How to Create a Successful SaaS: Build Services For Your Best Clients

At the end of their careers, few say their path was one straight line.

The jobs we pursue as children are usually those we see: cook, doctor, firefighter, and mailman. You seldom hear about the account executives, the forensic analysts, and the solar panel installers. Usually, the best careers arise from trying a bit of everything and moving as opportunities open up.

Erman Küplü’s path to creating his Shopify SaaS tool, Analyzify was as convoluted as they come. For years, he serviced every client that asked him to design a website on Upwork. Eventually, he grew tired of the client-agency relationship and created a productized marketing agency called Solverhood. In this agency, he helped businesses develop their brands for a one-time fee.

Running Solverhood, Erman realized three things: He liked working with Shopify ecommerce clients, these clients would pay handsomely for good customer service, and Shopify had no good way of connecting internal data to Google Analytics.

To help his Shopify ecommerce clients port their data to Google Analytics, Erman created Analyzify, a simple tool in a saturated market. But he differentiated with agency-style customer service. Customers of Analyzify only pay a one-time installation fee to connect analytics. It instead generates recurring revenue from subscriptions to its customer service team.

Discover how Erman turned a successful digital marketing agency into an even better SaaS tool.

A Lifestyle Business Becomes a Lifeline

For most of their early careers, Erman and his best friend, Ali Ulyai, jumped from job to job and country to country searching for their big break.

As teenagers in Turkey, Erman and Ali created an SEO and Google Ads agency targeting local businesses called DigiBase – they used it as a fallback for cash whenever times got tough or a startup idea flopped. “Agencies were our safe hub after every product failure,” says Erman. “Through our agency, I became an expert in SEO, Google ads, and, recently, analytics. These came in handy down the line.”

Erman and Ali traveled the world as remote workers in their late teens and early twenties. They kept a leisurely work schedule – picking up clients and new projects when they needed more cash and dropping them when they didn’t. The money came and went but they always had enough to travel and enjoy themselves.

Erman used his businesses as support while traveling the world.

In 2016, the good times ended with a crash – they checked their bank accounts and realized they didn’t have enough money to fly out of Lima, Peru.

“At times like that, I thanked God for our business,” says Erman. “It’s not easy to live in Lima as an expat. It’s expensive and doesn’t give you that much comfort.”

One night, Erman was up late worrying about his finances and scrolling through Upwork. That evening, he decided he would take on any project he could find, no matter how small: “I was feeling desperate and doubtful of my digital marketing skills, so I started to apply for WordPress jobs. My first was a five-dollar copy-paste project – you can see it on my account today.”

Willing to tackle almost any assignment to get cash, Erman and Ali’s inboxes filled with new project requests – even some from Fortune 500 companies. Whenever they didn’t have the skills for a particular client, they hired Upwork freelancers to teach them.

Soon, the two friends earned enough money to fly out of Peru to visit their families in Turkey. They also evolved their agency into a new company called Solverhood. Instead of operating as a classic retainer-based agency, Solverhood was a productized service agency. Clients would pay for one-off projects rather than recurring monthly payments.

“We wanted to create an affordable solution for upscale clients,” says Erman. “We called it the ‘six-pack.’ Everything you need to do before selling your product: branding, website development and SEO, Google ads, data integrations, and custom coding.”

Erman and Ali came up with their productized model in part to avoid what Erman says is an inevitable “toxic relationship” with clients.

I have seen 100-plus client Google Ads accounts and many of them didn’t even have the basic settings applied – even though they were working with an agency.

“As an agency, you are usually only super excited about a project in the first couple of months and then it becomes just another account for you,” he says. “Some agencies begin to do the bare minimum required to keep the client. They’re not trying to get amazing results. I have seen 100-plus client Google Ads accounts and many of them didn’t even have the basic settings applied – even though they were working with an agency.”

To avoid stagnant relationships, they only allowed clients to work with them for a short time. “We take you, we teach you, and then we tell you to move on.”

Solverhood became the backbone of the duo’s cash flow. “We completed hundreds of projects with a one hundred percent success rating on Upwork,” says Erman. “We’ve brought in four million in revenue total in four years.

Building From Solverhood to Analyzify

After a few more years of traveling and running the agency, Erman noticed one type of client they found easiest to work with: Shopify e-commerce businesses. These companies had cash to spare and relatively few tailored solutions for their needs. Shopify only has about 6,000 apps created to date.

“From an agency perspective, ecommerce businesses are good clients,” says Erman. “We realized it’s easy to charge them versus other types of entrepreneurs because they tend to have good cash flow.”

Many ecommerce companies requested analytics tools for Shopify. The market leader for analytics, Google, deprioritized universal analytics when it switched to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in 2020. It plans to discontinue the service by 2023¹. After the shutdown, million-dollar businesses suddenly couldn’t pull data from their websites and link it to their storefronts on Shopify.

Solverhood originally used third-party tools to connect Google Analytics to Shopify – but these solutions often gave faulty data. In response, they created an internal analytics tool so good they made it public – and Analyzify was born. 

Originally, Erman was skeptical about marketing Analyzify as a standalone product. But the demand for it was impossible to ignore. “If you search for ‘Shopify GA4’ on Google we pop up at number one,” he says.

Erman launched the tool for free along with a video titled A free guide to setting up GA4². As the first Shopify GA4 solution in the market, Analyzify soon grew to 5,000 merchants and used their feedback to evolve. “Potential clients started to come and ask for new features. We’d say, ‘We’ll do that for you,’ and that became part of our final product.”

How Analyzify Does SaaS Differently

Analyzify grew quickly because of its quality integration with GA4 and its one-time installation fee. Once a customer buys it, they have Analyzify for life.

We think selling to clients and giving to them are not independent actions.

“We don’t host the data since it’s from Google so a client doesn’t cost much for us,” says Erman. “We think selling to clients and giving to them are not independent actions. Maybe some industry experts don’t like it, but it worked for us. We hear so many compliments from clients because they know exactly what our tool costs.”

Erman’s goal is to make Analyzify a SaaS business with the customer service of an agency. Onboarding and initial setups are entirely free. Erman says their competitors charge $2,000 to $3,000 for these same services.

“Through Upwork, we learned how to work with clients very well,” he says. “When you call customer service, instead of just sending you articles on how to do it we ask for their Google Ads account access, do it for them, and explain how we did it. ”

Analyzify charges a recurring subscription for extended customer support after the setup period. Customers loved it. Erman says they made about $25,000 in MRR in less than a year during 2021. One year later, they are a team of thirty making roughly $50,000 MRR. 

Shopify Is a Great Place to Build

Erman says that for SaaS creators, Shopify is one of the best markets to enter. In 2020, it hosted over 600 stores reporting more than $1 million in annual revenue with over 5,700 subscriptions to the premium version, Shopify Plus³. Erman claims that for such a prime market, it is relatively underserved by app creators.

“When I check the Shopify app store, it’s making billions. However, there are only 7,000 apps in their marketplace and most of them don’t even have a website or help center.”

Besides thin competition, Shopify also removed its commissions on apps making under $1 million in ARR (down from 20 percent) in June of 2021³. “Shopify is the only app store that doesn’t charge commissions. When it made this announcement, we became profitable overnight.”

Erman’s advice for founders creating apps for Shopify is to double down on great customer service – the positive reviews are well worth it.

Some of Analyzify’s positive reviews

“The number of reviews on app stores are misleading,” he says. “Five reviews means thousands of clients. If a merchant gives a review that means they received amazing service. We didn’t pull any tricks and we have 135 reviews while our competitor has only eight. I don’t think they’ll catch up.”

We also received one hot tip from Erman on how to harvest new ideas for Shopify apps.

Just try the best two apps on the Shopify store and you’ll see where you should enter the market. 

“Just try the best two apps on the store and you’ll see where you should enter the market. The category leaders in the app store have so many clients that it’s too hard to make new features. They end up missing many small things. It’s not that hard to make a better solution that merchants are seeking and the Shopify API is great.”

A big advantage of SaaS is that it lets founders build simple tools that generate large amounts of revenue at scale. One $200 subscription might not pay much with ten customers. Bump it up to ten thousand customers, and you’re not just doing well, you’re building wealth.

Sources:

¹Universal Analytics will be going away – Analytics Help (google.com)

²https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0kUtXVi0cE

³Shopify Statistics 2022 | 99firms

³Shopify drops its App Store commissions to 0% on developers’ first million in revenue | TechCrunch


Want to share your bootstrapping story with the world? Enter your details in this form and we’ll be in touch.

Andrew Gazdecki
Andrew Gazdeckihttps://microacquire.com
Andrew is an award-winning serial entrepreneur with three exits. He’s the founder and CEO of MicroAcquire, the world’s most founder-friendly startup marketplace, and its rebellious child, Bootstrappers, which gives voice to the entrepreneurial underdog. When not building businesses, he writes for Forbes, Entrepreneur, and now, Bootstrappers.

Stay in the Loop

Get our weekly newsletter wrap-up with all the latest news in the Bootstrappers community.

Latest stories

You might also like...