Apr 1, 2021

0 to 50,000 Users: A Candid Look Into Creative Growth

This graph is our user growth since September 2019. On June 26th, 2020, we crossed 50,000 users. Without a marketing budget.

TL:DR: This article gives a candid look into the growth levers at Rezi categorized across four strategies

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Scaling a startup is hard. An endlessly-deep black vacuum of marketing dollars, aka paid marketing, tends to be a disgustingly expensive experiment for inexperienced marketing teams.

We've heard and criticized the motto "If you build it, they will come" objecting how vital marketing is to any organization.

While I fervently agree with this - I also like to acknowledge that we suck at marketing. So how do we manage to grow? Let's find out. Use this article to explore, learn, discover, or be inspired by our unique approach to growth.

Before going further - let's lay the groundwork to understand the perspective of the article - the characteristics of a product massively influence the economics of scaling up. In our case, we are a consumer-focused free resume software built to be used by everyone. The only two frictions for user adoption are knowing about it and a desire to use it. Unfortunately, this also means many marketing channels with high CPA (cost per acquisition) are not economical.

This article gives a candid look into the growth levers at Rezi categorized across four strategies:

  1. Development Driven Growth
  2. Partner Driven Growth
  3. Organic Growth
  4. Viral & Product Launch Growth

1 | Development Driven Growth

1 | A | Consumer

If we're connected on Linkedin - you know this already, but Rezi launches a shit ton of new features. Our development is almost entirely lead by the marriage of the feedback from Rezi users and Rezi's knowledge of the resume which come together to reach the final goal of creating a resume. Precisely as it should be.

Just take a look below at what Rezi was when it launched (Left) and Rezi as of now (Right).

When we launched Rezi, there were none of the key features that we have today including; AI Keyword Targeting, Real-Time Content Analysis, multiple resume formats & download types, link sharing, starter templates, video guides, and more.

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I emphasize this first because every strategy that I talk about in this article depends on one simple thing: a well-designed software that does what it promises - makes a resume.

1 | B | Enterprise

The idea of development lead growth should extend further past the "more features" approach as we look at the market from the enterprise lense. Fortuitously, we developed Rezi in a module way that allows for white-label deployments without much headache.

In April, we launched a Resume Management System (RMS) to bring organizations the ability to assist their users with the same proven resume experience as our users.

Here is what this looks like in practice - Universities in Korea cannot provide their bilingual students with any level of resume education or services that match our RMS's quality and price. From a CEO's, that's a beautiful thing.

To drive user adoption in Korea - deployments of our RMS have proven to be a hyper-targeted and effective way to reach our desired market (without ad spend). Seoul National University is our first paying client which is a reasonably significant achievement considering the institution's notoriety and the difficulties of selling software to a university.

Instead of Rezi marketing directly to students - the university recommends Rezi to the students.

This is the B2B2C model. A B2B2C is a particular business model where a company, rather than accessing the consumer market directly, does that via a partnership with another organization. Yet the final consumers will recognize the brand or the service provided by the B2B2C.

Roughly 5% or 2,500 users come from B2B2C RMS deployments.

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2 | Partner Driven Growth

We suck at marketing, but a lot of other companies don't. Two companies that have their marketing down to a pure science are AppSumo & StackCommerce. Since January 2020 (StackCommerce) and April 2020 (AppSumo), both have joined Rezi as marketing partners. Each is worth mentioning considering their respective approach to marketing and their incentive for doing so.

2 | A | AppSumo

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In basic terms, AppSumo is a deal website that sells cool software.

To facilitate these deals, AppSumo partners with startups that are willing to offer their products and services at highly discounted rates.

To make it worthwhile, AppSumo distributes information about each deal to its vast online audience to quickly facilitate a large number of sales.

When we reached out to AppSumo - 6 million people had just lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Giving away Rezi Lifetime at no cost was ultimately the agreement we quickly came to considering the number of displaced job seekers and the sensitive timing of forecasted demands.

Where AppSump shines is their execution in communicating the value of the software. For the first time, we had external and unbiased experts speak about Rezi in a way that we had never previously done before.

Roughly 20% or 10,000 users come from AppSumo.

2 | B | StackCommerce

StackCommerce came to Rezi after our first Product Hunt launch (See Below) in November. StackCommerce is a beast. I love their modus operandi. In their own words, "We source amazing products, tell captivating stories, and ultimately put incredible products in the hands of millions of satisfied customers worldwide."

In contrast to AppSumo - StackCommerce is a revenue-focused partnership, and as a result, the incentives are aligned by performance-based directors such as customer feedback.

Here's how we work with StackCommerce:

  1. Created Rezi deal page
  2. StackCommerce works with publishing partners to develop content
  3. Content drives the audience to the Rezi deal page

This year Rezi has had approximately +20 media placements in The New York Post, CNBC News, Entrepreneur, Engadget, The Next Web, Mashable, and more.

Similarly to AppSumo, these types of partnerships teach us how to most effectively communicate the value proposition of our software to potential users. This leads us to the next growth category - Organic Growth.

I can't share the number of new users from StackCommerce, but it is under 7 billion.

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3 | Organic Growth

Rezi was founded in 2015 to sell hiring system optimized resume templates and resume reviews. If we had focused on organic search, there's no telling what our traffic would be these days; however, I imagine it would be a couple of orders of magnitude higher than it is today.

I should be fired for wasting a 5-year head start on all search terms related to the resume.

Here's a look at the past 16 months of search engine results:

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If you compare the new traffic in the search engine results graph above and the cumulative user graph, which leads this article, there is a pretty interesting correlation.

SEO is fun if you have an understanding of what's happening. When you understand what is happening, you can change your actions to influence the results in your favor. In April 2020, that's what we did.

Before I crack open our SEO strategy and explore the tools we used, let's take a closer look at the graph above.

There are three distinct eras:

  1. No Growth | Pre - 1/3/2020: Defined by 1. No clear strategy, and 2. Going viral November 14th & the lagging consequences of going viral.
  2. Inconsistent Growth | 1/3/2020 - 4/10/2020: Defined by no clear strategy but increased media exposure via content publishing results with StackCommerce.
  3. Consistent Growth | Post - 4/10/2020: 1. Established an SEO strategy, 2. rebuilt the website and 3. hired an external SEO consultant.

Okay, back to our SEO strategy - We first hired Nathan Qaurrie as our team's dedicated writer - Nathan has a professional writing background focused on the education industry.

And his resume was one of the best resumes ever created on Rezi.

With Nathan's expertise and a growing list of new Rezi features, we focused on building the next iteration of the Rezi website with keyword-rich content and a more robust version of Designmodo's Startup Framework - my favorite website framework.

Without digressing too much - the number one keyword that all resume companies are racing to rank for is "Resume Builder." It is such a high volume keyword that it kills innovation; many of our competitors copy reads the same. "Blah, Blah, Resume Builder" - however, this dreary, thoughtless, corporate strategy does work.

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To escape the "resume-builder" circus above - we turned to our focus to mirror the product messaging that brought our partners the most success. Mainly focusing on the unique feature of how Rezi uses (simple) AI to create a significant advantage by optimizing content with potential keywords found in the job description. The results are fantastic:

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4 | Product Launch & Viral Growth

The last category covers the one-time and non-scalable ways we've seen growth.

4 | A | Product Launch

Since September 2019, we've released three significant products on Product Hunt. For those unaware, Product Hunt is a website that lists new products for people to upvote creating a curated list of the day's coolest software launches. It's pretty popular too. If you get to the top of the list, you'll be the product of the day, just 24 hours, and seen by thousands.

Our first launch on Product Hunt was Rezi 1.0 - The release of our newly developed resume software. The second launch was Rezi 2.0 - A massively upgraded Rezi with new features. The Third launch was Linkedin to Resume - a Chrome Extension that allows you to instantly turn your Linkedin profile into a resume. Each launch was increasingly more successful than the last - Linkedin to Resume ended up as the product of the day.

However, I think many companies put too much effort and importance on Product Hunt. It doesn't move the needle too far.

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4 | B | Reddit

Do you know what does move the needle? Reddit - the needle isn't ready for Reddit.

You're not ready for Reddit.

We certainly weren't ready for Reddit in November of 2019 when we accidentally went viral as a consequence of a /r/IAMA post going nuclear.

When I graduated college, I had interviews at Google, Dropbox, Goldman Sachs, and others because of my resume, despite a 2.2 GPA. Now we've build a software to make the same resume for free. AMA!

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  • 47,611 visitors landed on the Rezi website
  • 7,239 created a Rezi account. 3,844 created an anonymous guest Rezi account

When the dust settled, 11,000 new users in just under 10 hours. I know what you're thinking - "How can we do that again?"

To replicate the result we deliberately made a post with the expectation of tens of thousands of upvotes. And it worked... for about a day.

Reddit is notoriously anti-advertising will remove any promotional post. That was the result of this post before we managed to benefit from the crowds.

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That's it. That's the story of our journey from 0 to 50,000 users.

Wherever our user come from, one thing is for sure, we appreciate them, and will do everything in our power to ensure they have the resources to succeed in the job market.