How Tally used pricing, virality, and a space in the form builder market to reach a stellar milestone for any bootstrapped product.
Hey all! Welcome to the first Growth Tips Growth Analysis.
The goal of this series is to dig into the strategies and tactics used by startups to reach stellar goals. From positioning, to channels, and product, you'll know what worked and why it worked.
Today we're taking a look at Tally - a freemium form builder taking on Google and Typeform. Let's dive in.
They’re a simple & free form builder. They’re cheaper than competitors like Typeform and are preferred by creators and startups.
It was a rough ride. What initially started out as a product for hotels turned into a form builder. The reason? COVID. Growing a product for tourism in the middle of pandemic is like eating nails for breakfast.
They pivoted after realizing that:
Why wasn't there something that was affordable and not bloated with features?
Sounds like a market to me!
Getting their first users came from the #1 tactic preferred by engineers: building more features. Just kidding, they sent cold emails.
Thousands of them. To makers and creators on Product Hunt, Indie Hackers, and Twitter. It's as sexy as a guy wearing socks and birkenstocks, but it worked very well.
About 80% went unreplied. But from the ones that did reply, they got their first users. They kept stacking them up, while engaging with displeased users of competitors on Twitter.
Bit by bit, they gained their following and their community. And after amassing a legion of fans, the big day came: Product Hunt!
This was the turning point for them. After that, things started to scale.
Right now, Tally is at 30k MRR. And they got here without spending a dime on paid advertising.
Their main growth engine was their own product. I see two things that lead to this success:
1 - Current users expose Tally to new users just from using it. They need to collect answers to their forms.
2 - Their freemium plan is very good - you get 99% of features for free. It's valuable, and for most people it's more than enough.
What this means is that they’ve created a growth flywheel. Current users bring new users, and according to Marie, about 3% of them convert into paid users.
Combined with that, they're also investing a lot in SEO. It takes a long time to get SEO to work, but if done correctly, the results will follow.
And to top it off, the indie maker's favorite activity: building in public. This helped them humanize the brand and create brand loyalty among their most frivolous users. Twitter mentions and conversations are constant, adding up to their numbers.
Several things catch my attention:
They follow several good practices that make their New User Experience (NUX) top notch. For example, you don’t need to create an account to try out their form editor. This means with extremely little friction you can experience the majority of the value they bring to the table.
More - they mention that it’s free to use right on their homepage header. This is smart. Pricing is one of their differentiators, so it’s good to showcase that right away. Not only that, having free users is good for them. Sure, it’s better to get paying users - but a free user will always benefit them. Remember: “powered by” marketing is their main growth channel.
Marie says that 50% of their time is spent answering support queries, and that their average response time is one hour. When users get such a high quality of support coming from the founders, they stick around.
Whether it's replying to Slack messages, emails or Twitter DM's, we are always talking to our users. When people reach out, they often expect to get an automated answer. But when they realize there's an actual person answering on a Sunday evening, and that person happens to be a co-founder, the conversation suddenly becomes personal and you get credit for that.
They came in and disrupted the market! A lower price for a simpler offer. It worked, because their market was polarized between underserved (Google Forms) and overserved (Typeform). Over time, they've actually managed to offer many features that Typeform doesn't provide, like reCAPTCHA or multi-page forms.
For the big mass of users in between, Tally was, is, and will be the best solution.
According to Marie, these programs still represent a small fraction of total MRR. But they're there - and that matters.
When you work with a product with near infinite scalability, it doesn't really hurt to offer a small discount for special customers. In the future, they can turn into much bigger accounts. Check out their startup, education, and non-profit programs.
We all heard the saying "Build it and they will come". Tally took it to the extreme, by creating a gorgeous product that is naturally viral.
Pricing seems like a trivial thing, but it can prepare you for a solid future. If they decided to charge high to cover costs, they wouldn't have created the growth flywheel that took them to where they are now.