technology that helps convert abandoning visitors into leads, sales and signups. Our first acquisition of a product and team that sets us up for product expansion in a big way!
- Launched an integration with Marketo
Templates: Launched 44 new templates in the app, made 118 new user-created templates available for purchase at ThemeForest and launched a partnership with Template Monster who now provide 10 templates.
What we learned in 2015 and where we are going
Today we have a well-respected brand in the marketing technology space. Yet if there was one lesson we learned in 2015, it is that what got us here may not get us there.
There is so much more we can and should do. Since 2010, we’d been laser-focused on what we knew worked, and improving on that. 2015 was the year that we began to explore new opportunities and embarked on three major new initiatives help our customers be even more successful.
Unbounce is now used by people in more than 98 countries and 25% of our revenue is generated from non-English speaking countries, yet we’ve done little to proactively reach customers in these markets. We have a long-term goal of fully localizing our business for high growth markets.
In 2016, you can expect us to double down on our international efforts, focusing on Spanish-speaking countries (Spain and LATAM), Brazil and the German, Austrian and Swiss region (DACH) in particular. You can expect marketing content and customer support in German, Spanish and Portuguese. On top of that, we also have plans to support local currency and alternative billing methods.
We historically didn’t rely on a sales function because the ARPU of the smaller businesses we were attracting was not enough to provide ROI. As our product evolves, we’ve encountered lots of customers with more complex needs and a more complicated buying process. A sales function will help us better convert this portion of our market. In other words, we are now an attractive solution to a customer segment with a higher ARPU, which makes a sales effort a profitable and scalable way to grow the business.
Speaking of laser focus, we have been on the following mission since day one: Give marketers indispensable tools and resources to easily create high-converting landing pages for every campaign.
One of the things we have heard time and time again is that our customers love using Unbounce for their targeted campaigns, but they also wish they could use us to drive more business value on other web properties like their website and their blog. Towards the end of 2015 we took a significant look at our mission and the opportunities ahead of us, and have made a big commitment to expand our product beyond landing pages.
We want to help marketers convert visitors into customers at all touchpoints, not just on their landing pages. Taking this into account, and some of our other strategies, we have a new, broader mission which is more in line with the original vision for Unbounce: to educate, connect and empower marketing teams and agencies to grow their businesses with the best conversion tools on Earth!
Our product roadmap this year is ambitious and exciting. If you want to get a real in-depth look at what we have in store, including how we’re looking at leveraging machine learning and some other R&D efforts, watch this Google Hangout on Air AMA that our Chief Product Officer, Carter Gilchrist and CTO, Carl Schmidt did to kick off the year.
In wrapping up I want to say that I’m amazed at what the team has accomplished to date. I’ve never worked with a group of people who are so committed to the success of our customers, and to one another, like the people I work with at Unbounce every day. We’ve got big challenges ahead and lots to learn but I’m willing to bet that the 2016 year in review will be the best yet by far. So until then, thank you for reading.