Build a product with a built-in distribution channel

Data Fetcher recently reached the $10k MRR by tapping into an early marketplace.

Publish Date
Sep 15, 2022
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What does the company do?

Data Fetcher allows you to import data to or from Airtable into various tools. Airtable is one of the key no-code tools in the marketplace for building “back-end” data sets. But there is a missing piece to get the table in to the tools. Airtable has some features for this, but they’re not comprehensive.
To best understand, it’s easiest to take some use cases for Data Fetcher:
  1. Import your marketing analytics data between Google Analytics and Airtable
  1. Financial stuff - People with an Airtable of Crypto or Stocks, who want to pull in data each day for their investments
  1. A lot of people are stuck using obscure and smaller APIs for various projects. The reporting tools for these integrations are not great, so they put it into Airtable.
  1. Andy even has a customer with a CRM for ski chalets.
    1. There are Over 2,000 APIs (that you’ve never heard of) which can be integrated. Using feature called “Customer Requests” which lets no code or low code users use the APIs. See more below.
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There are over 2,000 APIs that you can connect with using Data Fetcher. Most of them you’ve probably never heard of, so the use cases can get pretty niche. There are good and bad things about having so many use cases. There is always new content you could write, but it might not be relevant to large groups that are scalable.

👨‍👨‍👦‍👦 Target Markets for Data Fetcher

  1. Marketers
  1. Early founders and people running side projects
  1. Small businesses and early stage businesses
  1. Agencies and automation consultants
  1. Developers
  1. Operations people
^pretty much anyone who works in or uses tech can find a use case for Data Fetcher.

💲 Pricing

Data Fetcher works on a freemium model. Andy looked at Shopify apps, and a lot of them were a model with paid tiers. He thinks this works well because people might not be ready to pay for a serious use case yet, but would use the tool for something small. Some day, they may have that use case they are willing to pay for. Have an actual free plan instead of just a free trial. The risk is excess support, but so far it has been manageable for Andy.
Don’t miss next week’s growth story!

📝 Briefly describe the growth project

The main thing Andy wants to call out is that he benefited massively from being one of the first on the Airtable marketplace.
To step back, Airtable launched a marketplace of apps fairly recently. You can think of it as similar to the App Store or Google Chrome plug-in marketplace (but much, MUCH more rudimentary).
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This is how the majority of people still find it Data Fetcher today, and is a great way to choose a product with a built in Growth channel. When the Marketplace launched, Airtable had a few apps on it that were massive companies, but at the end of 2020 they opened it up to any developer. Andy had the idea already and was ready to build it. He heard that being first on an app stores is a huge win in terms of growth. So this wasn’t accidental – the product growth strategy was part of why he wanted to build this product. Andy wanted to choose to build a product on a platform that solved distribution for him.

🛠 How to build a product with built-in distribution?

💡 Find an existing idea, that can be brought to a new platform.
Previously Andy had seen an API connector for data in Google Sheets, and thought that he could do the same thing but for Airtable. It worked, and Andy now gets 70% of his revenue through the Marketplace.
Once you have the idea + marketplace you want to sell it on, you want to make sure your funnel is primed.
  • Make the marketplace listing GREAT
  • Add reviews or, if using a marketplace like Airtable’s that doesn’t yet have reviews, add testimonials
  • Add google sign in. Andy’s conversion rate was much higher when he added this.

Other marketing efforts

  1. Participate in communities on places like Reddit, Discord and Slack. Be a genuine member of the communities, bring up Data Fetcher where relevant.
  1. Content Marketing - see who is coming in to your site and where, through analytics.
      • Andy could see there were loads of crypto sites referring traffic. Cases like this gave him insights on use cases he could market to.
      • Start a blog with topics related to your product (like “How to import Google Search Console data into Airtable” for Data Fetcher).
      • Write an article and accompanying YouTube video to go with it. Keep the keyword volume very small for each of them. The posts will be super niche, but the intent will be crazy high (especially on YouTube videos).
        • Andy had a video with 8 views, and one became an annual subscriber. 20-30% of customers come from this kind of content now.
        • In his tutorials, he’ll say “save your requests with as a name.” In his accompanying blog post he’ll say to save with [y] as a name so that he can track the source.
        • He wants to focus on content more because it’s more scalable than PH launches and Reddit posts.
^ That last point on tracking is pretty critical. Because of the nature of Data Fetcher, everything goes through Airtable, making it virtually impossible to implement normal tracking practices through cookies and whatnot. Fortunately, the product is so specific he can tell who goes through the tutorials. Andy tries to focus on broad strokes, not nit-picking the conversion tracking.
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What will he try next?

The next stage on content will be to try more top of funnel stuff. General no code automation things, as well as Data Fetcher specific things, like a “learn” series on YouTube for Data Fetcher. The theory is that if he can up-skill his audience, that would be the next level of growth. Andy has hired some freelancers to help with the content. One writes the articles, the other turns it into a video.
He also wants to look at TikTok. Previously Andy tried a short experiment with it, but not much. Since then he’s now considering hiring a freelancer to do these as well.
Some tips on content and video from Andy:
  • If the intent is super high, the production quality doesn’t have to be insane. Most of his videos are a screen recording with people talking over it. He trims down boring parts (like loading time).
    • Andy actually discovered this channel by accident. Someone had a question and Andy figured recording a YouTube video was the best way to answer it. It got some views without any promotion, so Andy figured it would work for growth.
    • YouTube’s algorithm will do a lot of this work for you.
  • Andy has a template with thumbnails to trade out, making the creation of additional videos significantly easier.
  • The videos are 5-10min long, go strait into it: problem → solution
  • While you don’t want to put out trash videos, also don’t worry about making them super flashy.
  • Andy started doing the video work initially but didn’t enjoy it. Hiring someone with a little experience went a long way. He found her on Indeed, as well as the person who writes blog posts. Spent $10 on a job post and got a few hundred applicants. Did 6 interviews, hired 3 to do starter same piece of content, then hired the best.
    • Andy did first make a mistake of trying to hire one person to do blog post AND video, but they are very different skills.
    • Separating them worked out better anyway because there is more bandwidth.
  • Andy was trying to do 2 or 3 a week, but it was too much. He was spending all of his time producing content. Now, he does one blog post and one video a week (again, on the same topic), because he also has to actually build the integrations for the videos.
  • If he does a new release with new features, he’ll do an email announcement with a video where he explains the new features to his community. He gets a small number of dedicated views on these.
Pricing Model - freemium model. Looked at Shopify apps, a lot of them were this model with paid tiers. Thinks this works well because people might not be ready to pay for a serious use case yet, but eventually will. Have a free PLAN vs just a free trial. The risk is support, but has been manageable.

You can follow Andy and his growth journey on Twitter (@clokehead, incredible)