Alright, so eight years in, KickoffLabs. We've
always grown by listening to people who are paying customers. We've gone
from really simple landing pages with some referral tracking to
supporting over eight types of lead generation campaigns. Really just a
key part of the top of the funnel for people's marketing. By the time
you hear this, we'll have released a new set of features aimed at
expanding that reach. And in this episode, Scott and I are going to walk
through what it's been like working on that feature. So, Scott, how's
the last week been for you?
It's been pretty good. House is much
more quiet now since we shipped you out, but apart from that, it's been
Good. It was fun. We actually, so
Scott and I usually work, we're a remote company and so I'm in Seattle
and Scott is in New Jersey and so we did spend last week in New Jersey
at his place together working on this feature. I know that I woke up
this morning and I saw there's going to be new noise canceling AirPods.
I was pretty excited about that.
Yeah, I was looking for that because
they label it as music like you've never heard before or something. And
I really just want my computer to work, I was joking, like never before,
but actually I like it to work how it did before where it just worked
and I didn't have to worry about keeping the keyboard clean, and a touch
bar that's in the way and stuff. So I'm still hopeful we'll get
something new in the coming weeks but we'll say the years could be over
Yeah. I would also go for a real
escape key and a non-touch bar MacBook but I'll take my pro AirPods with
the noise canceling.
So back to KickoffLab stuff. Our new
feature is called, at the moment, Shopify Rewards and the idea is that
you can turn dollars spent by your customers into points within a
KickoffLabs campaign. Previously, we'd kind of limited points to more
social actions, like referring friends, getting people to sign up for
your newsletter, follow you on Facebook. We had released the concept of
lead tags, which I think was a good entry into this step where you could
tag people for any random action.
Our new feature is called Shopify Rewards and the idea is that you
can turn dollars spent by your customers (or their friends) into
points within a KickoffLabs campaign.
But we started to see people just
consistently getting a lot of requests for... I want to reward people
for making a purchase. Like when somebody buys something on my Shopify
store, how do I give them points? How do I recognize somebody for buying
things? And the question was coming up over and over again. And I think
that was the first really good indicator that we needed to create a new
feature around that. Do you feel the same way that, as we've released
smaller bits of a feature, that customers have kind of led us in a
How do I recognize somebody for buying things? And the question was
coming up over and over again. And I think that was the first really
good indicator that we needed to create a new feature around that.
No, absolutely. And we did see a
couple of people try really hard to kind of shoehorn themselves into a
similar experience where they were using tags and trying to customize it
and just we're working really hard to do something that should be easy
to go along with everything else we've done from the beginning. We
really tried our best over the last eight years to see things people
wanted and were trying to do and then to make that as easy as possible
for them. And the folks that were using Shopify today were just working
way too hard to make it work.
We really tried our best over the last eight years to see things
people wanted and were trying to do and then to make that as easy as
possible for them.
Yeah. And I think that there's kind
of two indicators there that I usually like to look for when knowing
that we should invest in a feature like this. And I think one is, are
people trying to shoehorn it in? And in this case, there definitely
were, I mean, we had a lot of support requests for people that were,
like you said, just kind of banging their head against a wall trying to
make it work. And some people had been successful, some people weren't.
And the ones that had been successful, it seemed like it was working
pretty well for them. And the cases where it wasn't, you could tell they
still wanted it. And the other thing was were these people paying us? So
it wasn't just a bunch of people using the free account, getting in.
These are people paying us. In one case, I think they paid for like two
months and they didn't even have it up and running yet because they were
still kept trying to do it. But we kind of refunded them and kind of got
them up and running in the right way.
Well plus the other interesting
thing for others who are building their own products and listening to
this, the other kind of key indicator too, right, is that they're
usually, in almost every case, paying Shopify as well. So they've
demonstrated a willingness to spend money that helps them be successful,
which is usually a pretty good indicator that you're talking to people
who believe in spending money to help them make money. And it's usually
folks you want to have as customers. Those who, if you can show that
you're going to help them be successful, they're willing to reward you
with their own hard earned dollars and cents.
They're paying Shopify as well. So they've demonstrated a
willingness to spend money that helps them be successful, which is
usually a pretty good indicator that you're talking to people who
believe in spending money to help them make money. And it's usually
folks you want to have as customers.
Yeah. And to be really specific, the
thing that we've now made real easy is enabling people to create a
reward program where people earn points for dollars spent. So if I go
into a store, I might not even be part of a KickoffLabs campaign that
you're running yet at your store, but if I buy something, you'll give me
25 points if I spend $25. And then the unique thing with KickoffLabs is,
because then we're also, like anything else we do, we're tracking
referrals. If I then share my link with Scott and he spends, he takes my
link and goes to the store and he spends $50, now I've got 75 points
because we're giving points at a one-to-one. Like somebody signed, you
can give points, we have the option but you can give points at a
one-to-one. So then Scott would get 50 points in that case and I'd be up
to 75 points.
The unique thing with KickoffLabs is, because then we're also, like
anything else we do, we're tracking referrals. If I then share my
link with Scott and he spends, he takes my link and goes to the
store and he spends $50, now I've got 75 points because we're giving
points at a one-to-one.
And then what you can do with the
points is really flexible. So I envision, based on what people have said
so far, there's some people who want to just do simple sort of reward
levels. Like somebody gets 50 points and they earn free shipping on
their next order. And then some people want to tie it into a regular
every other month contest that they're running with KickoffLabs where
every point is another entry. And so if you spend money in the store,
you get a whole bunch more entries that greatly increase your odds of
winning. So you might get three or four points for referring some
friends, but if they end up spending money, you're going to have a whole
bunch more entries and really increased odds of winning the contest.
And so I think this can really help
store owners just game-ify things a little bit better and tie it more
directly to something that feels more tangible to them, which is dollars
spent, which is one of the reasons I liked the idea. I wasn't sure if
you felt the same way and the reasons that pulled you into the direction
of doing this idea. Like was it also that sort of tying it to the
That and helping customer, because
you think about it from a store perspective, and just landing pages as a
whole generally you're advised to only have one conversion strategy for
getting people to your site, to a page, to a landing page. And the way
you would have had to do this in the past is you would have had to have
some type of sign-up form and collect the email first and then walk
through the checkout process and somehow kind of marry those together.
And then one of the things that we are able to figure out and do last
week was make it so that customers, you can ask somebody for an email if
you want, but you don't even have to ask for the email upfront. You can
just do the referral based upon sending somebody to any page in your
website that our script's running on.
And they actually don't even have to
sign up. They just have to check out. And so I think it keeps with the
idea of that you can build these landing pages or you can build pages
within Shopify and direct traffic there and you don't have to ask the
people to do one thing to be part of your contest and then do this other
thing, which actually makes you money in the short run. And so I think
once we were able to demonstrate that we could have, we can kind of have
our cake and eat it too. I was much more on board with the idea, despite
all the effort. I mean Shopify is just a big well-established product
and so there's just a lot to it. I think we spent the better part of the
first day just figuring out where to inject the script and what pages
and we could execute code on and what pages that it was just Shopify
that could execute code on.
I think at one point you were trying
to figure out how to change texts on a Shopify store and you had to just
walk away and say, "You figure it out." It's a great platform. It is
amazing, similar to us, but multiplied by a hundred that they've just
expanded into so many different areas and have so many different options
to figure out that finding these one singular points of integration we
wanted was sort of like a needle in a haystack with their platform. What
are the risks as you see it for anybody building products out there and
like thinking about adding new features?
I mean it's just time, support. I
think that was the other thing that kind of scared me with this is,
Shopify is, to a certain extent, like a, black boxes, right? We haven't
used it a lot ourselves yet. And so we're kind of learning as we're
going and we've learned quite a bit over the last couple of years
helping customers. But we, you and I, neither of us is, I know for me,
I'm assuming you as well, don't have a physical product to sell in a
store. It's something I would love to do because I just, I feel like it
would be fun and it would be a good change of pace, but there's always
risk in that. We're taking on something that's very important to our
customers, tapping into their checkout process.
The time of year. I think now's a
good time to release this. If we want to be to help customers in the
short run within the, at least in the US, black Friday and Christmas and
that kind of stuff coming up, you can love it or hate it, but this is
the time of year when people are spending lots of money. So there's
always risk in that. It's outside our comfort zone. It's got a wide
surface area. But I, in this case, I really do think that the reward is,
greatly trumps the risk, especially since, as we discussed, our
customers are doing it anyway. And so I think we can streamline things
for them, make it so they can focus on what's unique to their business
and their products.
Our customers are doing it (Shopify Integration) anyway. So we
already had a support burdon.
Yeah. For me, the risks, there was a
lot of it in terms of, you kind of touched on, the complexity is just
adding something. Anytime at the stage, you have a product that works
and you say we're going to add something else to it. Just like how are
we increasing the complexity, how does it work with the other features?
And I think that there was no more better example of the fact that
KickoffLabs is a very mature platform at this point for what we're
And I think, down the end, the key
parts of the Shopify integration, I think you said are maybe like 10 or
15 lines of code to get the meat of it getting done what we have done.
But then you talk about, okay, well ideally this feature ties in with
the activity feed of a lead within KickoffLabs. It ties in with
notifications, it ties in with web hooks, it ties in with tagging of
leads that somebody made a purchase and then all of that stuff, I don't
know how many files you said you ended up touching, but it was, we went
from like 10 lines of code to like had to touch 10 to 20 files total
within the project. And all of that is just this added complexity, which
it can increase the support costs and it just increases just the breadth
of what the product does.
Yeah, I agree.
And we'll see how, I think it's going
to turn out to be great for customers. Like you said, it's a good time
of year to kind of roll out a feature like this and people were doing it
anyway. So we already had the support costs of people doing it anyway.
So if we can, maybe it will actually lower the support cost to a certain
extent for at least each customer. I think it was because of all those
reasons. I mean at first I was really tempted to build it into a new
product, just focus the new product on the stores. But then that has a
whole other set of challenges in terms of getting attention on a new
product. And we have thousands of people that visit KickoffLabs pages
every month. And so taking that traffic and saying it's got to be
divided somehow, that also feels like a huge challenge. And this gives
us a great way to kind of experiment within KickoffLabs and add a
feature and we can still make changes down the line if needed.
It's like anything else, the sooner you can get it in front of
people, the sooner you can learn.
Yeah, it was extracted and it helps
streamline the experience for people in the future. It's like anything
else, the sooner you can get it in front of people, the sooner you can
learn and to build it on its own and convince people to find another
thing, to trust another product, to be willing to take out their credit
card for another product. For us to market and manage and support it, I
really think it just made sense to kind of get it in front of people as
quickly and as simply as possible. And then you can always grow from
there and see where the winds kind of take you.
Yeah. I think you just hit on the big
thing that convinced me to go with it. Because I went into the week
saying I want to ship something within the week. Like if we're going to
spend the week working together, let's get something out the door. And
this was the fastest way to ship the feature as an experiment and say
like, let's get it out the door, let's see what people think about it,
and let's just iterate on it as quickly as possible. And building
something else from scratch, there's a whole lot more that goes into
So while we did have to integrate it
with a bunch of places within the product, it did help us get it out the
door within eight days or whatever of sitting down and first kind of
walking through what it meant to ship this. And so I think that's still
what I love about being at a tiny company as well as kind of a great
model for shipping things. What are you looking for? To see and judge.
When we ship something, what do you look for success of was it worth
spending the time and the effort behind a feature like this?
I guess just how quickly people are
able to see results themselves from it. How much effort it takes them to
get it installed, up and running. All new features, it's always that
slow uptake. I remember when we first started, you'd agonize over should
we ship today or should we wait until Monday or should we wait until
Tuesday or two weeks or whatever. And reality is you can ship whatever
it is you want today and it's going to be a couple days to a couple
weeks, depending upon the product and stuff, that people really start
using it. A lot of times people set up campaigns and they go about their
life and can keep working on the rest of their business and they're not
living inside your product.
So just how quickly, I guess to sum
up, just how quickly we can start seeing results and get a couple of
people up and using it. That's really what I'm looking for. I'm
confident people want it. Even sometimes then you're not 100% sure, but
our support channels, over the last couple of years, shows that there's
definitely a need for it. And I think we've made it as simple as we can
make it within the parameters that we get to play in. So it'll be
interesting to see what the next couple weeks look like with this,
especially as we're, like I said before, approaching the holiday season.
Yeah. For me, I think it's the same
thing. It's uptake. Do we start getting questions about it? Are the
questions meaningful? That are showing us that people are doing other
things. It's one of the things that once you've got an existing set of
customers, the support channel, having it all recorded, is a great way
to look up. I was surprised. When we went back and I did a search for
Shopify and there were just hundreds of questions about Shopify and they
weren't all necessarily people saying they wanted to set up a campaign
like this, but it just was a good indicator where it's like, oh our
customers, they're thinking about Shopify, whether it's this or some
other feature. There's a lot of thought around Shopify and overlap
between our customer base and people who want to set up a store within
Shopify, which is a good proof point.
So I'm hoping to see, my goal is if by the end of the year we've got
a couple people that have run successful campaigns with this.
And now it's, sort of, it becomes a
challenge to see how quickly we can get people to have successful
campaigns and experiments with it. So I'm hoping to see, my goal is if
by the end of the year we've got a couple people that have run
successful campaigns with this, that we can then do case studies with
and show like, hey this worked for this person in this way and here's
how you set up something exactly like they did. So it'll work for you
Yeah, I agree.
Cool. This was a really quick
podcast. I just wanted to get a kind of... I thought it'd be fun to talk
through one of our new feature releases as a podcast episode and then
also kind of walk through the things that we think about when we're
doing a feature release and why we build a feature and the
considerations we have before it goes out the door and what success
means. And so if you find it helpful, go ahead and let us know. You can
review us in any of your podcast apps or send an email back to
Josh@kickofflabs.com. Later, everyone.