AffiliateWP: One Year of Quantitative Data, and Related Inferences

Just over a year ago, I sat with Pippin Williamson in the dining room of a large Victorian home on the campus of a college in Omaha – the venue for the first WordCamp Omaha. He was showing me his most recent symphony – AffiliateWP – a product he launched that April, with a mysterious New Zealand gentleman I’d soon become friends with, named Andrew Munro. After we discussed the project for some time, I was offered the opportunity to be a part of the AffiliateWP team.

Excited to be involved, I asked for two weeks’ lead time to thoroughly grok the codebase prior to my start. What followed was an exceptional year of development support for AffiliateWP; I’d like to share some of the data on what we’ve been up to, specifically on the topic of product support. Akin to what attracted me to employment at Maintainn, products owned by Pippin receive an extremely high standard of quality.

Given these two hats I wear, I know with certainty that support services for AffiliateWP are provided on-par with Maintainn – which is itself designed from the ground-up as a dedicated, full-service support company. That’s no small feat – I wish I could take credit here, but it’s largely due to the high standards of both business owners. Enough mushy stuff, let’s get down to…

 

brass tacks
brass tacks

Since AffiliateWP began, there have been 4,807 tickets created.

4,807 AffiliateWP tickets!

  Of those tickets, each customer creates about 1.61 tickets.

submitted We get about 6 per day – but that average is a bit off lately. Activity typically is in spurts, such as when a highly-requested add-on is released, or when one of the many integrations available have an update that adjusts one or more functional behaviors in AffiliateWP.

The busiest times are Monday and Tuesday mornings, between 10am and 1pm EST.

busiest-times

Our busiest day was a Monday several months ago, on which we recieved 156 tickets.

I don’t want to talk about it.

The busiest month was June of 2015, with 460 tickets created.

Although there are more tickets created per day this year than last year, this is due largely to greater market visibility, and users migrating from their old affiliate management platforms: compare-aug-annual

Happiness

Helpscout, the web-app in use for AffiliateWP support, has a metric called “Happiness”. The question How happy are AffiliateWP customers? is asked; answered with customer-supplied ratings data.

As of September 24, 2015, we seem to be doing well – but there’s certainly room for improvement: affwp-happy

I’m not even sure I’m 87% happy on any given day, so this seems like a good place to be. The reasons for “okay” and “not good” range quite a bit:

  • Customers purchasing AffiliateWP without researching the product features, or creating a pre-sale ticket inquiry. For example, some may purchase the plugin thinking it provides outbound link-tracking functionality, despite AffiliateWP being an inbound tracking platform.
  • Asking for one or more customizations to the functionality of AffiliateWP (which, for time and resource constraints, we must decline). Thankfully, we maintain a list of experienced AffiliateWP consultants.
  • The rare occasion in which we’re not able to respond within our target window of 12 hours would sometimes result in an understandably less-enthusiastic rating. This is less common as we grow the team, but like any company, it does happen.

Support ticket topics

When a ticket is submitted, we tag the ticket with a wide variety of information to help us get a better understanding of several variables:

  • With what topics do customers need the most help?
  • Where should we target our documentation efforts?
  • Highlight possible areas that may need feature development

From the tickets tagged thus far, we’ve learned a great deal. Here are two major take-aways for me:

  • About one-fifth of tickets are pre-sale questions, many of which are concerning topics documented on affililiatewp.com. Although we have extensive documentation, increasing visibility of the docs section of the site seems worth exploring.
  • Most inquiries are from customers with either the Professional or Plus AffiliateWP license – a good sign that most customers are initially reading the documentation available, and are able to easily get things configured. The topics for these support requests are usually highly-specific questions, such as “How can I add extra fields to the registration form?

What’s next?

AffiliateWP has great documentation – and we’re seeing some good usage from visitors:

docs

– but we can do so much more. A significant challenge is keeping up with the consistently growing amount of features and changes in each update. To date, there are a total of 84 separate docs – some are short snippets, some are long, extensive feature implementation and general configuration guides.

My goal is to get this to 100 docs by years-end, focusing primarily on implementing developer documentation. One topic that I’ve frequently been contacted about by colleagues is how to create an AffiliateWP integration.

Although for many developers I need no more than to say “Extend this class”, a formal guide on doing so may result in a swell of new integrations for less-common use-cases.

Summary

It’s been a whirlwind year – Pippin, Andrew, and the generous AffiliateWP contributors have iterated and improved a staggering amount of features. Within the past year, I’ve completed more than 20 client projects developing custom AffiliateWP integrations and add-ons, and I’m pretty excited to populate the AffiliateWP documentation site with in-depth guides and developer walk-throughs. A comprehensive list of filter and action hooks? On the way :). On a longer timeline, we’ve got everything from more integrations and feature additions to the affiliate dashboard, to webhooks planned. Cheers to another year :beers:.

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