Building better products

22 Min Read

How Shadow’s New Online Community Gained 4k+ Users on Day 1

It’s Episode 5 of the inSide Scoop, and time for another customer spotlight! A must-listen for any gamers out there.  Huge congrats to the folks over at Shadow who went live with their new inSided community and gathered over 4000 users within their first 24 hours! In this episode, Ben interviews Shadow’s Head of Community, Luc Hancock, and Product Manager, Chris Lindsey, about their onboarding experience and how they were able to see success so quickly. 

As always, we’ve popped a handy transcript of the conversation below for those who prefer to read rather than listen. Don’t forget to follow the inSide Scoop over on Spotify


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Show Notes + Links:

  1. Check out the #TeamShadow community

Ben Robinson (01:09):

Thanks very much for joining us and taking the time to speak to us. We’re delighted to be speaking to Shadow who just launched their new community on the inSided platform. We’re going to have a conversation with Luc and Chris. Luc is the Community Manager (ed—Head of Community, sorry Luc!) at Shadow and Chris is the new Product Manager. Thanks for joining guys. So! What about your new community then? Are you happy?!

Chris Lindsey (01:37):

Oh, very happy. I would say within the first three or four comments, we were getting people that were super excited, saying this is exactly what they needed. The energy was… man! It filled the room for sure.

Ben Robinson (01:53):

That’s brilliant; really good to hear. Is that something you guys noticed before you even implemented a community strategy? That your users were really engaged?

Chris Lindsey (02:05):

I would have to agree. I mean way before I joined the company, we had some really strong established community members. I mean, what they’ve done with Discord and the Reddit community was just absolutely great. And what we simply wanted to do was to take it to the next level. And I mean, one of the great things I think Luc did is at launch, he put out some great messaging saying, “Hey, we’re still gonna show love and attention to our other channels, but we’re just going to move some things over here.” And that really put them at ease. 

Ben Robinson (02:33):

Brilliant, that’s a great plan. Look, I realize that we’re diving straight in and this is my fault as well. I just wanted to get straight into why you guys started the community, but maybe you can give us a good bit of background on Shadow and the company itself? You guys are growing so quickly so, briefly just tell us, what is the mission of Shadow and your product—and your roles, as well?

Chris Lindsey (02:56):

Yeah, definitely happy to explain all this. So Shadow’s overall mission is really to democratize PC gaming as a whole and make it accessible to everybody. Our ultimate goal really is to provide every single person on this planet high-end computing power—but more concretely, Shadow provides users with a high-end gaming PC in the cloud, that’s accessible from any device for around $12 a month or 12 GBP a month. So instead of over two grand, three grand every couple of years, you’re paying this very affordable price compared to, like a Netflix or Spotify service… you’re paying about that same price to have access to a full Windows 10 PC that can run the latest games.

Ben Robinson (03:47):

Wow. If you’re a gamer, it’s a no brainer really.

Luc Hancock (03:53):

Yeah, exactly. And we also do our best to update the hardware on a regular basis so that you really can play the latest games. And we do all the work in the backend.

Ben Robinson (04:05):

That’s great. Do you see that you’re actually attracting a lot of first-time gamers as well? Or is it more seasoned gamers who adopt Shadow?

Luc Hancock (04:16):

The one thing about Shadow is that it really appeals to a wide range of the audience. So it does appeal to the hardcore gamers who want that beefy machine, but might not have the budget for it, but it also appeals to another audience like the “gamer dads” who once had a PC, but now don’t have enough time to actually invest into a PC and build the PC. So this is a great alternative for them as well. So yeah, we really see a nice, wide spectrum of users.

Ben Robinson (04:50):

I love that “gamer dads” term. Do you see that also reflected on your community? I won’t dive into the numbers on community growth just yet, but do you see that you get a wide range of different people active on the community as well?

Luc Hancock (05:10):

So I’d say actually right now our primary community members are early adopters, very tech-savvy, ahead of the curve. They love all things tech and they’re really the hardcore gaming audience that is really interested in what is the next big trend in gaming. So yes, we have a diverse community overall, but when you talk about the core community, the guys who are really attached to the product and to our mission… It’s these hardcore gamers who are looking for the next big thing in gaming

Ben Robinson (05:45):

That’s really interesting. Obviously having a community, you can see their conversations, and you guys chip in. Do you get a lot of enthusiasm from these guys as well? It’s sort of a two-way thing?

Luc Hancock (05:59):

Yeah, definitely. For them, I mean it’s hard for them to even believe sometimes that Shadow exists as a product. I mean, I’m trying to say this without being very overly biased, obviously. But we do really see people in shock and awe when they see that they can run games on their 10-year-old computer or when they can run the latest AAA game on their iPhone, for example. So we are really offering a completely new experience to users and the community has responded really well with this.

Ben Robinson (06:36):

So good. Sorry, I just want to hear more because it’s just so interesting! How long have Shadow been around and can you talk us through a little bit of the growth that you’ve gone through in the last few years?

Luc Hancock (06:48):

So Shadow was initially founded in 2015. It’s a Paris-based company with  the same mission, really to democratize PC gaming and make it available to all, and really harness the power of the cloud. So we actually, in the first couple of years, experienced hyper-growth. We had a lot of demand at the beginning of our launch, but with it being such a nascent product we obviously had some bumps in the road and that’s where a community came in. I mean from the very beginning Shadow had the community at its heart. And since we’re building something that was new, having a group or a core community that validated the idea and supported it really was a signal to us that we were headed in the right direction. 

Ben Robinson (07:48):

That’s awesome to hear, you know. I was going to ask next: Why did you guys first start a community? But there, you’ve answered it. Were you were getting a lot of feedback on what you were doing then? Have you had feedback from your users right from the start?

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Luc Hancock (08:03):

Yeah, that was a very important part for us, even getting it off the ground. Soliciting feedback from your users is very important because, at the end of the day, the product that you’re making is for the community, for the users. So when you develop something with them, rather than for them, so that was kind of the angle we took. So we would do things like having a weekly stream and letting our community come in and ask questions to our CEO live on stream and he would answer them—and it worked really well. And then, again… the gaming community by nature, they’re very community-oriented. So that also helped a lot in terms of building a community from the ground up.

Ben Robinson (08:49):

What made you choose inSided as your community platform? I know that you talked about getting 2000 members on your first day, that was your aim. And then I think we checked later on, on the first day and you were at over 4,000, which is just fantastic! 

Chris Lindsey (09:15):

Something actually really funny is that our goal was in the 400, 500 range as we were trying to be very conservative with our estimates. So we blew that out of the water. The reason we chose inSided, and this is something that I was able to pull from just personal experience and feedback. The people that are very familiar and comfortable with a forum are the people that are already on Reddit. The people that are already on Discord, they are already partaking in these types of things. And what we wanted to do was bring some sort of hybrid where we give you the format and the layout of something more structured. That’s not just full of long threads that are just intimidating to some of these guys, but we give them the same level of community and benefits as Discord and Reddit. Now you can just search through things, because we would run through issues with repetition where the same customer would ask a question multiple times within a 30-minute span.

And if you’ve seen a Discord chat, in 30 seconds, the entire conversation is two pages up. So one of the things I looked for was something that was sleek, smart, intuitive. And the big thing for me was that I didn’t want to impede on the roadmaps of our other teammates. So I didn’t want to throw a big wrench in the development team and I didn’t wanna throw a big wrench on the web team. So I wanted to have something that was an all-in-one solution and inSided seemed to be the best candidate for that. And it’s proven so.

Ben Robinson (10:32):

That’s really good to hear. So before you were with inSided, you guys had quite a large community on Reddit as well. Is that right?

Chris Lindsey (10:40):

Correct, really large. If I’m not mistaken, I think the Discord is upwards of 10,000 or something like that. And then I know the Reddit numbers are looking pretty good too. 

Luc Hancock (10:50): 

Yeah. On Discord, we’re about around 100,000 across all regions. So it’s a very powerful tool for us in terms of community.

Ben Robinson (11:04):

Great. Well, look, I’m really glad you’re seeing success already with the inSided platform. And obviously you touched upon making sure users have great customer experience, making sure they can find answers easily and seamlessly. How do you see more broadly the community fitting into your overall company strategy and where you guys are planning—you have some great goals—where are you guys planning to go in the future?

Chris Lindsey (11:35):

When we actually created the project, we had three major things that we wanted to establish. The first one was we wanted to reduce our contact ratio and already we’re starting to see some dips in customer tickets, which is really interesting. Of course, all of this is hard to attribute to a single source as we have developers constantly pushing out fixes and things like that, but we did see a difference. And that was really exciting, I would say. 

Ben Robinson (12:01):

I guess your customer support team is thankful to you for that as well.

Chris Lindsey (12:06):

Oh yeah, they’re ecstatic. They’re really, really excited because my job was to make their lives easier. The second thing that we wanted to tackle was engagement, we really wanted something cool. So even though we dived in with a bunch of support to reduce that contact ratio, we eventually see this molding into something that’s a hybrid between support and regular community conversations and some really cool marketing opportunities. Things like maybe running beta programs, ideation with the product team, which is great. Because I think feedback is something that we constantly search for. And it’s really given us an environment where we can just directly talk to our users. It truly removes a barrier for us.

Ben Robinson (12:43):

I love also that you are talking about using community for marketing purposes. I think it’s something that the companies are catching on to now, but it’s really… you know, you’ve got this army of users—you guys call them #TeamShadow—who are basically your customer advocates, you know, and they’re having all these conversations on the community and that’s a gold mine of information.

Chris Lindsey (13:00): 

Very true. Very true. 

Ben Robinson (13:10):

And I love that you plan to use it for product feedback, and improving Shadow as well. Starting beta programs where you can bring your users in and bring them along on the journey of building and you guys going forward and building a better product. That’s great.

Chris Lindsey (13:30): 

I think that one thing that I actually forgot to add was the other reason that we wanted to establish the forum is that we had users that were working really hard and helping customers and we didn’t have a way to reward them. And this actually allows us the ability to do so.

Ben Robinson (13:42):

That’s really good. Are you doing anything further than giving them congratulations and a pat on the back?  How can you bring them along with you? 

Chris Lindsey (14:00):

We have some really cool ideas but we’re going to keep them under the wraps in the meantime. 

Ben Robinson (14:12):

Watch this space, then! I’ll be coming back in six months, so you can disclose them!

Obviously you’re a gaming company that’s really focused on the user experience. Was this also a major factor for going with inSided? I guess you wanted to have a really seamless brand experience for your users as well? As for the Shadow brand, do you see that coming into the community, and was that an important decision in choosing the community?

Chris Lindsey (14:23):

The UX was really important. That was actually one of the big things we had on our checklist—making sure that it was easy and seamless. Like I mentioned before, we have customers that seek self-service and they visit the help center. We get a ton of visits to the help center. But some of the same users are intimidated by these extra channels like Reddit and Discord. So our plan now, or at least at this point, is to create something that’s the hybrid, something that sits right in the middle. And what we’ve noticed is we have some customers that are currently converted. We create an account the second that they sign up and then they can choose to participate or not. We’ve seen some of these customers who are asking questions about activation times, what kind of games are you guys playing? Things like that. So I think we’re starting to hopefully see a shift to more new users and not just all of our vets.

Ben Robinson (15:25):

Yeah. That’s going to be, I mean, I don’t want to say the challenge… That’s almost the exciting part, isn’t it? To see newbies getting onto the community. And also see them learning from those that have been around with you guys from the start.

Chris Lindsey (15:41):

The thing that I really loved is that during the trial period that Wieger was able to set up for us, which was amazing: I was able to play around with the front end and just being able to add things like featured topics immediately. I even loved the statistics at the top, having some transparency, and seeing, yeah people are actually contributing to this forum. So being able to have that full control in doing easy things… like we found out we could even import our Twitter feed and started thinking of ideas for that. So yeah, UX for sure played a big part.

Ben Robinson  (16:09):

Also, the more activity that users see on the community, the more likely they are to engage themselves as well, right? So it’s always a good encouragement.

Chris Lindsey (16:19):

As Kenneth said: “don’t leave your stuff still.”

Ben Robinson  (16:24):

Exactly. Just for anyone who doesn’t know, Kenneth is our A-star customer success manager here with you guys, right?

Chris Lindsey (16:33):

Correct. I think we got him when he first joined the company and he is amazing. I also have to give a huge shout out to Cristina as well. I mean, literally, we launched at 9AM… at 8:57AM, me and her were sending back emails trying to get things perfect.

Ben Robinson (16:48):

Wow, that’s dedication. It’s really great to hear. From an onboarding perspective, you guys were happy with inSided? 

Chris Lindsey (17:00):

We were really happy. I think one of the best things that Wieger did was, after having some discussions, he said: “Hey, I think I know where you guys are. I think I know what you guys need.” And he was able to set us up… I can’t remember the name of the package. I think it was an expert onboarding. It was perfect. There was a board with tasks that were delegated. We had weekly meetings. Anytime I had a question I could email or I could just send a message to Wieger directly. And I got a response very quickly. So it took a lot of additional stress out of launching this forum, which was nice.

Ben Robinson  (17:30):

I’m so glad. Shadow is growing so quickly. We’ve managed to help you get your community off the ground. As you guys grow even more, do you have any idea of what you would like to see from inSided? Or are there any ways that you think we could improve the community? I know that’s a bit of a dangerous question for us to ask, but we always want to know.

Luc Hancock (17:58):

We already hit 5,000 registered members just this past week, which is already really exciting to see that the community is growing at a really rapid rate. But for us, a community is very, very important for us and it’s really a cornerstone. And we actually have this concept called ‘collective exploration’ where we work together with our community and hand-in-hand to develop Shadow. And the overall goal is to really provide value by listening to our users and continuing to innovate based on their direction and feedback. And that’s really where inSided comes in because it really gives the tools and features that the community needs to clearly communicate what they want from us and what they want from the products. And it allows us to have actionable things where you can take in order to develop the products thanks to the vision of the community.

So like Chris mentioned, having some kind of a product feedback board or a bug reporting board so the community can go in there, centralize their feedback in an organized hub and also provide visibility for the community to see: “Okay, I’ve submitted feedback here, and now I can follow it. I can get notifications about it. And I can know when this bug I reported was actually solved. So I know that I’m actually helping this project move forward in the right direction.” So for us, that’s what we’re going to be looking for from inSided in the future. Just to give more power to the community so that they can help us really communicate what they want out of Shadow. 

Ben Robinson (19:44):

I really love everything you said there, especially the term ‘collective exploration’. I think us marketers can adopt some of that. You know, we’re always talking about product feedback and how you can help you get your users to help you improve your product. But I love collective exploration because at the end of the day, you know, it’s a journey, with everyone involved, right? You’re nothing without them. They’re nothing without you. I don’t want to promise anything from the inSided standpoint, but I can say that I know that product ideation and feedback is a major thing for us going forward and we’re really going to build on it. And it’s great that we can tick some boxes for you there. I guess around the ideation as well, is that to continue that all-in-one-place is not only helpful for you as a Community Manager and for your users, but also for your product team too, right? It’s so valuable for them to have everything in one place: ideas and being able to give you feedback themselves. 

Chris Lindsey (21:44):

In terms of using the feedback to benefit product, we’re actually having meetings and discussion on what channels we can actually use to move over to the community because there’s a ton of information that comes back. And that’s the thing about the product: You have your user interviews, you have your numbers, and BI or whatever tool you use and the community—just another one we just need to consolidate.

Ben Robinson (22:30):

It’s interesting as well, funneling the feedback to the community and it makes sense to have it on there where your users are and where they can see everything, you know?

Well, you’ve had such success already in the short time that you’ve been live, but do you have other plans? How do you plan on measuring the success of the community going forward? Maybe this one’s for you Luc, do you have certain metrics that you’re focused on measuring? 

Chris Lindsey (23:38):

Just when establishing the project, a few things that we wanted to look at: As we said, it was the contact ratio and that’s really hard to measure when it comes to the community, just because it’s such a high-level metric and is impacted by so many things. So some of the ideas that I had, we want to look at… there’s an analytics tab on control—the success dashboard. In the success dashboard, you can look at the amount of outstanding questions you have in the forum. And then also look at the rate of which they’re being solved, which is really nice. So a few things, I want to increase that number a ton, but we want to look at declines in contact ratio, specific to categories that are relevant to an issue we see declining.

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So for example, if someone is having mouse issues and we notice a giant post go up and get a ton of eyes on it, and then we see an exact decline in our Zendesk ticket desk, then we can go: cool! We can assume nothing had some sort of impact. The other thing that we’re looking at is the rate at which customers are joining. This is more of the engagement side. We’re starting to stabilize a little bit. I think we had such an explosive start. It’s kind of hard to nail where we actually are. So as we see the community calm down we’re going to start benchmarking and coming up with some ideas to increase or decrease, and then also using some of our resources like Kenneth on your side to compare us against other communities that are also in the gaming space, just to make sure we’re on the right track.

Ben Robinson (25:04):

So just to sum up, you’ve got your ticket deflection and your contact ratio; hopefully, in the end, you’ll be able to provide a monetary value on that as well, right?

Chris Lindsey (25:18):

Yeah, we have the cost per ticket and that’s one of the things is I’m basically counting the days until inSided pays itself off, which is kind of exciting on my side. But a few other things that we’re doing that are a little more nuanced is looking at subsets. What about the NPS of a customer that has interacted with the forum? If we noticed that the NPS is higher for the ones that have, maybe we put it up higher in our onboarding emails. If we promoted it as one of the first things you see as a seven-day user. So I think there are a few things that we can do. I think also integrating links is going to be a really good idea. I got that idea from Wieger: which is putting it into our chatbot and it doesn’t just send you to the form, it sends you to the exact article.

Ben Robinson  (25:58):

That’s awesome. And then in terms of the engagement side, I don’t want you to disclose all of them, but I guess you have some ideas for getting more users active? And obviously that’s going to be a metric you’ll track?

Chris Lindsey (26:14):

I mean, realistically, I would say maybe two-thirds of our traffic strategy was executed. And we were able to see those numbers. So we were just gonna make do on the rest of that strategy. And see what else we can get. I think the other thing that’s going to help us out is just word of mouth. As you start seeing other channels quiet down and people forwarded to the forum, I think how we started our community is how we’re going to continue to grow it.

Ben Robinson (26:40):

Thank you very much. I just want to go a little bit wackier right now… If you had to pitch the community to one of your customers in one or two sentences, how would you persuade them to join?

Luc Hancock (27:01):

Sure. Yeah. So our community, #TeamShadow, of course, is about Shadow, it’s our product, but it’s about a lot more than that. It’s really about bringing like-minded people together, fostering a sense of belonging for those who are really just generally interested in helping us shape the future of gaming as a whole. Because yes, Shadow is part of the future of gaming, but there’s so many other peripheral industries that we need help from to grow and achieve what we want. So we welcome all kinds of interests in discussions, whether it’s from VR, 5G, and really anything in between—there’s a lot to discuss. We’re much broader than just Shadow when it comes to community.

Ben Robinson (27:52):

That’s so good, that’s great. Thank you. I love that you rely on them, but on the most modern technology around and it would be great to involve them all in these conversations and maybe you could even have an area of the community where you can get ideas and juices flowing, right?

Luc Hancock (28:14):

Yeah, exactly. I mean like I said, Team Shadow overall is a gaming community and there are so many subsets of micro-communities within this umbrella that, talk about, like I said, VR, 5G, indie games, etc. So there are so many different types of content that can be discussed within our community. So really I think it’s a great community for anybody interested in this kind of topic.

Ben Robinson (28:43):

Maybe a silly question for you guys, but are you both gamers yourselves? 

Chris Lindsey (28:54):

Huge gamer on my side. Funnily enough, one of the things that drew me to Shadow specifically was them creating an available PC at a reasonable price point. I was someone growing up that had tougher times, so that’s something I just couldn’t afford. Do you know what I mean? Like, getting the Game Boy itself was a present. So there’s no way I could think of a full-blown gaming PC and having the opportunity to provide that service to a ton of people in a smooth way… I mean, it seems like a match made in heaven. On the gaming side, huge gamer. I’ve been hooked on Borderlands 3. So any of our users that are hearing this podcast, please add me!

Luc Hancock (29:35):

I am, admittedly, not so much a gamer. I used to be a gamer, when I was a bit younger. But what really drew me to Shadow was more of the technology side and just doing something different than the rest of the companies out there. You know, you look around and Shadow really does offer something very revolutionary. And it’s really cool to be on this journey because just seeing the reactions of people in the community when they try Shadow. I wish I was on the marketing team…  I’m not trying to oversell, but Shadow really does blow people away when they try it. And just seeing those reactions really shows that we’re doing something special.

Ben Robinson (30:14):

Yeah, you’ve nearly left me speechless, honestly, just by the sound of it. It sounds like I’m going to need to give it a try myself. It really sounds like you guys are also taking the daunting element out of gaming. I think there can be a bit of a misconception from people who don’t game, that it’s… “I need to build a PC in my garage, you’ll never see me again”. You know? It sounds like you’re taking that away comple