[Interview] @GoSquared from Inception to Growth and How They Did It
We sat down with James Gill (CEO) and Hugh Hopkins (Director of Business Management) from GoSquared for a conversation about how they grew GoSquared from an idea to 30,000 customers.Now, we want to share it with you in full video glory!
– Will: Thank you both for joining us this morning. Today we’ve
got James Gill, the CEO GoSquared, and we’ve got Hugh Hopkins, the manager
of Business Development from GoSquared to join us today. They’re talking a
little bit about what exactly GoSquared is. They’re also going to talk
about how it started and where it’s going. The first question here, guys,
is can you share with us exactly what GoSquared is?
– James: Sure. Yeah. GoSquared is essentially a real-time web
analytics service. We help you understand what’s happening on your blog,
eCommerce site, or web app in real time. We give you really easy-to-use,
easy-to-understand dashboard that gives you all the insights you need right
at your fingertips. How many people are online and what content is popular,
what are the biggest drivers of traffic, and what are your visitors doing
while they’re on your site. Are they traversing? Are they becoming
customers? Are they reading the content you’re putting out? We wrap this
all up in a really, nice, easy to use-to-use interface. That’s basically
what we’re doing at GoSquared, and we’ve got probably about 30,000 sites
now using us. Growth’s been really exciting for us in the last few months.
We’re really enjoying it.
– Will: What was it that motivated you guys to start GoSquared?
– James: We actually started GoSquared quite a long time ago when
my co-founders and I were at school. It evolved out of more of an
advertising startup where we were helping people to easily buy and sell
advertising, but what we found was there weren’t many tools out there that
really helped us understand what people were doing on our website. There’s
a lot of tools like Google Analytics, for instance, which shows you graphs
and charts of what’s happening on the site and they print everything across
in a very mundane visualizations.
GoSquared took a different angle and focused on what were the people doing
on the website and who’s on your website. I think now the key angle that we
wanted to understand ourselves, and we built this very basic, early version
which gained quite a lot of traction when we released it. We thought,
“Let’s keep integrating it and improving it.” Gradually that became our
core business. It’s proven to be something that people from all walks of
life really want to get their hands on and this data that helps them
understand people rather than just a sum of pages popping on their site.
– Hugh: I mean, in terms of people who want it, it’s really quite
amazing. Google Analytics is absolutely brilliant, but in terms of the
things that GoSquared offers, particularly when it comes down to real time
and minute-by-minute granularity that we can offer. That means that you can
some really quite powerful stuff when it comes to TV adverts, service, all
around that, which really appeals to higher-end price customers. It’s been
– Will: You touched on something pretty interesting there about some of
the high-end customers needing TV adverts. Can you guys just outline a
concrete example of one of your customers use cases?
– James: For instance, especially over here in London, we work with
a bunch of eCommerce clients who are using Go Squared. A lot of them have
recently started running TV ads on national TV channels. Those ads are
primarily designed to drive people to the website so what they’re using Go
Squared for is to understand which ads and which TV programs and which
channels and which times are most effective. They bring together TV
advertising cost data and Go Squared’s minute-by-minute visitor data to
understand which ads are most effective so that they can then drop the ads
that are ineffective and double down on the ones that are most effective.
– Will: Makes a lot of sense.
– James: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. It’s always good when you’re
watching TV and you see one of our clients using and putting out an ad and
we’re like, “Yeah, traffic site.”
– Will: You talked about the idea that you got early traction, work on
that early version. Can you give us a little more insight into how you knew
you were onto something?
– James: We went from having this advertising platform, which was
getting a fair following anyway, to when we released the first version of
GoSquared Analytics service, I think on day one we realized we were onto
something because we had so many people who wanted to sign up. It just fell
over and crashed. We spent about a few days to a week trying to pick up the
broken pieces and put them together and get it back online, which was a fun
and challenging problem.
Beyond that, I think it just became really clear that the amount of
interest and the continued excitement and interest that our users were
having for that, the number of things they were requesting, the number of
comments they were making on things we had already implemented that they
wanted improving or they loved this but if it could do this. The amount of
interest we were getting from our user base was really quite critical.
When we decided to push out by pricing and start charging for it, that was
the ultimate test. Can we get people to pay for it? That’s something we’re
always working on, but the fact that we’re now able to be charging so many
customers to pay a monthly fee or an annual fee to be using GoSquared and
to know that we can grow with those customers as they grow.
Those have been the key indicators that we people really want what we’re
providing and that they want to continue to grow with us and take Go
Squared as they continue to grow their businesses.
– Will: You touched on that, growing their business. The first major
growth channel, how did you get those first users there? How do you move on
from that group?
– James: I would say, actually, in the early days probably the most
effective thing we started doing was we were blogging about the things we
were working on with GoSquared, blogging around the technical challenges
of doing real-time analytics, blogging about data visualization, the kind
of tools we were using to do graphing, an inventive way we’d been trying to
visualize this data. We started giving more content and giving away more
resources like cheat sheets on analytics and development guides and all
this sort of stuff, which really built up an organic following for Go
Squared in the early days. A lot of developers and designers, people that
had clients that needed what we were providing, started following us and
really engaging with us as a company that they really wanted to work with.
Because we were giving them this content for free, they were more inclined
to check out what we were offering. Because we had a good product at the
end of it, they were very keen to come on board. I think we had double down
on that once Twitter continued to grow and become more important.
What we tried to do is get people sharing through Twitter as well. Twitter
became quite an important channel for us to grow an audience. To this day,
we pretty much have someone full-time on Twitter, reaching out and getting
in touch with people that are talking about GoSquared and just making sure
that they’re as happy as can be.
– Will: Did you guys try anything in your growth or have you tried
anything that really didn’t work that you’re willing to share about?
– James: Nothing we want to talk about. There have been a few
things [inaudible 6:51] talk about any of it at all.
– Hugh: There was some brief experimentation around C to C, but
the quality of the leads weren’t quite as high. I think this goes back to
inherence, using programs aren’t as powerful enough as word of mouth.
Everyone trusts something when someone tweets something about it, when an
actual person says to someone, “Hey, get this account. We can get some
extra space and some storage.”
That word of mouth is incredibly powerful whereas taking out ads, it does
have its place but for an early stage start-up, it’s really about word of
mouth. Perhaps later on we’ll go back to it, but for the moment it’s the
word of mouth referral which we think is strongest. We’ve done the numbers
on it, and it’s pretty good.
– Will: You guys have obviously a pretty strong customer referral
program yourselves. When did you guys launch that?
– Hugh: [Inaudible 8:06] pretty late last year. We decided that we
were already getting quite a bit of word of mouth on our customer base
already. We thought seeing what other guys like Dropbox had done to
incentivize that, we thought we would experiment with doing that ourselves.
What we rolled out was, essentially, we call it GoSquared Rewards. When
you create your GoSquared account completely free and basically all the
plans are limited on the page views you can track each month. So, the
larger your site is, the more page views you have, the higher plan you go
onto on Go Squared.
What we found was a lot of our free users were really passionate about the
product and really wanted to keep using GoSquared and tell their friends
about it and then a lot of their friends would be the ones that would go
and upgrade and become customers. We wanted ways we could incentivize that.
On top of that, also, we wanted to ensure that these same users were doing
to get everything most value out of GoSquared and activating the features
that we think have the most value in GoSquared, to ensure you are an
active user, getting the most out of it. GoSquared Rewards essentially
rewards you in monthly pages. You can track more pages with Go Squared once
you activate these features and once you refer people to Go Squared.
– Will: That’s interesting that you say your free users were actually
some of your biggest referrers. We’ve heard both sides of that story. Is it
just because of the structure of your program? Or do you think there’s
something else there to why they’re your biggest advocates out there?
– James: I think sometimes [Inaudible 9:56] that do a lot of
referrals. I think because of the nature of the premium model, we have so
many free users as well. A lot of them have their own blogs and they write
articles and they tweet or they put things on Facebook about Go Squared,
like people love sharing their dashboard, sharing when they have a traffic
spike and things like that.
I think often in larger companies it can be difficult to do that. I think
the free end was definitely where we saw the most opportunity to increase
that sharing and give them something more. What we rolled out was the
rewards scheme which essentially credits your account with around I think
10,000 pages a month at the moment. It’s a recurring bump up on your page
limit. I think all of our users love that, but especially the free users
because it means they can stick on our plan and be happier for longer
– Will: I know the numbers can be a little sensitive, but do you guys
have any kind of idea of the order of magnitude or the size of the growth
this provided for you guys?
– Hugh: We double checked these numbers. It’s around 12 percent
from the referral who then convert to being paid premium customers, which
is really quite good. We’re quite happy with that.
– James: I think one of the cool stats is that we actually keep
track of how many page views we’ve credited to users, and I need to look at
it because it’s such a long number. It was somewhere in the region of 150
million pages credited. It’s been great to be able to that give back to the
community that’s been using us and [Inaudible 11:44]. It’s been resulting
in a lot of growth for us as well.
I think definitely since we brought it out late last year, it’s been a big
factor in growing us the region we’re at now, which is in the region of
around 30,000 sites. It’s a huge number of sites that we’re providing
analytics for. It’s helping us grow even bigger. We hope to be doubling
that, tripling that over time.
– Will: While you guys were building it out and you’ve been running it
for a little while now, have you guys learned any lessons you would share
on with someone else who’s just starting to build their own referral
program or looking at doing it?
– James: This is an aside on one, but it’s quite useful for gauging
the interest of the particular customer in your business. From that you can
work out other sorts of stuff, like likelihood of them to upgrade as well.
– Hugh: Analytics can actually bring reactions of what people do
with your referral programs. That’s one thing we’ve learned that’s been
– James: Obviously if someone’s more willing to share GoSquared,
then they’re highly likely to be more engaged and then highly likely to
upgrade at some point. Definitely that’s one key thing. I mean another key
thing, obviously, we’re an analytics company. We thought about tracking it
from day one, but I’ve spoken to a bunch of people who don’t necessarily
think about the tracking side as much as they think about building out the
tool itself. I think for us we were really keen to make sure that we
weren’t investing the time of doing this unless we could see the rewards
I think why you guys are onto something really interesting where you can
cut down the time to implement a scheme like that. For us, there was
considerable development time in building it. Thankfully, looking at the
numbers, it’s been paying off.
The other take away was that we looked at the Go Squared Rewards scheme not
just as the referral program but also to increase engagement and activation
rates for our existing users as well. We didn’t just reward for referring.
We rewarded for activating features. I think that’s been a really nice, all-
around benefit to our user base.
– Will: You touch on some points that you said we hear a lot, talking
to other people about that idea of not tracking from the beginning and that
idea of maybe looking at it a little bit too isolated, remembering that
you’ve got a bigger picture in there. It is a great indicator, like you
said, on someone’s interest in your company. Is this someone who’s likely
to upgrade and be a good customer in the future? Those are all awesome.
What’s next for Go Squared? What’s the next big thing to be looking for?
– Hugh: We’ve got some really exciting product updates coming in
the next few months. I’d love to talk a bit more about them, but they’re
not quite ready for prime time just yet. We’re really excited to be running
out some really exciting new analytics tools that help you understand how
you’re growing as a company. They’re also going to be ideally focused
around especially SaaS and eCommerce businesses, helping you really
understand how you’re growing.
I think, essentially combining what you’re doing in GoSquared can help you
understand how the whole impact is coming off and how you’re investing your
time and resources effectively. We’re really excited for some of the things
we’ve got to come. It’s going to be a good summer.
-Will: Is there anything else you guys want to add, anything else we
didn’t cover here that you think would be good to share with some of the
– Hugh: I think if there was just one take away, it’s just to make
sure you track everything you’re doing. In the past, it’s been very easy to
spend time building up things without really seeing the impact. Especially
if you’re going to be embarking on doing a referral program, it’s
relatively easy to understand the impact of that. Make sure you’ve got some
good numbers to back up how it’s going. Then it will be much easier to
decide how to make changes and improve it even further down the road.
– James: To add to that as well, word-of-mouth statistically has
been impossible to track or measure the effectiveness of, and, nowadays,
you can. For example, you can monitor how much of an impact word-of-mouth
is having and with analytics tied in you can actually really judge the
effectiveness and really double down on the ones which are working. I think
it’s something which can’t be ignored now days.
– Will: Thank you very much, James. Thank you very much, Hugh. It was
great talking to you guys today. Where can people find you guys? Where can
they find you on Twitter? Where can they find you on the web?
– James: We’re GoSquared. That’s G-O-S-Q-U-A-R-E-D.com. Go
Squared.com. GoSquared on Twitter. GoSquared on Facebook. GoSquared on
pretty much every one of those things.
– Will: Thanks very much for the great time today, guys.
– James: Thanks very much. Cheers.
– Hugh: Thank you very much. Cheers.