Episode 72 | 8 Tactics for Building Your Pre-Launch Mailing List

Show Notes


[00:00] Rob: This is startups for the rest of us episode 72.

[00:04] [Music]

[00:12] Rob: 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] Mike:  And I’m Mike.

[00:22] Rob: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. And if you stick around to the end of the episode we’re going to be talking in depth about eight tactics for building your pre launch mailing list. What’s going on this week Mike?

[00:35] Mike: I recently installed the Boomerang and Reportive.

[00:39] Rob:  Yeah I use both of them as well.

[00:41] Mike: So I was in the trolling the MicroPreneur academy forums the other day and somebody had posted a link to SEO Monster where they talked about all these different email hacks basically. Two of them were to use Boomerang and Reportive to essentially you to enhance your Gmail experience. So what Boomerang does is it allows you to take an email and essentially market such that it will come back to you later. And you can also use it to reply to somebody and then if you don’t hear back from them within a certain amount of time which you can kind of customize then it will essentially end up back in your inbox.

[01:14] So you’re not using your inbox as this giant black hole where you’re sending everything and then trying to look through and figure out what things you need to pay attention to and which ones you don’t. Which is really kind of nice because it allows you to keep your inbox fairly empty which I prefer to do and whenever you need to actually pay attention to something, something will pop back in there. So I got an email saying, in the Business of Software conference tickets went on sale and it’s I think you have until March 30th for the presale tickets and then the price goes up. But I have it set to come back into my inbox later this month, I think it’s 23rd or 24th so then I can pay attention to it later.

[01:49] Rob: Right yeah. And I’ve been using Boomerang since Dan Andrews last podcast maybe six months ago and  I use it, I’m now a subscriber. It actually, you get a 30 or 45 day free trial and it’s five bucks a month and it was a total no brainer. I probably have at any given time 20 to 30 emails that are hanging around in the Boomerang engine waiting to come back to me. I don’t a lot of email with someone on HitTail, they’re either canceling or they decided not to sign up but they tell me like I need to relaunch my website and then I’ll use it.

[02:19] And I’ll say hey you know when do you think you’ll be re launched? And they’ll tell me, oh in March or in May. And I’ll totally ping myself back in May and then touch base with them. And I have landed, I mentioned on the podcast before but I’ve definitely hundreds of dollars worth of business purely because of touching base with people again. And how about Reportive?

[02:37] Mike:  Reportive hooks into your Gmail account and on your right hand side when you’re sending emails and stuff when you have an email address selected in like the ‘to’ or in the “bcc” box, over on the right hand side what it actually does is it takes a copy of that email address and sends it to the servers and then does a search through LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter and shows you all the related information from that person. So if you get an email from out of the blue from somebody that you don’t know or you’re trying to identify an email address or trying to figure out who somebody is, that basically does kind of a social search and tells you information that’s publicly available about that person.

[03:16] Rob: Yeah and I have really liked it for two reasons. One is because it will pull their profile picture from LinkedIn or from somewhere else if it’s there and actually…

[03:23] Mike: Yeah that’s really nice.

[03:24] Rob: Isn’t it cool? It gives you an idea of what they look like and it actually like I was doing some HitTail support before I had a VA doing it and it would give me an indication of like , oh this person is 40 something male or 50 something  male and it’s like well I have to talk to him differently than if he’s like a 22 year old male or a 22 year old woman. I mean it just, I’m making assumptions based on appearances but it actually helped me I would provide more assistance and kind of more insight.

[03:51] In addition it really just does help you get the mindset of who you’re talking to and who  you’re dealing with and it allowed me to, there were a lot of people I had emailed with it was like, I want to follow this guy. Sure enough they put a follow button right there where you can follow on Twitter or LinkedIn or whatever.

[04:05] Mike: Yeah so I’ve been using those tools the past week or so. It’s been a pretty interesting experience so far and I don’t think I’ve gotten quite the productivity gains yet but I mean really it hasn’t been very long and it actually has helped me cut my inbox roughly in half. I mean I usually keep it less than 10 or 15 emails at any given time and in the past I’d say month or two it’s gotten up over 50. So it’s definitely cut it down just in the past week or so using it.

[04:29] Rob: Nice. So hey I was at LesConf two weeks ago and there was on presentation in particular it was the last presentation and I forget, I honestly forget who the guys were. They gave some of the worst startup advice I have ever heard. And I don’t typically like if someone says something that’s debatable or should be discussed or something, I’m like alright that’s cool. But this, one of the things they said and then they pounded away at it was that looking at data, like looking at your past data and trying to optimize funnels and looking at conversion rates, looking at data is like trying to steer a boat by looking out the back of it. You’re only looking in the past and you should be looking out the front.

[05:06] And then they went on to say like how data is fallible and how data isn’t very good and how you should trust your gut because you’re an entrepreneur. And the entire time I was flabbergasted at the examples they were giving of like, don’t optimize funnels. And they showed a picture  of a funnel and it was all squiggly and they made this statement “ No one does a Google search for project management software, clicks a link and signs up for a trial”. No one does that. Everyone goes to social media. And I mean they were seriously making blanket statements like that.

[05:35] And when I got out I talked to a few folks, you know designers and other entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs that I know who are actually being successful were just, were blown away by the comment. It’s not say, you certainly should focus everything on data right.  You have to be creative and you have to be innovative and you have to treat your customers really well and that’s what they were saying was the flipside it’s like the data is like the antithesis of that. And  like manipulating data and focusing on it means you’re not focusing on your customers.

[06:01] But I just feel like there is a balance men. It’s wasn’t, I would never use the word never in a presentation like that. I just wanted to say like you know you and I are fairly data driven but if anyone has the idea that we are 100% day to day data and you don’t worry about your customers like that is obviously a correct response either.

[06:20] Mike: Yeah I think you have to strike a balance and there are cases where you look at the data, if there is not enough data or you’re looking at too narrow a slice of that data then you don’t necessarily see  the trends that you need or you’re extrapolating too much from a specific trend. It’s kind of like statistics, you really have  to take anything you’re looking at with a grain of salt and eventually sometimes it just does come down to a judgment call or a gut check.

[06:45] I see what your point is. I mean when I saw the title of that you know looking at your data is like trying to steer a boat by looking out the back of I think if you were in something that is changing extremely rapidly then that’s probably true, you know nine times out of ten it’s true. But I think if you’re looking at things like funnel conversions and things like that which really are very data driven then I think that it breaks down a lot. I think you can’t generalize like that, just blanket statements to everything.

[07:11] Rob: Right.

[07:12] Mike: We’re up to 124 ratings on iTunes.

[07:15] Rob: Wow. Wasn’t our goal 125 by MicroConf?

[07:17] Mike: I believe yours was, 225.

[07:19] Rob: Yours, nice. But oh that’s right we got this big bump because we were only looking at US numbers before. So US numbers are probably in the 90s or something.

[07:29] Mike: Yeah 94 I think it was. So we’re up to 94 for theUS and 30 for the rest of the world. So we gained four over the last week and TechZing has gained one over last week. So I’m sure that they’re going to be whipping their users into shape to try and get some more reviews.

[07:45] Rob: Seriously if folks want to help us out in this competition we have a friendly competition with the TechZing podcast. You head into iTunes and search for startups and just give us, even if you don’t give like a full commentary review you can just click I mean it’s five stars to one star, we’d love a five star of course. But you can just click that and you’re done as long as you’re logged in. So it’s not even that much effort.


[08:05] Rob: So I wanted to give folks an update on HitTail. I did a relaunch in January, it was around January 9th and so I got a big spike of trial signups. A blog post I wrote went to Hacker News, the front page then I’ve been on a few podcasts. So I’ve been getting some good trials in there and I had  a conversion rate in mind of how many of those would go to paid accounts. When the 30 day trial expired that was like February 9th and so all of February I was gearing up, I’m like oh man I’m going to be making more money and increasing and stuff and it went up just a tiny bit.

[08:39] I’m frankly quite disappointed with it. So I’m feeling a little down this month and kind of looking at what my other options are. I’m thinking that I have a whole market that I’m going to go after like e-commerce websites and I haven’t even started marketing to them because I’m going after more of the startup audience right now just because it’s more accessible to me. But thinking they’re not going to convert that well. So kind of the next step in the plan.

[09:01] But I guess I just want people to know like these setbacks are very common right. It’s like you’re going to have a plan, you’re going to try something and it’s probably going to fail. And so I could give up right now and say, alright you know that’s it, this whole thing failed, next. But that’s not how you got to do it if you are an entrepreneur. You come back and you say well how do I fix it, what went wrong and what can I try over the next couple of months to try to actually grow revenue more.

[09:22] Mike: Do you need a hug?

[09:24] Rob: I think I do.

[09:25] Mike: I do want to say special thanks to the guys over at Verelo. They had we’re having some problems with the MicroPreneur Academy and keeping it up. So they actually offered to donate us an account to help us keep track of when the academy goes down. And I think we talked about it on the last episode or the episode before that but we basically had some hosting issues with it. And they offered us an account to help us monitor the situation.

[09:50] And their service is very similar to things like Pingdom where it will let you know if your site is down. The major difference that I have seen so far is that they do it at a sub minute level. So whereas Pingdom will ping your site once a minute, they have the ability to go in and check it at the sub minute level. They also have notifications that you can set up such that if your site goes down or returns a specific error code a certain number of times you can configure that number of times then it will send you an alert and then it will check again on a configurable time period to let you know when it comes back up. So it’s really  cool, I really kind of like it. Definitely check it out if you get a chance.

[10:24] Rob: Yeah thanks Verelo. Final piece before we get into the content you have a prediction for tomorrow, is that right?

[10:30] Mike: Yeah so today is Tuesday March 6 and tomorrow Apple is coming out with all their new stuff. My prediction for tomorrow is a touch screen iMac. And I could be right or wrong but that’s my prediction.

[10:45] Rob: My prediction  is that you’re wrong. There’s no chance, it’s an iPad announcement maybe small chance of and Apple TV. But you know bravo for going out on a limb, I like gutsy predictions.

[10:57] Mike: The thing is for listeners don’t think this is completely out of the blue or totally out of left field. But there’s been a lot of talk about possibly a touch screen Apple TV or something along those lines. And I saw some analysis of the images that were sent out for the Apple TV press releases and they were pointing out things like if you look at the you know the finger that’s pushing down on the icon and the size of the icon relative to the finger, the icon is huge related to the finger. And I even checked it on my iPhone and my iPad and it’s the size shown in the picture is enormous for that icon as compared to an actual iPad or an iPhone.

[11:34] And it’s also points out that there is no home button on whatever the device is. The only thing I could think of was an iMac where it actually lays down flat on your desk and it’s basically like an oversized iPad. But you use it as if it was a full blown desktop and obviously it’s got USB ports you could plug a mouse into it or you know a track pad or what have you. And use it as if it was a full blown desktop and it would sit flat on your desk instead. So or maybe like a slight incline or something like that, kind of like an iPad when you’ve got special cases on them.

[12:06] Rob: Right it seems like it would have to be at some angle because that kill my neck to look down, that wouldn’t be very good.


[12:15] Rob: Before we dive into our eight tactics for building your prelaunch mailing list we have a one call in question that we wanted to answer.

[12:20] Listener: Hi Mike and Rob, I’m a very big fan of your podcast and I’d like to say thank you very much for all the helpful information that you guys share every week. I have quick question. I’m looking for toll free number provider. I need a toll free number to put on my website that would allow people to call in and record questions pertaining to the subject matter of my blog that I could, you know the recorded messages I could use later in blog posts. It’s probably something similar to what you guys have at the service that you provided from your podcast web page as well. So I’d appreciate any feedback that you can provide. Thanks a lot and keep up the great work.

[13:14] Rob:  Yeah thanks for the question. Basically for the podcast we use KALL 8 and it’s, I think it’s $2 a month for an 800 number if there are calls in you pay a few cents a minute. And so we have, gosh I think I have five or six like between the podcast and just several business I have. But I haven’t really had any issues with them. It sounds like that will do everything you want and it’s nice because they’ll just email you when someone calls and they attach a Wave file of the message so  you never even have to log in or try to forward stuff if you want to just use the audio straight from there.

[13:50] [Music]

[13:53] Rob: So we’re going to dive in to the main content and that is eight tactics for building your prelaunch mailing list. And this comes from a question that’s based on listener question from Josh Colberk. And he says, hey guys I have a topic suggestion for you. I’m currently going through the process of setting up my marketing efforts for my first product which is a premium WordPress plugin for affiliate marketers. My topic suggestion is strategies for getting people to sign up for your prelaunch email list.

[14:18] I have a prelaunch website up at the moment, thirstyaffiliates.com and with just the small trickle of visitors coming through at the moment the conversion rate is quite good.  I want to launch this thing soon but I am concerned my prelaunch isn’t big enough. Do you have any strategies that I can use to get interested traffic over to my high converting prelaunch website so I can build up my prelaunch list? Appreciate any advice you can give, love the podcast, listened to the whole back catalogues and loved it. Keep up the good work.

[14:42 ] We are going to dive in to several tactics; I think the first question, I kind of want to preface this whole episode because we often give tactics for doing certain things. There are three questions that you should ask before you blindly follow what we’ve said here. The first question is can you market your product online? This isn’t for Josh because obviously Josh is marketing to affiliate marketers and so the answer for him is yes. Now if you have a product and you are thinking about putting up just a landing page and collecting emails, you really have to ask yourself can you market it online. Because if my brother, for example works in construction and that’s not something that’s typically marketed well online and I wouldn’t put up a launch list if I was going to try to start an electrical contractor as an example.

[15:22] But anything dealing with any type of community that’s online of course can take advantage of this. The second question is, are people searching for it or will you have to go to them? Will you have to go out and find them? So do they ever type this kind of thing into Google or WordPress search or, you know, the iTunes Apps Store or Amazon or any of these things. Any of those traffic streams can you get in front of them, and if not then you need to think about whether you want to try to market a product where people are not actively searching for it because we have suggestions in this, you know, obviously in this episode.

[15:55] There are a lot of ways to do marketing, inbound marketing but it definitely takes a lot of work and it’s not just something you can sit back and enjoy the long stream of traffic like you can when people are actually searching for it. And then the third questions is, are you launching that’s a really new concept or that’s extremely complex and that people aren’t going to easily understand? Because in that case, having just simple landing page might be more of a challenge. You could always throw a video up there but realistically if you are building enterprise software or something where people need education, then you are going to have a high touch sales process. And a lot of the techniques we talk about just aren’t as valuable or aren’t going to work as well. That’s how I will preface this entire episode.

[16:37] Now with Josh’s  example in particular, he has answered all three of these things, is that he should be,  you know, looking at the tactics that we are going to give in this episode. But think about those before you implement this stuff. So to get started we are going to talk about our first tactic, recommendation for building a pre-launch mailing list. And the first thing that I always recommend is that people utilize their existing audience. So if you have a mailing list, if you have a blog, if you have a podcast, if you have Twitter following then that’s going to be your first line of defense essentially, right? These are the people that already know you and ideally are in your target market.

[17:11 ] If you have no audience in your target market, obviously that makes it a lot harder to attack this kind of thing. If you already have an audience of any kind, I would tend to recommend that you maybe try to think of idea where you can actually utilize an audience you already have.

[17:24] Mike: And one of the things that Rob is kind of getting at is if you have an audience already, then chances are you are already plugged into that audience and you have a much better chance of succeeding with your product. And driving people to a pre-launch mailing list kind of goes hand in hand with building your product because if you can drive enough people to that mailing list then you can justify that there is a market for that particular product and then go build it. And you know some people like to build first and then check later but we tend to stress that you really need to make sure that there is a market and that there are people willing to pay for what you are intending to build before you go out and build it because you can spend those 10 months or six months building something and then find out that nobody is actually willing to pay for it.

[18:07] They may think it’s cool, they may think it’s a nice idea but they are not actually willing to pay money for it. Again going back to that it’s very important that if you have those people who are interested in it, if you have a market that you already are plugged into, leverage that in every way, shape or form. And I think that people will be willing to help you if you ask them. That’s something else that you could do. You can just simply ask them for help; say hey do you know anyone who would be interested in this. So you can use things like sharing buttons when you send emails to them. A lot of the different mailing list providers have things that, you know, you can share through Facebook or Twitter or, you know, send via email etcetera.

[18:41] Because people who are in whatever, in these markets, tend to know one another, they tend to know other people who are also in that market and you can just ask them. Asking people for other leads is extremely effective especially if they know that you either just starting out or you come across to them as a very genuine person and you are trying to succeed, people are willing to help.

[19:00] Rob:    The second tactic we recommend is something we talk about quite a bit and that’s search engine optimization. And the reason, you know, that I am a big fan of this is because there are so many people searching for stuff  all the time and you are essentially inserting yourself in that traffic stream that Google or Bing provides. And so while SEO is certainly not the silver bullet that’s going to make all businesses and something—whenever I talk about SEO I often hear people come up and say, well you know my audience isn’t really online and that goes back to one of the questions I said up top. It’s like can you market this online, and if not are you willing to do what it takes to go and market it offline.

[19:36] The thing that I found with SEO is if you can find an app or a product where people are actually searching for the product itself, you have really lucked out, that’s more of an unusual case. But that’s a really nice way to get a lot of people coming to your site quickly. Obviously you have to learn SEO and it’s way more complicated than something that we are going to in this episode. One tactic I have seen used really usefully surrounding SEO is that  even if someone is not searching exactly for what you have, so say you have invoicing software which, you know, I own Dot Net invoice. And there are searches for invoicing software but there are a heck of a lot more searches for invoicing templates.

[20:14] And when people search for invoicing templates they are looking for like Word docs or Excel docs and so it’s this related thing that’s like a replacement for invoicing software. And since so many more people are searching for that, it’s probably a good idea to go after a term like that, set up a landing page, give them what they want. Give them some invoicing templates but then either ask for email in advance or, you know, have like a banner or just some words in that invoicing template that’s like, hey if you really want to step up your invoicing you should try out our software.

[20:45] So that’s one example of kind of going an alternate route and you don’t necessarily have to SEO for the exact phrase of what your software is or what your product is. But you can kind of go a roundabout way there and get people and hopefully convert them to your software through those means.

[20:59] Mike: So the third method you can use is some sort of an infographic or another piece of viral content that you can share. Typically you can use something, as I said an infographic is a very simple image that you are going to want use and make sure you keep the file size down. But another thing you can use is a short interview or a transcript or an excerpt from an interview and send that out to people that are on your mailing list or through Twitter. And you can use that to help drive traffic to a website where, you know, you are going to obviously ask for people’s email addresses.

[21:28] Depending on the industry obviously you are not going to what to do that where the results are simply not going to work for you online for example in the construction industry, but there is a lot of places where it can. So anything that id marketing related, technology related, those types of things basically what you are trying to do is just get somebody’s attention. And what basically  helps drive them through that and put them into your, you know, much larger sales funnel on your website.

[21:54] Rob: Yeah this is a big deal if you don’t already have an audience and you think there is any potential for having some virality to your content. I have actually seen this work and heard of it working in smaller niches, that quasi offline niches like veterinary stuff, because there may be a few forums and a few places where people share content and they are not used to having high quality content like infographics or you know a 15 minute interview being put out. I think the other niche I had someone using it with success was in like horse, with horse breeders. They just aren’t used to having kind of multimedia content put out.

[22:28] And so if you did a 15 minute interview where you interviewed like a successful breeder that most people knew about, was kind of a big name and then you got a transcript made of that and you posted it on a forum or you emailed, you know, a few folks, I would bet that that would spread pretty quickly. And as long as you include some type of branding or basically letting folks know what your app is or you know the product is you are selling, that’s a good way to start getting awareness built up. And so even in the non, you know, it’s not super techie niches; it’s not going to spread like it would on Twitter. But if you are the only one doing it you can pretty quickly build yourself kind of a viral brand using this.

[23:04 ] The next tactic, number four is Hacker News or equivalent. And obviously if you are listening to this you probably know what hacker news is but what a lot of people don’t know is there are other social news sites that serve different audiences. So there is like there is small business social news sites, there are social news sites for designers, social news site even for some kind of offline niches. And so if you go to Google and type in top 100 social news sites or niche  social news sites, that’s where the or equivalent comes in, because obviously Hacker News is a very specific audience and if you are not targeting them it doesn’t do you any good to get on the front page.

[23:40] And since there is not a ton of competition, there is not a huge audience but there is also not a ton of competition in a lot of the niche social news sites it’s not that hard to hit the front page and get a little momentum. Now I can imagine someone listening to this and saying well, you know, I don’t want to put in the effort or I don’t want to spend the time to write articles and get on to this, the font page of you know whatever smallbizzweekly.com or whatever. Because I actually, I hear this objection from time to time and it’s like you know, you’ve got to be willing to put in something. Like you really need to be willing to put in money to advertise or you need to be willing to put in time to get this off the ground because this stuff is not easy. And while Mike and I can’t lay out every possible tactic for doing this, all these tactics take one thing or the other, right? They do take money or time to implement.

[24:24] Mike: And you have to remember that when you are first starting out with any business I mean you really have to do a lot of things that simply don’t scale. So if you have to go talk to 10 or 20 people in order to get the word out, yeah you are not going to be able to do that forever. But the intent if doing that is to kind of get you over that initial hump so that other people will start talking about you on your behalf so that I will help get the word out and you don’t have to be there every single time. And one thing to elaborate on what Rob said earlier about Hacker News, I mean Hacker News is kind of an off shoot of Reddit.  And there are a lot of sub Reddits over there that you can go into. So it may no fit into specifically what your niche is that you are looking at but there are a lot of sub Reddits that you can go into that may somehow apply to that.

[25:13] Rob: So technique number five of eight for building a prelaunch mailing list is Facebook Ads. And the reason we bring this one up is that Facebook Ads are still available at fairly reasonable cost, whereas Google Ad Words tend to be a lot more expensive. You can actually get Facebook Ads pretty easily into the 80 cents to $1 and 20 cents per click. And if you use some crafty techniques you can actually get some down in the 10 to 20 cents per click range. And if you check out there is an article I wrote for on startups.com and it’s called the Five Minute Guide to Cheap Start up Advertising, I talk about that technique there. But in essence Facebook Ads are really cool because there are so many non-techies on there.

[25:53] And although it’s not the advertising that hits people as they are searching for a pinpoint, it I more of like interruption marketing, where someone is on Facebook cruising around and you are just keying into their interests and a banner, you know, a little ad appears to the right of their profile. But there’s so many people, what is there 700 million on Facebook right now, that it’s almost for sure that  you are going to find folks on Facebook who within your demographic even if it kind of an offline niche or more of a, just a small niche you at least are going to find several thousand folks on there. And you know even if you don’t get the 20 cent clicks, paying 80 cents or a buck to send people to your page if it’s converting well, it’s not actually a bad way to go.

[26:35] And it’s like I said earlier, if you done have time to do what we said in the first four, you know to do the SEO, infographic or Hacker News, then hopefully you have money. You kind of need one or the other, Facebook Ads is probably the first thing that I would try.

[26:48] Mike: The other one that you can try if you are doing business applications is LinkedIn. So Linked In has their own advertising network where you can plug in and it’s very similar to Google or Facebook or any of the others where you can do pay per click or pay per impression and basically drive traffic to your own site. But again I think that, or at least I feel like LinkedIn is a lot more on the business side of things. So if you have a consumer application it may not do as well, you know, obviously if it’s helping the  people to find jobs then I think that you have a good chance there.  But if it’s I don’t know, coloring books for kids or something like that it’s obviously—I don’t think that it’s going to work  out as well. But if you do have a B2B application that you are trying to sell, you probably should at least look into LinkedIn ads.

[27:34] Rob: Our next tactic is to go for niche ad networks and I am going to through a few that I have used but realistically you are going to have to search out the specific niche you are in. I have used InfluAds, I have used Buy Sell Ads, I have used LaunchedBit, someone emailed I think or posted a comment and said those are all aiming at techies and it’s like no they aren’t really. They are a bunch of designer sites on here, there is like productivity stuff. It’s not just like developers and startups. And so of you look pretty in depth at these ad networks, if your audience is online at all it’s pretty likely one of those three will reach them.

[28:06] And then the other place I would go to look for how your competitors are getting traffic is to go to mixrank.com. Type in your competitors URL and it will probably tell you where they are advertising and so you can get an idea potentially of maybe some niche ad networks. And of course you can always go to Google and search for niche ad networks or anything that might have, you know, advertising slots available for your niche.

[28:28] Mike: So this next one I am a little bit skeptical of and I think Rob is in the same boat with me on this. But using Twitter or Facebook to kind of get your message out, and this isn’t necessarily related directly to using Twitter or Facebook ads, it’s really just utilizing your network and trying to convince other people to either retweet or repost your messages to other people and share it with their friends. I am a  little skeptical that’s because you are mainly because you are relying so much on other peoples interests and their dedication towards  your products or your offering to essentially advertise  it to their friends.

[29:04] And if it’s something that doesn’t even exist yet, they haven’t even tried it, I mean because again this whole episode is about building your prelaunch mailing list.  It seems to me like this strategy is really not going to work very well unless you have something that is so incredibly compelling that, you know, people want to talk about it.

[29:20] Rob: So I feel the same way, Twitter and Facebook especially Facebook. So Facebook I use more for personal stuff and so I have actually never used it for any kind of promotion. Whereas Twitter I at least talk about the projects I am working on and that’s what I  found it to be more useful for, it’s to say hey check it out, I am working on this, or oh ran into a problem with you know, X today and it’s a link to it. And so it just kind of gets people involved in the process rather than saying check out my new product and sign up for the mailing list right? That’s where you come out and you are kind of a marketer and it pisses people off. And so that’s how I would say this is more of a casual usage, an ongoing thing.

[29:54] This actually relates back quite a bit to our first tactic which was utilizing  your audience, you know, kind of just keeping people updated on what you were doing and maybe a few of them will trickle in as well.

[30:04] Our eight and final tactic is one that’s very expensive, it’s pay per click ads, specifically Ad Words. Now Ad Words has gone up substantially in price over the years, I think back when I started using it I was getting clicks around 50 cents, this was an invoicing niche. And they have slowly climbed up and the average right now is between $4 and $5 dollars for stuff I used to pay 50 cents for. And so we wanted to mention it not as an ongoing stream of traffic but for a couple of reasons. One, because if someone is really seeking out your product, if you have the kind of thing where they are searching  for it or searching for a related thing, Ad Words really  is the best way to get in front of them and it’s the best way to  test an idea and to send people to  that landing page.

[30:45]And although it can get expensive pretty quickly, what’s kind of cool as you can see without doing a bunch of SEO or without going to all this other effort of building infographics and stuff, you can start to see how many people are signing up for your mailing list based on your landing page and you can see whether or not your idea or at least your marketing is resonating with people very quickly. So if you think of it more as a one time cost investment to learn from rather than something that you are going to base an entire business on, I actually think it is a decent tactic for starting to build a prelaunch mailing list.

[31:14] Mike: Yeah it astounds me how expensive pay per click  has gotten over the past few years. I mean you would think that as the search volume goes up and the number of times  that those ads are shown would be kind of  proportional. As a result the amount that you are paying per advertisement would actually decrease and that does not seem to be the case at all.

[31:34] Rob:  No I know, when I do my public speaking I say Google is way smarter than we are and a hug chunk of their revenue is this, it’s Ad Words. And so it’s going to continue to go up because they are getting so many people involved, they are marketing heavily, they do tons of offline marketing and the way their algorithms work. They are just going to continually have Ad Words going up because that’s the best way for them to really multiply their profits and they need to keep doing that as a public company.


[32:05] Rob: To wrap this up, there are obviously a lot of other techniques to marketing an app, things like going to the press, doing guest posts, podcasts, partnerships etcetera but they don’t typically work until you have actually launched. The one exception I think specifically for Josh who has an affiliate marketing product is getting like a joint venture partnership where someone does a mailing and then sends people to his landing page. And then as long as he tracks that those people came from a specific mailing and then when they eventually purchase, you know, kicks back kind of an affiliate commission, that could feasibly work in this niche because obviously affiliate marketing is a big deal.

[32:39] So I think that will be a big source of revenue or could be for Josh in the future. I think the final kind of capstone on this is that the first product, your first one is by far the hardest because selling a new product to a new audience is the hardest thing to do. There is kind of this old maxim that I am stealing from someone but it’s, you should sell a new product to an existing audience, or you should sell an existing product to a new audience. One of those two things dramatically improves your chance of success. But doing a new product to a new audience is always the hardest and so if at all possible you try to avoid that. But obviously all of us have to start somewhere and so if you are in that boat then hopefully this episode has helped you out.


[33:20] Mike: If you have a question or comment you can call it into our voicemail number at 1-888- 801-9690 or you can MP3 it and email in a text format to questionsatstartupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from We’re Outta Control by MoOt used under Creative Commons. If you enjoyed this podcast please consider writing a review on iTunes by searching for startups. You can subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or via RSS at startupsfortherestofus.com. Full transcript to this website is available at our website startupsfortherestofus.com. Thanks for listening we will see you next time.


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6 Responses to “Episode 72 | 8 Tactics for Building Your Pre-Launch Mailing List”

  1. This podcast is quite informative. As Google adword is getting more expensive, I can see the need for alternative search engines. So, I am building out in this area these days.

    I think with over 80% of market share, people want to have alternative search engines. That’s where the niche search engines could win. So, overall, it is good news ;-)

    By the way, I like the last tip where you mentioned about building a new product and sell to existing audience.

  2. I’d like to see a short list of points discussed in the podcast/transcript

    • Would be nice; it’s a time issue. But happy to post it if you’re willing to put it together :-)

  3. The LessConf speakers you disagreed with so vehemently were Eoghan and Des from Intercom.io (https://www.intercom.io/).


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