How we did $300,000 worth of sales in 3 months on AppSumo

I am Emir, co-founder of HockeyStack. HockeyStack is a SaaS analytics tool that uncovers hidden insights, such as the LTV of a piece of content, or the churn rate of each marketing channel with users’ reasons for churn by unifying marketing, revenue, sales, and product data with no code.

I’m pulling back the curtain on our 2 lifetime deal campaigns that made $300,000+ worth of sales and every single mistake we have done during these campaigns.

Launching a lifetime deal is a popular way to gain early traction and collect feedback from customers. However, there are a lot of different opinions about it, and it’s pretty normal as it’s completely against most SaaS businesses’ payment model: You charge only once instead of monthly/annually. Lifetime deal customers can use your tool forever for a price as low as $49.

I will mention AppSumo Select and Marketplace throughout this article, so let me explain these two briefly for people unfamiliar with AppSumo.

AppSumo Select products get more exposure on the landing page, they get featured on the newsletter, AppSumo blog, and get more affiliates.

But AppSumo cuts 70% of the revenue.

AppSumo Marketplace gets less exposure, less affiliate revenue, and they need to hit a higher number of reviews to get featured.

When we launched on AppSumo, there was no way that a marketplace deal could get featured on the landing page. However, with AppSumo’s new landing page design, some marketplace deals are featured on the landing page.

AppSumo cuts 30% of the revenue.

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Why did we launch a lifetime deal?

Before HockeyStack, we were working on a product analytics tool that could give suggestions to increase the trial to paid conversion rate based on data. We got 200+ people on our waitlist, but the majority of them didn’t integrate the tool into their product after we launched the private beta.

Some of them told us they were more interested in a web analytics tool. That led us to rebrand our product as a web analytics tool and launch it to test the idea.

We created a new landing page for HockeyStack, wrote copy for Product Hunt, set up Paddle, and officially launched HockeyStack on Product Hunt. Under 48 hours.

Overall, the launch went well and we got our users. After some time, both the lack of demand on our product analytics endeavors and the need for an existing dataset motivated us to consider pivoting to a web analytics tool.

Around this time, I applied to AppSumo’s Marketplace Program, and we got accepted.

However, we still didn’t focus on HockeyStack full-time. In fact, we didn’t work on promoting our Lifetime deal for 4 months.

We didn’t check the revenue even once as we were working on our product analytics tool.

After 4 months, we decided to pivot into a no-code web analytics tool that was able to track every single event on a website, create goals and funnels, and give actionable insights.

We worked on this idea for a couple of months by testing different personas. We saw a huge demand & opportunity in the SaaS market, so we pivoted once again to an end-to-end SaaS analytics tool that unifies marketing, product, revenue, and sales data in one place so that you can uncover invaluable insights.

Numbers

Let’s get to numbers as that’s probably why you are here.

We made around $300,000 in sales on AppSumo Marketplace and AppSumo Select respectively. After the platform’s cut, we received around $140,000.

So at the end of these campaigns, we got:

  • 1000+ users
  • $140,000
  • A ton of feedback

As I mentioned at the beginning, we didn’t work on promoting our deal for 4 months. So these sales were made in around 3 months.

Aside from the money, feedback was super helpful as it was pretty difficult to develop a product that nobody uses at the beginning.

Sumolings gave us feedback 24/7, which allowed us to develop a lot of new features. When I look at the first version of HockeyStack and the current version, it’s pretty clear that we changed a TON of things and a great deal of them were due to Sumolings’ feedback.

Pros

AppSumo is the most popular lifetime deal platform and the advantages of launching a lifetime deal on their platform are:

  • Exposure
  • Money
  • Backlinks
  • Partnerships
  • Affiliates

Exposure

AppSumo’s landing page gets a TON of traffic. In fact, according to Alexa, their site ranks 3,752 globally.

similarweb.com
alexa.com

If you launch a lifetime deal on AppSumo, especially on AppSumo Select, then you will be exposed to a wide audience from a lot of different countries.

Alongside testing your servers, this allows you to understand what people do on your website, which parts of your website convince them the most, and what they ask the most on live chat.

Money

As you can see, a lifetime deal can give you a huge boost in terms of money. In just 3 months, we were able to raise $140,000 and extend our runway.

Although the money raised from a lifetime deal can be a misleading metric for your SaaS, it still gives you the freedom to build your company at early stages, acting like an initial investment.

Backlinks

As AppSumo gave us a huge exposure, we got a lot of backlinks from other lifetime deal sites, software review sites, technology sites, and more.

Affiliates

As soon as we got traction, we started an affiliate program and 100+ people signed up to be an affiliate.

We even opened a new Facebook group solely for affiliate partners, but we couldn’t manage to get much recurring revenue from affiliates.

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Such as the LTV of a campaign, or the churn rate of each marketing channel

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Cons

As with everything, there are also disadvantages of launching a lifetime deal:

  • Support load
  • Misleading feedback

Support Load

The support load is unbelievably high, especially on AppSumo Select. Luckily, if you launch your product on the Select side, AppSumo assigns you a part-time customer support manager to make things easier.

On the day that we made $37K, my co-founder Bugra and I replied to customer messages on live chat for 12 hours straight! It was a crazy experience.

Having an FAQ section, help center, and detailed documentation help tremendously.

Misleading Feedback

LTD customers think of themselves as investors. They invest in your early-stage company based on your product vision, roadmap, current features, and more.

Thus, they give a lot of feedback. I used to have 2 calls per day to talk with our customers, get their feedback, and see which pain points they solve with HockeyStack.

During these calls, on live chat, and in our user community, we got a ton of feedback.

Although feedback is awesome for a new startup, some of this feedback might be misleading based on the product and target audience.

AppSumo’s audience comprises of agencies, consultants, and solopreneurs, which means the feedback you get will be useful for the same audience.

If you want to target a different audience after your lifetime deal campaign, features you develop based on LTD customers’ feedback might not be useful to your MRR customers.

If you don’t want to build irrelevant features, then you should definitely classify the feedback you got on Airtable and work on the ones that align with your product vision.

However, LTD customers also give a lot of useful feedback. In fact, HockeyStack wouldn’t be as good as it’s today without their continuous feedback on everything from UX to feature ideas.

Facebook Groups

Most SaaS founders that I talked to only rely on AppSumo to promote their deals. However, Facebook groups were a huge part of our success.

There are a lot of different LTD communities on Facebook that are passionate about trying new tools, giving feedback, and recommending them to others.

Once I discovered these groups, I started posting our updates on them and made a lot of friends, who helped me understand the community better.

LTD community is pretty different from others and you need to understand the dynamics to become successful.

For example, increasing your deal’s price makes you less trustworthy if you do it without letting the community know beforehand. We had to learn that the hard way.

Spending some time on these communities will allow you to get a ton of feedback, new customers, and understand the community better so that you can become more successful with your lifetime deal campaign.

Key Takeaways & Conclusion

Don’t work on all feedback

AppSumo’s audience is largely freelancers, agencies, and small marketing teams. If your target audience to grow your MRR is not one of these, then you should be extremely careful when you get feedback from LTD customers.

Not only will they want features that your MRR customers won’t care about, but also they will get angry when you don’t deliver your promises, causing you to have a ton of support tickets and low scores on G2 & Capterra.

Communication is the key here. If you clearly tell them you don’t have the necessary resources to work on all feedback and have to prioritize to make the product better, then they will understand your point too.

Remember: They invested in your product for a lifetime 🙂

Don’t promise things that you won’t do

In the first few weeks of the campaign, you will get a lot of feedback that you would want to work on, and you will probably over-promise.

It’s not your fault that you want your product to be better, but if you don’t have the necessary development resources, don’t over-promise.

Launch on the marketplace, promote on Facebook

There are a lot of different LTD communities on Facebook that you can promote your LTD on. Launching on AppSumo and waiting for people to discover your product really slows down the process of gaining traction.

Instead, you should connect with people in these groups to get their feedback and answer their questions.

As a founder, answering your customers’ questions on the communities they already spend time on is the best thing you can do to build credibility and gain traction.

I will leave links to my favorite communities at the end of the article.

Write FAQs, record help videos, and work on your onboarding

AppSumo Select gives you an option to create your FAQ section on your deal page, but you definitely need a separate FAQ inside your product alongside proper onboarding to decrease the support tickets you will get.

I remember that I spent 12 hours answering support tickets, and it was one of the worst days of my life.

Uncover hidden insights that you would not be able to with Segment

Such as the LTV of a campaign, or the churn rate of each marketing channel

Sign up for free