Matcha founder Fynn Glover talks about lessons learned, strategic pivots, and releasing the Blog Creator for Shopify, the first CMS for ecommerce
February 10, 2020 was the hardest day of my career as an entrepreneur. That day, we let go of the majority of our sales and marketing team, 60% of our company.
The people who departed were/are exceptionally talented sales reps, marketers, and customer success reps, and the majority of them were quickly re-hired by other tech companies.
As the dust of that decision settled, we had two major challenges, not including the challenge of sticking together as a team through what would be a really difficult effort further complicated a month later by COVID-19.
First, go-to-market — When we raised our Series A, the question was whether to go to market with an inside sales team, or invest in a product-led motion. We chose inside sales because it was more in line with our strengths and experiences at the time. The reality, however, in our market—our customers are SMB ecommerce merchants—is that marketers would prefer to try and buy software on their own before ever speaking to a sales rep. We had to pivot our go-to-market from inside sales to product-led.
Second, value-proposition — Since our inception, businesses have purchased Matcha for access to our content marketplace. As a provider of content, we’ve always known that blogging in the context of ecommerce is extremely difficult to do well for most merchants. One of the most important reasons that creating a performant blog remains so difficult for small businesses is that traditional CMSs (e.g. Shopify’s WYSIWYG, or WordPress) aren’t ecommerce-first. We also needed to evolve our value proposition from a content marketplace to a content management system purpose-built for ecommerce.
Why Build another CMS?
Over the last decade a generation of ecommerce stores have been conditioned by cheap customer acquisition. This started changing 2-3 years ago as advertising prices increased dramatically, and we’ve seen brands shift their approaches from growth at all costs to doubling down on customer retention by focusing on owned & inbound marketing tactics. These are tactics that B2B marketers have long practiced, thanks in large part to the thought leadership of Hubspot, and other content marketing companies.
Shopify has called blogging the holy grail of growth, because the benefits of blogging are so numerous, and because growing on product ads alone is no longer an option.
But the reality is that most small ecommerce businesses — in the US, that’s roughly 1 million Shopify stores, 3 million Woocommerce stores, 100,000 BigCommerce stores, and 250,000 Magento stores — do not leverage blogging, the most critical activity for sustainable inbound marketing.
There are three reasons blogging has been under-utilized by ecommerce stores:
On the software problem, the current CMS options available to SMB ecommerce merchants weren’t designed to serve the needs of small ecommerce stores. These businesses need their blogs to help them stand out from competitors, engage their customers, and, critically, do so with a measurable impact on the bottom line.
WordPress has long been the dominant CMS for publishers, independent bloggers, and mid-market ecommerce brands. As an open-sourced product, everyone knows that it has a high degree of functionality and flexibility, but it’s also really complicated to use, especially if you’re a Shopify Store WordPress was never designed to be ecommerce-first.
As a result, the majority of the ~1M Shopify stores don’t use WordPress, they use the Shopify WYSIWIG to manage their blog content.
But, Shopify’s CMS doesn’t help marketers achieve content marketing best practices. More specifically, Shopify’s in-house CMS:
- DOES NOT: Provide templates for producing better content faster
- DOES NOT: Identify what content is winning with various audiences and why
- DOES NOT: Recommend content to create based on audience interests
- DOES NOT: Easily embed products and forms into content to convert readers
- DOES NOT: Quickly/easily allow marketers to optimize content for SEO
- DOES NOT: Integrate seamlessly with Social platforms and ESPs to fuel content campaigns and segmented email journeys
- DOES NOT: Provide analytics for how blog articles impact traffic, list growth, and revenue
Why build another CMS? Because we believe there’s a much more powerful product that can empower thousands of brands to compete as they must — on more than product alone.
Matcha 2.0 and the Blog Creator, the First CMS for Ecommerce
After reducing our force in February, we got to work shifting our go-to-market to freemium, and developing the Blog Creator.
First, we needed a way to measure the success of shifting from inside sales to product-led growth. We’ve used Openview’s benchmarks to measure ourselves against two primary metrics:
- Traffic to signup % — a leading indicator of the strength of the value proposition
- Signup to paid conversion % — an indicator of the product’s ability to deliver against that value proposition
Openview benchmarks show the median performance of slow and fast-growing SaaS companies.
- The median traffic to signup conversion % is 4.5% for slow-growing SaaS products and 7% for fast-growing SaaS products
- The median signup to paid conversion % is 8.5% for slow-growing SaaS products and 9% for fast-growing SaaS products
- Source: 2020 OpenView SaaS Product Benchmarks Survey, N=153.
Source: 2020 OpenView SaaS Product Benchmarks Survey, N=153.
We’ve outperformed benchmarks against both metrics, and conversion rates have averaged above 12% for Shopify stores.
And, we’ve released V1 of the Blog Creator, the first CMS for ecommerce.
As DTC ecommerce turns to more sustainable marketing, and as software helps SMBs deliver on the promise of personalized customer experience, we believe blogging will influence hundreds of millions of dollars of GMV for SMB ecommerce merchants.
Blog Creator allows users to:
- Rapidly create blog articles optimized for the ecommerce goals of driving traffic, sales, and email conversions. Merchants can publish instantly to their Shopify blog or schedule for future publication.
- Segment email lists based on reader interest and embed beautifully formatted content previews into targeted Mailchimp or Klaviyo Campaigns.
- Schedule content for distribution to Facebook Business Pages
- Customize & publish articles from Matcha’s marketplace of 12,000+ professional articles, sourced from premium publishers, like Backpacker Magazine, Oxygen, etc.
- Measure the impact of your blog content on traffic, revenue, and email generation to inform your content strategy across the full marketing funnel.
Over the next 3 months, we’ll sequentially release upgrades to the Blog Creator, starting with templates to help ecommerce merchants be more intentional about their blog content, followed by the addition of drag and drop ecommerce elements, including UGC content, product reviews, subscriber forms, and social media embeds.
If you’re an ecommerce merchant or an ecommerce SaaS company, feel free to check out this demo to get a sense of how the product works. And we’d love to work with you, so please feel free to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re finding yourself in the midst of a pivot, or you need to pivot but aren’t sure how to make it happen, please get in touch with Matcha!