How Plutio grew to $20k MRR using affiliate and community marketing

Building an affiliate program (or a community!) doesn't have to be hard. Just start with your existing customers.

Publish Date
Apr 28, 2022
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What does the company do?

Plutio an all in one business management platform for freelancers, businesses and enterprises. It offers you everything you need to run a business: project management, collaboration, client portals, etc. Their goal is to empower anyone from anywhere to start their own business.
Plutio didn’t just mix all products together, but developed them from the ground up. The experience is extremely integrated among all of their tools, making it feel incredibly seamless.
They now have 10’s of thousands of users around the world and have hit the $20k MRR mark 🎉
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👨‍👨‍👦‍👦 Target Audiences

They started with Small Businesses.But because it’s so flexible, they soon expanded to businesses of all sizes. Now, companies all around the world use it (they currently support 25 languages).

📝 Briefly describe the growth project

Focusing on the product first

Plutio didn’t start pushing growth until very recently. Their past few years were focused on product and developing something that people will actually love and use. They wanted Plutio to genuinely add value to people’s lives. As you can imagine, the vision and product is extremely ambitious. Chat, inbox, invoicing, task management... these are things typically produced by a company focusing on one individually. And if the company does that one thing well, it’s considered a big success.
This is also why the workflow is so complicated using multiple tools and apps. The user experience isn’t integrated, and therefore not seamless. Even using third party tools like Zapier to connect them is broken and cumbersome. The need for these tools to communicate with each other is growing. Took them a long time to develop and also get it right.

Shifting the focus to growth

Plutio started pushing marketing hard several months ago. They launched with AppSumo – a marketplace for digial products – instead of raising any money from investors. Using the funds from this, they grew the team into more than just devs – they added CS and Growth and growth people that helped them to hit goals. This got them to profitability very quickly, and also put them at an advantage. They had a product people loved, and were willing to pay for.
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What growth efforts worked the best?

📣 Affiliate Marketing

Plutio’s affiliate program started with their own customers. All they did was launch the program and mention it once or twice in their onboarding emails. They don’t push it intensely. Leo and the team started out giving their partners a 15% commission, but soon raised it to 20%. They wanted to build the best relationships possible.
Now, Plutio has 1k affiliate partners (all of who came through as customers), and the program has generated $70k in revenue.
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To begin, Plutio used FirstPromoter as a platform for their affiliate program to live on. It runs a lot for them, but they still have to manually pay everyone via PayPal. The team is now considering building their own in-house solution given the nature of their wallet product.
✅ Upsides to Affiliate Marketing:
  1. You can leverage your existing customer flow
  1. You don’t pay out money until sales are made
  1. It naturally builds a community that will support not only your growth but your products
❌ Downsides to Affiliate Marketing:
  1. You must have a fantastic product for the program to work
  1. Marketing it be can tricky, and it can come off as scammy

🏗 Build your own affiliate program

  1. Make a list of content creators your target market follows.
      • Think bloggers, writers, video creators, social media influencers, etc.
  1. Create a generous reward system that is enticing.
      • If you have competitors with affiliate programs, try to beat their %.
      • A general rule of thumb is that 10-20% is best.
  1. Sign up for an affiliate tracking service like FirstPromoter.
      • This will let you track and manage your referral program from a dashboard.
      • You can build this out yourself, and may choose to eventually, but it’s highly recommended you take advantage of existing tools to get a faster start and track the channel.
  1. Make monthly payouts via PayPal.
      • Choose a time each month to make payouts to your partners for the sales they’ve made each month.
For more information on how to build your own affiliate program, check out this past post!

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Community

Plutio has what Leo calls a “digital army” – a close-knit community of people recommending the product and helping them grow through word of mouth. The community lives on Facebook, composed of about 90% customers and 10% people interested in the product.
The main benefit and power of the community is that it offers a very solid social proof for people to purchase and continue using. They’re also much more likely to refer their own network when a part of the community.
Think about it: If you’re a customer on a free trial and gain access to the community, you’ll find activities and people talking about the product in an exciting way. You see the team and others responding. You see threads on how people are using it with input from the team. It’s a very supportive place that helps people commit and convert.
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Plutio has kept their community focused on customers sharing ideas and inspiration. From the beginning, they tried to divert it away from bugs and more into creative energy. It was quite a struggle using the Facebook tools to keep it focused, because it was simply not designed for that. Anyone can post anything with no moderation. They wanted to keep posts inspirational and educational. If it would have been full of bugs it would have put people off. They created their own channel for bugs.
The moderation is manual. They have experimented with different kinds of moderation. There is now a feature where you can delete posts (say if someone posts a bug or customer service issue), and it shows them the right channel to post in. This has made their work much easier.
The Plutio community now has 7k+ active people.
✅ Good parts about community marketing:
  1. It builds a group of people that will actively support you in your efforts and recommend your product.
  1. Gives great social proof to use in converting people to sales.
  1. You can test new concepts and ideas in a “safe” space.
❌ Downsides to community marketing:
  1. If you don’t have a product people are excited about, they probably won’t be excited to join a community around it.
  1. Communities, even in their best form, take a lot of moderation.
  1. Communities are a great conversion tactic, but might not bring in large numbers of new customers.

🏗 How to build your own community

  1. Create a “segment” of your most active customers or power users.
  1. Find out where they hang out online (Facebook, Slack, Discord, etc.).
      • It might be obvious, but you might also have to ask them.
  1. Create your community on that platform with a clear purpose.
      • The purpose should be something fun and energizing. Depending on your product, it could be about creating things, following passions, growing businesses, etc.
      • Ideally, your community is directly related to your product.
  1. Moderate the community.
      • Make sure all posts contribute to the defined purpose of the community.
      • Moderate content that is irrelevant, and kindly point people in the right direction.
  1. Keep the community active!
      • Make posts on behalf of the company. Talk to your customers. Ask what they want and need. Interact with their own posts.

You can follow Leo and his adventures with Plutio on Twitter!