10 ways how Plivo can fuel its user acquisition

I’m back to working on another growth study and after working on two of my favourite brands, Walnut and PayTm, I wanted to look into a brand that has global presence but indigenous to Indian soil. As a founder of a SaaS based product for over 3 years and on-boarding customers like facebook, twitter and ebay, I decided to try a different route which drove me to choose this business.

Well, I think that was a sufficient introduction. The brand I’m referring to is Plivo which seems to be giving its competitor, Twilio , a run for its money through continuous innovation. Let’s see if these simple hacks can help Plivo in their mission to sideline their competition. Before that let’s get to know about Plivo first.

Something about Plivo
Plivo is a Cloud based API Platform and a Global Carrier Services Provider for Voice Calls and SMS. Their mission is to simplify global telecom and enable access to quality cloud communications at a low cost.

Their story goes back to 2011, when the co-founders, Mike and Venky, accidentally exchanged messages on Github. Each had been seeking a robust communications platform to easily add Voice and SMS capabilities to their web applications. Yet, they couldn’t find one single software or platform that matched their standards. So, they decided to build their own. A while later, Plivo Open Source was born. Soon the project took off and was developed into a full-featured cloud platform which was renamed Plivo. Since then, they have been able to help 1000’s of businesses, of all sizes, build popular Voice and SMS applications including call centers, conferencing, two-factor authentication, mobile notifications, and many more.

So, its no surprise that they’ve been able to come this far and will surely reach great heights in the industry at this rate. My motive for this study is to possibly help them get there faster.

So, without further a due, let’s dive in to it :

1.Dynamic Landing Pages
Currently, Plivo has around 70,000 customers from 200 countries.

Impressive right?

But there is a slight miss-out here. In today’s business world, personalisation is basic and its up to your creative thinking as to how personal you can make your corporate communications. Let me explain more specifically.

Right now, Plivo’s customers from around the world have one thing in common with regards to the website, the same landing page. Maybe its just me and my ‘Growth Mindset’ (See what I did there ?), but I find that to be a little uninteresting and a room for more personalisation. This can be made more intuitive and attractive on two grounds :

  1. Industry
  2. Location.

I’m not sure if Plivo runs cold mail campaigns and I ain’t no wizard but if they do so, this trick can create magic for them. Assuming that Plivo runs an effective cold mail campaign, they can take advantage of the knowledge they have about their prospect in the above two areas to maximize the conversion. Also, through SpyFu, I got to know that Plivo also runs PPC campaign, through which they can get to know the propect’s location from where he/she lands on to the website.

Lets take an example on how this can be materialised. I’m a prospect from the Banking Sector, located in India. Coming from India and seeing big Indian banking brands and testimonials by famous people in Indian banking ecosystem on Plivo’s landing page can create huge impact for me as a viewer.

This technique creates a tremendous sense of personalisation for the user and might lead to a reasonable surge in the conversion.

2. Taking advantage of your competitor’s Haters. 
Have you been in a situation where you have already paid money for a bad product and finding it difficult to use? I’m sure you have. What should you do being next? You go to any social media and share your experience so that other people should not commit the same mistake (assuming you’re a generous lad) and post this activity, start looking for an alternative.These frustrated prospect ,who are ready to buy and are focusing on quality than price, are the ideal target any company should focus on converting.

In this case, there are many people out their who hate or are having issues with Twilio.

How to find them?

A simple boolean search on google, using every possible search term relevant(preferably long tail searches as it is commonly used) , will give you the ideal result.

Have a look at the image below to get an more clear understanding of what I’m talking about.

Source: Google

3. Building community of developers
Many times, in B2B marketing, we give utmost importance to the decision makers that we tend to forget about the end user of the product. Being a developers’ product, Plivo is doing a great job in providing a quality documentation but doesn’t go beyond that. Every company should try to create a hard core fan base through their outside product activities. Community building is the perfect, most effective solution to this. Almost all enterprise companies and now a days, even SaaS based companies are creating communities to attract and build a group of brand advocates for their product. Community building involves investing time and effort in nurturing and solidifying a strong relation with your customers to ultimately provoke them to bring more people into your circle as clients.

Community Blog: Plivo has written many blogs on how their customers used the product to solve their problems and reasons as to why they act as an advocate for the brand. What if some of those 70,000 customers want to share their own unique use case for the product and wants to share this purpose served, with the world?

Plivo should facilitate it’s users to share their journey using the product and how it made their life easier. This would also align well with the previous technique of building a community around the brand.

Souce: SAP SCN

Community Q&A site: Right now if developers are stuck with a problem, they are directly visit stackoverflow and look for a solution or post a question on the platform to get a way out of this hurdle.This is great and by no means should be stopped. But what if they have an option to discuss these challenges faced on Plivo’s site? Plivo users won’t want to get lost between documentation, their code, and stackoverflow and would surely prefer having all of such resources in one single, easily accessible platform.

This is a proven hack. Need evidence?

Well, SAP has a community Q&A site for each of it’s product. This will also help Plivo in SEO as there will be more people on the site for a longer time period. Also, more the pages, more the chances of people coming to site organically.

The image below will give you more evidence and a better understanding of the above.

Source: Moz

Slack community: Developers’ acceptance of and love for Slack is undeniable. Many developers are very active on the platform. Creating and moderating a slack community for Plivo’s users will enable constant communication about any issues that arise while using the product and also allows for collaboration with other users who might be working on some awesome work. Again, Plivo should perform the role of a facilitator.

4.Increasing numbers of reviews on Capterra and GetApp
Did you know?

Web directories like Capterra and GetApp perform really well for long tail searches (Long-tail keywords account for 70% of all web searches).

Another fun fact (well fun for businesses) is that 80% of the decision makers search for reviews before buying the product. These two reasons make web directories and review websites like G2Crowd, Capterra, and GetApp very important.

Currently, Plivo has managed to get a lot of reviews on G2Crowd but my research and personal experience in my current startup has concluded that for most long tail keywords, Capterra and GetApp seem to appear as the first two search results. And hence, Plivo ought to encourage more positive reviews on these two platforms.

5. Case study 
As a founder of a B2B startup, everyday I have a discussion with decision makers of enterprise companies. The conversation goes like this:

Prospect- “Have you worked with any company similar to ours?”

Me — “Yes”

Prospect — “What problem did you solve for them and how was their experience?”

My answer would generally be — “Great question. Let me send you a case study we made to answer question sufficient detail.”

While going to through Plivo’s landing page, I was not able to see an option for any case study on how it helped it’s customers. Having worked with 70000+ customers, I think Plivo has some existing stories across different sectors to share. All the major SaaS based companies now provide case studies on their Homepages.

Below, I’ve shared DigitalOcean’s example where they have segregated their case studies across various use cases. Plivo can do the same and bifurcate case studies according to the location, Industry and usage.

Source: Digital Ocean

6. Ready to Integrations for Major Cloud
Amazon has started the cloud computing revolution by launching Amazon EC in 2006.

At that time most of the decisions of buying the cloud was pricing driven than considering factors like ease of setup, benefits associated, auto scale and additional services provided. Today, things have changed, technology has developed and options are many. Decisions are now driven by the latter than the numbers.

You must be thinking, “I already know this , get to the point!”.

There is a way to tap users of a certain cloud by making Plivo’s plugin/app which would be directly available in their marketplace. This is a very great way to tap existing users of a cloud based company. Companies trying to build something which needs SMS and Voice services and are using these clouds can directly search for SMS/Voice post which they will be able to see Plivo.

Plivo’s main competitor, Twilio, is ahead in the game when it comes to this aspect and have already made a plugin/app for all major cloud players. Plivo should really consider this technique to get large customers with a very low customer acquisition cost.

Google Cloud
Heroku Plugins and Microsoft Azure Marketplace

7. Improving tag page on StackOverflow
The last time I checked StackOverflow, the user count was over 6 million which is huge. StackOverflow is very important to Plivo because if a developer faces some problem while implementing Plivo’s API, StackOverflow is the only way to post a query or search for a solution.

If you click on Plivo’s tag, you won’t find much information and that doesn’t create a very good perception. Ultimately, perception matters. On the other hand, if you click on Twilio’s tag, you would find every necessary detail.

Plivo should consider editing the description of the tag. It will also help Plivo from an SEO perspective as it will get few backlinks from High Domain Authority website like StackOverflow.

For an easy comparison, I have added both companies’ tag description page here.Again, Perception Matters :)

8. Engineering as Marketing
Well, you might’ve seen this point in my other growth studies. That’s because its one of my personal favourites which applies to any business in some shape or form.

Its a well known fact that developers are always thinking about developing something new and cool. That is the nature of a hard core developer where in they rather code and build than sit idle.

In this process , they would need guidance for which they browse through various platforms to understand how build what they have in mind using a particular language.

As odd as it might sound, I’ve realized this to be a target to channelize on.

Plivo can create a website or a page for such a passionate crowd where a simple step of entering of their email id can get them some insightful knowledge of how Plivo’s robust APIs can be used to create apps for different use cases in different programming languages.

9. Live Demo of how Plivo works
For an API based SaaS product, it’s very hard to predict or picture what the end outcome would look like as there can be numerous use cases for an API. But what if there would a feature on the landing page where you just have to enter your mobile number and you have the option to either send an SMS or make a Voice call. The end user will quickly be able to view the outcome of implementing Plivo’s APIs i.e how they will receive the SMS/Voice Call once implemented. This is a great way to show what you provide and will help users take decisions quickly.

And the obvious result of this — Quicker decisions --> $$$$

10. Referral system 
Don’t lie! The first few names that come into your mind when you think about Refferal system is Dropbox, AirBnb, Uber, and WhatApp.

Many companies tried to copy this and tried replicating the viral loop but unfortunately failed.

So, what is it that made it work for these popular names and not for the rest of the flock?

There are mainly two recipes to a referral system’s success:

A. Double sided Incentive where more focus has been given to the receiver.

B. Ensuring that the incentive is related to the products core function.

Let me tell you a short story of how Dropbox adds both these recipes.

When you refer a friend on Dropbox your friend and you both get 250 MB drive for free which incentives both parties and also sticks to the Products core offering.

Many of the marketers think that a referral system only works for a B2C market but I would argue otherwise.

As Plivo caters to all companies of all sizes, it totally makes sense to have a referral system in place. Plivo users can refer his/her friend who will get 1000 SMS/VOICE API calls for free and once the receiver signs up and starts using the product, the same amount of API calls(till 1000) used by the receiver will be offered to the referrer for free. This referral has a double sided incentive and is related to product’s core usage.

The end outcome of this recipe? A perfectly successful viral loop that every company wishes to experience.

11. ‘Alternative to Twilio’ on Quora
I love Quora as a platform. Its a simple and effective method of getting copious amounts of traffic and leads.

During my time as a co-founder of QuodeIt, I was regularly writing answers and Quora and you’d be surprised when I tell that 30% of the all the leads generated for QuodeIt was sourced from Quora.

While I was surfing through Quora, looking for opportunites to pitch Plivo, I found out that a lot of these questions have been answered with other solutions and products. But still, there are some questions which can be answered by Plivo to get some traffic.

Anyways, coming back to the technique, while surfing, I discovered a tag called “Alternative to Twilio”. When I clicked on it, I got to know that 105 people are already following this tag.

Yaaaayyyy! Potential Customers!

You can each and every one of these followers looking for substitute to Twilio. This bunch consists of purely qualified leads ready to invest and hence becomes a much easier opportunity than pitching to new, cold prospects.

Click on the source below the image to directly go to that page.

source: Quora

12. Finding unhappy customers on web directories
I’ve put emphasis on the importance of web directories earlier in this article but that’s just for one single use case.

Here’s another one. Finding unhappy customers of your competitors.

You just have to go to competitors page and go to reviews and sort reviews by rating.

In the image below, you can clearly that a gentleman named ‘Thoman McAvity’ is unhappy with Twilio and that poses as big green sign for Plivo.

Takes less time and effort and gives you more Qualified leads who are actively looking for a better option. What more do you need?

Conversion Rate Optimizations

1.Testimonials are missing
Obvious Fact, testimonials help establish credibility. Testimonials work not because they are strong sales pitches but because they come across as an unbiased voice and establish a sense of trust.You’re using real people to show success in your product or service.

Honestly, I was a little shocked to not find any testimonials on Plivo’s landing page.

2.Stats are missing
Along with testimonials, stats also play a critical role in establishing credibility. Currently, in the H2 of the Hero section, `Plivo is mentions the number of customers and the number of countries but according to me, they are missing 2 important KPIs i.e number of SMS sent and minutes of calls done through Plivo’s API. This will help visitors understand the scalability that is possible and being experienced.

3.Explaining use cases 
According to Hubspot, only 5% of the total visitors are ready to buy the product and 95% are at different stages of the buying funnel. Some of them might be in the exploration phase where they are looking at how Plivo can be helpful in different situations. Currently, on the developer page they have explained the different use cases of Plivo, if Plivo re-positions them to the Landing Page, it drive people at different stages in the buying cycle to buy,thus increasing conversion.

4.Separate Integration page not available 
While going into details I got to know that Plivo already has integrations for tools like HipChat, Agile CRM etc. It was deep inside the documentation. Algolia which is also an API based SaaS has created one dedicated page for all languages available and the tools it can be integrated with. It will help users know what all languages and tools are supported by Plivo instead of having them looking at blogs/documentation which might come of as boring. This might lessen the friction and increase the conversion.

5.More Visible ‘Alternative to’ Pages
An average user checks at least 3 products before buying anything. When I was googling alternative to Twilio, the first result I got was Plivo’s page which is a very great way to capture the competitor’s customers.

But, when I tried searching for those pages on the website, I was not able to find it. I am not sure whether Plivo created similar pages for other competitors but I think all the ‘alternative to’ pages deserve a place on the landing page, preferably on the footer.

People who are interested will get a comparison without them having to leave the window and this can spike up the conversion.

Conclusion:

Plivo is amongst the leading Service Providers in CPaaS, which is estimated to grow to a whopping 8 billion dollars by 2019. With it’s great, scaleable, and cost effective product, they possess great potential to be a market leader. Plivo’s main focus should be on how they can beat Twilio with continuous innovation by using the techniques mentioned in this publication. To the maximum of my ability, I tried to put forward a very honest feedback and present suggestions as to how Plivo could leverage various buckets of opportunities to their advantage.

I hope you found this study unique and informative. Look out for more of such studies and follow me to stay updated on the latest, most effective and unknown strategies for growing your business.

Cheers!