CoSchedule is a team effort, and not just our team. You’re one of us as well.
For a couple of years now, we have adopted the lean startup model as outlined by author Eric Reis. The methodology uses a ‘feedback loop’ to create products that users actually want (a novel concept, right?). It accomplishes this in three steps.
- Build: It starts with an idea – our idea. Our goal then, is to build a basic product that allows you (the user) to test our idea.
- Measure: We then measure your feedback, particularly in comparison to specific assumptions that we have made about your need for the product.
- Learn: Based on your feedback, and the metrics of our specific measurements, we should be able to determine if our original idea was accurate or not.
At the end of the day, the the ‘learn’ portion of the loop is really the most important step. It represents the conclusion of the loop, and should result in actionable change to the direction of the product. If you aren’t learning, you aren’t doing it right.
I say all of this to explain that last week, we completed our first iteration of the feedback loop. We heard your feedback, and we are already making exciting changes to the product for the road ahead.
What We Built
Last week, we asked a few of you to participate in a short presentation on the CoSchedule product. Participants saw a live preview of the application, and were asked to provide focused feedback on what they saw. We will be doing more of these sessions in the coming weeks, so if you are interested in seeing the preview, you can sign up here.
What We Measured
With these previews, we tested four assumptions that we felt we were making about our users:
- That WordPress users want to create social media messages while they write blog posts.
- That users want to be able to manage blog posts, social messages, and email campaigns together on a calendar interface.
- That users will be willing to pay monthly for a service like CoSchedule.
- That users will delegate blog posts and social messages to one another in a team environment.
What We Learned
Overall, we are really happy with the results we saw. Every user that we talked to offered a different perspective on how they would use the software. We talked to large teams inside of government institutions, and we talked to individual bloggers who ran a single blog. The results were decisive.
We learned that our users want to be able to schedule social media messages alongside their blog posts. We learned that they want to be able to do this on a calendar, and with a team. And, we learned that they are willing to pay for a service like this.
The only thing that they don’t have a need for on their CoSchedule calendar was email marketing.
Now, it was clear to us that there are problems with how email marketing is done, but right now, we just don’t see how any of this problems can be solved with a product like CoSchedule.
Our original idea on email marketing was fuzzy at best. You made it even fuzzier, and you helped us understand why. We found that products offering RSS to email service like MailChimp or FeedBurner were adequate for most of your needs. And, since there is no good way to ‘calendarize’ this type of function, we were at a loss on how it would fit.
So, all of this brings us to the first ‘pivot’ of CoSchedule. A ‘pivot’ defines the shift of overall product goals and features based on measured user feedback. We are shifting our product goals based on your feedback and input, and for this round that means we will be removing email marketing from the current product description. This doesn’t mean that it will be gone forever, it simply means that for now it is on the back burner. At least until you tell us otherwise.
Pretty exciting stuff, if you ask me. Of course, if you don’t agree with the conclusion of our first loop, you can let us know in the comments or via email. We would love to hear from some of you who think that email marketing belongs in CoSchedule. And, of course, we will continue to offer more previews in the coming weeks. If you would like one, please be sure to apply.