In 2013, when Zoom launched, the market was crowded. With Cisco, Microsoft, Adobe, and Polycom already ahead of the game, the chances for Zoom to stay afloat, let alone beat such established players were small. Fast forward to 2020, Zoom is everybody’s darling.
The last few months, companies and teams, students and teachers, friends and families have all been flooding to Zoom to overcome the shortcomings of social distancing. The free 40-minute conference calls with up to 100 participants, plus the freedom to jump on such calls without the need of an account definitely earned Zoom a favorite spot in the consumer world. In early June, Zoom reported 265,400 customers with more than 10 employees, up to 354% compared to the prior-year quarter. More so, they added a net of 128 enterprise customers – who individually contributed at least $100,000 in trailing-12-month revenue – bringing the total to 769, up 90% year-over-year.
This combination of new and continuing customers is the result of a series of tactics and mental models that propel the story of frictionless video, fueling promotion and business growth.
#1 Deep focus on productivity partnerships
Zoom focused on building full-stack partnerships in the productivity suite. They could have been just another video conference player, but they chose to make their product essential to the productivity world.
Zoom has integrations that fuel productivity in the workplace – Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Chrome, Salesforce, Zapier, Dropbox, Intel Unite.The win here is that together with all these complementary tools, Zoom get the job done for businesses and teams who need to connect, have a meeting, present things, share screens and collaborate.
By building strong product-level partnerships, Zoom has become a component of other people’s products. By embedding their product in other products and services, Zoom has achieved substantial differentiated growth – even before the quarantine and the whole remote working trend. Take Nasdaq, for example. In 2018, they were already using Zoom to liberate meeting rooms and change their collaboration game.
#2 Rigorous sales training
Zoom’s freemium model, coupled with word-of-mouth, has been powering their customer acquisition. Non-paying customers may not have impacted their revenue directly, but they helped them build a better product.
“In our case, we really want to get the customers to test our product. This market is extremely crowded. It’s really hard to tell customers, you’ve got to try Zoom. Without a freemium product, I think you’re going to lose the opportunity to let many users test your products. We make our freemium product work so well. We give most of our features for free and one-to-one is no limitation. That’s why almost every day there are so many users coming to our website, free users. If they like our product, very soon they are going to pay for the subscription,” said Zoom CEO Eric Yuan in an interview with Saastr.
Even though Zoom usually lets the product do most of the talking, with enterprise sales things are not that easy. Unless you train your sales team really hard – and Zoom does that rigorously.
Whenever a salesperson joins Zoom, they become a member of their Academy – where they go through general onboarding. Then they move on to Bootcamp, which is highly job and role-specific. The Academy and Bootcamp trainers are existing execs and team members, so you get first-hand information and learn the ropes from your peers. Once you’re fully on board, you join the Elevate Program, which focuses on your personal growth and makes sure that you’re challenged, that you grow and that you’re satisfied.
#3 Getting the brand in front of early adopters
Zoom allegedly owns most of their leads to organic growth. Their existing happy customers refer to other customers, and the freemium product generates a large number of qualifying leads. This is why their marketing strategy is rather frugal.
They do, however, invest in building brand awareness, with a twist. Instead of aggressively chasing prospects, Zoom focuses on getting the brand in front of as many early adopters as possible. Winning over this particular segment is key because, if people love the product, they will naturally spread the word.
So, they walk the same paths of brand exposure that we all know, yet without splurging a lot of money. To exemplify, they worked their way to people through billboards placed in busy areas so that people stuck in traffic could get a glimpse and try it out. To speed up their sales cycle and give an extra boost of confidence to people who were thinking about trying or buying Zoom, they made sure Zoom showed up in popular sports events. For instance, they signed a deal with Golden State Warriors, which allowed the basketball team to use their technology for free and Zoom would show up in the arena during on-prem games and broadcasts.
#4 Zoomtopia – Bringing people together
Zoom has an annual signature event called Zoomtopia, which is more like a Ted event rather than the typical tech conference. With this signature celebration in place, they bring together customers and potential customers, creating excitement around their “frictionless video” vision and mission to bring happiness to others.
For 2 days, people have access to deep-dive learnings, inspirational gatherings, Zoom partner experiences, and surprises. To get this much excitement around a utilitarian product like Zoom is exceptional. You don’t see that happen with Skype or Google Hangouts.
It’s too early to tell if this approach to brand-building has been detrimental to Zoom’s growth, but coupled with the previous tactics it definitely helped them touch many people with their story. Check in for the last episode of our series, where we take a look at how Zoom creates value while putting money in the bank.
To gain free access to the end-to-end case study on Zoom’s growth and success, you can sign up to BottomUp Skills. To learn more about how Zoom has been handling promotion, check in next for a new episode in our series.
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