Episode 174 | Momentum, Stress, HitTail and AuditShark

Show Notes


[00:00] Rob: In this episode of Startups for the Rest of Us, Mike and I update you on our projects, HitTail, Drip, MicroConf and Audit Shark. This is Startups for the Rest of Us: Episode 174.

[00:09] Music

[00:17] 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.

[00:27] Mike: And I’m Mike.

[00:28] Rob: We’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s the word this week Mike?

[00:33] Mike: I was on a bootstrapper’s website and they linked to a chrome plug-in called momentum. I love this plug-in already. I mean what it does is you install it and whenever you open up a new tab, it gives you a photorealistic background of some picture that’s been taken some place in the world and it tells you what time it is and when you first open it on any given day, it asks you what your main priority for that day is. So then you type it in and the rest of the day, whenever you open up a new tab, t will remind you that is your main priority today.

[01:07] It essentially has acted like a deterrent for me wasting time going and doing just browsing new sites or hacker news or anything like that. It’s really cool. I’d really recommend it to anybody but it also gives an inspirational quote and tells you what the temperature is outside. Today’s quote is never let your fear decide your faith.

[01:24] Rob: That’s a really cool plug-in. I love the idea that you enter your goal and then it basically keeps shoving your goal in your face all day. That’s a nice feature.

[01:33] Mike: It’s awesome and I’ve only been using it for about two days now. I love it.

[01:36] Rob: Cool. Hey, have you seen that video on YouTube? It’s called Facebook fraud but a guy lays out a really interesting case on how buying Facebook clicks to get more likes on your page is kind of a racket?

[01:47] Mike: Yeah I did.

[01:48] Rob: The video is really well done and I love the guy’s presentation style is just kind of matter of fact, he talks through arguments of Facebook is – the clicks to get likes by paying the whatever it is, 30 cents or 50 cents a click are worth about as much as if you just go and pay a click forum like in the Philippines or in India, you can pay a tiny amount of money. I think it’s a penny a click in order to get people to like and that those are basically almost equivalent.

[02:12] Now, I thought all that was cool. The problem I had with it is I kept seeing people posting it with the name. It wasn’t Facebook fraud. One person posted with a case for the uselessness of advertising on Facebook or Facebook ads don’t work. When I saw that title, I clicked through because I’m like how is this going to play out? But it’s only talking about buying likes on your page. So if you don’t buy likes on your page, this thing isn’t really that relevant to you. It’s not some catastrophic damnation of buying ads on Facebook because obviously a lot of us do well with Facebook ads.

[02:44] If you’re selling software and you’re sending your clicks off of Facebook onto your website and you’re getting people to buy your product, then obviously it’s a very different approach than what this guy was talking about.

[02:55] Mike: I mean unless you’re involved in internet marketing, you probably don’t necessarily understand the subtle nuances of what you actually do with Facebook advertising so people look at that and they’ll see this video and they’ll say Facebook advertising doesn’t work. But having never gone in there and looked at it, they don’t realize that there’s like several different ways that you can advertise and there’s different things that you can try to get people to do. So if you’ve never done it before, you’re going to see that video and say oh, Facebook advertising is a giant scam and fraud and that’s not what its saying. It’s saying that this particular thing is no different than using a link farm and yeah that’s right.

[03:32] Rob: I think that he says it’s like it isn’t much better. Like you’re paying a lot more and it’s only a little bit better. So you know, there’s been stuff about this about Google ad words having all these click fraud at Twitter, I guess it was ad sense. So if you’re placing ads through ad words that people would have ads on their website trough ad sense and then hire folks to click them. And yeah that’s happened. And people a few years ago said Google is done. This is going to ruin Google that they were just doomed and yet here they are inviting flying cars. I’m not saying that you should dismiss something like this but really think about the grand application to this and how much of an impact it actually has on Facebook and really our efforts as marketers. So what’s going on with you in terms of Audit Shark stuff?

[04:13] Mike: I’m in the middle of testing out removing the credit card requirement from the signup page. I haven’t fully flushed out exactly how I’m going to be working everything and kind of following people through but really what I’m trying to do with it is I’m trying to get people in there and actually using the products so that I can get information from them and I understand it like there’s going to be this large number of people who are not necessarily interested in it. They’re just going to sign up because it’s a free signup at this point.

[04:40] But what I’m interested in doing is finding out information from them about 1) why they came in to begin with, kind of what that messaging was that drew them in and got them to the point where they wanted to sign up and then find out from them why they’re not interested so I can essentially find out what the disqualifiers are because I want to know why the product doesn’t apply to them.

[04:59] Rob: And the idea is to get 5-10 times more people because that’s typically what it amounts to if we’ve moved credit card. 5-10 times or people into your apps so that you can get more feedback even realizing that maybe 80% of it is going to be less qualified than someone who would’ve entered their credit card.

[05:15] Mike: And I’m not really concerned about the people who are coming in and the fact that I know 80% of those people I’m going to get information from are going to say oh, well I didn’t need it because of XYZ and that’s good to know because it means that other people who have those XYZ requirements, those are going to be bad qualifiers as well and I can find out what language they might’ve used and then use additional language to essentially push those people away in the future if I ever go back to asking for a credit card which I assume I will do at some point but I really just want to get those people in there and find out what those disqualifiers are so I can call those things out to kind of push those people further away.

[05:54] Rob: I am less excited about this idea. I am a pretty big proponent of having credit card upfront and the times when I’ve seen folks not have credit card upfront is when they either are way early on and they don’t have enough customer like you’re doing. Typically it’s folks who don’t know what they’re doing or its someone who’s way far along like let’s say Mailchimp or a SaaS app that is growing and they know their funnel so well that they’re doing this as a test and they also have things in place where they’re going to basically have kind of a inside sales team where you don’t even need to enter a credit card but they basically have folks inside who are either making phone calls or they’re doing quite a few highly tactical emails that really bring folks in to the fold, get them on board and get them getting experiencing value.

[06:39] Because if you’re getting that 5-10 times the prospects, you don’t need to close all of them for it to be substantially more profitable for you but you do have to have a ton of stuff in place and you really have to know your ideal customer in order to even close enough of them to make the non-credit card piece work. I’ve tended to say I would always default towards having credit card upfront. You’re deviating from that this point and the reason is you want to do more learning right now. Is that right?

[07:05] Mike: Yeah. I’m probably giving up revenue in order to gain that knowledge but the problem is I don’t necessarily know what I don’t know. So I want to get people in there who are not well qualified to learn for those people so that in the future any messaging like I don’t want to attract the wrong people inadvertently later on. So right now I’m only attracting a certain type of person with my messaging and what I want to do is get everyone in there and then from there, find out who essentially falls out because they’re not a good fit and talk to as many of them as I can so that I can learn what is the good messaging that brings people in? What is the bad messaging that brings people in and how do I kind of guide people through that funnel? And it’s all about learning what things I don’t know at this point.

[07:51] Rob: I think personally I’m skeptical but I always have an open mind to stuff like this because if you go through this and you find out that you learn a ton and you wind up with a couple of value propositions that you wouldn’t have otherwise learn, then you go back to asking for credit card, I’m open to this being kind of a tactic early on that if you launched something and that credit card field is basically keeping too many people out or you’re just not getting enough sign-ups that you can’t learn anything, maybe this is a tactic that people can use. Maybe you can prove it out with this approach. It’s not something that I’ve had to go through.

[08:22] Mike: So what about you? What’s going on with HitTail?

[08:25] Rob: Man, such a big weight off my shoulders. You know the revamp that I’ve been talking about, walking around Google’s not provided where they no longer send keywords to your website, finally got that live like a soft launch last week to existing customers and it was kind of an innocuous link where you could activate Google keywords. I didn’t tell anyone about it. I just wanted a few people to try it. And then yesterday I rolled it so that all brand new HitTail trials, that’s all they see now. They’re basically dumped onto an on boarding page that says let’s get you connected to your Google web master tools account and there’s no more tracking code.

[08:58] There’s no more JavaScript. There’s no more real time traffic because that’s not necessarily now. The real value prop HitTail’s always had is provide keywords and then provide suggestions based on those keywords. And with a direct link into Google web master tools like HitTail now does, there’s no reason for you to have actual tracking code on your site anymore. So it’s been an interesting 24 hours. There’s not even 100 people who have activated it.

[09:24] If you don’t know, if you add your website in the Google web master tools, you can see a bunch of information about it. And in there buried somewhere are the keywords people are using to find your website. And so this is the information that they’ve pulled out of analytics. You basically can’t get that anymore. And so HitTail now on a weekly basis will go into assuming you give us permission, will automatically go into Google web master tools. We pull those keywords into our database. We run our algorithm on it and then we rank them on a 1-5 scale of these are the keywords that you should target.

[09:53] That part is done and it really feels good to have that going because new trials can continue to come in. This point I feel like they can actually get the value out of it that they were getting and frankly, even a little bit more like I’m super stoked. I ran it on my own sites and it’s given me insight that the old HitTail wouldn’t give you because the old HitTail said it’s a suggestion or its not. Whereas now it ranks them on a 1-5 star level and so I’m reverse ordering and I’ve already started ordering articles through HitTail and I’m going to be publishing on a few of my sites.

[10:20] Mike: That’s really cool. So does that decrease the server requirements because I know before, you used to have some pretty serious issues with at least initially when you first took over the product to me, had all those issues with the server. It couldn’t cope with some of the things that it needed to do.

[10:35] Rob: That’s right. It was getting on 20-40 inserts per second which isn’t that much if you’re running node Js and you’re using redis but this thing is using a 13 year old classic SAP over a sequel server database, a lot of disk IO. Yes, overtime, that will decrease. I still have this big customer base of people who are using the tracking codes. So it doesn’t go away over night. Those people I’m not going to kick them out of the tracking code usage. I’m just going to let that out peter out.

[11:01] But once I start emailing customers, I’m probably going to email 100 at a time starting next week, I’ll email 100 and say look this is the direction HitTail’s going in order to provide maximum benefit from Google, just link it up to your Google web master tools account. It will download them and do the things. Hopefully, over time, people will uninstall that tracking code and basically stop using that side of it and then as you said I can dramatically reduce my hosting cost because hosting cost is it about $800 or $900 a month.

[11:27] Mike: That’s cool.

[11:28] Rob: Yeah, feels good man. It took a lot longer than I thought but I think these things always do. How about you? What else is going on?

[11:34] Mike: The desktop edition that I’ve been working on for Audit Shark, the development for that is actually going really, really well at this point. I was able to give an initial demo of it within the past couple of days to a security analyst. That went really, really well. He’d look at and he understood the value of it and just immediately you just kind of watch me go through it and you can point it to any machine on the network, you don’t even need an agent installed and he’s just looking at and saying wow, he was just totally blown away by it.

[12:01] And I’ve shown a few other people as well and as soon as they see that, the value proposition for Audit Shark becomes much more clear. And I need to figure out how to take some of those screen shots and create a screen cast or something like that of the desktop edition and put it on the website to help make the value proposition more clear and why you would use that. Because I don’t think the messaging on the website is particularly clear. It’s technically accurate but I don’t think that it’s clear.

[12:30] Rob: Right. And that’s what I was going to ask you is how is the desktop edition going to help sell you more Audit Shark?

[12:36] Mike: It works very, very well as a demo for what the product is capable of and essentially the cloud version of it is you would take the things that you’ve built in the desktop edition and you load them into the cloud and then the cloud basically acts as your scheduler. So basically you’re building the scripts with a desktop edition and then you’re loading them into the cloud and the cloud runs them in the background on a scheduled basis. You can run them on the desktop edition, just not really on a scheduled basis.

[13:01] Rob: Right.

[13:02] Mike: It just gives you a much more interactive view of everything that’s going on so when you’re going through and you’re developing it, you can do things very, very quickly. You can iterate on things that you’re building versus in the cloud edition, you really can’t. There’s a much higher latency I’ll say so you don’t see things right away. It will lie taking visual studio and putting it into a webpage.

[13:21] Rob: Right. And that makes sense. I mean that’s from a future perspective, that makes sense. I know it’s a better way to do it but is it because there are people who won’t buy Audit Shark without this or is it because a paying customer is going to cancel unless you build it? What brought you there? What brought you to building a desktop app?

[13:42] Mike: It’s always been in the road map to have a desktop edition and I just haven’t gotten there yet. Right now I’m talking to a prospect who they basically told me flat out that they need something like that that will work offline because they have networks that are completely disconnected. They’re not on the internet and they don’t have a way to get the information that they need. So that reduces them to doing everything manually because they don’t have software in place that can do it. The desktop edition allows them to do that stuff in an offline manner that my cloud edition just simply can’t do.

[14:15] Rob: Got it. So you do have a prospect? That’s what you’re saying.

[14:17] Mike: Yes.

[14:19] Rob: If you’re listening to this and you’re early in your product or thinking boy, you should be focusing on how to get revenue, that’s what I’m trying to say is at this point, even with this step I’m building I rarely build a feature unless either a customer has requested it and I think they might cancel or I think it applies to a lot of customers or a prospect has requested it and I think they’re not going to continue with their trial or if we haven’t built it or if it’s something that I really think is going to differentiate us in the market and really allow me to kind of change the core value prop of the app because I think adding one more feature, some people will just add this, add multi-user support. Add other random stuff that you can think of but just adding a list of features in your website doesn’t sell any more of it right?

[15:02] It comes down to actively explaining the value prop or having people who already know about her or waiting on something and I guess that’s what you’ve clarified is you have someone who you think is not going to buy unless you build this thing. And it’s been on the roadmap for a while.

[15:16] Mike: Right.

[15:17] Rob: And these enterprise I assume if you’re talking about to them.

[15:20] Mike: Yes.

[15:21] Rob: So one thing I wanted to bring up, I’ve just gone through probably a month of pressure like putting too much pressure on myself. I setup these goals for 2014 and as always happens, things come up, the HitTail stuff took a lot longer than I thought it would and I’m behind on most of my goals for 2014. And I take that really hard and I started working longer and longer nights. I started thinking about work more and I basically stopped enjoying what I was doing. I was feeling a lot of stress but the only reason is because I want to basically live up to these goals that I’ve setup for myself that are not critical.

[15:54] When I took my retreat a couple weeks ago I took a step back and I said I need to back off on kind of the time famine I think is what I’ve been feeling of like I don’t have time to do anything because I’m just rushing around and I’m late with everything and I can’t respond on the emails and I actually wrote down in my notebook be thankful and I wrote down all these things I was thankful for. The funny thing was the week or two after I come back from my retreat I’m listening to bootstrap with kids and Brecht Palombo said almost the exact same thing. That he went on his retreat and that he realize that he has a lot more to be thankful for than he doesn’t.

[16:26] But it’s easy to get caught up in these. Their goals but is almost this false pressure that you put on yourself. And so I’ve been working the last couple weeks to fight against that self imposed kind of stress and really trying to enjoy the journey more. This is the life that I build for myself right? You have apps that you’re working on. This is fun. This is what we’re all supposed to love doing and yet at times, I think it’s pretty easy for me to wander away from that sense of just how cool it is.

[16:54] Mike: It’s interesting that while you seem to have been going down the direction of getting down on yourself and having all these things to do and working more hours to try and catch-up I’ve actually kind of go on in the other direction where I’ve started working less hours and its actually helped me because then I’m a lot more focused during the time that I am working and I’m sleeping better at night and I’m not thinking about work as much. And I find that the more I think about work, the worse it actually gets. I’ve definitely been there.

[17:22] Rob: that’s good to hear. I would wish for everyone.

[17:25] Mike: I found that not sleeping well is one of those snowball effects. Losing weight I feel like it’s the same thing it’s very much a snowball effect where as you start the process like you lose a few pounds and then you lose more and more and it becomes easier. However, if you start gaining weight, that’s a snowball in the other direction. It just gets worse and worse than it is to try and reverse directions. And sleep is one of those things where if you’re not getting enough sleep, then your whole day just suffers and is wrecked because of it.

[17:53] My best productivity hours re probably between 6 AM and noon and I hate getting up early. I can’t stand it. But if I do, I get so much done and I’m so productive and I’m very amped up and ready to get that stuff done and then I’m ready to go to sleep earlier which means I can get up early again the next day.

[18:12] Rob: I agree with you on the snowball thing with sleep because that’s been part of it and I’ve been waking up at weird hours at night. When your sleep’s interrupted like that, you’re just not at full force and then I was drinking a bunch of caffeine during the day which then of course adds to your – clinically, you get more stressed out. You have more anxiety when you do that, then your sleep is interrupted because you don’t sleep as well. It’s totally this cycle. And I actually busted it at the start of the year and I went to no coffee no alcohol for 14 days and it was purely just something to kind of reset the system. The first three days were kind of rough on both ends and I was all jacked up but pretty soon my sleep became – I undid the snowball basically.

[18:49] To be honest, the other thing that I did, it’s funny you say early riser. I’ve never been in my life been an early riser. My peak productivity hours historically have been between 10PM and 2AM always. My whole life I started giving more thought about how little work I get done in the evenings now. I used to always make up the lack of work I would get done in a day, I’d go home and work in the evenings. But now with kids, we stay up later and later. I’m getting almost nothing done.

[19:11] But I Googled how to become an early riser and sure enough, Steve Pavlina had an article on it written back in 2005 that really cool. And so I’ve started getting up every day at 6:30 in the morning. I didn’t even know that like 6:30 existed because I am totally a scrape myself out of bed at 8:30 or 9 type person. I followed his article which is called how to become an early riser. We’ll link it up in the show notes. Those are the only days now when I do that I’m getting to inbox zero and if I don’t do that, I’m finding that I never make it to inbox zero during the day.

[19:43] And what’s a trip is when I get up at 6:30 my kids get up around 7, I only get an extra half hour. It’s not even much time but it’s incredibly productive and I just zip through a huge list that without interruption and so by the time I make my kids breakfast and by the time I actually get into the office and really start working, I feel like I’ve accomplished hours of work by that time and it kicks off my day in a very different direction. And if I scraped myself out of bed and drink a bunch of coffee just enough to make my kids breakfast and I get to the office and now I have to start with email.

[20:16] Mike: Yeah, a lot of the kid duty in the mornings is split between my wife and I. for me I think splitting the email, try to do some of it before dealing with the kids and then doing more afterwards, I can’t say I have a good sense of whether or not it helps. I feel like I get a lot of the unimportant emails out of the way but I don’t get any work done on the important ones.

[20:35] One of the other things that I guess I’ll update people on is the Twitter strategy that I’ve been following. I’m up to about 1650 twitter followers for my Audit Shark Twitter account and I’ve started really zeroing in on security auditors and security specialists and probably over the past I’d say month to two months I’ve started getting a lot more retweets and a lot more shares from the things that I’ve bee putting out there. And I think that has to do with the fact that I’ve started interacting with these people who are involved in the security industry specifically as opposed to just kind of blanket trying to find people on Twitter.

[21:12] So I think that zeroing in on the type of person who would probably be an ideal user for Audit Shark has really helped me bring those people in underneath the twitter account and start those interactions. I’ll talk a little bit more about my strategy at MicroConf but speaking of MicroConf, one of the things that we did for this year was we hired a conference coordinator.

[21:31] Rob: That was like the best decision ever. I feel like it’s been definitely less than half the work for me. I don’t know, it’s hard to quantify but it’s less than half the work that I spent on Vegas last year we’re spending this year.

[21:42] Mike: Yeah I’ve taken a ton of stuff and handed it off to him as well and a lot of its just like the follow-up with people and trying to get information and saying hey, I need this and there’s a field in the replies and everything and I’ve been able to hand a lot of that stuff off to him and that’s been really, really helpful.

[21:58] Rob: Yeah. I think the other thing is we did attendee talks last year which is where attendees can pitch their talk or they basically put it into a Google form, Google spreadsheet and then we allow all the attendees to vote on those talks and then we pick – I think it’s the top 8. We may stretch it to 10 this year but last year we did top 8. That whole process was extremely time consuming last year and I was debating whether or not to do it again. It was really popular and so he just allows us to make it a no-brainer like yes we will do that because it’s not a matter of anymore time off our plate. It’s just a matter of him doing it. It’s us paying him to handle it.

[22:34] What’s also nice, we have almost all the speakers locked down at this point. You and I are speaking. Ian Lanceman from userscape is speaking about slaying the customer support beast and then we have Nathan Barry, we have Jesse Mecham from youneedabudget.com who grew a software company from 0 to $4 million a year. It’s a onetime purchase downloadable software kind of a could story. And then of course Hiten Shah is returning and Sherry Walling PhD, my wife’s going to be talking about stress, anxiety, entrepreneur, mindset, that kind of stuff. So there’s couple more that are still maybe’s and we’re still working them out but I’m hoping to get people dialed in here in the next week or two.

[23:09] Mike: One of the things that I found interesting for the attendee talks was the number that we got this year.

[23:13] Rob: It was 21 last year. 21 talks and then like I said, we picked the top 8.

[23:18] Mike: Well we didn’t pick. The attendees did.

[23:19] Rob: That’s right.

[23:20] Mike: But then this year what did we get? Like 42 or 43 something like that?

[23:22] Rob: Yeah, 43 twice as much, crazy ratio. Shows you what kind of crowd it is, its people. I mean our world, our audience in general and just the folks we hangout with, our colleagues, we are makers. We’re creators and people don’t just want to come and sit back. They want to participate and they want to make and they want to share as well. A lot of names I recognize in that list. I had a tough time voting because I vote for most of them.

[23:46] Mike: I did too.

[23:47] Rob: You could do like a whole another day of just short talks or something.

[23:51] Mike: Right. I had a conversation over Twitter with a couple about the sheer number of applicants and the fact of the matter is that the people who come to MicroConf, you can learn something from just about everybody there. So having that many people who want to get up on stage and share with everyone, I don’t think that’s a bad thing because almost everyone there has something they can share that other people can learn from and save themselves time or money or effort or make more money from their businesses.

[24:19] Rob: So I saw you, you put a nice little Drip signup form on the podcast website. I hadn’t seen this and I went to startupsfortherestofus.com and I see the Drip form there and I’m like how’d that get there?

[24:31] Mike: You know, the funny part was that I actually had a hard time finding in WordPress where to put it.

[24:37] Rob: Oh, we have a WordPress plug-in. All you have to do is install the plug-in and then cut and paste your user ID and it installs it for you.

[24:42] Mike: I was looking for that but the thing is I have Drip installed on my blog and so I went over to my blog and I’m like I know that they’ve got a WordPress plug-in or at least I’m pretty sure that they did but then of course if you go to install a WordPress plug-in then you should probably take a backup of the site and I didn’t want to do all that. I’m like okay, where did I do this over here? And I looked and unfortunately it was buried in the theme itself so I couldn’t do that on that. Honestly I’ve already forgotten where I did it. It took me 30 seconds to do once I found it but it took me probably 20 minutes to find it.

[25:12] Rob: Nice. Don’t do this at home kids. Use the WordPress plug-in.

[25:15] Mike: So if you haven’t had a chance to go over to the startupsfortherestofus.com website, go over there, there is a Drip campaign there. You can sign up for the podcast mailing list where we’ll keep people informed about anything that’s coming up that relates to the bootstrapper community whether it’s podcast or MicroConf or Micropreneur academy related. We’ll probably put some fillers out there. I mean it won’t be the primary MicroConf mailing list. Warning people now about that. But if there are things that are coming up like if we’re thinking about hosting another MicroConf or doing anything else then being on that mailing list is definitely the place to be.

[25:47] Rob: So last update for me, I reached a decision point a few weeks ago with Drip and the decision was around where to go in the market because Drip is kind of in between something like Mailchimp and Aweber which are for auto responders which are about 15-20 a month. And then on the high end, there’s infusion soft which is like $300 a month and it’s from what I’ve heard and see, it’s quite complex. I’ve gotten a lot of requests that people want just a little more email automation basically being able to move people in and out of lists based on things that they click in an email and being able to say well if this person has clicked on this link then now they’re tagged they have interest in SEO. So then you can kind of funnel them into an SEO campaign and then when they’re done with that, funnel them back.

[26:30] It’s just like I explained, email automation is basically a stripped down version of an infusion soft or maybe an office autopilot. And so we broke down on that feature and it changes the direction of Drip a little bit. It doesn’t change direction as much as it expands it. We still have the front end email capture. We still build the course for you. We solve the split testing and the goal tracking but we’re now adding in this kind of behavioral and rule and stuff which I admit was not at all on my radar when I’ve envisioned the product and wasn’t on my radar while we were building it and its purely come about because of customer requests. Wanting something that does more.

[27:08] The interesting thing is a lot of our customers are people, they’re kind of two camps. It’s either people who had never gotten an email course together because they just didn’t want to make the time or hadn’t spent the time to do it and Drip’s good for that of course because it’s fairly simple to get setup and we build that first course for you but then there’s also some experienced marketers who wanted the split testing and they wanted the email capture form and all the settings and stuff. And for these guys, we have a bunch of integrations they go out and keep it into their main email software. So they’re using other email software, another marketing software and then Drip is just kind of front end for it.

[27:40] But with both groups, we felt the push to move more and more into automating. The beginners, now that they have a course app are kind of stoked that they have this thing going and then they want to do more sophisticated things with it and they want to handle trial emails which require an automatic move in and out based on behavior or customer retention emails, I mean really moving through the space because right now it’s all about marketing emails.

[28:00] And the more experienced people know the power of email automation so that’s where it came about. So it’s definitely a huge undertaking for us. I bet it will be a simple, simple V1.0 its probably 2 maybe 3 weeks and then expanding on that, it could be easily but its 1-2 months of development. That’s really where we are right now and I’m feeling good about it. I mean I’m feeling like it’s going to expand the market substantially and it also allows me to change the marketing quite a bit, the whole value prop of Drip changes at that point. It’s not just this thing that increases conversion rate. It can actually do things that a lot of other tools aren’t able to.

[28:38] It easily answers that question how is Drip different from Mailchimp or Aweber which we get quite a bit. And I have answers to that already but if it’s not already painfully obvious then you’ve kind of made a mistake as a marketer if you get that question how are you different from X, if you get that over and over, then you’re not doing a great job as a marketer.

[28:54] Mike: One of the things that comes to mind when you were talking about that was essentially positioning yourself against the other products and it sounded just to me like you hadn’t really thought that fully through before you launched for Drip. You knew in your head what you wanted Drip to do but you didn’t necessarily think about it in relation to some of the other products that were out there and how you were going to position yourself against them kind of once you got the product out there.

[29:20] Rob: What’s interesting is I had thought it through. I made notes and I specifically have pieces in the FAQ and I have pieces in the marketing but I just don’t know how many people get it. Because there’s these nuances. There’s split testing within sequences and that’s something that you can call out but is that enough? There’s the email capture on the front end and there’s that we track goals that we allow conversion tracking and so you can see when someone hits your site for the first time, you can see when they sign up for your list, you can see every email they got and open and a timeline and you can see when they click on an email and then you can see when they purchase from you. So that’s pretty cool right? As a marketer, that something I’ve wanted for a long time.

[29:59] But some people, it isn’t enough. I have thought it through but I don’t know that it resonated with enough people and I think that’s what’s part of this whole being a founder thing is you just don’t know what’s going to resonate until you get out there and you take your best first stab at it and the value props that I set out converted well early on especially with the launch list.  And since then it’s just been kind of – it’s obvious that I want this thing to grow faster than it is. That’s where the decision comes of like do I figure just a new way to talk about Drip or have I explored all of those and do I need a real differentiator here that’s going to I think set me really noticeably apart from the other competition.

[30:44] Mike: It’s more about like you know how you have mentally positioned the product against the other ones but it may not necessarily be as clear to other people who are kind of on the outside looking in. When you’re on the inside everything is perfectly clear to you. But other people, they only see what they happen to come across. So if they don’t go look at your FAQ then they don’t necessarily see all those things like the things that you pointed out why it’s different. That’s what I mean.

[31:11] Rob: Exactly and that’s always our job as the founder. It’s our responsibility to communicate that to those people because they’re the ones that are called prospect coming across your website for the first time, they need to understand that difference right away or you’re not doing a good job of it and that’s where I find myself.

[31:29] Mike: Yeah, and I find myself kind of in the same position with Audit Shark. There’s definitely better messaging that I need to be doing and I’m just in the process of figuring some of that out right now.

[31:38] Rob: Very cool. You have anything else for this week?

[31:40] Mike: I guess one last thing. Remember how I put together that auto generated content strategy a couple of months ago?

[31:46] Rob: Yeah. I do.

[31:47] Mike: In December, it was a little off. I wasn’t quite sure how things were playing out and traffic was up but I wasn’t necessarily sure how much it was up. I kind of wanted to wait a little while so I got a little bit more data but at this point I can definitively say that based on the traffic alone, my traffic is up about 2 ½ times over what it was in November so it’s just ridiculous the amount of extra traffic that I’m getting from all these long tail keywords based on all that auto generated content. And there’s probably about 900-950 pages of additional content out there and if I go through and I look in Google analytics, I mean I can see that a lot of those pages are getting hit and they are very, very well targeted keywords terms that are coming in for those things.

[32:34] Rob: That’s awesome. And to be clear, when you say auto generated content it’s not like a computer spitting out garbage. I mean it’s actual data in a database that you’re using to create long tail pages that have information about very specific topics.

[32:47] Mike: So just to give you an example, one of the pages that actually has people who were looking for the time in seconds before the screen saver grace period expires. And I actually have a page on my website that pertains specifically to how to do that and tells you what register key needs to be tweaked in order to toggle that. And there’s people who are hitting that page and coming to my website specifically looking for that. And there’s just literally hundreds and hundreds of different searches that are in my site for all of these long tail things.

[33:15] Now I don’t expect most of them to translate into customers but what I am seeing is that I’m seeing that on certain pages, they’re coming in and they’re seeing the site and then they’re signing up for the mailing list which is it’s kind of nice to be able to correlate those pieces of data because then I can say okay, well if people are searching for X, then they are more likely to join the mailing list and maybe I should do a little bit more to try and push them towards it there because maybe they’re good fit for the product. Maybe they’re not, I don’t know. That’s something I need to explore.

[33:47] Rob: You know with all this long tail traffic, I don’t know you’ve looked at HitTail recently or if you’ve linked it up.

[33:53] Mike: I have not activated the Google keywords yet but…

[33:55] Rob: you should do it. I activated it for Drip because I didn’t have an account for it because it didn’t make sense to have to before. I got this stuff out and it was really enlightening. I definitely recommend you getting there and check it out. Go to the suggestions tab and then order by five stars at the top. It’s pretty cool.

[34:14] Mike: I definitely have to go in there and activate that and after we get off the podcast I’m definitely going to go in there and take a look to see what it says. The other interesting thing that I find is I‘m actually getting a lot of traffic from Bing.

[34:24] Rob: If that’s the case then you will want to install the HitTail tracking. Snip it on because that will still work for Bing and Yahoo and all those and obviously web master tools will work just for Google.

[34:35] Mike: Yup. I think that about wraps us up of the day. If you have question for us, you can call it in to our voice mail number at 1-888-801-9690 or email it to us at questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt used under Creative Commons. You can subscribe to us in iTunes by searching for startups or via RSS at startupsfortherestofus.com where you’ll also find a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.


Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

13 Responses to “Episode 174 | Momentum, Stress, HitTail and AuditShark”

  1. scott says:

    Great podcast! Love your guys work!

    Would love to hear your thoughts about “borrowing” FB fans/likes from active Facebook pages. The idea being you are targeting “real” pages with fans who engage.

    quick sprout has a good post on this:


  2. Matthew says:

    Man, I gotta be honest, again, what a lame update of AuditShark. Come on Mike! Let’s get it off the ground already!

    I’d encourage you to listen to Episode 49 & 50 from August 2011 and again Episode 90 from July 2012.

    You will hear essentially the same update about AuditShark as you did on this episode #174 nearly 3 years later.

    A couple questions…
    What is AuditShark’s target market?
    Has that changed since 2011 (aside from the industry, i.e. the one bank you met with)?
    Are you confident there truly is a market for AuditShark?

    Man Mike, I’m really rooting for you, but it is frustrating to hear you’re really only making progress with technical features and don’t have any paying customers yet. It’s also frustrating seeing so many successful business being launched and profitable over the same 3 years you have been working on Audit Shark.


    • Rob says:

      See episode 182 where Mike addresses the AuditShark thoughts/comments from this thread, specifically target market, dev vs. marketing, progress, etc.

  3. The Hoff says:

    What a coincidence, Rob, I just read Steve Pavlina’s post about getting up early about two weeks ago. His method made more sense than anything I have ever read on that subject, and it has made all the difference. I started by setting my alarm just 15 minutes earlier, and bumped it to 30 minutes earlier last week. I love taking that deep breath, stretching and not having to argue with myself in the dark hours of the morning.

    Rock on, guys.

  4. Noah Finch says:


    I think you’re letting Mike off the hook way to easily!

    I’m rooting so hard for AuditShark to succeed–and I truly think there is a market for the product–but Mike is repeatedly going against the grain of all the advice you espouse when it comes to executing and shipping.

    Stop. Writing. Code.

    AuditShark has been under development for years and has 0 paying customers, yet Mike has:

    * Done a design refresh
    * Added Linux support because a non-paying prospect said they needed it
    * Built a desktop client because a non-paying prospect said they needed it
    * A laundry list of other things not in support of getting paying customers (billing stuff, twitter)

    I don’t mean to sound overly critical or negative, but it seems like Mike should be focused on creating a *web* app that can look at a Windows server and spot the problems and offer a recommended fix.

    There’s bound to be 5-10 people in the world that would pay for that level of functionality (see http://winsitter.com – also bootstrapped, not mine)!

    Here would be my challenge to Mike:
    1.) Build a launch list of people that want to pay to login to a web app and check the health and security of their Windows servers.
    2.) Built the MVP that can do just that.
    3.) Get 3-5 people into early access and beta test like Rob did with Drip.
    4.) Ramp up marketing to try to get more people that will pay for the MVP.
    5.) NOW go back and expand the functionality.

    I truly believe that Mike has all the skills and talents to build a great SaaS product and that his product idea is totally legit. I just think he’s been caught in the weeds. It happens to all of us.

  5. Josh says:

    Hey Guys,

    I totally agree with the comments from @Matthew and @Noah, thanks for providing the details guys as this makes it abundantly clear to Mike and the rest of us.

    I think that this shows that the real secret sauce for a startup is the “Execution”. You can have all these great ideas, and technical skills, design, kickass product with great features and benefits, etcetera, but unless you can effectively take it to market, then you are scuppered.

    I think all of the comments are genuine and in your best interests Mike, so please acknowledge them and TAKE ACTION. I do remember the last time this arose and you explained why, but momentum has drained away.


    1) Stop. Writing. Code.

    2) Get Customers NOW.

    All the best.

  6. Ib says:

    Totally agree with Matthew, Noah and Josh. If you don’t have any customers after 3 years??? Kill the project – on to the next.

    Try to imagine your own case coming from a listener. How would you reply to that person?

    Wishing you all the best Mike. Love the podcast!

  7. Abdu says:

    I never use trials which ask for credit cards because I might forget to cancel before the trial period ends. Well.. unless I am really interested in the service. Rob’s logic might make sense … for him but consumers are wary.

    • Rob says:

      You’re using a personal bias and anecdotal evidence. I prefer to rely on data rather than one-off stories (since there are a lot of the latter and it’s hard to find patterns in them).

  8. Scott says:

    I disagree with the “nay sayers.” Mike has moved on, he is bringing his product to different markets. I think he started with banks, he has moved onto security company’s.

  9. Jeff Gardner says:

    Question for Rob re Drip…

    I’m wondering what an application like Drip would cost to develop using external developers and project management talent, including the enhancements now underway.

    All the best,


  10. Jamie says:

    I was listening to Episode 74 from March of *2012* and Mike was talking about delaying shipping AuditShark to build a desktop client for a 2 auditors who said they would pay money if he built it.

    If it didn’t work then, why would it work now Mike?!

    I think it’s time heed the advice of this very podcast and kill AuditShark.