Podcast Episode #154

Growing Your Business Within a Saturated Market with Ben Pines

Ben Pines
Podcast Episode #154

How do you grow your business within a saturated market? According to Ben Pines from Elementor, it is a challenge but it can be done. 

In this week’s episode, Troy speaks to the CMO from Elementor, Ben Pines.  If you haven’t heard about Elementor, it is a successful page building plugin with over 400,000 installs.

Troy and Ben speak about how Elementor grew their business within a saturated plugin marketplace and discuss what helped their product succeed  – from to creating a fun company culture to nurturing their community. And lastly, the question we have all been wondering… will Gutenberg impact the page building ecosystem? All this and more, so listen in!

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Show Notes

What Is Elementor?

Elementor is an Israeli company based in Tel Aviv who have grown to be very successful since the release of their page builder.

Page builders are visual design tools that have changed the way we build websites within WordPress. Although Word Press is a great CMS, it isn’t that great at designing websites and you have to rely on themes to get it to look a certain way.

With a page builder, you see it as you design it which cuts down the workload for web developers substantially. Before page builders, you needed to create the prototype in Photoshop and transfer it using codes, HTML and CSS. Now you can easily create everything live, not worry about coding and focus more on creating beautiful pages.

Troy has been saying for years that a website lives in the browser, not in Photoshop. So if you are designing websites in Photoshop and getting them cut up into HTML and CSS then your days are numbered. There will always be a disconnect and a discrepancy between the image and then building it into the browser.

These days everyone has a website and it can require regular updates to content and images. So you need agile flexibility which a page builder gives you.

A Bit About Ben

Ben has been in the online marketing industry for over 10 years, specializing in content marketing. He started out in an SEO firm and then started his own marketing business where he created his own websites using WordPress.

Even before Elementor had launched the page builder, Ben had been using one of their themes for a website. One day he visited their site to renew his licence and saw that they advertised a marketing position. He applied and now here he is!

Listen in at the 8.30min mark to find out where the inspiration came from for the Elementor page builder.

The Page Builder Market

Visual Composer was the first page builder released onto the market and it exploded from there. There are a lot of other page builders out there now which came out in quick succession such as Beaver Builder and Thrive. So what exactly makes Elementor different and gave them the confidence to go ahead with the product?

Ben says that it wasn’t a contest of features for them. The vision was to excel in three main areas:

  1. Speed: It needed to be fast so that when you drag and drop, you don’t need to wait. It would all be instant.
  2. Design advantage: The design needed to be highly detailed with attention to design trends. It is important for designers to have all the design elements such as shape dividers, overlays, box shadows and gradients. With bootstrapped companies, you see the same type of design over and over again. They wanted anyone to be able to create beautiful websites.
  3. Ease of use: It’s important for everyone from newbies to the professional designers to be able to use it. The interface had to be user-friendly and easy to use.

How Did They Get Traction in Such a Crowded Marketplace?

Ben says that firstly you need a great product but of course, that alone is not enough. You need a big emphasis on marketing. They used a lot of channels and experimented with new audiences and new ways of reaching people until it eventually paid off. It is still a lot of work and it isn’t easy. Even if you have the best product you will still have people saying negative things. “Like a comedian, you will have hecklers, so you need a thick skin”.

What’s Been the Most Successful Marketing Channel?

  • Elementor gives a free plugin offering more free features than a lot of the other page builders on the market. Once people realise what an amazing product is it, it is then ok for them to upgrade to the pro version
  • Email marketing is also a focus for them. They have a newsletter so that they can advertise their releases, blog posts and news
  • Outreach and Collaborations are also a vital component of their marketing. Ben says that you need to contact the right people (such as he did with Troy) and find a way to collaborate where both parties benefit.

How They Capture Email Addresses

When you download the plugin you can enter your email to subscribe to the newsletter which is mainly about feature updates. Once they have their email addresses, they can also tease the audience with what’s available in the pro version.

Troy points out that Elementor doesn’t have a lead magnet to get people to subscribe it simply says “Join our 165,000 newsletter subscribers” Their list has grown it organically from people wanting to know about the product.

Ben is thinking of doing something to educate people as a lead magnet soon. They have invested a lot of resources into tutorials and so they are thinking of offering a free course as an incentive.

How Does Elementor Decide Where to Focus Their Resources?

The owner of Elementor recently shared his vision with Ben. These are the elements he says that you need in the company:

  1. Firstly, you must have tutorials and documentation
  2. Celebrate whenever you can! Every time you get the chance to celebrate something, take it. Whether it be a year in review, Black Friday, Christmas… basically anything! He gives a great analogy here – when you enter a store and you see all the Christmas decorations, although you perhaps hadn’t thought of buying any, seeing them gets you in the spirit. Elementor likes to give their employees a “chance to go wacko”.
  3. Outreach and collaboration are also important to them as he mentioned earlier. A recent collaboration was with ColorMag, a magazine theme with over 100,000 users. ColorMag recently updated their theme to work with Elementor widget so they made a video tutorial which benefits both companies. Check it out in the links section below.

Managing the Team

When he started with Elementor they were a team of five and now there are 20 employees and growing. They all work in the one office which he says is so much better for communication than having a remote team. “Having your support team sit next to developers is so much easier as they can turn around and ask questions whenever a problem arises.” In terms of support though, if you want 24/7 support, it is better to outsource some of those employees in a different time zone.

Elementor Features

The template library is one of the best features that Elementor has. They have over 130 templates that are beautiful and responsive. You can also save your own templates and reuse them.

Autosave is also being launched next week so that your content is protected. They have also now added a “save draft” feature so that you don’t have to publish changes straight away.

Elementor is also soon to release the theme builder which will allow you to do full website design.

Elementor also differs from some other page builders in that it doesn’t use shortcodes. Usually, when you deactivate a page builder, it leaves a lot of shortcode in your content editor which causes problems. However, when you deactivate Elementor all the content remains and the CSS is saved in external files.

Gutenberg – a Threat to Page Builders?

With the new version of Elementor, they’ve added compatibility with Gutenberg. They have been working closely with the Gutenberg team to iron out any glitches.

Ben says that Gutenberg is a great way to work on your content but it’s not a professional design tool. It may evolve to that but Elementor has a clear vision to adapt and work with them. He thinks that Gutenberg is actually a great step forward for WordPress.

Fostering the Community Around Elementor

Ben says that the community is fostered from gaining feedback and by being in constant communication with their Facebook group which has over 10,000 members. The key is to grow your company from the inside of the community. You can build your business just by answering people’s questions. They have been able to foster a community that is supportive and helpful to each other.

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