Wombat Plugins’ 2022

2022 sign

At Wombat Plugins, we believe in being open and transparent with you as we grow and evolve. Building trust takes time and we want to do everything we can to show you we’re in this for the long haul. That’s why we create a transparency report each year, including information about our company performance and plans for the future.

You can read last year’s posts here:

The year in numbers

  • Sold 3,275 new plugin licenses, compared to 3,810 in 2021. That’s a 14% decrease. Fortunately, this number does not include license upgrades & renewals. Refunds have also been subtracted.
  • Revenue grew with 24%, despite fewer licenses being sold.
  • Sold 717 lifetime licenses, that’s ~22% of this year’s new sales.
  • Released 1 new plugin. We offer a total of 6 plugins now.
  • Released 3 new add-on plugins complementing our Advanced Product Fields plugin.
  • Removed 1 plugin from the WordPress repository.
  • Released 61 plugin updates (not including the add-on plugins).
  • Popular plugins were updated every 3 to 4 weeks.
  • On average, we got 11.4 support tickets per day.
  • Support ticket distribution: 22% pre-sales, 15% licensing questions, 63% technical questions.
  • November 2022 was our best month (and all-time high) thanks to Black Friday.
  • Free plugins have a combined total of 670,000+ downloads from the WP plugin repository.
  • Free plugins have been installed on 38,500 websites.
  • The average review rating for our plugins is 4.73 out of 5 stars.

How we grew our WooCommerce business this year

In 2021, we did a lot of different things to grow our business. This year, we focused mostly on product development. So how come we grew? There’s one major difference between this year and the last.

Subscription renewals

For a long time, we looked at product pricing through the lens of a customer. We thought automatic license renewals would result in too many unhappy customers and refund requests. Collecting renewals relied on a manual process: users whose license was about to expire were given a choice to renew via email. Needless to say, this resulted in a lot of churn. It also meant we could only grow revenue by releasing new popular plugins or by finding more customers than last year. Both these options are really hard to achieve in a saturated WordPress market.

In 2021, MRR stagnated because the covid growth spurt slowed down. It was high time to look at pricing from a business perspective, so we switched from one-time payments to automatic subscriptions. It was the only way we could guarantee growth the next year. Being a young & small company, we need healthy growth to ensure we can support our products and customers in the long run.

This year, the first automatic renewals started rolling in in August, so we got 5 months of compounding subscriptions. In 2023, we’ll have a full year of renewals, so revenue should further increase. In hindsight, we should have done this a lot sooner, but it took us a while to shift our thinking from developer to business owner.

Increasing average order value

Very early in 2022, we introduced a new pricing package for Advanced Product Fields: the bundle. It includes the core plugin plus all current & future add-ons for a very attractive price. While it is not necessarily the most popular package, it does help to increase the average order value of our store.

Our average order value is now $72 USD, which is an 18% increase compared to the previous year.

Moving to HelpScout and diving into the stats

At the end of July, we moved all support-related tasks from a simple email inbox to HelpScout. On average, we get 11.4 new support & pre-sale tickets per day. This number does not include replies and does not take into account the lower volume on weekends. The actual number of replies on work days is likely somewhere between 15 and 30.

It was high time to move to a proper helpdesk solution to track replies, add notes, assign to team members, view reports, etc.

Our helpscout support inbox
During the holidays, we took some time to clean up the inbox

Setting up HelpScout was very easy, as we did not have to change how we collect support tickets on our website. We have 4 support forms (pre-sales, licensing, technical, and “other”) sending entries to our email inbox. HelpScout picks those up and tags them based on the subject line.

We’ve been using HelpScout for 5 months now and it reveals some interesting stats:

  • 4,829 messages received.
  • 44% of those tickets are resolved on the first reply. I thought this number seemed low, but digging a little further reveals we send many first replies asking for a link to the issue. Our support form has a URL input field but does not require that data. Perhaps we should change that!
  • The average first response time is 7h 48m. This is slower than I would like, but this number includes longer response times over the weekends.
  • On the bright side, 39% of the support tickets are replied to within the hour and 55% of the tickets receive a reply within 3 hours.

We care a lot about these statistics because offering fast and superior support has always been a selling point for us. In a saturated market, you have to differentiate. Offering support that goes beyond the norm (e.g. helping with CSS tweaks or other small code snippets) has definitely helped us grow our audience.

Building analytics

Now that our website gets a decent amount of traffic and sales, it was time to dive into analytics. Google Analytics is too complex for our taste (and it takes too long to find anything), so we built a dashboard within WordPress to get a quick overview of the most important statistics.

The dashboard only collects data on when and how visitors interact with our website. It does not contain money-related data like revenue or refunds. Instead, it keeps track of our funnel, the best-performing channels, our most liked content, and the journey a user takes throughout the website.

Removing a plugin from the WordPress repository

The WordPress plugin repository hosts the free versions of our plugins and is one of the biggest traffic sources to our website. There’s no denying it is a valuable part of our business model, but there are some issues with it too:

  • We have no control over any of the decisions made on the platform.
  • When users are happy with a plugin, they rarely take the time to leave a 5-star.
  • When users are unhappy, they will immediately leave a 1-star rating.

In July, we received a few 1-star ratings about how the free version is too limiting for their use-case. The sentiment is understandable, but we feel those ratings are unfair because they do not reflect the quality of our code (which is what the rating system is meant for). Instead, they are about how a user would rather have more free features.

Due to these ratings, we made the tough decision to pull our least popular plugin off the platform. It was not worth maintaining and updating it if users were unhappy about the limits we put in place. As of now, only a paid version is available.

Accountability

In 2021, we put our feelers out to see if there was any interest in the community for a mastermind group and started meeting peers online every month. This year we continued to have regular checkins with two fellow WordPress business owners where we discuss our achievements, goals, and challenges. This not only keeps us accountable to pursue the goals we set, but also offers plenty of good insights and a sense of community.

I enjoy these meetings a lot and hope to continue them in 2023.

Small but growing

If you’ve been following our journey, you know we are a young and small company. We’re currently a team of 3: one developer (me), one support agent/tester, and my partner to help with communication and writing. We also rely on freelancers to help with content and design. In addition, we have only been fully operational for 4 years.

Illustration of the Wombat Plugins team

Although we remain a small independent company, we are at a point where we can invest in growth and expansion. Our business is thriving and our revenue is at a level that allows us to make these investments.

While it is definitely exciting to be in this position, it’s also intimidating. I have to take on multiple roles and occasionally step away from my primary role as a developer. Additionally, we swim with some big fish who have more resources and expertise.

I firmly believe being small and self-funded is our strength. We do not have investors with certain expectations, so we can focus on putting our customers first and making decisions that prioritize their needs.

Did we meet our goals?

The short answer is: no, we didn’t quite hit our goal. We had planned to release 2 new plugins, but only ended up releasing 1. On the bright side, we did release 3 add-on plugins, which counts for something too!

We also wanted to focus on improving our SEO, but that didn’t happen at the level we would have liked. Finding a good and consistent writer who can create the desired content has been a challenge. We’ll fix that next year!

Why don’t we launch many new plugins?

The success of a WordPress plugin business is often directly related to the number of plugins the business offers. So why are we not shipping new plugins more regularly?

We like to work differently. When we launch a new plugin, we give it our full attention so it can mature quickly. Once the plugin is released, we listen to our customers to see what new features they need and implement them fast. Features are only added when they benefit our wider customer base, which keeps the plugin lightweight.

Goals for 2023

Launch 2 new plugins

We would like to develop at least 2 new plugins that complement the offer we already have. One plugin is already underway and will launch in Q1 2023.

Increase our content game

One way to bring in extra traffic is by focussing on SEO and (written or video) content. In 2023, we want to have a process in place to consistently produce tutorials and WooCommerce-related content to help our customers!

Network at WordCamps

Networking and connecting with the wider community is important to us, so we would like to see old & new friends again at WCEU in Greece!

Attending WCEU 2022 in Porto
Meeting friends at WCEU 2022 in Porto

Revamp our affiliate program

We already have an affiliate program, but it’s currently hidden from the website and we have never really done much with it. 2023 is going to be the year where we revamp our affiliate program and hopefully sign up a few new bloggers.

Wrapping up

While 2022 was a good year overall, we may have put too much emphasis on product development and neglected other areas of the business. Writing code is what we do best, so it’s tempting to focus on it and forget about the rest.

For our customers, this is great, as our plugins saw significant updates. But in hindsight, we could have allocated more resources towards marketing and growth. The challenge for next year is to step up our game in that respect!

I’d like to thank you, our customers and readers, everyone on Team Wombat, and my friends and colleagues in the WordPress community. Without you, this journey would not have been possible!

Interested in the complete picture? Read the posts about previous years here: