The Fathom Journey

Why we are building Fathom

why build fathom

About Me

My name is Pinaki and I am the founder of Fathom. I have been building and marketing internet products for the past eight years. Before Fathom, I have started up four times. Three of my ventures failed, while the fourth, a web-based software application called Recordator.com, is currently functional and  yields a fair amount of monthly revenues. The convenience of steady, sustenance money can be an inertia trap for a startup founder. For better or for worse, after a good amount of soul-searching and data-crunching towards the end of 2017, I decided that I had to move on to something more substantial.

The Idea for Fathom

Before talking more about Fathom, let me tell you what it is. Fathom helps you segment your website visitors, setup and manage telephone interviews with them, and draw insights from those interviews. It is meant for product managers, marketers, designers, developers and business owners to help them better understand their users, in a contextual and timely manner – more on this later in the post.

While building Recordator.com, I had been intrigued (and frustrated) by the bounce rate that one of my blog posts saw. This post was a tutorial about recording phone calls using an iPhone 7. Organic traffic contributes to 87% of the traffic; however the bounce rate across mediums hovers above 80%.

Despite this high bounce rate, this blog post brings Recordator’s largest share of new paying customers every month. Now the question is, if this blog post convinces some people to become paying customers, what is up with the other ~80% of visitors? Who are they, and why do they not consider it worth their time to check out anything else on Recordator.com?

To take a dig at this puzzle, I tinkered with the content, design, CTAs, A/B tested variations, setup exit intent modals, but could not manage to bring down the bounce rate to my expectations. I used certain tools to achieve the above – Hotjar to observe visitor behaviour, heatmaps and get net-promoter scores, Google Analytics to conduct the A/B testing, Olark to chat with visitors and so on.

Having made little progress, what I really wanted to do was to talk to these people, my website visitors. I wanted to understand who they were, what they had been looking for and what could have convinced them to consider Recordator, and perhaps become a paying customer. And thus, I wondered if we could have a service that would help me arrange a conversation with them.

There was another source of validation for Fathom.

Recordator.com’s customer base includes a sizeable number of small and medium-sized market research firms. As part of my exercise to understand my customers better, I talked to the people in these firms about their projects. It turned out that many of the interviews they had been commissioned to conduct, were customer experience interviews. Their clients, in turn, were trying to understand their own customers.

Some of these clients, either solely or among other things, wanted to understand their users’ attitude towards their websites. They wanted to know if the website was easy to use and could provide the users with what they needed.

How does Fathom compare with other Customer Feedback Tools

There are so many customer feedback tools available and some of them are truly wonderful. The question then is, why Fathom, and why now?

Fathom’s strength is the context and the timeliness it brings to the process of understanding attitudes of your website visitors.

Traditional qualitative feedback methods, such as face-to-face or telephone interviews, focus groups, etc. are conducted when the context has already shifted. The emotional journey of the visitor as she navigated your website will become hazy in her mind even after a very short time. Additionally, visitors may not remember specific reasons they liked or disliked your product. For example, someone may be left only with a consolidated memory such as “the search feature was horrible”. However without something more specific, such as “the search bar was difficult to locate”,”the search results were not relevant” “there was no autocomplete” or “i wanted advanced search options”, your product manager or engineers might end up fixing the wrong problem. While aiding the interviewee may help in this scenario, it introduces the risk of leading her responses.

As opposed to this method, intercepting the visitor while she is in the act of using your product is likely to elicit the “truer” answer.

Why Phone Interviews?

Scientific literature suggests that when participating in research interviews, people feel more comfortable sitting at their homes behind the safety of their phones. They are more likely to disclose sensitive information on telephone interviews, as opposed to face-to-face interviews.

There is also the question of cost. Telephone interviews cost much lesser compared to face-to-face interviews and, for a small or medium-sized business, are more practical.

The Road Ahead

Through Fathom, we intend to help you understand your website visitors better. Equipped with this information you can do marketing which will be more appealing to your audience and build products which will better serve your users. I hope you will join me in this journey ahead.

Thank you for reading.

Pinaki
Building Fathom.