This blog post is part of our Customer Spotlight series. Throughout the series we highlight Chargify merchants and the lessons learned as they grow their subscription-based businesses.

Loved by the WordPress community at-large, Gravity Forms is praised as the “best contact form plugin” for websites powered by WordPress. Widely recognized as the industry leading WordPress form solution, Gravity Forms made an inspiring rise to success in the last several years.

I recently spoke with Gravity Forms Community Evangelist Jeff Matson to understand how the company harnessed the power of their community, solved for internal tools that didn’t scale, and used Chargify to scale growth more efficiently.

Born from a personal need

Prior to forming Rocketgenius, Gravity Forms’ parent company, co-founders Carl Hancock, Alex Cancado, and Kevin Flahaut worked together developing websites for clients. At the time (around 2008), there really wasn’t an easy solution for adding a form to a WordPress site.

The few form solutions available also didn’t look like WordPress, which made it difficult to utilize on sites for customers who were only familiar with that platform. Using the form plugins available at that time on clients’ sites meant additional education had to be provided to teach clients how to use a product they weren’t used to.

All of which provided the co-founders with the motivation to create their own, easy-to-use form solution for WordPress sites. Gravity Forms was the result.

The co-founders already intimately understood the problems around adding forms to WordPress sites, so there wasn’t really a need to go out and research requirements. The goal was to make Gravity Forms easy and intuitive:

“If you knew how to use WordPress, you would also know to use Gravity Forms. That was our main goal.”

The first version of Gravity Forms was simple. The idea was to start with a simple product, get it out quickly, and then add more features. The need for a WordPress form solution was personal, so the co-founders understood which core features needed to be part of the initial product and which could be added later.

Gravity Forms went live for customers in 2009.

The power of community

Matson is quick to point out that the WordPress community is an integral part of Gravity Forms’ success.

Early on, Hancock became friends with many of the WordPress theme designers. In the company’s beginning, those designers helped with business advice and marketing of Gravity Forms.

“The WordPress community really, truly embraced Gravity Forms. The community is a big part of the success Gravity Forms is today.”

Feedback from the WordPress community helps guide the product roadmap and determine priority of new features.

Every employee in the company is incredibly passionate about WordPress, and many were active participants in the community before becoming part of the Gravity Forms team.

Participating in and giving back to the WordPress community is important to Gravity Forms, and has been since day 1. The company frequently sponsors both national and regional events, including WordCamp US.

Internal subscription management tools didn’t scale

Thanks to a solid product, and an active and loyal community, Gravity Forms has scaled substantially and enjoys the brand recognition other companies dream of.

As with any company, there were systems put into place when the company started that didn’t scale well as they grew. Their recurring billing tool fell into this category. Gravity Forms had been using an internally built solution on top of their payment gateway to manage subscriptions and billing.

As the company and customer count grew, the need for a more robust subscription billing solution was apparent.

Increasing customer retention with Chargify

Unlike other form solutions, the WordPress-related products Gravity Forms provides are open source. In this instance, the monetization focus is on sales of automatic updates, support, etc.

Over time, the company noticed customers forgetting to renew subscriptions. Customers who forgot to renew faced problems such as not being able to receive all the Gravity Forms security updates or finding themselves without an active support license.

When searching for a subscription billing and management solution, they wanted it to include an automatic renewal option for their customers. Chargify checked all the boxes.

 

Being able to provide our customers with automatic renewal option via Chargify has been key for us. It allows our customers to stay up-to-date on renewals and we’ve increased customer retention since implementing Chargify.
Jeff Matson, Community Evangelist, Gravity Forms

 

“We were able to integrate with Chargify quickly and the API is very reliable,” says Matson.

Offer management made easy

The internal tools they were using prior to Chargify made it time consuming to roll out and track price changes and promotions. Integrating with Chargify also allowed Gravity Forms to easily manage new pricing and discounts.

Experimenting with and changing pricing isn’t just about providing and tracking offers for new customers. Gravity Forms also needed to be able to maintain previous pricing tiers for their existing customers, who were given the option of grandfathered pricing and remaining in their original plans.

Gravity Forms utilized Chargify to roll out new pricing and to ensure seamless experiences for both new and existing customers.

2017 pricing gravity forms

Each of the 3 license tiers also includes a suite of add-ons, which allows Gravity Form customers to further customize their purchase and only pay for exactly what they need.

 

Grandfathered pricing, new price rollouts, different add-ons available for each plan, unique discount codes… the list goes on. Being able to offer customizable plans to our customers is important, but it means a lot of complex scenarios to handle on the back end. Chargify makes it all easy and manageable, without us having to devote substantial developer resources to keep it all running smoothly.
Jeff Matson, Community Evangelist, Gravity Forms

 

Gravity Forms also used Chargify to offer their first ever Black Friday sale.

“The Black Friday sale was great and Chargify definitely had an impact on it. With Chargify handling auto-renewals, we have more faith in offering discounts for a new customer in the first year. Chargify also allowed us to easily utilize coupon codes within the URL so that the discount was automatically applied without the need for the user to enter a code,” explained Matson.

Gravity Forms rise to the top is impressive, and the future is bright…

What’s next?

It’s clear the whole team is passionate about giving back to the WordPress community that has helped the company become the industry leader it is today. The company is and will remain committed to making a difference and positive impact on the greater WordPress community.

Gravity Forms will also continue to provide the exceptional quality product that they’re known for, but their future plans don’t stop there.

 

Our goal over the next few years is to make Gravity Forms a massive force in the way people manage and collect their data.
Jeff Matson, Community Evangelist, Gravity Forms

 

Some of their customers may say they’ve already achieved that goal.

Gravity Forms is an inspiring success story and Chargify is proud to be a part of their exciting journey. For more information about Gravity Forms visit www.gravityforms.com or test drive the Gravity Forms demo for yourself!