Here we go. This is my first public “Toofr LLC Board Meeting” in the shape of a blog post.
I’m doing this for myself, to make myself run the numbers, build the charts, and spend the time analyzing. I’m publishing this on LinkedIn because it will force me to do it well.
There’s lots of good and also some bad this time. Let’s dive in.
I should start by clarifying my objective with Toofr.
I want to boost net profit, across all revenue sources, by $1,000 per month. With a current revenue baseline around $23K/mo, that implies a respectable ~50% annual growth rate. I like this number because it’s challenging but achievable and makes a big difference to my own bottom line.
So from here on out, that’s the assumed goal: a net profit growth of $1,000 or better.
Referral traffic update
Referral traffic rose by 9% over August and increased by 60% on the quarter.
Per my LinkedIn update last month, my approach this month was meant to be threefold:
- Keep writing
- Do more guest posting
- Keep my word-of-mouth champions happy
Last month I assumed most of my new customers came from referrals. It was an assumption because I hadn’t taken the time to really dive into Google Analytics and track conversions back to the source (see below — by forcing myself to do this report, I’ve finally done that analysis) but I always ask customers by phone and email when I talk to them. They always tell me they heard about Toofr from a friend or read about it in a blog post.
I got some nice new blog mentions and YouTube tutorials in September and I still have my Toofr champions, especially in the recruiting industry. Traffic grew slightly but it was from the same group of websites. I didn’t get any significant new referrers in September so I’m not congratulating myself.
I need to be way more proactive about getting referral traffic if this is going to keep growing.
Here’s the last six months of sessions acquired by referrers
Organic traffic update
Organic traffic fell by 17% over August but increased by 25% on the quarter.
According to SEMRush, Toofr dropped from 5th to 8th place on the “email finder” keyword. That’s probably the cause of the organic traffic hit.
To combat it, I recently launched a new company and industry directory in the footer of the Toofr homepage which will add hundreds of new pages to my index and each of them has variations of “find emails” and “email finder” on them. I’m expecting to see a lift on September, hopefully back to my August high, in next month’s report.
Here’s the last six months of sessions acquired organically
Marketplace traffic and sales update
List marketplace traffic fell by 15% on August but is up 90% on the quarter. There were 16 lists bought in September versus 15 in August. On the supply side, 9 lists were put up for sale in August but only 5 were added in September.
The list marketplace has always been an exciting idea and totally unique to Toofr. It doesn’t get a lot of my time, though, and if there’s going to be any real movement on this front I’ll need to focus more on SEO, merchandising, and promoting lists within Toofr’s other features.
I can see, for example, tracking the kinds of emails a user is looking up and then suggesting that they buy a related list for sale. I also may need to allow the sellers to offer temporary promotions.
There’s tons of potential and I’m only scratching the surface on it right now.
Conversion sources summary
Finally, for the first time since I launched Toofr four years ago, I can tie subscription conversions back to the source. Here’s that chart:
- Stop running paid ads on Google and Facebook. It’s an experiment and I’ve spent a little over $1K on CPC each month for the past couple of months. One percent of conversions from this source given that it’s 90% of my marketing budget is probably a waste of money. I’ll kill every campaign except the remarketing ones because those are inexpensive.
- There could be an indirect benefit from ads in the awareness provided, so I’ll note any odd changes in organic and direct traffic next month that might be attributed to ending the paid campaigns.
- I’m happy about the even distribution of organic, direct (that’s the ‘none’) and referral traffic. This is good and healthy.
- Diving deeper into referral conversions, I see it’s dominated by one source. About 80% of referral conversions come from one sales tech company whose founder I befriended over email when I noticed he registered and a few of his users began using Toofr. Now Toofr is his recommended platform. It’s a stable relationship but I need to make sure all of these referrals stay happy.
Total aside: In case anyone else struggles with Google Analytics goals, here’s the deal. I use Segment to handle all of my client and server-side tracking, and my mistake was putting the “Subscribed” tracking event on the server side. Google doesn’t take server-side events without some mumbo jumbo clientId cookie stuff as described in Segment’s help pages, so I decided to move it out of Ruby and over to the HTML. I just copied one line of code from a Ruby file to an HTML file and boom, now it works!
Here I swallowed a bitter pill.
August was a miracle month in a lot of respects: high retention (96%) and high growth (17%) but because my numbers are still relatively small, a single customer can swing it.
In August I got another customer at $1,250/mo. She was running a ton of emails and I didn’t find out until the end of her renewal cycle that it was a one-time project. I was looking forward to seeing that renewal hit my bank account and she emailed me the night before asking to cancel. Daggers.
Here’s how it impacted the charts in September:
The orange lines are August and the blue lines are September. That huge negative growth number from existing users is what happens when an enterprise subscriber churns after one month.
On the positive side, I feel great about the fact that I closed September with more new user revenue than August and without a new enterprise customer. I’d much rather have a straight line than a choppy one in new users growth. Over $3,000 in new revenue per month is a really healthy number for Toofr.
Overall revenue and net income
The net of it is September MRR grew by about $800 but overall monthly revenue dropped about $1500 according to QuickBooks and $1200 according to Stripe. Depending on which revenue baseline I use, that’s a 6 or 7% overall decline month-over-month.
Here’s the monthly cash chart:
Quarter-over-quarter, fortunately, is a better story. Q3 revenue is up 23% after a flat Q2, but more importantly net income (real bottom line profit) is up 100%. That’s because I got my COGS down nearly 50% in Q3. This was a major focus after going full-time on Toofr in April.
Here’s the 2017 YTD quarterly P&L:
This month had a bunch of little fixes to the bulk file importer and some scalability improvements.
A quick rundown:
- Added a 100,000 row limit on CSV file uploads
- Added a per-plan limit on the number of concurrently running files
- Added a 50,000 unprocessed record limit for all running files to prevent a pileup in my background processor
- Added a ‘queued’ state for lists awaiting either the upload or the unprocessed record restrictions to open up
- Throttled the API to 60 requests per minute
- Created notification settings for each account (and learned a lot about Postgres array fields!)
- Automatically sent out email notifications about new marketplace lists
- A bunch of Heroku error code troubleshooting, finally getting it right. No more of these bad boys, thank goodness.
- Made lists searchable and shareable with query parameters, like this!
My Other Projects
Finally, I have to write about the other projects that have fallen under the Toofr LLC umbrella. I’ll keep it brief. The theme is I have still not cracked the code on replicating Toofr and getting a second income stream up and running.
Sessions this month: 55
Registrations this month: 2
Paying customers: 0
Thinbox is a customer email analytics tool that needs some love and I haven’t been giving it any. It’s already coming up on a year old and I still believe in this project. It’s elegant, it’s necessary, but it’s not getting any traction. I use it for Toofr and it works wonderfully. I think it needs a more concerted marketing effort to get it in front of product managers of mature applications. That’s a tough audience to find, though. What it needs is a few word of mouth champions, and to get those I need to put more time into this. More Quora, more blog commenting, and maybe some more LinkedIn posts? I’m not sure what it will take, but I am sure I’m not trying hard enough to figure it out.
Sessions this month: 145
Registrations this month: 7
Paying customers: 0
eNPS is an employee net promoter score survey tool that has tons of potential. It’s another “scratch my own itch” app that every small organization should want. Traffic and registrations are decent given how little work I’m putting into it, and it’s starting to pick up its own organic traffic (8% of total), which is great. I launched this one while on paternity leave so it’s now about 10 months old. Still no customers, but there’s hope. I have some engineering help from a friend on a pure commission basis (which so far is $0). My referral traffic (11% of total) is coming mostly from two Quora answers I posted a while ago. If I did a better job of carving out some time each week for this, eNPS would start to make money.
Sessions in Sept: 228
Registrations this month: 3
Paying customers: 2 (!!!!)
Inlistio is my collaboration with Max Altschuler from Sales Hacker to track job changes on email or customer lists. I give him credit for bringing me the idea, and it took exactly 53 days after the first code push to get our first customer. I’m proud of that number, and I can’t overstate how good it feels to now have a second project with paying customers. This is maybe not a great start, but it is a start, and I will try to use these early adopters to help me find more of them. This coming month my modest goal is simply to get more than two new paying customers. (Spoiler alert: got a BIG new customer in October so MRR is now $660!)
I have a few others in the wings, not yet launched but moving ahead slowly. I expect to report on one or two of them next month.