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The Events Calendar

How We Grew a Popular WordPress Plugin Into a Thriving Business

The challenge

In 2010, a tool for managing multiple events in one online calendar didn’t exist. We met that market need with a well-received WordPress plugin, and soon recognized its growth potential. But we feared we’d develop it at the expense of our agency.

The Solution

Scale the #1 calendar for WordPress to a fully-featured product suite, complete with its own customer service and marketing solutions—and simultaneously 5X our agency business.

Meeting a Client Need Changed the Course of Our Business

More than a decade ago, one of our clients needed a calendar for their website, so we built one. And then another client needed a calendar, so we built them one too. After our third calendar, we thought, Hey, we’re pretty good at this. Maybe we should make a calendar plugin for WordPress. And The Events Calendar was born.

Perfecting an Agile Product Strategy and Roadmap

Properly prioritizing which issues got our attention as TEC grew and evolved required us to make lots of tough decisions. We continually balanced support for current customers—through improvements addressing their needs and requests—with the addition of features that could potentially attract brand new ones.

But when COVID-19 forced event organizers to hold in-person gatherings online, support for current customers became our only priority. Aided by an Agile mindset, we pivoted quickly, fast-tracking features, infrastructure changes, and bug fixes from our product backlog that could help TEC users adjust to a new normal.

Making Decisions That Are Data-Led and Design-Driven

The way humans see things is subjective, often leading decision-makers to turn to data for guidance. But relying heavily on data has its pitfalls, too, as data is only as good as your understanding of it.

Research, surveys, and customer interviews augmented the data we collected and, together, provided the insights we needed to plot next steps. Design sprints that leveraged all that information combined with a culture of prototyping and iterating on a regular basis let us issue releases as quickly as possible (without sacrificing stability or design quality, of course). Meanwhile, the data we tracked from the outset helped us evaluate the success of each release.

Building an Infrastructure That Supports Soaring Sales

TEC’s success wasn’t a happy accident. Thoroughly mapping the customer journey and actively evaluating the impact of design and UX updates to products and the marketing website helped us provide first-rate brand interactions that massively contributed to our growth.

We also introduced autorenewals to save customers time and guarantee immediate access to plugin downloads—while they retained full control over when and how they renewed, downgraded, or (fingers crossed) upgraded their subscriptions. We created an incredibly flexible and robust licensing system that we integrated with WooCommerce to easily scale TEC adoption. And we offered a customized LiveAgent chat to supplement our knowledgeable support team.

Maximizing Our Marketing

To make the most of our small but mighty team, our marketing efforts were extremely targeted. We automated customer touch points for better onboarding and cross-product promotion. We used Hotjar and Google Analytics to refine the customer experience and reduce point of sale friction. A/B testing on marketing pages and marketing emails helped us determine which UX patterns and copy performed best with customers. And data around keywords and frequently asked questions helped spark ideas for blog posts.

That’s a wrap

We Know How To Scale a Business

TEC launched in 2010 as a single plugin. Today, it’s a suite of 12 products with a reputation for being well designed and engineered. In addition to being an invaluable set of tools for both WordPress developers and event professionals, they’ve become important integrations for other products and businesses, resulting in numerous partnerships.

TEC was acquired in 2020 by hosting provider Liquid Web, and continues to operate as a standalone business. They’re a brilliant crew that continues to push TEC into the future.

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