How did Viewst get over 8000 paying customers with AppSumo and Product Hunt launch?

Viewst got over 8000 paying customers from AppSumo and Product Hunt launches. Learn the secrets for having successful launches on these two platforms.

How did Viewst get over 8000 paying customers with AppSumo and Product Hunt launch?

In this post of "My First 1000 Users", we will cover the story of Viewst and how it gained over 4000 users in just two months.

The content of this case study is taken from the podcast episode I recorded with Victoria Duben, who is the founder of Viewst.

Viewst is a workspace platform that allows users to create, collaborate and launch ads at scale.

So without further ado, let's dive deep.

Origin story

After ten years of working in investment banking, Victoria decided to pursue an MBA. She met her other co-founder, who decided to open a company that was later shut down.

After her first company shut down, she wanted to use the experience, expertise, and knowledge she gained throughout the process to start another company. So she started talking with her existing clients, that were media houses agencies, to find a burning problem.

After some research and interacting with them, she realized there was a lack of production tools in the market for businesses that allowed them to create and launch ads at scale, and that is how Viewst was started.

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Learning #1 - Want to launch a SaaS company but don't know where to start?

Start by choosing a niche - a specific group of people who might use your product.

Then, it's time to uncover their burning problems, things that keep them up at night, and secret desires.

Do that by asking 15-30 people of your target audience to join you on a quick call.

Here's the step-by-step guide we at Contenthorse developed to conduct ICP research.

First 1000 users

The first 100 users came from their freemium strategy, where they had no charges for their services, and through the articles published in the press about their launch.

Creating attention using resources like Crunchbase and other fundraising sites also proved an asset.

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Note #1 - PR can be a powerful way of getting new customers. However, many brands approach it the wrong way.

They sit down and wait for the opportunities to come.

But just as the customer won't come if you don't do marketing, PR opportunities won't come as well if you're not chasing them.

So what can we do to have a predictable stream of new covers on leading industry blogs, podcasts, and magazines?

Lead the way. Here's my process.

I identify:
- 50 SaaS conferences I want to speak at
- 50 SaaS podcasts I want to speak at

Then I found the decision-makers for each 100 of them.

I followed them on LinkedIn, and started engaging with their content.

When the time comes, and they decide to feature someone with expertise in SaaS content marketing with unique views (remember, you still must stand out from the rest), I'll be the first choice in their mind.

See the most recent example in the image below :)

The following 700 users came from their launch on Product Hunt.

They were featured in the "Top 5 products of the day", which led to them being featured in Product Hunt's newsletter, resulting in many new users.

Product Hunt also has a lot of smaller communities on Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter. Victoria made sure she was active in all these communities before the launch.

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Learning #2 - Warm up your audience before doing some big launches.

Great things require preparation. It's unlikely you'll have a great result with Product Hunt without great preparation.

So at least 1-2 months before you're planning your Product Hunt launch, infiltrate into different Product Hunt communities on the web.

Engage with their members.

And when the time comes, hundreds of people will support your launch, because they will already know who you are. 

How did Viewst draw attention to its launch on various platforms?

Viewst supported the launch of other companies' products, which later helped them during the launch of their products.

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Learning #3 - Give and it will be gifted back to you.

All in life comes down to building relationships and sharing values with someone else.

According to Victoria, Tuesday and Thursday are the most active days on platforms like Product Hunt. Big VCs and companies launch their products these days because of high traffic, making it more profitable for them.

On Monday and Saturday, the traffic is low, but it does give new founders a chance to come in "Top 5 solutions of the day", which keeps them in highlights throughout the week.

The journey from 1000 to 8000 users

Viewst launched two times at Product Hunt, which attracted a lot of attention.

Their immense success on Product Hunt allowed them to be on AppSumo. After the AppSumo launch, they gained another 3000-4000 users within two months.

The primary reason why Viewst came to AppSumo was to get to know their customers better and interview new users.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of launching on platforms like Appsumo?

AppSumo is always bargaining for unlimited deals. It's one-off payments, so it's a lifetime deal, i.e. users need to pay only once and can use your services for a lifetime.

Since it's a one-time payment, founders need to calculate their unit economy.

So if you have considerable related costs, you should somehow limit your features on the AppSumo unlimited deals.

For example, for Viewst, server costs are high as users work and download video files. So they limited this feature for their AppSumo deal and launched three different plans with different limitations on video downloads.

But Victoria believes AppSumo is helpful for early-stage startups. It helps them get a lot of attention from different media, creating traffic that can later convert into subscriptions, not just lifetime deals.

When it comes to Appsumo, founders get initial money and the much-needed customer feedback. Also, on average, only 20% of AppSumo users actively use any lifetime services they buy from the platform.

The Appsumo launch also got Viewst significant media attention in the form of interviews or articles, and helped them with search optimization on Google too.

Viewst ranks for many relevant keywords like Youtube banners and HTML banners.

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Learning #4 - If you want to launch your lifetime deal, approach it with caution.

I've seen many companies fail apart because they didn't understand their unit economics very well.

On the other hand, launching your LTD is a great way to get a lot of traction at the beginning, and gather the much-needed customer feedback.

The main goal of your Appsumo launch should be gathering feedback and improving your product so that later when you start getting more monthly subscriptions, users will love your product more.

Also, if you're short on budget, LTDs might give you a lot of money to invest in your development and marketing efforts. This is one of the reasons why Stefan Smulders launched an LTD as well.

How does Viewst convert traffic into customers?

Viewst started with the freemium model but has now shifted to a paid subscription model.

Victoria conducted around 130 interviews with existing users of Viewst to understand their problems and feedback.

She chose the most active users from Viewst's CRM and sent them an email offering extension of their limits for their feedback.

But users said they did not need any extension.

That made her realize that Viewst had a very generous freemium plan, so they decided to terminate the freemium model for all new users, so they can start getting more paid customers.

She also took feedback about the things the existing users liked and disliked - allowing her to build the product her users love.

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Learning #5 - Learn from your customers. It's okay to have your own assumptions but make sure to always test them and get feedback on them from your customers.

The best valuation for any idea is the paying customer.

Their opinion matters.

But pay attention here - because over-listening to your users might sometimes have a negative effect.

Here's a good video about this from Dharmesh Shah, CTO at HubSpot, on why Steve Jobs purposely disappointed customers:

Building a community for users.

Victoria believes in a product-led growth strategy.

According to her, one doesn't need to buy users and have a vast sales team if they build a solution that solves a significant pain for its users.

All solutions built on this philosophy have communities around their users and products where people share tips, valuable industry information, and strategies to use the service better.

Different companies also use different channels. Some use Slack, while others prefer Discord and Facebook.

Victoria's first attempt at making a community for Viewst wasn't highly successful. She realized it takes a lot of time to create valuable content. She needed a full-time community manager who loves writing, researching, and sharing.

She launched her community and got some initial users but failed to deliver valuable content consistently.

She now plans to make a community on Viewst's website for all users to ask questions and share their results.

How does Viewst compete with Canva, Photoshop, and other category leaders?

Viewst is not competing with Canva and photoshop as they have different features.

Canva primarily deals with jpeg, PNG, and GIF, but it is not helpful when working with HTML files. Canva is great for social media managers but not feasible for creating display ads at scale.

Similarly, Photoshop is an extremely powerful tool but not easy to use.

Viewst only focuses on the digital ad production vertical. They address significant issues for designers, campaign managers, etc., and help them cut down their routine tasks like creating 20 different sizes of a banner mockup for 20 different channels.

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Learning #6 - Many people would compare Viewst with Canva or Photoshop.

They're pretty much used by the same audience but in a different way.

That's why having a clear positioning and value proposition on your website matters.

If the Viewst positioned itself similarly to Canva, it would not engage its audience.

The Bottom Line

If you want to succeed, create a category of your own by niching down and serving one particular community section.

Always focus on creating a great product that solves a significant problem because word of mouth is one of the most effective ways of advertising your product.

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