Join us as we dig deeper into LeadDyno's transformative journey in this exclusive interview with Brooke Hahn, LeadDyno's CEO. From assuming the role of Product Manager in the wake of the company's acquisition to steering it towards a trajectory of unprecedented growth, Brooke shares insights into the pivotal moments that shaped LeadDyno's evolution. We delve into the strategies that propelled the brand forward, the challenges met head-on, and a vision that extends well into 2023 and beyond. You’ll get to see the story behind LeadDyno's rise, a conversation that goes beyond the ordinary and unveils the layers of a brand in constant motion. Welcome to the inside scoop on LeadDyno's past, present, and future.
The Acquisition Journey: From Product Manager to CEO
Tell us a little bit about your personal trajectory with LeadDyno.
I was hired as the Product Manager in November 2021 when LeadDyno was a few months post-acquisition. I was originally brought on to help move the product roadmap forward, as there was no real owner right after the acquisition. From there, I went on to become General Manager, took on an additional product and was promoted to CEO of both products in March of 2023.
What made LeadDyno stand out to SureSwift Capital when it was acquired?
First, it had a great history as an inaugural product in the space, and had an early-in advantage, resulting in a strong customer base. They had customers who had been with them from day one, and that's pretty impressive. Second, we saw the growth potential in the pricing alone. There had never been a price increase in the seven years. Lastly, at the time of the acquisition, it was still an up-and-coming industry, so there was this upward opportunity of being one of the first in while having an established product. And it was an industry that we realized would see more growth, so we really liked that.
They also had a big team, so there were a lot of roles covered that gave us a starting point. As far as I know, it was the largest team acquired by SureSwift—it was eight people, I believe. And that made the transition a lot easier for us than if it was just bringing over a Founder and then trying to rebuild and restructure. We were able to keep the momentum going, and it had relatively stable revenue.
SureSwift Capital's Impact: Leveraging Network Strengths
How has being part of the SureSwift SaaS portfolio been beneficial to you and the LeadDyno team?
It’s been hugely beneficial. When we look at where LeadDyno was at the time of the acquisition, it operated with more of a start-up mindset. There was significant technical debt, and we really needed to spend time talking to our customers.
Being part of the SureSwift network allowed us to leverage established processes and structures to get more stabilized as a business. For myself personally, I had come from a marketing background – having co-founded an agency – so this was my first time in a product management and general manager role, and it was certainly my first time in a CEO role. It gave me many opportunities to work with peers and ask for guidance as needed. And what I found was that the backgrounds of the different leaders were so varied.
In my background, I’d never led a dev team; whereas, some of the other leaders have worked as developers and have a much more technical level of expertise to lean on.
There's really an opportunity to learn from folks who are running similar products. I might say, ‘Hey, I'm looking at doing this price change on Shopify. Has anyone had experience with that?’ And at the time no one did, so then when LeadDyno did it, we were able to share that with other teams to help them navigate Shopify a little more easily. It's a nice give-and-take of knowledge across portfolio businesses in the organization.
It sounds like you were able to avoid some of the pitfalls that SaaS startups experience when trying to scale.
Yes, for LeadDyno, it allowed for a kind of reset. We decided to do sprint planning and talk to customers, rather than just doing things because somebody at one point suggested that we should. Otherwise, it would’ve gotten really out of control in terms of being able to move forward. We were just getting distracted by shiny new projects that we didn't even know if our customers cared about.
One specific example: We had this affiliate reporting screen, which was at the core of our function. And when I first started as a product manager, the decision was made to overhaul this screen, and it had so much momentum. At the time, I didn't know enough to say, ‘Hey, have we talked to customers about it? What do they not like about it? What are we trying to fix?’ So I went with the momentum and pushed to get it out the door. And the day we did, Support had never received so many complaints. People actually said, ‘how could you possibly make this worse?’
For me, it was an important learning – that we needed to take the time to actually talk to the customers and be methodical about releasing new features and making changes. The experience taught us to put a process in place where we do the research first, share designs with our customers, and gather their feedback. That way, when we make a release, it's not a shock. And more important, it's actually what the customers want.
Customer-Centric Strategies: Lessons in Customer Engagement
During the acquisition, did you find that as your methods for customer engagement shifted, that the customer response changed as well?
Not at first, because it took some time to stabilize a few issues that we’d inherited, gaps in the product and other core needs. But once we figured those out, I started noticing what was causing so much churn and found that the major problem was a lack of reporting. That opened the door to talking more with customers about reporting. And when we started having those conversations, people would thank us for reaching out and asking for their opinion, even customers who were canceling.
I would reach out to them and say, “Hey, I'm really sorry you didn't have a great experience. I'd love to learn a little bit more. Could you spare 15 minutes to chat with me?’ Just to try to get a sense of where we were having gaps, and it soon became very clear. That allowed us to make improvements that garnered really positive customer feedback.
LeadDyno has a loyal customer base, some of which have been with you since before the company was acquired by SureSwift. How has LeadDyno been able to maintain the original customer base so successfully?
I think what keeps customers working with LeadDyno is our extremely robust feature set. We have unlimited affiliates, MLM, unlimited commission planning, and we can provide highly-complicated commission-planning structures. Lots of our competitors fall short when it comes to features.
It also happens to be a space where it's hard to move to a competitor, because when you leave, you have to change your affiliate codes. And that means your affiliates aren't making money for the window of time. For a lot of our clients, it’s a complicated business that requires different commission plans that need testing, and we can support that. Not a lot of our competitors can.
Is there anything you can preview about what's coming for LeadDyno customers in the future?
Yes! So what we heard last year was the major gap in our reporting features, and we’re just now on the tail end of delivering the last of those reporting screens. Now we’re focusing on updating our pricing structure to be more feature-based – basing it on pricing versus unique website visitors. We're listening to our customers, we're hearing the change in momentum in the marketplace, and we're responding to that. And that, paired with how feature-rich our product is, I think will make it really enticing.
Can you tell us some of the other methods LeadDyno is using to drive growth in 2023 and 2024?
We’re now getting more strategic about our metric tracking across SureSwift organizations. We've got monthly base camps, which allow me to connect with the executive team and to share any concerns I have with those in positions of mentorship and hear their thoughts. I think that has really carried LeadDyno forward, because it’s a chance to get the perspective of an outsider who’s also close enough to the product to share their vantage, which is really helpful.
We're also getting dialed in on which metrics matter most. We inherited metrics a few different ways, and we're able to start fresh now. We're leaning more into Google Analytics, GA4. We've got some strong leaders in other business units that are very experienced there. And we’re also leaning on better billing visibility tools, like Baremetrics, for example, to get a better view of how we're performing through different windows of time.
Overall, we've got a pretty strong roadmap through well into 2024. But for us, one of the primary benefits we get from SureSwift are the strong finance processes and legal processes, things that we don't need to house internally at LeadDyno. That allows us to focus on the product and on opportunities for growth.
Brand Evolution: Reimagining LeadDyno's Identity
Have there been any major brand pivots for LeadDyno since the acquisition?
When we first started, our brand messaging was ‘three clicks to an affiliate program.’ The appeal was that you could start an affiliate program in five minutes. But if you’re looking to develop an advanced affiliate program, maybe with multi-level marketing or commissions in different countries in different currencies, or if you’re building out complex affiliate groups that structure commissions differently (ambassadors versus influencers versus affiliates), that shouldn't feel like three clicks. And it shouldn't feel like five minutes.
What you should feel is that we’re here to help you get set up properly. We're now moving forward with introducing the new role of configuration specialist. And that configuration specialist will be sitting down with our trialing customers for an hour each to fully configure their setup, because there are so many options within LeadDyno. We rebranded to match that more elevated offering.
Also, we released our new marketing site in June, which does a much better job of highlighting LeadDyno's strengths. Now, we’re marketing as a bigger solution for more established organizations looking to develop strong affiliate programs. For example, we’re a good match for a company who might have ambassadors in Brazil that need a specific commission structure, A/B testing, or varied product commissions. That's really where LeadDyno thrives.
How was that rebranding reflected with the new website design?
The original design felt dated, like a bank from the nineties. And our customer base is not only 50% female, but it also exists primarily in the industries of fashion and lifestyle, health and wellness, and SaaS. We needed a more modernized brand that reflects the direction that LeadDyno is going with our complex reporting capabilities.
Now, the visibility is so much clearer. You can see the affiliate success rates, how affiliates are converting, conversion rates, profits generated. And we gave the website a softer look and tone that was more welcoming and modern. The difference is pretty incredible.
SureSwift schedules regular meetings between the leaders of the different Portfolio businesses. I'd love to hear how meeting and collaborating with the leaders of the other products has helped with solving issues as they've come up for LeadDyno.
I can give so many examples. We really lean on each other. For example, when we were trying to explore Google Analytics more, we really benefited from talking with a business leader on Back in Stock who spent 12 years mastering Google Analytics. What he was able to show me in a one-hour meeting would've taken me weeks to figure out on my own.
And with this new pricing structure coming out early next year, I was able to pull the executive team together to present our research and considerations and get their feedback. There's been so many examples of that. It’s pretty constant. We might structure a group around Shopify apps and then get the Shopify leaders together to talk about common issues or challenges with Shopify. Or on Stripe. We have a standard SBU leader meeting every month, but I would say not a week goes by that I don't pick the brain of another leader.
You've already talked a bit about this, but can you share any significant lessons learned while adapting LeadDyno into what it is today?
I think there's a critical step in the way SureSwift acquires businesses. They take the time to really look at the technology, to lift the hood up, so to speak, and look underneath. Because if you don't have a stable tech stack and if your code is messy, introducing new features just gets harder until things are stabilized. Very early on when LeadDyno was acquired, there was a lot of pressure to grow, but you can't do that until you stabilize. For us, that meant addressing GDPR compliance issues and technical debt that had been inherited.
We’re always investing in technical debt. Technical debt grows and follows you no matter what, but there are different ways to handle it so you can be smart about how you grow. We have to take our tech debt seriously and address it as we move forward. And we have to be slow and thoughtful about change. We're leaning even more towards being data-driven, shifting to making tweaks versus drastic overhauls, so we’re more mindful of the state of the product.
Looking Ahead: LeadDyno's Future in 2023 and Beyond
One more question: What's been the most rewarding part of executing the new direction for LeadDyno these past years?
The most rewarding? Definitely the team we have on LeadDyno right now. Everyone is super aligned on the vision and very motivated. We don't take ourselves too seriously, but we take the product and our task very seriously. I feel like the most rewarding part has been watching my colleagues grow in their roles and seeing them benefit from LeadDyno doing well too. I feel like everybody's skills have just been elevated as we've introduced new processes and new opportunities for them to learn and grow. To me, that’s been so fulfilling.
And for myself too, if you would've told me when I joined in November 2021, that this is where I would be now, I would've been like, get outta town. Every day, I think, ‘All right. We've never done this thing before. Let's figure it out.’ We've built such a strong team that can really rely on each other. So I know whatever problems come up, we're gonna solve them, because everyone here is a problem-solver. Everyone's trying to help each other to move their goals forward. And those goals all lead towards where we want LeadDyno to go.
In wrapping up our discussion with Brooke, CEO of LeadDyno, it's evident that the brand's strength lies in its adaptability and resilience. This interview sheds light on the pragmatic strategies, challenges tackled head-on, and collaborative efforts that define LeadDyno's trajectory. From addressing technical hurdles to a sharp focus on customer needs, LeadDyno's story reflects a team's commitment and sets the stage for a promising future. As we navigate the dynamic SaaS landscape, LeadDyno stands firm—driven by innovation, customer-centric principles, and an unyielding pursuit of excellence. The next phase of LeadDyno's journey promises not just growth but a continual evolution. Stay tuned for what comes next. Are you interested in using an Affiliate Marketing management platform? Visit LeadDyno online and start your 30 day Free Trial.
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