[Rebroadcast] Building A New Use Case To Unlock A Growth Lever (With Annie Mosbacher And Jason Meer)

Media Thumbnail
  • 0.5
  • 1
  • 1.25
  • 1.5
  • 1.75
  • 2
This is a podcast episode titled, [Rebroadcast] Building A New Use Case To Unlock A Growth Lever (With Annie Mosbacher And Jason Meer). The summary for this episode is: <p>We're throwing it back to one of the most interesting episodes of the show.</p><p><br></p><p>In 2019 Nationbuilder's then VP of Customer Success and Growth Marketing, Annie Mosbacher, and Director of Product, Jason Meer, sat down with Matt to tell him about a time when they created a brilliant customer use case out of negative customer behavior. Find out how Annie and Jason worked together to roll out a new use case that helped NationBuilder decrease churn and increase upsell and reactivation potential.</p><p><br></p><p>And make sure to tune back into Growth for a new episode with Annie all about her new role advising other companies on growth strategies coming soon!</p><p><br></p><p>Like this episode? Be sure to subscribe, leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️&nbsp; review, and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Matt Bilotti, Annie Mosbacher and Jason Meer on Twitter at @MattBilotti, @AnnieMosbacher, @jasonmeer, and @DriftPodcasts.</p>

Matt Bilotti: Hello, and welcome to the Growth podcast. I'm your host, Matt Bilotti. And today, we dig a little bit into the archives. We pulled out an episode that I recorded with Annie and Jason of NationBuilder. The reason we're pulling this one back out is, one, it's a great episode, really cool story about how they took a weird customer situation that they had across their user base, and then turned it into a new growth lever. It's really an awesome story. And we're having Annie back on the podcast soon, because she has moved into a more solo agency, consultancy- type growth role. And so we're going to talk all about that, the switch, and the things that she's learning. But for now, we're going to go ahead and hop into this episode that we had about NationBuilder.

Audio: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Growth podcast. I am your host Matt Bilotti, as always, and I am excited today to have two guests from a company called NationBuilder. Today, I have Annie Mosbacher and Jason Meer. They are the VP of customer engagement and digital marketing, that's Annie. And Jason is the director of product there, and I'm really excited to have the two of them. Today, we're going to dig into something that I had connected with Annie on when we went through a program called Free Forge, and it's all about creating a new use case for an existing customer base. And I'm really, really excited to dig in, because we haven't really touched this topic before. So Annie and Jason, thank you so much for joining today. So glad to be here. Yeah, thanks for having us. Absolutely. So maybe you could both give a quick intro on yourselves and then we'll jump into the topic from there. Yeah, totally. So I am vice president of customer engagement and digital marketing at NationBuilder. I oversee our digital marketing team, which is all of our top- of- the- funnel, customer acquisition and growth marketing efforts, along with our customer supports, customer onboarding, customer engagement efforts, so really, everything related to engaging with our customers, making sure they know how to use our product, know how to use it well, and all of our retention and engagement efforts. So I've been at the company for just about six years. My background is really in the social impact and nonprofit space. So I was really attracted to NationBuilder, in that NationBuilder is very mission driven. We work with a lot of customers in the political, advocacy, nonprofit space, really anybody that's looking to lead a community, move them to action. So it's been six incredible years working with a lot of our customers, helping them to do great work. That's great. Thank you. So I'm Jason Meer, director of product. I've been with NationBuilder for little over seven years now. I've done just about everything at an early- stage SaaS company that you can think of, but currently focused on leading our product organization and resource organizations in solving problems for those customers that Annie's team does such a good job of activating and helping find and grow their communities. Probably my background is a little bit more from the political side. I was high school organizer for Barack Obama back in 2008, and then led my DC- area upbringing into a very short political career, mostly from the communications and tech side of things. So just really a natural growth into working in this space. And it's been an awesome ride, particularly with Annie alongside. We've had a lot of great collaboration over the years, so it's awesome to talk about one of the more exciting things that I think that we've done in a while, on today's podcast. Yeah. And it is great, too, because we have both of your perspectives and you call out that you collaborate really well. So I'm excited to hear that in action. So Annie, why don't you tee up what it is that the challenge was that you saw and the high level of what it is that you did moving forward, and then we can dig in from there. Totally. So Matt, I know when we met, one of the things that we connected over was when we talked about churn and stat being a problem that all SaaS companies face. And so NationBuilder has a little bit of a unique challenge, in that one of the largest subsets of our customer base are companies and organizations that use us in the political campaigning space. And so that's both here in the United States and internationally. And so anytime that we talk about churn and our churn rate, there's always a giant asterisk around it, and that we say, okay, so churn, yes, that's a SaaS metric. We have a little bit of a unique story around it in that we do have this large subset of our customers that do have very cyclical usage of a tech stack. Working in the campaign space, you always have people that are working towards a specific election date. They boot up their election tech at whatever point they do, but if they're working towards a specific date. Typically, at that point, they shut down their tech stack. They no longer need that infrastructure. So not all of our customers are in the political campaigning space, but a good number are. That's always been a really large subset of our base for the 10 years that we've been around. So we do look at a blended churn number, meaning churn across our entire customer base. But we also really do look at that broken down between our political customer set and our non- political customer set. Political customer churn is always going to be higher because of that organic churn that's happening very cyclically, dependent upon what that election cycle looks like. So that's always something that we look at very specifically. We have to look at our engagement strategies differently because of that natural and organic churn. So over the years, as we've looked at that, and we look at the stats around those political customers that use NationBuilder for their elections, close down their accounts, a lot of those customers end up coming back and returning to NationBuilder to use us for their next election. Consultants will come to NationBuilder to use us for another one of their clients, who's booting up a campaign or coming back to us for another election that they're running. And so, we've had a service that they can use where they can either choose to completely shut down their account with us, which means that that account is no longer active, they can no longer access it. Or they can choose to pause their account, which means they're no longer paying us. They can access the account, but they could come back at a date in the future and boot it back up exactly where it was, their database, their records, their website, all of their materials are accessible to them if they want to start paying us. It's just effectively on pause. So that's something that we've offered since the beginning, and we've seen over the years, so many customers have chosen to come back, whether in a few months, a few years, for that next election to unpause their account and use NationBuilder again. So we really wanted to explore what that might look like if we dove into understanding that customers saw that as a service, saw that as a value. It was very important to us that we allow people to keep everything on pause in that static nature, knowing the cyclical nature of politics, but seeing if there was a way that we could understand if there were additional features, additional values we could offer, but to remain in a business relationship with those customers. At the time when customers paused, we were no longer in that business relationship. That was considered churn. And so, as a result, we were seeing those really high spikes in churn. So that just really opened up a dialogue for us last year around, is there a new or different use case that we might be able to create a new plan, a new package, even a new product or service that we could really deploy to that specific customer base, recognizing over nearly a decade of service that this is something that those customers could use. Yeah. And I love this because you have this interesting, unique challenge as a business that not necessarily all SaaS companies have, but some may in some shape or form. And you took this approach to ask this question of, all right, what is a new use case that we can offer here? What is the value that we could provide? I would love to dig into what that process looked like to figure out, all right, you're asking yourselves this question, all right, we have this weird problem, we think we can answer it with another use case. Where do you go from here? This is the point that products and research really dug in. And at the close of the last election cycle, we broke down our political customer base across the way that we classify our use cases, campaigns, parties, also advocacy organizations that are oriented around the same election cycle. Just to get a diversity of opinions from a qualitative perspective, how people actually do things in the off- cycle and learned some really interesting insights. One being that part of the cyclical churn is actually campaign financial compliance driven. Because many of these organizations literally not spend money in off- cycle times. So even if we provided a specific use case, we'd have to have a pricing strategy that would allow them to make the payment in a time when they were actually actively campaigning. So that was one really important insight that we saw across all of the use cases. But there was a couple other key jobs that we identified from folks that they have in the off- cycle period. And what was really important that I definitely want to call out here is that, in those interviews, we were asking more about what people had done in previous campaign cycles when they were using the product or using other systems, rather than what they would like to do. I think that's just a good practice in general to make sure that you're orienting around what people have actually done, rather than what they say they might do. It's just a better predictor of their future behavior. We are all creatures of habit. So within that four main user stories, emerged of things that people would want to do in those cycles, off- cycle periods, accessing their data for analysis. So a lot of campaign managers will want to understand where they fell short or did well in particular demographics, and want to analyze that to prepare for the next campaign. There's also this need of keeping volunteer and supporter information up to date, even though they're not actively volunteering for you. Now, you may get a new phone number, a new email address, and you just want to keep them up to date and updated in whatever database you're using to track those folks. Another really important use case is more on the public web presence side of things. You'll see most candidates keep up some sort of public website, if not talking about the issues that they care about for this campaign, certainly, putting up a presence about other things that they're participating in, in the community, so that they have that established presence of being connected to the community, and then giving some opportunity for people to communicate with the candidate in the off- cycle. So that you may have a new volunteer who's interested in the community work you're doing in between the cycle, if you're not an elected, or if they're connecting with some of the civic work that you're doing, if you are currently an incumbent. So really letting people communicate with you and then putting a basic set of things out there about what you're interested in. So cool, we identified these common jobs and- Jason, inaudible We... Go ahead. inaudible jump in here. So can you just give a little context of how did you identify these jobs? Was it set up a ton of user interviews with the people in these pod states? I know you're asking people what they were doing in prior. Was this a bunch of surveys you sent out? Yeah. So at this stage it was just qualitative interviews, with people doing... So there's no actual switch in this case. So I'm a big practitioner of jobs to be done. And therefore, I would caution that it's probably not the ideal case for that, but just interviewing them in that particular mindset of the actual things that they were trying to get done, was really how we approached it. So we talked to people who were both first- time NationBuilder customers, people who had been using the product for a long time, just to get the diversity of insights from things that were very product- specific about their workflows versus the kinds of things they would've done in other cases. So really got perspective across long timelines of different campaigns that they'd participated in. That's great. And how structured was the approach? Because there's two schools of thought when you're trying to figure this stuff out. It's one, show up with a very regimented, here are the questions I'm going to ask and all that. And then, there's the other that I prescribed to in those earlier phases where you just sit down with somebody and you just ask a bunch of questions and go from there. I think in this particular case, you're just trying to get some really early insights and get people comfortable. So I like the approach that you just described, Matt, where at this point, we're just trying to flesh out the personas a little bit. So we're really just trying to get the person talking about what excites them. And in the case of people who are campaign kids doing data entry, you'd be surprised getting folks talking about being in a campaign office and what it's like to wind down a campaign. Those are often really very vibrant moments for people. So it wasn't that hard to get folks really excited about telling their personal stories at this stage. But we definitely transitioned from there to a little bit more of a regimented approach. So again, I mentioned we had broken down across these use cases and we used a similar approach in sampling our existing customer base for a survey as the next step. And we used a survey type called conjoint analysis. There's a couple of these different techniques you can use, where you're trying to evaluate, cool, we've heard this use case desired in our target market. How much would people actually be willing to pay for that? Because we're trying to figure out how to peg this new paused plan against our active plans. What percentage? Is it a fixed amount? Do we want to come to market as a percentage of our existing plans, or is it just like a completely new pricing approach? So we use conjoint analysis. And the way that that works is you basically, within each of these four use cases, we talked about features that we might offer in terms of fully- featured to not having anything in that use case at all. And giving people options of getting this combination of those four use cases, for this percentage of their existing costs, and choosing between different options. And then that builds a profile of how willing they are to pay for each iteration of complexity within each particular use case. And we had some really interesting insights from that. In particular, if we were to include a limited version of each of those jobs, from what was available in the core product, customers were willing to pay two times as much as what we ultimately landed on for our ultimate pricing structure. There was actually, basically exactly the same sentiment for what we ultimately landed on and what would've been twice as much for exactly the same functionality. This was interesting, because at that moment, I was like, " Okay, great. We can go to market with this higher cost, and there would be no downside to us as a business. And it's just a limited example of our feature set otherwise. So great, ready to go. Let's prototype this and put it into work." And it was actually here where we had a great moment of woo-woo, checking ourselves based on the unique knowledge that each team brings to the business. So Annie, were you jump into the mix where an insight comes from? Yeah, totally. I think this was a really helpful moment, because we had approached the discovery, really, from the place of the desire to not necessarily impact our revenue stats, but to impact our churn and retention stats. So I think what Jason mentioned is we were all very surprised to hear that our customers were willing to pay a little bit more than we were anticipating, but not necessarily wanting to just dive right into eating that up, but really thinking about what was possible. And so, when Jason presented what we were learning from the survey and what seems to be an option, we realized that though that was very appealing, it was really starting to overlap and touch very closely to one of our lower- level packages. And so, as we started to dig into that and really, purely just through conversation, we realized there was a true potential of it beginning to cannibalize one of our lower- level plans. One of the engagement challenges that we certainly continue to struggle with is people who are on our low- level packages, which is related to a smaller feature set, smaller capacity and usage stats, is getting people to use more and more of the features available to them, helping to increase their sophistication and the breadth of their usage, helping to grow them in to higher level plan. So we do have a subset of customers that are using very baseline features, that we try to engage more and more of, but that's always, I think, a challenge. And so, I think I had a panic moment that Jason and I we're very engaged in around, " Oh crap. If we offer this supposed lowest- level plan, this new use case, are we going to have a lot of customers who are already on those very low- level usage plans that might just downgrade because they see that as a more appealing product for them?" And so we really had to get into that around, what's the reality of the customers that are currently on some of these packages and plans that we have? We don't want this new offering to cannibalize it. We want to create a new product, a new offering for customers who are currently not engaged with us at all. And so I think that's where we were able to get into some really rich conversation around, we want to offer something new. We don't want it to cannibalize our current customer base. We know some of that may organically happen, but that's where we really had to get into the nitty gritty around, our customers are telling us they might be willing to pay a little bit more, but we certainly don't want to have a whole deluge of contraction that happens when customers in our current base start to downgrade. And I think one thing to just piggyback off of that is that it was a really important moment to come back to first principles, too, because one of the things that we really strongly believe, in terms of how you best activate a supporter community, and one thing that we've always really pushed from an engagement perspective for candidates that are out of cycle, is that it's important to actually continue to be out there and advocating for the things that you talk about, whether you're in office or you've failed to win office. People are going to forget about out the things that you care about, and you can bust through the narrative of the politician only talking to people in the moment of needing their votes, and for us to provide too much of a product that orients away from that is just also not something that's aligned with how we really believe that our customers should be behaving. So it was a good moment to anchor back, okay, we have this business problem, but can we also filter it through the lens of how we think about our place in the world and what we want our customers to be doing to better engage their supporter communities? I think going into what ultimately was several months, if not a couple quarters, as a business and as a leadership team, and really thinking about this and the creation of this use case, having some of those guiding principles and higher- order understanding of the problems we were solving as a company is ultimately what made this so successful. And I think absolutely, Jason, understanding some of the principles that were guiding us, knowing that for us, this was solving a churn problem and not trying to gain more revenue, we could've absolutely gone down a different path and made different choices and decisions. But having that guiding light for us, I think, from the beginning was absolutely essential in the decisions that we made. And ultimately, what we can talk about is, is how successful it's been. But we could've a hundred percent pivoted and made different decisions based on some of what we learned along the way. But I could not be happier with how this all has gone, both from an internal process perspective, but in the decisions that we've made and how it's impacted the business. Yeah, that's great. You really see the tension between, all right, well, we could get more revenue out of this, but it could cannibalize. Can you walk us through how that conversation goes down? Because I imagine it's messy. I've seen these kinds of things before and the first principle certainly help. But how do you get to the point where you stepped away with, " All right, here's how we move forward." Because I feel like a lot of growth teams and product teams and companies out there get to this point and then it's like, " All right, well, where do we go from here? Does the CEO just tie- break a decision? Well, just which one's going to give us more revenue?" What does that look like? That's a great question. I wonder if, Annie, you might have a different perspective on this than I did. I think where the way that it really ultimately went down was that I actually, at the time was, was the lead PI on the project. And I think my product design counterpart and I had really designed what was ultimately a use case that would've allowed for this more forever campaigning type of use case that we envisioned. And the more that people in the leadership team asked the question, that was never the intention of this. We were never intending to do that. We were intending to continue to allow people to maintain a basic relationship with us so that they can understand the value proposition of our product. But it was really in those reviews that we have of prototypes, with the executive team, including Annie, that those hard questions were asked. And we had the clear business goal, plus the use case research that we had to tie together there and say, " Hey, seems like what we originally set out to do here was one thing, and the design that we've arrived at might not actually do that." I think we have the trust in place to just acknowledge that that was exactly correct. I don't know if I could pinpoint it any more directly than that. It was just like, " Hey, this doesn't seem like the best solution for what we were really trying to go for." Mm- hmm( affirmative). Yeah, I feel like that definitely played a part. And I think another vector into the decision making is, we had a hypothesis that if we increased the price or the cost of this, that fewer people would opt in, whereas if the cost was lower, we would have more. And we obviously pulled some numbers, and at the point, we had more customers on our databases that were in that paused state than we actually had active customers. So we were sitting with this massive number of these paused customers, knowing that a big number of them were at some point, we didn't know when, but at some point were going to come back to us. And some number of them, we believed would find great value out of this offering. And so, we just believed that it was going to be more valuable to us and that we would do right by and be of service to this large number of perspective return customers, if we could offer them something, by potentially losing out on a little bit of revenue. And we're talking about relatively small numbers here. This is the most affordable of all of our plans, certainly. That by just providing them with the service and getting back into a business relationship with them, that our theories and our hypotheses were that that would be ultimately more beneficial to the business, to get back into that business relationship for the long term LTB, for our ability to be in an engaging MRR and upsell, and engagement conversation with those customers from more of a growth space than a win- back conversation. And so just getting them back into our customer base was, for us, the thing that just seemed so much more central, and that that was the driver. So we didn't know, because we had never done anything like this before, but to us, the cost benefit of do we want to try to increase this incrementally by getting and recouping a little bit more revenue per month? Or do we just want to get them back into this business relationship? And we just always kept coming back to the latter. From an engagement perspective, I touched on this a moment ago, but I think it's important, and what I was always the most excited about, I mean, I think I said this to Jason every day. Because my role overlaps a little bit between customer engagement and marketing, I want to be able to be in communication with these customers responsibly and excitedly about features that are available to them, strategies that are available to them, expertise that we have to offer to them, and that looks really different when we are engaging with customers in an upsell and an upgrade. And a growth conversation is very different than a win- back type of campaign and engagement. And so being able to do that is also just so much more exciting and looks, looks very, very different. And so I think that was another component about how we wanted to be in relationship with these different types of customers versus non- customers that we really wanted to experiment with. And that, ultimately, has really been exciting and successful. So I think just, again, continuously going back to that decision point, it honestly wasn't difficult. We constantly came back to it and certainly wrestled with it a little bit, but for us, it made a lot of sense to be in this for engagement retention over revenue. Yeah. What I like about this is, one of the facts that it worked out, shows that this is one of these decisions where you either go short term or long term. And I feel like a lot of growth- minded people or growth teams wind up feeling pressured in that they should go for the short- term thing, because we have to justify the work that we're doing and show the impact and show the numbers, right? And in this case, the long- term approach really, really worked out for you. So I'd love to define what it was that you landed on. Like, this is the offering, and then let's talk a little bit about, here's how it's been working. You've been running this thing for six months. I'd love to dig into that. Yeah, so I think that the big thing, if you go back to those four original cases, the things that looked most like the usage of people on our lower- tiered paid plans was keeping information up to date in the database of people and providing ways on the public website for the candidate or the party or the advocacy organization to collect insight from supporters. Those are the behaviors that we were most worried about looking too similar. So really, and this was actually nice from the interviews as well, because it was very clear that the top use case that people had was maintaining some sort of basic web presence. It actually was not an offering, we really had a NationBuilder at that point. Our websites really are oriented around this collecting petition signatures and donations. It's all about the action orientation. But just putting up a simple landing page that talks about the issues that you care about and maintains that professional web presence was the number one thing that came up, and it was not something that we had offered. So we ended up with an offering that was mostly about getting access to your data for analysis in its frozen state and presenting this way of putting up a really easy, responsive landing page so that folks can know what you're about in your off- cycle work. And it's been really, really, really, really nice to see the results come in. Within, really, two months, we saw pretty significant movement on that blended churn number Annie was talking about before, mostly driven by extreme gains on the political churn side of things. And we're currently sustaining about a 29% year- over- year blended, standard churn decrease, largely due to the efforts of the plan, and also Annie's team being just incredible on the engagement side with all of the experimentation they're doing there, to allude to the long- term play and the short- term play. The revenue side of this is still very small percentage of our total MRR, but because over 80% of people in the plan are in these cyclical use cases, we're queuing up lots of experiments to do those renewal and upsell conversations, for both people who can operate off cycle. And for those who can't operate off cycle, queuing up the drip campaigns in advance of when they'll reactivate to make sure that we're taking best advantage of that. Annie, I don't know if you want to talk more about some of the plans there, but yeah, the numbers have really gone in our favor. We're really happy with the results. Yeah. I think the big thing to underscore there is it's been just such an exciting year and such an exciting moment, I think, for the company to be able to celebrate that with all the efforts from the product and engineering teams that worked to create this and to launch it, and then everything that we can do to support it from a customer- facing side. So yeah, we've had a lot of confetti celebrations and staff meetings to be able to share the monthly churn stats. But we've definitely been able to not only hit, but exceed our churn targets every month since we launched this earlier in the year. So yeah, that 20% standard blended churn decrease that we've been able to sustain every month has just been absolutely thrilling. So that's been the big highlight for us this year, and opens us up to, again, a lot of opportunity to then focus on engaging with those customers, to ultimately grow them into higher- level plans when the time is right, when they're prepared to open back up to more sophisticated usage when their election cycle comes back or when they're ready to take a step up. But it's been a really exciting year. That's awesome. That's quite an improvement. Did you have a financial model somewhere or a model that said, " We're going to get a result of about this much?" Or was this way beyond what you had expected? What did this look like compared to what your expectations were? So we did have a target in Q1 and in Q2. We surpassed that target. And when I shared with my CEO the first couple of months that we surpassed what the target was, she congratulated me and we had a staff meeting, big celebration. And in that she said, " And in congratulations of this, we are going to even further reduce the target of our churn stats. So congrats and it's even more aggressive." And so that was what we shared at the midpoint of the year. So yeah, we did set our targets that were certainly within the business model, related to the launch of this use case and a lot of other retention tactics that we had in play throughout 2018 and moving into 2019. But we were able to, again, not only meet them for the first couple of months at this launch, but truly surpassed them. We set a new, more aggressive target at the middle of the year. And similarly, we've been able to even surpass those. So yeah, the celebration was more assertive targets, which is very NationBuilder-y in all of our competitive nature. That's very much how we operate here, but we have been able to surpass what we've set, both as a result of this use case and a lot of other tactics that we've had across the board. We've been, I think, I can say this, Jason, you can chime in, wildly impressed by how well this has worked out. Which again, I think is a testament to being so aligned across the business with what we wanted to do, to be of service to our customers, looking at what we knew was going to be an offering that they needed and providing them with that in a really clean and clear way. I think the only other thing that I would say that's been such a awesome outgrowth of the collaboration on this project is a series of additional follow- on projects, where the customer engagement team really served as subject matter experts in helping us set the targets for where we could expect different product releases to achieve specific gains for the business. And in some cases, being a little bit of putting on a temporary PM hat where necessary. Annie's team has really grown over the year, and this was really just a good launching off point for that work. So yeah, it's a lovefest over here between the customer engagement and product organization. Lots of overlap. We hadn't had a growth- specific team until really collaboration on projects like this allowed members of Annie's team, through their work, through Reforge and Annie's stewardship, really starting to incubate that growth organization within the customer engagement team. So it's just been a fun year for that particular metric and that team's efforts. That is awesome. We love to hear that, a happy ending. Well, there's one other thing I want to dig into before we wrap. You have this use case, here's what we're going to do, here's what we're going to offer, let's build it. Do you then just take that and email all your paused customers and say, " Hey, you have this thing now. Who wants to opt in?" Or was there a gradual rollout? Was it only start offering this to people here forward? See how that goes for a month and then go back? Can you just walk through that? Because I feel like that this is one of these parts where it doesn't really get talked about that often, and then you get in a scenario like that, on a growth team or product team, or whatever it might be, and then you think, " All right, yeah that sounds good. Do that thing." We could do an entire other podcast all about this. So I'll give you the quick and dirty. But yeah, so as I mentioned, we did have a lot of customers who are in this paused state. A huge amount of our prep and intentionality and how we wanted to roll this out really was about how did we want to announce it to our customers, especially those who were in the paused state? So we did a massive amount of coms planned preparation around how to roll it out. We did a series of emails and outreach to customers who were on the paused plan beforehand, letting them know about the offering, giving them a long tail of time to be able to either opt- in to the new P- pause offering or to opt out and choose to shut down their account. So we did have a good number of people who opt in to the new offering, good number of people that said, " No, I think I'm okay. I'll return if, and when I want to." But we did have quite a number of touches, emails, a lot of internal coordination around people who had previous relationships with those customers and might've had some context around how, and in what way we needed to communicate that with them. A big set of nuance around this is we have a lot of consultants that are the points of contact with NationBuilder and are the account owners, but may not necessarily be the people who are now, years, months later associated with the campaign. So there's a lot that goes into who's the account owner? Who's remaining with the candidate or that campaign, still associated with that organization? And so, again, could do a whole other podcast with this. Because to your point, that outreach, trying to encourage people to opt in, making sure that we're communicating effectively, that was a massive, massive undertaking, and one that we took very, very seriously. So we learned a lot from that. It did take quite a bit to do the coordination, because it was thousands and thousands and thousands of customers and users that we communicated with, but ultimately, a big part of what we needed to do to make sure that we were migrating people into the offering where appropriate. That's great. And one last thing. For people that are listening to this, and I'm going to say there's two main groups of people, pardon me, listener, if you're not in this group. There's some people that are probably thinking, " All right, well, we should probably do a new use case now. This sounds like something that we should do." And then another group saying, " All right, we're in the process of this right now, or I know we're going to undertake this soon. What other things should we know?" Do you have any advice for either of those two groups? So I think this opens up a whole other podcast. You'll have to have us back. I think figuring out where you do feature differentiation across your plan types, in a SaaS model, it's such a big question that requires a whole bunch of other approaches. So what I would say, generally, on that particular question, start from a first principle. I feel like I've said that three times now, unfortunately, of how you're differentiating. And in this case, we were differentiating on the complexity of the operation of any given customer all the way up the stack. So remembering that the paused plan was just an example of a less complex organization. Because in an off- season, you're going to spin down from having multiple people campaigning, and therefore you're going to really, probably just have one person managing the data and managing that landing page, thinking about how your tiers break down and starting from the personas of people that would use each plan of your product. And then the growth pattern of upselling them is actually about improving their ability to execute as an organization. And so it's really nice to have that alignment between the growth of how much someone pays you and how complex and effective their organization is becoming. Because we had the opportunity to think about a different type of complexity for the organization, it made a lot of sense for us. Tacking it on in the case where there is no differentiation within how you're currently differentiating, probably isn't going to be very successful. Great. Well, thank you both so much, Annie and Jason, for joining today. I learned a bunch. I know our listeners did as well. For all of you that are listening as always, I'm going to give my same spiel, if you have any questions, feedback, ideas for topics, whatever might be, my email's matt @ drift. com. Thank you so much for listening. As always, Annie, Jason, thank you again, and we will catch you on the next episode. Thanks. Thanks so much, Matt. Thanks.


In 2019 Nationbuilder's then VP of Customer Success and Growth Marketing, Annie Mosbacher, and Director of Product, Jason Meer, sat down with Matt to tell him about a time when they created a brilliant customer use case out of negative customer behavior.

In this episode you'll hear about:

  • How NationBuilder looks at churn (4:00)
  • The process of addressing a problem with another use case (7:30)
  • How NationBuilder gathers feedback from their customers (11:23)
  • Building a new use case without cannibalizing your customer base (16:56)
  • NationBuilder's primary principles (18:00)
  • How to overcome the "Where Do We Go From Here?" phase (20:25)
  • Short term vs. long term growth strategies (25:28)
  • Results from the growth experiment (27:33)
  • What new product use case rollout looks like (33:12)
  • The importance of differentiation (36:43)