Customer success

Patreon uses Pendo to help thousands of local businesses get paid and rally support during COVID-19


In-app guidance drove product and feature adoption

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It started with professional sports leagues, and then the dominoes began to fall: Event organizers around the world began to cancel concerts, conferences, and other in-person events seemingly as quickly as the new coronavirus was spreading. Then, state and local governments began putting social distancing measures in place, shuttering many small businesses.

The team at Patreon, a platform that provides musicians, podcasters, vloggers, and other creators with the tools to run subscription content services, knew their product was well-positioned to provide the restaurateurs, singer-songwriters, yoga instructors and other business owners who suddenly found themselves unable to operate with a way to keep bringing in revenue as they weathered the crisis.

“Those local businesses make a huge difference, not only to the communities they live in but to the lives of the people who own them,” says Jennifer Pugh, a senior product manager for growth at Patreon. “We all looked around and said, ‘We have an opportunity to help people through this time.’”

The company quickly began building out resources kits to give those creators the tools and support they’d need to launch a monthly membership service, says Tina Deogracias, a product marketing manager at Patreon. One of those creators was a restaurant owner that could no longer offer dine-in service, so he began livestreaming himself cooking through Patreon. That provided a financial lifeline to the restaurant during uncertain times.

To raise awareness of these resources, Patreon’s product and marketing teams used Pendo in-app messaging, targeted at specific segments of creators like musicians or small businesses. “As they were signing up, we spun up a lot of guides for them to find those resources,” Deogracias says.

For local businesses who were brand new to offering subscription content, Deogracias and team used Pendo to design an onboarding flow that guides them through setting up their account, designating membership tiers, and showing them how to provide value to their patrons virtually. “Pendo essentially powered this purely custom experience for them,” she said.

Pendo usage analytics helped identify the spots on the user journey where information would be most useful, so the guides could be presented in exactly the right place and time.

Pugh also used Pendo data to figure out who was signing up for the platform, so she could segment new users and deliver the best, most relevant resources for their type of business during onboarding.

“A lot of these weren’t the typical creator profiles we see,” she says. “Restaurant owners, yoga studios were coming to Patreon saying ‘How can I get support from my people during this time and stay afloat?’ We were able to pump those resources to them through Pendo.” And, it was done without requiring any support from engineering.

Deogracias says Patreon also decided to shift its planned marketing events and announcements to a virtual format, and Pendo was a key tool for ensuring the platform’s creators were all aware of the changes via in-product campaigns. The company has also launched a weekly virtual session called “The Show Up,” which pulls together creators to discuss what they’re going through during the pandemic and how it’s changing how they create.

Those sessions are also promoted through Pendo in-app guides, Pugh says, and thousands of creators have engaged with the campaigns since their launch.

From March to August 2020, more than 100,000 creators, including 7,000 local businesses, have joined Patreon’s creator community, Deogracias says.

“We are so proud and so humbled to be able to do the work that we do to support local businesses, musicians, and creators, to have that income coming in, especially during this time where so much is unknown,” Deogracias says.

Now, Pugh says, Patreon is seeing indications that the businesses who joined the platform as an emergency measure are remaining members as they see value in the subscription services they’ve set up as a new and ongoing engagement channel for their patrons. “They’re seeing that it’s not just something that held them up during the pandemic, they’re seeing that it’ll be valuable to their business long term.”

“That we were able to use Pendo and move so quickly was extremely influential and critical to the success we’re seeing those creators have today,” Deogracias added.

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