Founded in 2013, LeadDyno was a pioneer in the affiliate marketing space. With a loyal customer base that includes many users from its original launch, LeadDyno has proved that it’s more than one of the first products on the market – it’s one of the best.
However, great things don’t come without challenges. Once SureSwift acquired the business in 2021, the team found gaps and applied SureSwift’s method to grow, transform, and see what a sustainable future looked like for the product. I had the pleasure of speaking with Brooke Hahn, CEO of LeadDyno about this journey, what the team’s been up to, and what’s next for the wildly successful company. Keep reading to learn more.
The LeadDyno team
LeadDyno’s team includes 13 people in eight countries. Being across the globe allows them to essentially work a 24-hour clock, which is helpful since the majority of customers are in Europe and the US. The team has women in engineering, business development, marketing, and senior leadership roles. Given the nature of SaaS and the team size, this is pretty unique and a major point of pride for them.
When it comes to team culture, everyone leans into and fully owns their role. The team has worked hard to develop an in-depth understanding of the product, its customers, and their needs. This has allowed them to create a crystal-clear path forward, leveraging the team’s strengths and allocating resources where they will have the most impact. The business also benefits from a genuine desire from the team for the product to succeed and grow, as well as a highly collaborative environment.
Hahn comments, “It’s pretty amazing to see a revitalized product that’s  years old and gaining traction – we’re seeing an increase in the customer base.”
Staying engaged and motivated
Building that collaborative environment isn’t something that just happened, especially in a fully-remote workspace. In an effort to keep the team strong and motivated, LeadDyno has focused heavily on engaging people around metrics – giving better visibility into project revenue so team members can see their impact. They also have a fully transparent bonus program tied to sales, which allows the team to benefit directly from their efforts. The team stays connected through Slack and uses tools like Jira to keep things organized as the team tackles projects and initiatives.
And, at the end of the day, they’ve been thoughtful about who’s brought on to the team. Everybody who’s joined has been vetted by teammates who really understand the culture and the direction LeadDyno is taking. There’s very clear communication, a sense of goals, and a feeling of ownership. Everybody on the team is impacting the bottom line, and no one’s efforts are discounted.
LeadDyno’s state at acquisition
LeadDyno was an unusual acquisition for SureSwift – there was a team of about eight at the time, including the general manager, which wasn’t typical of the products we acquire (with our focus on bootstrapped businesses, we see solo Founders running development, customer support, and marketing more often than we do fully fleshed-out teams). After joining, the team experienced a lot of instability. Many had joined LeadDyno with the intention of working in a startup environment, which was no longer where LeadDyno was in terms of business development and growth needs.
“It was like, let’s throw this at the wall and see what sticks,” Hahn recalls. “This is very much a startup mentality, but the product was seven years old, so it didn’t work.”
As well, the product was still in a relatively junior state. There were a lot of features, but they were being made as side projects, not as a core focus, and would be integrated before getting to a fully fleshed-out state. As well, there were some GDPR compliance gaps and issues around data and the reliability of some features. It’s something we see pretty frequently in the SaaS space.
Over time, the strategies that initially benefited a team in their early days may no longer align with the evolving needs of the business. For passionate Founders who thrive in the startup environment, acquisition can present an ideal solution. By handing over their product and customer base to someone with the necessary expertise and resources, they can propel the business to new heights. Meanwhile, the Founders gain the freedom to pursue their next groundbreaking idea, often fueled by a substantial sum of money from the sale.
In addition to these regular challenges that come with taking on a startup-type business, the team also found that some of their big customers couldn’t access major aspects of the app because of loading issues.
So, within the first six months, they worked to stabilize both the team and the product. There was a strong focus to understand the features of the product and LeadDyno’s customer base.
Fortunately, this customer base was strong and was a huge advantage as the team did some detailed testing. The team would test features and functions only to find out that certain things simply didn’t work well. For example, integrations with products like Wix were losing thousands of dollars each month because there wasn’t a strong pricing approach.
From there, the team determined a clear path forward in terms of where SureSwift would take the product through growth.
Key changes and successes
Revamped reporting for the win
Hahn spent a fair bit of time talking to customers and understanding why they were using LeadDyno and where they saw gaps. She also looked at churn reasons and learned the big reason people were leaving was because of the brand’s lack of reporting.
So, last spring, the team started to overhaul its reporting. Hahn notes that previous teams seemed hesitant to show customers how their affiliate programs were doing in case they weren’t successful. This made it almost impossible to see the impact an affiliate program was making on the bottom line. She spent a lot of time analyzing the data and noticed how well customer affiliate programs were performing. In 2022 alone, LeadDyno’s 2,000 or so customers made a whopping $131 million, directly driven from their affiliate programs.
“We need to tell them what’s working and what’s not so they can improve and actually see the value that LeadDyno provides. This is done by improving visibility across all aspects of the affiliate program – whether it’s visitors, leads, customers, or purchases generated from the affiliates,” says Hahn.
The team is now in the final stage of collecting per-affiliate insights to give people better decision-point data. This means users can find out the impact they’re making including conversion rates and how many new customers they’re bringing in compared to repeat customers. These metrics will help them come up with informed plans around commissions.
The feedback on this initiative has been amazing – customers say it’s everything they need. This is very helpful for the team, as they can finally look at the tool’s many features and focus on those they know customers are really looking for.
Focus on value-adds
The team is currently overhauling its marketing site to tell a more refined story because the language they used before reflected how simple, quick, and easy it is to run an affiliate program – verbiage like “three clicks to an affiliate program”. But, this is just not true, nor should it be with how heavy of a lift setting up an affiliate program actually is.
“Something that’s going to generate you that much revenue is not something you should feel like you can do in three clicks. It really has to be an extension of your brand,” Hahn comments.
Instead, they’ve focused on addressing things like building up the value of LeadDyno in a customer’s plan. For example, this is done through offering account management and managed services. These services allow customers to fully focus on their business since most don’t have a dedicated affiliate manager and have marketing managers doing it halfheartedly instead. So, it’s a huge help to customers when LeadDyno steps in to manage the program for them. And since the team has done this for years, they know what it takes.
Another key change LeadDyno undertook since joining SureSwift was increasing its prices. There hadn’t been one since 2014 which, in software, is basically unheard of. So, the team did a fair bit of competitive analysis and looked at what they were offering, then overhauled the price plans. This led to more than a 25% increase in MRR (monthly recurring revenue).
The way forward for LeadDyno
The LeadDyno team sees itself leaning more into the enterprise space. There’s an opportunity to build out multi-domain functionality and the ability to manage more complicated affiliate programs.
So, they’ll focus on this with more refined security features that enterprise companies require, along with continuing to give better visibility through the reporting overhaul. All of this will come together and present itself in a new dashboard, which will likely come towards the end of the year.