Episode 287: Looking After Older Customers After A Product Has Been Purchased

Show Summary

Rob Cairns and Ryan Waterbury talk about Looking after customers when a product has been purchased.

Show Highlights:

  1. Why companies do not look after older customers.
  2. What companies should be doing with older customers.
  3. Are LTD’s the best for business.

Show Notes

Hey everybody, Rob Kerns here and in today’s podcast I have my friend Ryan Waterbury, with me doing our monthly segment. How are you today, Ryan?

Hey we are in for 8 inches of snow so I am doing fantastic.

Yeah, I’m sure you would have liked to have been in Buffalo a couple weeks ago that caused me to cancel Niagara Falls trip. They had five feet so we just to say Niagara Falls wasn’t happening my friend so.

Yeah, that’s a that’s a little. More than even I like.

Yeah, I’m sure I grew up. In Montreal, So what the hell is though I I think I could say that word. It is my podcast, isn’t it?

It is.

Is so today I thought we’d talk about the subject. You and I have. Added around for months and months and months and that’s what happens when a company in the WordPress space gets acquired and how it treats its users and this is becoming an ongoing issue again and again and again.

Yeah I am I. I think most recently we’ve we’ve seen some things, and in including core with. PHP 7.4 end of life it’s it’s passed, it’s done. You know you should be. You know or or even eight one. If you want to look at that compatible and. There’s a lot of plug-in manufacturers and and software companies out there, and particularly some of the ones that have been acquired that are lying behind that are not PHP 8 compatible, and when I’ve logged some support tickets, I haven’t gotten very nice or polite responses back.

Yeah, that’s part of the problem and I think. You really have to vet your development stack or your SaaS stack because that’s where we see a lot of. It right and. Say OK, is this company going to be? Viable or is? It not, and one of the things I. Look at today. A lot of. Is are there too many long term deals or LTD’s? Kicking around because they’re thinking if a company keeps offering an Ltd year after year after year, the odds are there’s probably a cash flow issue.

Yeah, I you know one that comes to mind that was acquired and quickly spun off. I mean is a CF and you know that was a tool that was that Elliot had had done. You know, to aid in his own development and then. Sold it and monetized it, which was fantastic and E CF and pods especially helped the custom fields tools have speed up my development process drastically. And there had been an Ltd forever. I mean that’s all there was. There wasn’t even an annual subscription, and you know, for a passion project you know the lead developer on it. You know, using the tool for his own work, that’s one thing, but. Then you sell the tool and delicious brands. Picked up the. Well and started back treading on whether new updates were gonna be supported with the Ltd license holders. And you know, there’s some backpeddling That said, yeah, we’ll we’ll honor that. I mean, you have to honor some of those things. I mean, you know that. Going in when you purchase a product. But quickly I I think it was maybe 11 months. They’re they bailed and completely on all the I think all their plugins and sold their complete plug-in stack to WP engine, but it was just ironic on the timing and some of the troubles. I think they saw with monetizing that Ltd. They did make some really nice. These full updates and had had done some nice things that were good, but. You know, LTD’s it’s a great way to get an influx of cash to start a new. Project, but the longer you run that, the less viable your product’s gonna be. I mean, it’s tough to work for free.

No, it’s true. And what people always underestimate in their sass or the plugin world. It’s not just the software, it’s the support cost, right? So you and I both know support costs can go through the roof. And how do you fund that if you don’t have an influx of cash?

You know the one of the other LTD’s that’s been out there forever and is an amazing tool is the sofly tools PO import. And they’ve raised their prices a few times and I did the math because it had been on Ltd forever. And I said, OK, if you know X number of people buy every year, they’re doing fine. No, this is the same group that did oxygen and now break dance. So they have other revenue streams there, but. It they came out and said it, they just said look, we can’t remain financially viable anymore. Doing an LCD and we can’t support it. So after this date we’re cutting it off and it will move to an annual subscription for all new people that buy the product, and I think they were the first company that was. Honest about that that said. It takes money and time to support this product.

And I think it’s so true, and I think back there’s two situations I’m thinking about in my head right now. How they handle LTD’s the first is head way things, remember them and they handle the LTV’s where in version 1 version two and version 2. Anybody that got bought headway got unlimited support for lifetime and unlimited updates for lifetime. And guess where headway themes is now? Do do I dare even go there? They don’t even have a website up anymore, it is gone nonexistent.

Yeah, there there were a lot of people that you know swore by that framework and their themes and they were great. But you know LTD’s if. If you look at it as that initial launch and funding period, and you cut it off and you start building a model that builds your recurring revenue, and you build that subscription service, that’s great. But if you don’t cut it off and you run your Ltd over and over and over. That’s a recipe for disaster and I’m starting to take a. Hard look at. LTD’s when I look at my software stack because. I’ve had too many that have fallen off and aren’t supported because the developer can’t make any money on the tool and so they’re finding other other things to spend their time on, and then it becomes out of date and you’re you’re. Kind of SL.

Yep Yep and then the other company I wanted to touch on because I think it’s really interesting is. We know who the number one selling theme, one theme force of all time is right? It’s company called Aveda and the way Aveda does their Ltd is a little different twist. They’ve recognized that the cost is in the support cost. So what happens is when you buy the thing, you get six months of free support. And after that you either extend your support or get a support contract or you’re on. Wrong, and I think that’s a better way of handling it. Handling it because. They keep growing, they’re. Their product keeps getting influx of cash for support and the rest becomes. A non issue.

And you know they maintain viability and they have funding continually through. Their licensing and you know, annual support fees that they can, you know, afford to develop new new features. Now, Speaking of. You know, we talk about these deals since we just came out of Black Friday Cyber Monday. Yeah, you know, that’s another interesting one. I think we touched on on on in our last podcast, but I’m seeing more and more that. Companies are doing just these crazy deals 4050% off. But then they’re you know, and I bought some things like that last year, but my renewal they’re running the sale again for new clients, only 40% off, but my renewal is at full price that that kind of stings a little because, you know, we used to see this before the Ltd craze. Software developers plug-in and theme developers. You know they maybe. Beaver Builder is a prime example of a company that does it really well and treats their their clientele great. They’ve run one sale a year on Black, Friday through Cyber Monday for 25% off for any new users for any of. Tools and then what’s really nice is the renewal is at a 40% discount, and I think that’s pretty steep, but that used to be the old model that, hey, why would you go anywhere else? We’re going to give you a discount to continue to. Use our tool.

And then the other the other. Thought, interestingly enough is. Certain companies that offered LTD’s and I come down to a company like restrict Content Pro which is a stellar brand. They did not offer a. A Ltd this year they actually went to a 40% discount, right?

Yeah, the they excluded their lifetime. Plans from their 40% discount. Now I I think you and and I right after Stella had purchased this. Was what two years ago maybe? Purchased their Ltd.

No sleep.

Yeah, and it was on a screaming deal. I think it was. It included the 40% off and it’s a nice tool to have. Unfortunately, you know some of those products when they get purchased. Development just falls off, and it’s just another tool in. In the showcase I you know, I always look at our CPM. I’m just like. There’s not been any real new development on that tool for years, and there’s been some little fixes here and there, but again, that’s also another tool that isn’t PHP compatible, and I think needs some love. But so. When we looked at the purchases a couple of years ago and talked about that in the podcast that he and the WordPress market is maturing, and you know that these companies are becoming financially viable. And you’re seeing hosting companies invest in you know purchasing plugin suites and some of those plugins have really been left to. I almost want to say divine divine, and that it’s just another tool in the showcase and that there’s not been new development in some of these tools that have been purchased by. Particularly hosting company.

No, it’s so true, and then we get the support problems and I’m gonna really hammer on my most unfavorite Ltd for support problems and that would be male poet. So automatic bought male poet or a couple of years ago right after they launched a major Ltd deal on Appsumo? They had major influx, the cash, they said we’re going to honor the LTD’s, but what they didn’t tell you was they were going to change all the rules and that is a bit of a problem. And so they get on my soapbox because I can is the problem I have is when you buy an Ltd, you should be absorbing all the contractual obligations of the previous owner. So that means rose shouldn’t change the support structure shouldn’t change nothing. Should change and they’re changing it. I have a big problem with this. Issue and frankly male politics become almost useless and unusable.

I absolutely agree with you there, and I think the you know the lot the appsumo launch you know for Ltd that you’re talking about was their second launch. That was actually a Black Friday bring back they had earlier in the year already run an. Ltd and I had purchased a a few codes and then I maxed ACT because it was such a good deal with including SMTP sending right within the within the plan and. You know they had talked about what we’re working on automation, it should be done shortly. And then it was less than a month later that automatic purchased them and development stopped. I mean quite literally stopped. It didn’t, just you know, slow down, but there was no new development on any of those features that were on their Rd. Yeah, that there were minor fixes here and there, little by little, but it was maybe two weeks ago and this is 2 years after they promised that automations. And you know some of the things that we see in fluency RM mail. Sir, you know. And then the SaaS solutions. Out there like MailChimp and Miller Lite. They’re just announcing that they’re they’re in beta with that now, so it you know it’s not just hosting companies. I mean, I guess you can look at automatic with wordpress.com as a hosting company, I think they finally figured that out that they are but. Yeah, support when these tools get purchased it it’s not there a lot of times and. You know it’s not just these small unique passion project tools. You know, you know, I think when they bring that staff along with it, I think cadence is a good example where they brought the original development staff along. You’re seeing good things there. And you know that’s another stellar product, but I think you know once they leave the. The person that had the passion for the product that wanted to solve a problem. Once those people are out of it, it it. You know, it just becomes another asset and you know, on a on a company’s Ledger.

Cadence is a bit of a different omen too, because. Those who don’t know the. Marketing director for Cadence is my good friend. Kathy’s aunt and Kathy has extreme passion for that as well. So they I mean to be honest, they benefited because of Kathy’s knowledge and experience in the WordPress space, which has kind of helped them in. A big big way, so that’s. A little different, but Ben. Whitner’s still there and his sister’s still there and that makes all all the difference in the world. So where do you think? The WordPress space should go. With these LTD’s like you have any.

I, I think LCD launches are great and you know if you’re a brand spanking new product out there, it’s a great way to get a cash influx now. I think the WP Managed Ninja Group is a really good example of. Someone that runs an LCD. And then you know when whenever they launch a new product, they they run an LCD and I’m still kicking myself for missing the fluency around the LLTD, but then they never run it again. Or if they do, it’s super super special, you know, and it’s one more limited run. But then they they roll into. Annual SaaS only. They don’t use appsumo. They don’t use, you know anyone else and they they do all their own marketing. Now I I think that’s the smart way to do it to. Get a quick influx of. Cash to be able to and also build a user base of people that are are going to hammer on your product and and give you good feedback right off the bat. But yeah, doing a very very limited Ltd run I think is the only viable way moving forward. The ones that have run for years, you know. Like you mentioned it, with headway, they’re they’re just not around anymore.

It’s true or do what they’ve done as far as I’m concerned and say, OK, the software updates don’t cost anything. It’s the support and charge for the support I mean. That model works. Too, as far as I’m concerned, so.

Right, and they have other add-on pieces to that that are annual. You know, the core is once and then it’s support, you know and then other add-on products cost you annually to use. That’s that’s kind of with the. The freemium method that some plug-in developers used to use, but I hear from a lot of plug-in developers that. That model, the freemium model and using wordpress.org to market your product and then offer premium features in you know, a pro level plug in isn’t as viable as it used to be.

Yeah, well it eventually start to. I’ve talked to at length to Mark Westgard over at WS forms and he told me outright the wordpress.org was a viable option. So I guess it depends on what side of the fence you sent.

Yeah, I think it depends on the tool and you know you know what what that particular tool and also you know when we had access to number of installs before automatic decided to squash that that was another good way for popular. Well written plugins to gain popularity and trust. I mean, we’re on the inside we we know what tools are being actively developed and and coded. Well, but people out there like the DIY ers that are still, you know, spinning out WordPress sites. They will look and see what some of the most popular tools are because there’s a ton of installs. They get updates regularly and you know, so that’s where I’ve been seeing some griping that it’s become less. Viable, but that’s another discussion.

Yeah, but you gotta be careful of that too, because one of the things that goes on with active insults is again I’m gonna go back to market of these forms. He doesn’t require the free plug in to stay installed the minute he goes to you buy the premium, he actually forces you to uninstall it because he keeps it a little leaner and the problem with that is then your number of installs for your free plug and drop the minute somebody buys. The plugging cause they uninstalled the free version and installed the premium version so that number isn’t totally active either, right?

Oh absolutely yeah, yeah. And that just that kind of goes with philosophy on development. Whether I mean I’m a gravity forms user and there’s there’s no free version. I mean, it’s 50. 9 bucks a year. So it’s not not a huge thing, but you. Know there’s the core. Plug in and then any additional. You know pieces are added on, you know, as additional plug in installs, which I I think is a good way to do it, helps you keep your core lean and then only add the functions that you want to add. And I I also think that a lot of the. The freemium model plugins. You know from the. From the repository. I know fluent CRM is free for for its core it’s on wordpress.org. Then if you want the pro features like interfacing with EDD or WooCommerce, that’s a separate plug in install so you have to maintain both.

So true, do you have anything else you want to add that people should be careful of or should do or should consider?

You know, I it’s. It’s always been a gamble. You know, when you look at these Ltd purchases. And yeah, I’ve been bit. On some ones that I went all in on and you know are are dead on the vine and no longer being developed had to find other solutions and you know it’s pain for me. But I absorb that cost as an agency owner you know, but so. It’s it’s a tough one and I just like to tell people to take a look at, you know their software stack and you know, try and find tools that you know are are going to be useful for you that definitely fit. A need you have today and you know, do your best to do some research. You know wordpress.org is still a great a great way to find new plugins.

Now I want to go.

Did too.

I would agree with you.

Yeah, I. I certainly don’t didn’t mean to bash it at all earlier because you know it’s right there and I still do searches now and again. You know Google willcomeupwith.org results as well when you do do searches for for tools, but. Yeah, I look at. But when was it last updated? What PHP version is it compatible with? How many active installers are there? Is there a pro version that can help the developers support themselves so they can continue to provide support so those are all things that kind of come into play? When I look at tools. You know, and there are some great free tools out there that you know are that just filled the need for developer. I’ve written a few plugins that. That you know I use for myself and I’ve I’ve distributed. Probably, you know, looking at taking one over on dot org because it hasn’t had any development in a while, but I have used it and extended it. But you know that those numbers don’t really show you that it’s you know, actively supported. So, but just do your research and try to do the best that you can on making those decisions.

Yep, thanks Ryan as always and I know we’re not back with our listeners before the holidays, so we hope everybody has a good holiday season and we’ll talk to everybody soon. Thank you so much as always.

Have a good day.

Rob, and by the way, just for the record, because I have to make my usual comment, we got to another podcast show without the office team. Upsetting the podcast. So that’s an endeavor moment that wine continues to work on.

We’re pretty lucky that the snow still falling and the cleanup crew is not outside yet. That usually gets them going.

Thanks Ryan. Have an amazing day. We’ll talk to you soon. Bye bye.

Alright, bye.


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