Episode 67 | Specific Strategies For Growing and Managing Your Mailing List

Show Notes


[00:01] Rob:  This is Startups for the Rest of Us, Episode 67.

[00:03] music

[00:12] Mike:  Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Rob.

[00:21] Rob:  And I’m Rob.

[00:22] Mike:  And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. How were you doing this week, Rob?

[00:27] Rob:  Doing pretty good, man. I’m feeling good just continuing to move along with hotel staff; I did a little over two weeks after the relaunch, I should say; and had a post to go big on Hacker News last week. I don’t know if it went to number 1 for five hours later; it was at number 2 with a hundred something votes. So, my guess is it hit number 101 point but I got quite a few new trial sign-ups which is good and good feedback and just got a lot of folks in there kind of mocking around which is cool.

There’s this other thing that is killing me. I’ve been getting these emails. I need to run for a bit but there’s a lesson in this run. I’ve been getting a few emails from LegalZoom because they are changing their affiliate program and I’m an affiliate because I blog about them, you know, starting business and stuff. LegalZoom is actually a decent, inexpensive service for getting your paperwork, LOCs, filings, or whatever you’re gonna do, corporate stuff. And so, I have an affiliate link on my blog from posts years ago and they are doing exactly what you should not be doing but they are requiring everyone to update their affiliate links. And to me, that’s just sucks.

[01:30] Mike:  Oh that sucks.

[01:31] Rob:  It sucks because it screws me because if I don’t go back and do it, the traffic still goes to them and it just means they don’t have to pay me.

[01:42] Mike:  Ugh!

[01:43] Rob:  Right? Because they’re not gonna track it anymore because they’re shutting down this whole thing. I mean, I’m like pretty bare about this. It’s a similarly short-sighted decision of companies that have a billing plan and then they switch and then they require all the old people to go sign-up again and you lose at least half, maybe more of your customers. As an example, with hit talents, all you service on basic Paypal subscriptions and I switch to the Stripe, I did not make a single person sign-up like I’m running parallel billing processes which means I have ‘If’ statements on probably eight different pages, to say, “If you’re using old billing code, then this…; and if you’re on the new billing plans, then this; and it is a pain on the butt for me. But bottomline is: it’s the right thing to do. I guess feel like…I guess LegalZoom, they don’t need to do it because they will still get the traffic, makes me better.

[02:28] Mike:  I fail to see the problem from there than on us.

[02:30] Rob:  Yeah, how about you? What’s going on?

[02:31] Mike: My trip to L.A. was cut about a week short. So, I’m back in Massachusetts again. So, just been trying to get settled again.

[02:42] Rob:  Hey, I am one of the ‘let’s-a-caller’ now. Someone called up what I think is a really good message. It was 90 seconds and it was filled with some good info but it was just breaking up all over the places like he sounded he’s having cellphone issues. So, the caller called about IELTF and I don’t even know what that means because that’s like one of the few snippets I heard. Please call back from landline and we’d love to have your question on the show but I wasn’t able to make it how.

[03:08] Mike:  Another listener had emailed us and let us know that we apparently have more reviews on iTunes than we previously thought and it turns out, if you look at the reviews, it only shows reviews for your geographic region. I guess he looked at the reviews and he didn’t see as many as we see because ours are also coming from the U.S. and I forget what country he was writing from; obviously, much smaller country but there were reviews there that I just never seen before, even sent a screen shot to show me and I kind of mashed him up with what I saw on iTunes and they just weren’t there.

[03:42] Rob:  How cool. It would be nice to be able to see them. I’d like to see…you know, we’re viewed in Japan or everyone in New Zealand hates us or something; we’ll not be able to forget those somehow.

[03:53] Mike:  It would be nice but there’s probably setting some place in iTunes.

[03:56] Rob:  So there’s app that just came off from iOS. I want to tell people about…I was actually in the support chat room for Stripe which is payment processing and I was asking something and someone popped in there because it’s a vampire chatroom which is public. Someone’s like, “Hey, my iOS Stripe just got approved.” And apparently the guy knew that other guy I was talking too; so if you have Stripe and you want to charge people stuff like ‘on-the-go’ like a dinner if we split a check or something, I can just put your credit card right in and suck money out of it under my Stripe account. He got it approved and he said, “It was a big headache, because I just got the financial aps and the Aps store go under more like more scrutiny which makes sense, right? But he said it took him quite a long time and number of revisions and such to get it through. So, it’s called ‘tiger pay’ and it’s a buck 99 which these prices still just kill me. You know, it’s like, ”I’m having it on my phone just to have it at that price.”

[04:49] Mike:  But it’s pretty cool. So, from my end, listeners are probably a little bit anxious to hear what sort of things I’ve been doing on AuditShark especially my trip to L.A. last week which kind of cuts into my time to work on it. But I’m still working through some issues for the beta task 2 that I signed, the Window server does not seem to be responding on that but I haven’t checked the logs to figure out exactly what’s going on; so, that’s kind of an ongoing issue that I’ll probably just have to deal with and more further initial installation or anything else. But I’m sure it’s something I can work around or something that I didn’t mention in the installer.

Other than that, in terms of marketing, I got a short list of about 30 banks in the area who, I’m hoping to go visit later this week. I’ll probably won’t get to all. I’ll probably maybe get to five or six or something like that but I’m essentially looking to going to those and either pre-qualify them or tweak my marketing message a little bit and just kind of learn a little bit more from them about how I would kind of get in front of them and their peers.

I also found out there’s a company called Accudata where I can find contact information by industries. So, you essentially put in an industry code, I think it’s called an SIC code and thinking about maybe doing a postcard campaign to people that I find through Accudata and see if I can drum up some leads and prospects without physically going and meeting with each of them.

[06:11] Rob:  Hmmm.

[06:12] Mike:  And even if it’s just leads, I mean, at least that allows me to get in front of people and if it’s something  that they’re really interested in, chances are good that they’ll try and reach out to me instead of me having to go in and saying, “Is this something you’re , interested in?” “No.” “Okay, well then I’m just wanting an hour of my time.”

[06:27] Rob:  An alternative could be to have a VA kind of to go through Google maps based on your location and put together a small list of 50 or 100 or something but it depends on how much is the cost is, I guess, of that Accudata stuff.

[06:39] Mike:  Its like 12cents per record, it’s ridiculously huge.

[06:42 Rob:  Jeez, that would be worth it?

[06:44] Mike:  I look in Justice Geographic area and I came up in with something like 1500 or 1700 listings or something like that. It’s 12 cents a piece, it’s only $170 – so that’s dirt cheap.

[06:55] Rob:  Right, totally worth it. Like I said last time, I would consider not doing a postcard and actually doing a first class letter. I just think of my …especially if you explain kind of what you’re doing and not just making a sales pitch; it would be like, “Hey, I’m a local guy and here’s what I’m doing…” and those kinds of things, just an idea.

[07:10] Mike:  Yup, yup, I probably will go that route instead of just a postcard but…

[07:14] Rob:  Yeah, more personal. Cool, anything else?

[07:17] Mike:  We’re going through a website redesign for AuditShark; so, I haven’t really figured out exactly what I want to do yet but…

[07:25] Rob:  Sounds like you need to talk to the banks before you do that, you know?

[07:27] Mike:  Yeah, because I want to talk to these people first and then try and figure out what the message in it is but I did come up with what I think is a pretty good message in earlier this week because whenever I talk to people and I start explaining what AuditShark does, they say, “Well, that sounds great but I really don’t understand this piece or that piece,” or possibly even why they need it.

And one of the data points that I can point back to is some more recent research in the past year or so from Horizon that basically said that there are no documented cases in the past, (I forget what the time period was) but basically, what they said, that vulnerabilities were direct results of the hacking cases. It was more system misconfigurations than anything else which is exactly what AuditShark is designed for. The study went on to say that of all those things that are important; obviously you should be doing them. They, you know, aren’t necessarily the cause of the vast majority of the people who get hacked.

So, as I think about going through and creating kind of a marketing campaign around that, they basically just say, “Ninety-five percent of all, you know, security breaches are due to this: are you covered,” or something around those lines. And like you said, I have to go and talk to these people and figure out if that’s something that I think would work or not.

[08:40] Rob:  All right, very good.

[08:41] Music

[08:44] Mike:  So way back in episode 8, we talked about the importance of building a mailing list. And I went back and I took a look at some of our later episodes and even episodes around that. We never really discussed specific strategies for driving people to the mailing list. I mean, we talked in generalities but we never really dug in of the specifics of the things that you should do on your site to help drive the people to the mailing list and increase your conversion rate for that mailing list.

[09:13] Rob: So the title is: “Specific mailing list strategies for growing your list and managing your list?”

[09:17] Mike:  I mean we can go to managing list. It depends on how much time we have left.

[09:20] Rob:  Cool, what should people know first.

[09:23] Mike:  So, I think the first thing you need to know is: what you’re eventually going to use this list for because if you’re trying to drive people to your mailing list; to, for example, get them on a pre-launched mailing list, you’re gonna handle it a little bit differently than if you already launched your product or you’re trying to do a targeted promotion in a specific type of person – a specific type of buyer or somebody in a specific industry.

[09:49] Rob:  I agree. I think this is a key thing that people don’t talk about often. They kind of say. “Well, I have a newsletter list, an email mailing list that kind of have many meanings, right? It can be, as you said, a targeted launch for, what comes to mind, is like [Microcoft], like we had a targeted list for that conference. You could have a targeted launch list for your startup, for a book you write, for something that’s gonna come at a specific point in time; and essentially, the list is disposable, right? You’re gonna use it and then you’re gonna rid of it. You know, I can email it to you down the line when you need something else. It’s not good etiquette. If you tell them they’re gonna hear about a launch, then that’s what you should do.

But there’s some other ones as well. There’s like a customer list and so someone buys your book. Obviously there’s out there just a customer all the time but if they buy one time, use product like invoicing software just any type of downloadable software, you keep them in your customer list and you might email them periodically. You get them the opportunity to unsubscribe even if you only email them a few times a year, if they are customers, they to tend to want to hear from you as long as you’re not setting a crappy sales stuff. But if you’re sending them like, “Hey, there’s an update, come download it,” or, “Hey, there’s a new version, an audio version of the material.” These are all the things that I have done at that customer list is also an email list but it’s a lot different than a launch list.

And then the other two that I’ve seen most commonly are like, actually Plug You does this really well, just invent some Twitter client, there’s a five-day eCourse, it’s an email course. You go to plugyou.com and something pops up, you enter your email and he has really solid tips that come out five days right in a row, I mean, he’s obviously marketing tool as well but it’s not some ongoing newsletter that goes on for six months or a year –it’s this very specific thing he tells you upfront and then you get this good information.

And I think the fourth kind that comes to mind is like, if you were to go to my blog, I have an ongoing newsletter that is gonna go on for – you know however long I can continue to write it but it’s basically sends you an email every two weeks and it potentially going on for years and that’s different tips about you know, startups, entrepreneurship, all that stuff. So, those are the four kind of email mailing list that come to mind.

[11:53] Mike:  Yeah and the point of all that is that there may have been overlap between these lists, I mean, as you said, you’ve got a customer list and then you may have a mailing list that you put together to let your customers know about a specific product launch that you’re having, maybe it’s a plug in or an [   ] or something along these lines. And maybe you’re trying to get feedback or you’re trying to get people on the [   ] list, there’s a very big difference between those lists that you want to keep around for a long time versus those ones where if it’s a product launch, you’re gonna drive people to that mailing list and get them on that list.

And once you’ve mailed them, maybe once or twice or you know, whatever the course of your mailing cycle is, that list is basically gone at that point because the expectation that you’ve set to those users about how long they’ll gonna be on it and what the purpose of that mailing list that they signed up for – it’s gone, there’s no reason for you to be emailing them after that. So, you do have to be a little bit careful about, you know, what expectations you’re putting forth not only for your users but for your self as well.

[12:51] Rob: That’s right and I think that ties in with what you said earlier of being very specific about it upfront is gonna go a long way towards getting people’s expectations of how many emails they gonna receive and how long they’re gonna receive them for.

[13:02] Mike:  And I kind of losing a sense of the next part which is determining what conditions you’re going to try and drive people to that list. So, for example, on a pre-launch for a product, you might try to drive people to that mailing list from every page on your website because your goal is to drive people to that list so that you can mail them later on or you can let them know about new updates regarding when the software is gonna be available; or maybe tips and tutorials, things like that. Again, the expectation that you put forth is that that’s a launch mailing list and when you have launched, after you’ve launched, you send them a couple of emails, let them know and that’s the end of it.

[13:39] Rob:  I’ve actually got this question quite a bit like, whether you should keep separate lists for customers and prospects? And the answer is answer is ‘absolutely’ because the information that goes to the two of them is completely different. You’re gathering in different ways and the information you’re sending them should almost and will never overlap.

[13:57] Mike:  Now question for you, I mean, obviously I have a bunch of different products. But do you have specific landing pages whose sole purpose is to drive somebody to a mailing list, to try and gather an email address from them?

[14:07] Rob:  Well, it depends on the cycle of the product. So, like MicroConf, the website, once the conference was over last year, we basically just put a big ‘be notified about MicroConf 2012’ on the upper right but that was our main call to action – and actually still is right now because, you know,  we’re in the ‘early bird’ sale. So, next week, there will be a button on it where people can buy the tickets and then once the conference is over again, we‘ll do the same thing. So, in that sense, yes.

And then when I first launched my book, I had a landing page, you know, that drove people there. We actually did that with the MicroConf Academy as well, if you go to themicroentrepreneur.com and that’s pretty much, you know, all people can do: you can enter an email and be notified but we don’t really allow people to buy-in directly because we want people as cohorts and be able to work with them.

[14:48] Mike:  The one thing I was wondering more about was in terms of using like Google AdWords to drive somebody to your page and you have a landing page that’s very specific to the people that you’re advertising to.

[15:02] Rob:  Yup, sometimes I think I don’t think I do now. I had in the past. We had several different landing pages for downloading at AdWords campaigns and the idea was to tie in to the ads so that when someone clicked on an ad but that headline they just clicked on appeared in the landing page when they got there and it’s to give it continuity of thought. So the answer is ‘yes’ but not right now.

[15:21] Mike:  I wonder if that kind of indicates a change in marketing strategies, I guess it’s probably more because you rely a lot less on Google AdWords now than you did in the past.

[15:31] Rob:  That’s right. Yeah, I don’t think I have anything running right now for download in invoice. You know, I’m gonna toy around with HitTail. I’m frank that these days, I’m a little skeptical with Google AdWords purely because of the cost, it’s so high right now and there’s other networks that are just cheaper these days. If I do any advertising and I drag people people to landing pages like with HitTail, it’s probably be the next advertising campaign that I want to set up. I will absolutely have multiple landing pages and there will be very similar but it will be customized text on each of them

[15:59] Mike:  So, the next step in the process is making the sign-up process as painless as possible and it’s interesting because I did some research earlier to say and looking at these sign-up forms that other people had available and if you just do Google search for mailing list sign-up and I just looked at the top four or five different pages and without fail, like, each of them was about half a page long – it was ridiculous the length of it. These people were making people go through in order to just sign-up for a mailing list. I just couldn’t believe it. I mean, there were probably 10, 15 fields on each of these things.

[16:35] Rob:  You know there’s actually pretty easy way to get rid of the most of those things especially in an email form. It depends: if you’re doing an enterprise sales as you know, you want as much information as possible; you want to create a lead rather than just get the email and contact them and so, you want to get phone, you want to get company so you can look them up and research them and prioritize the leads because you can get more than you can follow up with and you want to give them a call and all the stuff and that’s fine.

But I think in the spaces that we’re in not selling six figures software, I think you really, really need to minimize, at least starting out minimize the number of forms you filled you asked for. Typically, I recommend it’s either a first name, an email, or just email – that’s it and keep it simple. I think beyond that, I mean, even I was working with a registration form that I was trying to pair it down, there’s so many things you can do to not ask for information and it’s amazing that you’re eliminating each one of those actually improves your conversion rate. It’s a little separate from emails. But even like a registration form, I see a lot of forms that say, ‘username, email, password, confirm password, password hint” and then ask for a bunch of other stuff. And it’s like, “Let’s look at those five fields.”

Why do need to use an username if you have an email. Make their email their username, get rid of that one. Why do you confirm their password? If they enter a password that they accidentally fat finger it, one out of 20 people will do that, they can come back and reset their passwords. You have their mail. The password hit, you can always get from it later. Do you really need one? They’re just gonna reset it any ways. You know, there’s all these things. I mean you can basically take those five fields down to two fields, just an email and a password. And so, I would use similar mindset here even to the point of locating someone if you need like a timezone that was one thing on HitTail registration page. So, I ask for timezone and I eliminated that by using some JavaScript. With email forms, if you really, and number 1, if you aren’t gonna use the information, absolutely do not have it on the form even if it’s optional. All optional fields should be gone, everything should be required; and number 2, make that thing 2, maybe 3 form fields.

[18:35] Mike:  The other thing that you can do for, and I guess, this does not necessarily apply to mailing list but it applies more to sign-up pages for an application, you can essentially just ask for, as you said, the email address and a password and then once they get in to the application, you can have a page where they can fill out a profile that has some of that other information that you want or need and you just have messages that pop up in various places to say, “You have not filled out your profile.”

[19:03] Rob:  I’m totally planning to do that because I do want to know more about some of the folks, we want people we campaign customers, I’d love to know more about them just so I have an idea of who is using my app and I absolutely plan to do that once the trial is up, I’ll be paying people and say, “Hey, it would be great if you can fill up your profile.” And I’ll probably find a way to motivate them. Do you know it’s like if you fill it out, you get seven days free, you get 14 days free, you get a discount this month – something like that. That way, you’re removing that friction at the front end of the process.


[19:31] Mike:  And if they already signed in to the application or are already seeing what benefits you can provide them and hopefully, if they’re interested and still using it, they’ll just go ahead and fill out that profile because they don’t want to see some red message some place.

The next step is to use an ESP and essentially, that is an Email Service Provider. Hosting your old email, as we said before, is a bad idea. I mean, you’re hosting your own email list, sending your own email through your own server. You can be flagged for spam very, very quickly. And the tools provided by these ESPs are pretty good for post email analysis and they’ll tell you things like what your open rate, what the click-through rate was that people are clicking on links inside the email, etc. So, you got a lot of additional tools that they give you and it doesn’t really cost a whole hack of a lot for you know, any of these mailing list providers. I mean, you got constant contact, you got MailChimp, you got Aweber –they’re all pretty reasonably priced. I think with MailChimp, you can have up to 2,000 people in your mailing list and it’s free and then other ones even after that, a few thousand people, it’s only 20 or 30 bucks a month.

[20:36] Rob:  So I definitely agree ESPs now use MailChimp and Aweber for years but I also have had success using these more recent like Postmark and SendGrid – these services allow you to basically pull from directly your customer database live. So I read a sequel script that pulls out of my database based on some very specific criteria. Basically, I created a list on the fly, I pull in an email template that I’ve written and then I can swap out stuff in since I’m writing codec, and swap out stuff in that email and highly customized to that person. I can include their domain name, their number of hits they got last month. I mean, there’s specific things and then I can send it through Postmark and you know, the idea is it has a good chance of getting delivered as something from MailChimp.

You know, I can’t recommend that to someone if they’re not a developer or don’t have a developer who can build that for them but I’ve had a lot of success with customizing that stuff and having these in conversion rates as I’m emailing folks to remind them, “Hey, you’re still sending us traffic and we have these many suggestions for you.” And I can actually say, like we have 340 suggestions for you from the past two months on this URL if you’re interested. Come and sign-up again and here’s the customized URL, you took right here and it reactivates their account,” it got stuff to query stream and that’s another option. And that’s a little different than if you have a newsletter, if you have a 5-day email stand of course, and obviously that’s not the way you want to go with it but for those kind of emails, I think that’s maybe the other option. [   ] that’s a new ESP- a new ESP that really doesn’t have a front end.

[22:05] Mike: Yeah and I think you can do the same source of things with a MailChimp or Aweber if you just export data from your database and import it because you can add those custom fields in. If you already have integration points into SendGrid or Postmark app, emails will use those. I mean, at the end of the day, it comes down to whatever works for you; it’s not about how cool one tool is or what’s the pricing of those is. It’s whatever works and gets the job done.

[22:32] Rob:  Yeah, that’s right.

[22:34] Mike:  So beyond using an ESP, one of the things you want to do is convince the person who signed it up that there is some sort of an authority or trust that your site has such that when they give their email address, it’s not gonna be turned over to spammers. And there’s a lot of different ways to do that. You know, several things that you can do that are usually pretty quick or just to put simple length to say, “Powered by so and so…” and that could be MailChimp or Aweber you’re in constant contact – whoever your mailing list provider is.

Another thing you can do that’s very simple is just simply post your privacy statement a length to it right there that says, “We value your privacy pretty much anything that provides you with that trust or that authority to let them know that you’re not going to, you know, continuously spam them, that it’s gonna for them to unsubscribe and then if they don’t ever want to hear from you, then all they need to do is unsubscribe and that’s the end of it.

Rob, can you think of some specific phrases that you’ve used in the past to kind of help out with that trust relationship?

[23:33] Rob:  You know what’s interesting is a lot of the forms that I use, I don’t even address that. I know that some of …it’s in my blog, it’s kind of, “Well, you got some personal notes of good content and I’m not gonna spam you.”  And these days, like, if you’re dealing more with non-technical users, then I think this is important. I think dealing with like, the startup crowd and entrepreneurs and people who are pretty web savvy, they know that if they enter their email and you start spamming them, they’re gonna mark your spam, they can block you like there are options. And typically, they’re gonna be able to unsubscribe. They know you’re using an ESP and there’s always an unsubscribe link at the bottom of that.

So, I actually think that’s less of an issue. I know what it is for me. I draw my email around pretty freely in the forms until it looks super sketchy even without someone saying, “We will never spam you, we promise,” which, some of the phrases I see, “I’ll never spam you; no spam ever.” I have found that in the forms, I’m actually looking at a bunch of forms that I put together right now. I don’t put those and it’s because I didn’t have room and I wanted to have more positive talk of what I was going to provide them, like, I think I absorb the value so much that I get good conversion rates without trying to downplay the spam, like downplay the negative is one approach and showing them the upside of what you’re giving them is the other and I’ve chosen to take the latter.

[24:47] Mike:  But I think that in a lot of the things that you probably put together just the way they’re designed, the way that they’re put together is probably helpful in invoking that trust to begin with. If a website looks sketchy, it probably is. And no amount, of you know, ‘we will not spam you’ can overcome it in certain cases. I mean, it obviously depends on the website. But when you put in together a product website, most of those product websites are gonna look fairly professional. If it’s all stuff that you handcrafted the html and it’s obvious that you did and you didn’t do a good job of it, then I think that’s where those things become more important.

But this whole thing is really about evoking a sense of security and trust that you’re not gonna do inappropriate things with it. And I think the design of the website can certainly play into that, I mean, just simply saying, you know, ‘we hate spam’ is one way but I think going in the other direction and that general sense of trust is another.

[25:42] Rob:  Yeah, I can’t agree more. I think the look in overall fields someone get is just a big part of it. And if they see, again, when they’re reading into the blog or reading into the conference website, it’s like, “Well, I can tell this is a real conference,” or, “I can tell this a real software product,” whether it’s in my aps, it’s like this actually exists and real people buy it. The technical user knows that it is not in your best interest to spam them. There’s just nothing you can get out of it, you know. It will only bring you negative things. So, if you’re legitimate, spam is just not totally worth your time.

[26:12] Mike:  So, the last specific strategy for driving people to your mailing list is to offer them something for free in exchange for their email address. And again, this is more for those disposable type mailing list where you’re trying to drive people to a launch list or you know, even if it’s a new product that’s coming out, you can offer them to be part of the beta or new customer feedbacks something along those lines but there’s a lot of other things that you can give them as well. You can give them a white paper, an eBook, I think it’s smart software if you go to their website, you can actually sign- up for a free copy of the physical book or at least they used to, they switched it over on eBook because I think it got too expensive. But you can sign-up, give them your name, address, and they would actually ship you a full-blown paper copy of …

[26:57] Rob: …pure code reviews.

[27:00] Mike: Yes, that’s it

[27:01] Rob:  Just in tune with it.

[27:02] Mike:  So, let me give you that and something else you could do is a free consultation if it’s a big ticket item, something along those lines. I’m not so sure that giving them a direct discount on your software would work but there are certainly things that people can easily assign a value to that will seem a lot more valuable to them and will kind of convince them or push them over the edge saying, “Hey, yeah, I love to see that. Let me give you my email address.”

[27:24] Rob:  Yeah, I would agree. I’m not wild on advertising a discount directly because it’s kind of a, you know, it’s kind of a lazy way to do it. The way that requires more effort is to create something of value and to think of a really good title for it instead of, “You’re five bucks off on order.” when that creates 10 things you must know before going to the beach this summer if you’re selling beach towels on a website or, then before you’re starting your startup if you’re selling a book.

There are ways to do this where you actually provide some value and over the long term you’re not just cheapening your offering. So, it doesn’t work in all cases but that is typically the default. In fact, there’s a really easy way to create one of these things. And I’ll let you know a secret: basically, if you’re an expert or if you can find an expert and you interview him over Skype or if again, if you’re the expert, have someone interview you for a very short time, you can do like 15-20 minutes probably ideal and all it is is some questions about this very specific topic and you interview them then you have it transcribed. You essentially not have an audio product which people put a lot of value on and you have a companion pdf, transcriptions are super cheap and we get all these episodes transcribed for 50 -60cents a minute. And so, you’re gonna pay 9 bucks for the transcription created like a pdf out of it and there’s your product. You need not even have to sit down and write ten pages. You basically have this audio report on this and have someone knowledgeable to talk about it. So, that’s something I’ve been recommending lately for people to try out.

[29:00] Mike:  It’s something that you mentioned kind of reminded me of something that Patrick McKenzie came up with and I heard him mentioned in his talk at last year’s[Microcom] which was when people are spending other people’s money, they don’t necessarily care about the price, not offering a discount especially when you’re selling business software. It’s probably much more appropriate than in the case where maybe you’re selling products directly to consumer. I’m still not wild about the idea of selling at discount but I suspect that it would work a lot better if you’re selling to the end-users, to your general consumer population as opposed to business users.

[29:37] Rob:  Yeah, I would agree, just more price sensitivity with consumers.

[29:40] Music

[29:44] Rob:  So people want to comment. They can call on to us at 1-888-801-9690; they can email it to us questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. As you might know, our theme music is an excerpt from We’re Outta Control and that is by the band MoOt used under creative comments. If you enjoyed this podcast, we do appreciate

a review in iTunes; you can just search for startups and we’ll be there in the top 3 or 4. And a full transcript, like I said, is always available at startupsfortherestofus.com. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.

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8 Responses to “Episode 67 | Specific Strategies For Growing and Managing Your Mailing List”

  1. Hey Rob and Mike,

    Great episode, it’s come at a great time for me in my app progress. I have one question and one comment for you.

    Question first; You mention that a launch/pre-launch mailing list is essentially disposable. While that makes sense, once you launch, are there any circumstances where you could email the people on the launch list that didn’t sign up? For example, what if down the road you released some great new features that you think might turn some of the heads of those on the fence?

    Now the comment; I think it’s important for your listeners to understand that you shouldn’t be using Postmark and Sendgrid for the same types of emails that you use Mailchimp and Aweber for. Postmark talks about it on their site http://support.postmarkapp.com/customer/portal/articles/64735-why-can't-i-send-bulk-emails-

    Postmark and Sendgrid are for transactional emails. Rob, even though you sent out to a big group, that’s probably ok because they are users and you are prompting them about something on their account. All marketing promotions should be sent through Mailchimp and Sendgrid.

    In my opinion, most SAAS app owners will very likely need accounts with both types. Most apps will send at least some type of transactional email, and that should be from Sendgrid/Postmark, and of course you’ll need to market, so there is Mailchimp or Aweber or Campaign monitor.

    Thanks again, great stuff!

  2. Yes, I think there are but you should be mindful of the timeline. If it’s been more than a year since the launch, probably not. But if you launch and then a few days, weeks, or a month later want to follow up with them, I think that’s legitimate.

    I think it’s also legitimate if there were compelling features that people said were missing and specifically didn’t buy because they were missing, I’d say it’s fair to email them again. However going back to what I said before, you need to be sensitive about when you launched vs when you’re emailing them.

    But recall that you’re asking about what exceptions there are to this logic. There are always exceptions to any rule. There are always outliers where it worked extremely well, but probably only because these 10 conditions were in effect. Always think about the specific situation, because each one is unique in some way.

    You’re absolutely right about the difference between MailChimp/Aweber and Postmark/Sendgrid. They’re designed differently and serve different use cases. Great point there.

  3. Guys,

    I’m about halfway through. Great work as usual. My ears perked up when Rob mentioned how expensive AdWords was becoming. I heartily agree.

    Can you guys elaborate on what alternative networks you’ve found useful?


  4. Unfortunately most of the alternative solutions proposed (BSA, SU, Reddit) seems to be suitable only for products targeted to webdesigners, developers etc.. (i.e. if i want to target to people that want to eat at restaurants, and not in the US, i think the only choices are Google Adwords and Facebook).

    PS btw thanks for the tips and for the podcasts (i’ve just discovered it thanks to HN, i usually listen to TechZing).

    PPSS Rob you didnt a good marketing job, I bought your book (through Amazon) and subscribed to your newsletter on your blog but never received info about this podcast :-)

  5. As far as I know, you actually can use SendGrid to send out Newsletters and Marketing Campaigns. This page makes a distinction between marketing emails and transactional ones. (http://docs.sendgrid.com/documentation/get-started/sending-practices-limitations/warming-up-your-ip-address/)

  6. Mike mentioned accudata during the podcast. I am assuming this is accudata.net? It seems like they are only in a few cities. Just want to make sure before I kept looking.


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