How RedCircle's Focus on Customer Success is Helping it Grow Rapidly

With Michael Kadin, Founder and CEO

RedCircle is a podcast monetization platform that connects brands and creators. Their mission is to help independent podcasters turn their passion into a profitable business by supporting their efforts to grow and monetize. They're growing fast—currently the team is 9 people and most work from their HQ in San Francisco.

RedCircle helps podcasters monetize their content with an easy to use interface.

Michael Kadin is the Founder and CEO at RedCircle. I recently had the opportunity to sit with Mike and understand how RedCircle's focus on customer success is helping it grow rapidly.

Tell us about how RedCircle got started.

After 5 years at Uber, I left in search of something smaller where I could have more of a personal impact. After interviewing around at various companies, I failed to find something where the role was exciting, and the company's mission was fundamentally good for the world.

As a lifelong creator, and longtime listener to podcasts, something eventually clicked in my head that there might be an opportunity to help indie podcasters flourish. When I found myself up at 2am researching the podcast industry and writing a business plan, I knew I had to take the entrepreneurial plunge.

Tell us about your customers.

We have three types of customers.

RedCircle is a platform for both podcasters and advertisers to get their message heard. For podcasters it is a free service for hosting, distributing, and doing analysis on your podcast and its audience. We also have a bunch of free tools for podcasters for content management, marketing, and monetization.

On the advertiser side, we've built one of the first fully automated marketplaces for podcast advertising — where advertisers can find hosts to read endorsements on popular and influential podcasts.

We also offer tools for podcasters to collect payments from their listeners, both as a one-time tip and as recurring donations. We also provide paywall functionality where podcasters can distribute exclusive content to paying customers. In that scenario, we also have customers who are podcast listeners.

What major channels do customers provide you feedback?

  • Email

  • Live Chat

  • Social Platforms

Who handles customer conversations?

  • Founders

  • Engineering

  • Sales

How does RedCircle's core product work?

When a podcaster signs up for ads on the platform, we insert ads at the very beginning and the very end. But podcasters can specify the other spots in the middle and we analyze the content and provide suggestions for where they could do that. Our platform encourages podcasters to do that as the ads in the middle are the most valuable.

What is something that your team is still learning to do better when it comes to listening to customers?

Normally a business can prioritize the customer feedback based on business outcomes (e.g. if we fix this bug, we'll make X more dollars). But as a free service, it's sometimes hard to decide which features are truly the most important. We want to make sure we're not just prioritizing the asks from our loudest customers. We try to get a gauge for how badly a customer needs a new feature — whether it's a huge bummer for them, or it's just a nice-to-have — but this can be quite challenging.

Is your product roadmap being swayed by the loudest voice?

Herald helps product managers align their team around customer needs.

What is something that your team does well with respect to listening to customers?

We provide support for anybody that comes in and signs up for the platform — that actually differentiates us from some other podcasting companies that don't even provide support for the free tiers. We provide support for all of our users, with email and with live chat.

Our engineering team does most of the inbound support. As such, our customers always get quick and technically complete answers. It also allows the engineers to "feel the pain" of our customers.

Are there any additional benefits to having engineers do support?

So we had one guy who came by with his podcast, and he had spent years building it up. And he put it on a platform that was popular at the time. But that platform is in a defunct state now — it's still out there on the internet, but it's not totally functional and a lot of the features are broken. And as a result, he really couldn't import the content into any of the better podcasting platforms that are out there today. He reached out to our support team and said, "hey, I'm trying to switch my podcast over to RedCircle, but I really can't do it because it's erroring out."

To help this person out, one of our engineers had to write a a short script to fetch all the missing content from the defunct platform's podcast player. That was something that we managed to do over a 20 minute conversation. And that podcaster got back all of their old content, which they thought was going to be lost forever. That kind of stuff is just not possible without an engineer there to help. That's unfortunately an incredibly unscalable thing, and we can't do it forever, but we're glad we can do it now. The amount of customer love that we can generate by going the extra mile is the kind of stuff that they tell their friends when they're starting their podcasts.

Changing platforms can be nerve wracking for podcasters that earn their livelihood from it. So knowing that there is somebody on the other end who is an expert, has done it dozens of times, is responsive, and can communicate effectively is a huge plus. These are things that make people comfortable about switching their baby to another platform.

And is there a business case for such great support?

If you Google RedCircle and look for reviews, you'll find Reddit reviews and Facebook posts, where you'll see that the quality of our support is something that consistently differentiates us from other products. Why do we go extra mile for A+ support? Two big reasons:

  1. RedCircle is free to use — When evaluating platforms, users may assume we're a lower quality platform. Instead, we believe providing free content management is just an innovation in business model, not an indication of quality. Providing great support helps prospective customers feel they are working with a legitimate partner.

  2. We're working with folks who've been podcasting for multiple years and we're trying to convince them to change the piece of technology upon which they run their show. Changing platforms can be nerve wracking for podcasters that earn their livelihood from it. So knowing that there is somebody on the other end who is an expert, has done it dozens of times, is responsive, and can communicate effectively is a huge plus. These are things that make people comfortable about switching their baby to another platform.

Mike, thank you for talking with Userstand. It was great to learn a bit about the podcasting industry, and more importantly, about RedCircle's strategic decision to provide great support — and how it's enabling you to grow fast.