At the beginning of the year, you probably wouldn’t have heard of Zoom as a video conferencing tool for business, unless you worked in the tech industry.
However, due to the disaster of the pandemic that struck the world, Zoom has become one of the fastest growing business tools in the world. Seeing as working from home has become the new norm, the only way companies can communicate face-to-face with team members and clients is via video calling.
First-time installations of Zoom’s mobile app have grown a whopping 728% since March 2nd 2020(Credit: SensorTower)
Funnily enough, everytime people think of video calling, the word Zoom comes to mind straight away. Just like when people ask you to Google an answer to a question, or to get an Uber to get from one place to another. Zoom has become synonymous with its function, a true example of how popular the platform has become.
The Growth of Zoom
Zoom’s customer base has also grown to 81,900 businesses with more than 10 employees, which is a healthy increase of 61% since this time last year. Not to mention, stock prices of Zoom have skyrocketed by more than 100% since COVID-19 began.
For a growing business, you need to have the infrastructure to scale the business. Luckily, Zoom had already laid the foundations for the platform to grow into a key business tool. They have built offices in San Jose, Santa Barbara, Denver, Atlanta, Kansas City, Sydney, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Amsterdam. Overall, the company now employs more than 2,000 people to facilitate the growth.
The big question everyone is thinking about now is, how did they do it and how can I adapt that to my business?
The 3 Secrets to Zoom’s Growth
Long before Zoom was the mammoth that it is today in the tech world, there were 3 key aspects of its growth strategy that helped give Zoom a competitive advantage over their competition.
- Being customer centric is embedded in their DNA
- Building a product that can sell itself
- They’re not afraid to go all-out when it comes to building their brand
Being customer centric is embedded in their DNA
Since the very start, the Zoom team has been focused on making the experience for the customer easy and error free. More specifically, they’ve been focused on building video communication tools that actually work, rather than a platform that looks pretty but makes you want to pull your hair out.
However, Zoom’s Founder and CEO, Eric Yuan, is very experienced when it comes to video conferencing tools. Eric became one of the founding engineers at Webex back in 1997 and helped grow the team from 10 to over 800 engineers worldwide.
When Webex was acquired by Cisco in 2007 for $3.2 billion, Eric went on to become Cisco’s VP of Engineering but he was dissatisfied with the outdated products on offer. He explained that ‘In 2010 and 2011, I did not see happy customers. I was very embarrassed that I spent so much time on the technology. Why are the customers not happy?’.
Long story short, Eric left and took around 40 engineers with him to build Zoom and noticed that his team had more than 1,000 years of combined experience building video conferencing and real-time collaboration software.
‘From the moment we founded Zoom, our main focus has been to provide a cloud video communications solution that would make customers happy. That focus has continued to guide all our innovations, partnerships, and other initiatives. The fantastic growth we’re experiencing and the many industry accolades we’ve received can all be attributed to having satisfied customers that enjoy using our platform.’(Credit: Forbes)
Building a product that can sell itself
When Eric left Cisco to start his own video calling solution, he was branded ‘crazy’ because the market was so saturated at the time. There were several other established players including Microsoft, Adobe, Citrix, and Polycom, as well as newcomers like Highfive, Join.Me, BlueJeans Network, and Vidyo. Some very big companies to say the least.
Eric had a simple solution to survive in a crowded market, it was to simply be the ‘best product in the market’. If that was achieved, then surviving wouldn’t be a problem for Zoom.
However, it’s easier said than done, so how did he do it? If you refer back to the first point above, it’s all about being customer driven and making sure your platform is built around your customer needs. Gathering and acting on customer feedback is how they’ve been able to build a best-in-class product.
Just like Contapp, we are a very customer centric business that puts customer feedback and the environment at the very heart of everything we do. Learn what users want through user feedback and tailor the platform to their needs.
‘We have a relentless focus on making the best product with the best user experience. This is ultimately what every customer wants. Toward this end, we spend much of our time listening to customers and fine-tuning our software to fit their needs.’(Credit: Forbes)
To understand how many people have been using Zoom over the years, here’s some food for thought:
- In 2013, 3 million people participated in a Zoom meeting
- In 2014, 30 million people participated in a Zoom meeting
- In 2015, 100 million people participated in a Zoom meeting
- In March 2020, Zoom reported more than 200 million participated in a Zoom meeting every single day
They’re not afraid to go all-out when it comes to building their brand
Judging from what you’ve just read, it’s fair to say that a key aspect of Zoom’s growth strategy has been to let their product do the talking. Eric has also said that ‘the best sales people join Zoom because it’s easy for them to sell.’
In terms of marketing, Zoom hasn’t really been focused on aggressively chasing down prospects. Instead, they’ve been putting a big focus on getting the Zoom brand out in front of as many eyeballs as possible. There was one key group in particular that they started targeting, Early Adopters.
‘As an emerging vendor, we had to focus on marketing to the curious, adventurous bunch known as early adopters. This allows us to leverage our greatest advantage – user experience – because once an early adopter uses a product they love, they will spread the word.’(Credit: Forbes)
The planning started. Where would Zoom find these Early Adopters? Sitting in traffic on Route 101, of course – right in the heart of Silicon Valley. Bearing this in mind, Zoom made the decision to invest heavily and put up billboard after billboard after billboard.
Here’s Eric detailing why he invested in billboards for Zoom:
‘It’s to promote our brand. It’s hard to market a brand within a short period of time. After we had our first billboard, my neighbor, she told me that, “I saw your billboard.” I think, wow, this is great.” Then I told our marketing team, “Let’s have another one.” Soon, a lot of other people say, “We saw your billboard.” OK, “Let’s add a third one.”’(Credit: SaaStr)
Another way Zoom got their branding out to the public was through basketball. In 2016, Zoom sealed a 3-year deal with the Golden State Warriors, where the team gets to use their technology for free. In exchange, Zoom branding was placed prominently inside the arena during games.
Our Final Thoughts
From a company that went from nothing to a billion dollars in the space of 10 years, it’s easy to assume that they went full throttle the entire time. However, the truth is that Eric and his team were there to control the growth, not allowing Zoom to grow too fast.
‘Ultimately, we do not want to grow too fast. Our philosophy is we really focus on making our existing customer happy. We do not aggressively pursue the new prospect. Also, we always prioritize the features requested by our existing customers … We truly believe if you do not make the existing customer happy, even if you get more new prospects, it may not be sustainable.’(Credit: SaaStr)
Similar to the approach of Contapp, having a grounded approach to growth will be more important than ever now for Zoom, given that their platform is helping keep so much of the world connected during one of the biggest global disasters in recent history.
It’s a lot more manageable to have hyper growth, in comparison to out of control growth. The main reason being that the wheels will fall off and you’ll end up crashing the business, in most cases.