The Events Calendar
How We Grew a Popular WordPress Plugin Into a Thriving Business
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.
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.
Releases in 2020
This automated email marketing tool helps event planners strategically communicate with attendees in the days leading up to, and after, an event.
A fully-featured WordPress plugin allows brands to leverage the power of BigCommerce with the click of a button.
Remix tracks or lay down your own song in an iBook custom-built to make students in Pharrell’s high-impact music education program happy.