Case Studies
min read

How Empiraa evolved their positioning and pinpointed pricing

Written by
Chrissy Barton-Jones
Published on
March 1, 2024
Welcome to the Startup Marketing Stars series! Here, we bring you the untold stories of AU and NZ startups’ marketing strategies. What worked in the early days? What didn’t? And what can we learn from them? Join us, as we share the experiences of startup founders and their teams.

Startup bio

Company: Empiraa.

What they do: Strategic planning and goal tracking platform aiming to execute business in a simple, affordable and approachable way. They want to help people feel good about business, and make it as accessible as possible.

Target market: SMBs, advisors, franchises and startups who need a goal tracking platform that works across the entire business.

Business model: B2B. Empiraa is a ‘horizontal product’ which means they serve multiple but clear-cut audiences.

Growth strategy: This year Empiraa is focusing on converting website visitors to sales. This follows a strong focus last year on brand awareness and listening/learning from their audience to narrow in on their target market.

The team behind the marketing

Empiraa was launched in June 2022 by Ash Brown - CEO and founder - and marketing is headed up by Ashley McVea, who we spoke to us for this case study (FYI being called Ash is not a prerequisite to work there 🙂). Here’s a bit more about the team.

  • Founder Ash came from a long career in senior sales, in which he attended many strategy meetings. He noticed a disconnection between the high energy and new thoughts and ideas in these meetings compared with what happened back in the office, where everyone would sink back into daily work and routines. With no tool for people to actually follow through, or managers to keep people accountable, nothing much ever seemed to come from it all. So he developed Empiraa - a powerful but simple platform that’s accessible and effective for everyday business owners.
  • Marketer Ashley’s background is in sports and graphic design. She started at Empiraa on contract in early 2022, thinking it would be short term and a chance to learn something new. Indeed it was and she went permanent full time later that year as a marketing team of one.

Tackling foundational marketing challenges

One of the hardest things for startups to nail early on is how to position themselves in the market, and Empiraa faced this in their first year as well. 

Being unique in the market with no direct competitors, they found it difficult to position their product and identify their key target audiences. This manifested in several ways, including low website engagement and uncertainty on appropriate pricing. Here’s how they tackled these challenges.

Side note: We actually have a Positioning service to help startups with this exact problem. Take a look if you also face this dilemma.

Website engagement

Feedback on Empiraa’s initial home page was that it failed to speak to all four of its target audiences and their individual and specific problems, so they created an unconventional four-journey entry screen. 

Trialling this new tack generated buzz for doing something different to other SaaS products, however the team noticed a gradual downturn in visitors and signups. On analysing that data after a solid 6 months of testing, they realised that a high portion of web visitors weren’t clicking through from their audience button, and instead clicking on other links to find their way to the information they were looking for. 

Ashley said this showed the new page wasn’t providing a good user experience so they changed back to a more traditional website structure and took away some great learnings from the trial about audience segmentation, enabling them to speak more clearly to specific target audience’s problems.

Part of the four-journey entry screen that Empiraa trialled.

Pinpointing pricing

We noticed Empiraa had pivoted on pricing since launching, which is always difficult to navigate, so we asked Ashley to share their experience.  

Noting that many SaaS sites don't provide customers with pricing info upfront, if you do it’s important to aim at the right level. 

This can take some trial and error, and for Empiraa pricing was extra tricky because people weren’t already used to paying for a solution to the problem Empiraa solves. Here’s how they handled it. 

  • Initially, they offered a free trial option but after about 6 months, the conversion rate was low so they didn't continue it.
  • Pay per user: They launched with this model involving 3 subscription tiers based on user employee numbers. It was good for SMBs and startups with lower employee numbers, but it meant businesses held back from fully adopting the program so Empiraa acknowledged this needed to change.   
  • Pay per bundle of seats: They switched to this pricing model, involving 4 subscription tiers, to provide businesses with more clarity over costs when scaling. Initially, they saw a slow down in signups, but not for long. Combined with greater clarity on their target market, they’re now finding this a win-win model for them and their customers.

The results

By experimenting with their home page, Empiraa gained a clear idea of the different customer segments within their target market. They’re now better informed to direct their marketing efforts towards those customer segments, with tailored approaches for each. 

In addition, they’re finding their pricing model is now simple and competitive, so signups are more engaged and qualified, and customers are using the platform to its full effect across their whole businesses rather than just for individual teams.

What they’ve learnt 🧠

It's good to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. Even better if you can make waves and attract positive attention while experimenting, as Empiraa did with an unconventional home page.

They weren’t put off by initial setbacks, realising that sometimes making the right long-term decision requires tolerating short-term challenges.

Ashley also noted that it's easy to forget about reporting and numbers when you’re caught up in the mountains of daily work, but it’s essential to zoom out, look at the bigger picture and investigate feedback to discover where you need to focus. Also don't pretend you know something when you don't - ask! 

And finally, pricing strategy is like the business landscape - it will evolve, so don’t hesitate to pivot if customer feedback indicates a better way forward for you as a business.

What’s next for Empiraa? 👀

This year, the team is focusing on converting website visitors into sales - so keep an eye on them and their news!

You can learn more about Empiraa on their website and follow them on LinkedIn and Instagram to follow their growth and insights.

And if you’re especially interested in their pricing experience, read more in their article.✨

A profile photo of Ashley McVea and the words: Thank you to Ashley McVea for sharing her learnings.

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