Growth Hacking isn’t just about the numbers

When I first launched listr in closed beta at hackNY, I was obsessed with the numbers. I wanted a huge user base. 40,000 users later, we reached that goal. I thought it would be a smart idea to use a Dropbox type of invite scheme. A user is allowed to create two lists upon registration. They are forced to create a list during the tutorial. That leaves them with one more list that they can create with whatever blogs they want. After they have reached the limit, they have to invite 5 friends to be able to create a new list.

The number of users you have doesn’t matter if your users don’t use your product.

This method worked great. That is, until we realized that our users would create a list and then just stop using it. It hadn’t dawned upon me at the time that users were dissatisfied with our product and were leaving. They had no way to give us feedback or ask us questions. There was no way to communicate with us at all — and we weren’t communicating with them. We ignored our users and neglected updating the service.

By the time I got around to realizing this small fact, it was a little to late. We lost our momentum. We had users sharing Listr to all their friends and they loved our product (when it worked as it should).

Admitting you made a mistake can be hard, but it gives you a chance to fix it.

Over the past few months I’ve been working on Queue+. This time, however, I refused to make the same mistake. My main focus when building Queue+ was customer service. In the early alpha testing stages, I created a Facebook support group so I could talk to each one of the users on a more personal level and really listen to what they had to say along with help them troubleshoot their issues. The Facebook group now has over a thousand users. This method, however, cannot scale.

That’s where uservoice comes in. It gives us the ability to have a similar community type element while letting us scale easily by adding a knowledge base, and efficient searching. We also add a diagnostic tool to on the Queue+ dashboard that help the user figure out exactly why their Queue wasn’t posting. These two methods together keep our users happy while giving us the ability to scale.

Small numbers, big impacts

Turns out this was the smarter move. While we only had a little over 8,000 users in our closed beta, those users loved our product. 67% of our users add new posts every day with 82% adding posts once a week. The average user posts 187 posts a day using our service and has about 1200 posts in queue at all times. Our most active user has 98 thousand posts queued. That’s over a year’s worth of posts if you hit Tumblr’s post limit (250 posts) every day.

We made 1,534,230 posts to tumblr yesterday alone. To put that in perspective for you, back in 2012, 2 years after Buffer was founded, they were only making 100,000 posts daily across Facebook and Twitter with 200,000 users (source).

Fixing my mistakes

So you may be wondering, “What are you going to do about Listr?” Well the answer to that is simple. I am going to apologize to my users and do things right this time — starting with communication. Because after all, the number of users doesn’t matter if the users aren’t happy.