Episode 384 | Bluetick Marketing Plan Teardown

Show Notes

In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and Mike talk about the Bluetick marketing plan. Mike breaks down his plan in three categories, one-time, ongoing, and long-term. The two go back and forth on the most effective strategies for each category.

Items mentioned in this episode:


Mike: In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and I are gonna be doing a teardown of the Bluetick Marketing plan. This is Startups For The Rest Of Us episode 384.

Welcome to Startups For The Rest Of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at building, launching and growing software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike.

Rob: I’m Rob.

Mike: We’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. How are you doing this week, Rob?

Rob: I’m doing alright. I was just looking through our 584 worldwide iTunes reviews. We’re approaching 600 people, 16 more and we’ll be crossing that 600 mark, which is quite a milestone. Some recent reviews, there’s one here form just last week, from […] and he says, “Great podcast, been listening for years.” One from Mr. Man Man from the UK, he says, “Full of great practical advice. Discovered the show recently and now a regular listener. Extremely valuable advice for anyone who wants to build tech products.” Limons from the US says, “Every episode is invaluable. Somehow Mike and Rob ensure that every episode has at least one and usually a ton of valuable info. I love the presentation style and how much they pack in. I don’t think anyone just started tech business without listening to this podcast.” Thank you very much for those.

You can log into iTunes, or Stitcher, or Downcast, or Overcast, and leave a five-star review without even typing in all those crazy technical words and phrases and sentences. Just hit the five star button and it will go a long way towards helping us stay motivated to record the podcast. Also, helps us grow our audience which convinces us to keep doing every week, to ship every Tuesday, as they say.

How about you? What have you been up to aside from-so you lost power. People know I did a solo episode last week. How was that with no power and no water?

Mike: Oh, that sucks. It was about a day or so that we lost power. We lost it, I think, at around 10:00 o’clock or 11:00 o’clock at night and then we didn’t get power back until probably 6:00 or 7:00 the next day.

Rob: It’s tough.

Mike: Yeah, it sucks. The real hard part is that with no running water either because we have a well and the water comes up through the well with the electricity that powers the pump. We actually have some giant jugs of water that we keep downstairs just in case we do lose power or something happens with our water because we’ve had issues with our pump as well. You lose your pump and you can’t have any running water which is surprising, you use it a lot but you never ever think about of what would happen if I didn’t have water today or what would happen if I don’t have electricity today. It’s just inconvenient to say the least.

Rob: Right. I’m glad you’re back. You went to Germany recently.

Mike: Yup. Went to FemtoConf which was pretty awesome. I had a great time. There were probably about 40-50 people there. There were some issues with a few people getting into FemtoConf just because they were flying in from the Eastern US. Of course the snow storm came through and hit the New England area so some people were delayed, some people just didn’t get there at all. Travel for a few people was kind of a mess. Fortunately, I flew out on Thursday and got there and kind of recovered, no real major issues with jet lag. But I really like the feel of it.

It was a lot like MicroConf when it was much, much smaller. Just much smaller groups, intimate conversations very much like MicroConf. The feel of it and the vibe was very reminiscent of that, I’d say in the very, very early days of MicroConf 2011-2012 when you didn’t necessarily know everybody or you’re just kind of getting introduced to what other people’s businesses were. There were a couple of talks on the first day. Then the next day Sherry gave a small workshop. Then we split off into a couple other ones where Alex Yumashev from JitBit did one on kind of like engineering growth hacking that you could do. Then Mojca Mars gave one on Facebook Ads which I went to that one. She went through and basically set everybody up with their Facebook Ads account, walked them through exactly how to get things started, and kind of helped them figure out what it was that they needed to do moving forward.

Rob: That sounds super cool. There was just one or two talks a day?

Mike: On Saturday there was four talks and then on Sunday there was Sherry’s workshop in the morning, and then there were two other workshops after that. Thomas Smale from FE International was supposed to be there, so there was supposed to be two workshops, and followed by another two workshops. It kind of run simultaneously in different rooms but because Thomas couldn’t make it, Sherry ended up doing one for everybody, and then the other two were split. First speaker on Saturday was Claire Suellentrop who’s also going to be speaking at MicroConf in a couple of months.

Actually, what’s that? Six weeks away right now? Claire spoke first and then it was followed by Aleth, she spoke about GDPR, and then I spoke about email follow-ups, and then Patrick Campbell, he was one of the people who was delayed, he spoke about modifying your pricing and how to figure out what an ideal pricing model should be for your business, and then using it as one of the biggest growth leverage in your business. I think I got a lot out of that talk because I’m kind of right in the middle of evaluating pricing and figuring out what to do with it, and how to pitch it to people.

But he also pointed out the fact that SaaS has gotten substantially more competitive over the past several years. He had graphs and charts to show the number of competitors, the people that started five years ago had versus people who started two years ago versus people who started last year. It was just fascinating the amount of data that he had on that based on all the stuff that they do for Price Intelligently.

Rob: Yep. His talks are always super valuable and have a lot of data. It sounds like a lot of fun, man. Sherry was there, obviously. Told me about it and said she enjoyed it as well and said there was a ton of overlap with the MicroConf crowd. I think she said most people go to one of the MicroConfs which is fun. It’s fun to get together in almost a more mastermind-y arrangement. I know it’s not that small but I bet you kind of know everybody and know what they’re up to and you can literally talk to everyone at the conference.

Mke: Yeah. If you don’t know them before you get there then it’s easy to at least have those conversations and get to know them by the end of it.

Rob: For sure. Cool. What are we talking about today?

Mike: Well, I had asked a few people what they wanted to hear on the podcast. One of the biggest things that came out of it was what is going to be the initial marketing plan for Bluetick now that the new website is up and running. I wanted to talk about that and kind of just go back and forth, and giving I guess a high level indication of what I’m going to be doing. And then you and I can talk about either specifics of it or vet some ideas around or even just tear some of these ideas apart, and say, “Look, don’t do this,” because more than happy to hear some of the advice that you have to share.

Rob: For sure. I know I had shared with you at one point the Drip marketing game plan and the HitTail one actually. The HitTail is a little bit out of date but did you look through that, at all, to populate this list you have?

Mike: Some of those things are pulled from there. I haven’t gone back to either those in a while. I probably should do that at this point. Most of what I’ve been doing lately has been really focused on either MicroConf or getting the new website up and running and now that that’s in place and things are settling down a little bit with MicroConf, I can go back and take a look at those. But some of these things are pulled from that.

Rob: Yeah, that makes sense. One thing I would consider before we dive in, you have it broken down into two categories, kind of, “I’m gonna do these things now,” and then my longer term things. Maybe you do them over as you get time or as you get budget. Something I would think about is to even have one before now or to split the now into two buckets is to have one-time things and on-going things. One of your bullets here is product listing sites, like product on beta list, and I would even go so far as to say all the CSS Galleries.

There’s 50 different things; there’s getapp.com, there’s Capterra, there’s AppStorm, there’s this whole list that you can put together. Those are truly gonna be one-time things. I think it might help your mental model of like, “Okay, gonna do those once. Gonna get the heat of traffic.” Even podcast store is kind of a one-time thing. You’re not gonna do that for a year whereas webinars, joint webinars, and that kind of stuff I think is more on-going. Does it help for you to think about it like that?

Mike: Yes. In Teamwork I have a project that’s specifically called Bluetick Marketing that just has lists and lists of things there. I’m looking at it now there’s probably 20 different lists in here and there’s about 162 different to-do items in there. One of them is specifically one-time marketing tasks. Things like going into the Chrome Web Store and looking to see if there’s anything that can be leveraged there, submit into the Google Apps Marketplace. The products listing sites, inside of that various accounts are different places, and documented certain processes, etc. Mostly just one-time things that I need to do it once or is it’s a task that needs to be done but the output of that could then be leveraged over and over again.

Rob: Okay, that makes sense. What I’ve done is update the list a little bit and I just kind of threw some things that’s called one-time and then we have on-going, and then a later list. Will that work for you?

Mike: Yeah.

Rob: Let’s see. Let’s dive in.

Mike: You wanna go straight into the now sort of things?

Rob: Yeah. Let’s talk about the one-time things because I think that these are things that I have all of my marketing plans. But specifically, I’m gonna keep talking about HitTail and Drip because that’s when I formalized this and put it into a doc. I really thought through where are the places that I can get a bump now that I’ve launched. It’s like the website’s live, every time I try to get written up on Venturebeat, and Techcrunch, and ReadWrite web, and GigaOM when it existed, all these things. It never worked but at least I tried it. I was trying to get some type of buzz.

Then there are the ones that are easier or guaranteed. It’s like startupli.st  and BetaList, and makeuseof.com, all the things we just talked about, like Producton and that kind of stuff. You’re almost guaranteed to get a listing even though it might take a while to do. I think if you ever venture back, maybe those little-oh, and CSS Galleries is the other one. If your site is good enough and is a custom-design, I realize yours is probably more templatized, but always got a lot of traffic with HitTail and Drip from the CSS Galleries.

Did it convert amazingly well? No. But did it to convert to some trials for almost zero effort because in essence I would have a VA or I think I may have even hired a service at one point because there are like a hundred different CSS Galleries. I think there was someone who productized it and I paid $99 and submitted some info and they submitted it to all of them. To me, that’s a great zero time $99 investment because if you get one or two trials, depending on your price point, that pays it off.

That’s how I always entered it. I think if you ever venture back then need to make a bazillion dollars then maybe these kind of little initial approaches could be a waste of focus or a waste of time but I think given that every trial counts for you, I think those things are important to do. Chrome Web Store is the other one you said in the Google Apps Marketplace. I had zero look with the Chrome Web Store. What’s the difference between the Chrome Web Store and the Google Apps Marketplace?

Mike: I’ll be honest, I don’t know. I’d have to go and take a look at that. I think the Chrome Web Store was specifically for Chrome plugins. At one point, I had on my list of things to put into Bluetick like a small Chrome extension. Obviously, it never materialized. It’s not that it’s not a road map, it’s just I didn’t get there. I don’t know if that’s even viable or something that I could do because they may just say, “No, you have to have an actual Chrome extension to be able to put that in here.”

Rob: Yeah, that’s what it is. While you were talking, I went to the Google Apps Marketplace. It’s now called the G Suite Marketplace. If you integrate essentially into the G Suite, it also looks like you can just integrate with Gmail as well. Since you do that and neither Drip nor HitTail did, I never submitted to the Google Apps Marketplace. That would an interesting distributing channel.

On the Chrome Web Store I did get a minimum Drip and HitTail in and it had zero traction. But I’m not saying it’s not worth the time but it didn’t do anything. It’s pretty crowded in there now. It’s kind of like the iOS app store I think about, in the early days it was a lot easier to get found. I know that PipeDrive said that a lot of their early growth came from the Chrome Web Store but that was a different time. It was five years ago or whatever. It’s one of those things where you have to create some images and you have to create some XML and you have to submit it and it will take you probably half a day to do. You gotta wait if you wanna do that or not. It depends on what else you have going on.

I would probably lean towards doing it just because it is one more distribution channel and you could get lucky but I think it’s not as high priority as pitching podcasts as an example, because that’s gonna have a really high success rate for you.

Mike: Right. The other thing that comes to mind is going through the process of putting out on all those products listing sites. It contributes to long tail SEO as well.

Rob: Yeah, that’s right.

Mike: It contributes to your page authority and Google will see all those lengths coming in and just building those backlinks is kind of important.

Rob: Yup, I would agree with that.

Mike: You said CSS Galleries, fill me in on this because this is something that hadn’t even crossed my mind.

Rob: The only reason that they even came on my radar is when I acquired HitTail–no, it wasn’t HitTail. It was a different site. It was a productized service I had. It was called CMS Themer, CMS Themer at the time.

Mike: I remember that.

Rob: Yeah. It had a really nice design and it would get quite a bit traffic from CSS Galleries. The interesting thing is CMS Themer was really targeting designers and so that traffic converted very well. I’ve just always made it part of the marketing plan. Obviously, it doesn’t convert nearly as well when it’s an app like HitTail or Drip, but again, this posted a link into our docket. It’s cssgallerylist.com. For $60, they submit to hundreds of galleries. For $60 and almost no time it’s worth it for the backlinks, it’s worth it even if the traffic doesn’t convert, it’s just another channel to get out there. Again, the last time I did this was five years ago, there maybe a better resource than this cssgallerylist.com but I do know that I used these guys and it saved me a lot of time.

Mike: Yeah, for sure.

Rob: This is not something that’s gonna grow your business overnight or be some huge game-changing thing but it’s just all these little parts of the snowball that you’re kind of turn the pack on and then seeing which ones get you any kind of traction.

Mike: Right. I think the important thing to keep in mind when going through this stuff is that every little bit helps and you don’t always know that any one link is going to contribute anything but if it gets one person over and the ROI on that is gonna be almost no way to calculate that but you may get three people over and one person converts. It’s not a 33% conversion rate for that obviously but that can help.

Rob: That’s right. Have you considered how you could do an ‘ask me anything’ on Reddit or you could do a Show HN where you say, “Hey, here’s this business. It doing…” whatever the revenue is, or I don’t know if you can be vague about that or not, but I don’t know how you wanna handle it. Then basically say, “I’ve grown it to this. Give me your feedback,” or whatever. Have you thought about that? I don’t know if that’s worthwhile or if that’s just a big waste of time.

Mike: I have. I’m in a couple of Facebook groups. That was suggested to me a couple of months ago via somebody that said, “Hey, you should do an ‘ask me anything’ on Reddit.” I put it on my list but it wasn’t something that kind of rose, I’ll say, close to the top of things that I thought were, not necessarily game changers, but in terms of weighted priority, I didn’t feel it was something that would help out a lot.

Rob: It’s tough. If you’re marketing directly towards developers, then it would make more sense.

Mike: Right. If it was something like ‘ask me anything’ on growthhackers.com for example, that’d be a totally different story. That’s something that I probably should add to the list to be honest.

Rob: Oh, I think you should, yep.

Mike: Anything else in terms of one-time activities that come to mind that’s not on this list?

Rob: I was just trying to think about that. On startups.com, answers that are on Startups used to be kind of a place but I don’t even think that exist anymore. The bummer about Quora is that it’s really not a one-time thing. What I would do with a one-time thing is set-up, subscribe to some topics, there’s probably a cold email, or even just email. You want email sales, you want the email sales channels not the email marketing channel because email marketing tends to be bulk email and that’s not what you’re doing.

I would subscribe to categories or topics that fit your thing so that you’re notified when questions are asked because you wanna be an early answer. You don’t wanna go on a bunch of old Quora threads and add your answer because those threads already have a bunch of up votes and you’re not likely to be the answer that shows for everybody because that’s really what you want. I did that in the early days of Drip. It’s a bit time-consuming but what I found was the questions that come through tend to be so far into your wheelhouse, that they’re really easy to answer.

Even if I type a couple of paragraphs, it just flowed out. I didn’t have to research because it was things like, “What are approximate open right rights? What’s a good open right for a list?” It’s like, “Well, I actually know what the range is. Here, I’ll talk it through.” It’s gonna be stuff that these questions for me would be tough to answer because I’m not knee-deep in this warm email engagement the way you are. Anyways, I would consider as the one-time part of that just subscribing and seeing how it shapes out.

Mike: Yeah,that’s interesting being able to rattle off some of those numbers right off the top of your head. Because it’s part of my talk that I did for FemtoConf. I looked specifically into that and looked across 70,000 emails that had been sent out through Bluetick and looked to see what the open rates were and what the response rates were across those, and then I cross-sectioned them and got the average, the best case, worst case, across everybody’s accounts. It was interesting what the numbers came out to be and then asking the audience I said, “Hey, here is a number, what do you think is this in terms of the open rate?” It was about, I’d say a third of the audience got it right which means that two-thirds did not which indicates that these numbers are, I’ll say, a little bit obscure or opaque and not everybody knows that they are.

Rob: Yeah, that makes sense.

Mike: I think a couple of other things that come onto this list is, I don’t know if they’re one-time or you would classify them as one-time, but like a podcast tour, for example. I feel like it’s something that you can do it once when you start and then if you’re going to try and do it again you have to have something compelling to follow-up with, I’ll say.

Rob: I do think of a podcast tour as a one-time thing but it’s not as one-time as say CSS Gallery submission, but it’s gonna move the needle more than them. CSS Gallery and the BetaList and all that stuff. I just posted a link to whitetailsoftware.com and Robert Graham had that pre launch email list building directories. We can include that in the show notes but I think you have 50 or 100 that he had his VA submit to, so that’ll help as well. But all that to say, podcast tour is gonna take several months because you’re gonna email and get scheduled, and by the time it comes out, it’ll be months down the line.

I think the big thing, the advice that I would give when doing a podcast tour is it would be easy for you to just go on a bunch of entrepreneur podcasts and say, “Look, I launched a product. I’m building this SaaS product.” You’ll convert some of those, it’ll be a low conversion rate. The audience who’s gonna convert the best for you is gonna be folks doing sales. It’s gonna be folks both doing cold outreach and then doing the warm nurturing that Bluetick allows you to do, this stuff that comes right out of your inbox and looks very personable. It’s not bulk email like MailChimp or Drip but it’s the one-on-one connecting whether it’s cold or warm. Who’s doing that, right? This is BDRs and salespeople. I know some of those are also founders but I don’t think that’s gonna be your market.

I think initially, you can get SaaS founders, and you can get our audience, and the MicroConf audience, and not crew. It’s good to talk about it here. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go on Mixergy and talk about it but compared to the size of that audience, the conversion rate is gonna be pretty small. The podcast that I would target that I think are gonna be your low-hanging fruit, is to go on podcast that are talking about sales, and talking about tech sales, selling SaaS apps is probably the B2B sales approach.

You can come on not to tell the story of your product but you can pitch it as, “Look, I’m an expert in this because I’m in it day-to-day and I’m seeing dozens or hundreds of customers who use our product and I’m seeing the patterns. I’m seeing the successes and how they’re doing it well. I see the failures and the mistakes people are making.” Does that make sense? I would definitely go after that space rather than focus on the founder and entrepreneur space.

Mike: Yeah, it totally makes sense. That was actually my hesitation, I’ll say, of doing that because I didn’t think that approaching those, the startups community would be something that will really resonate. Like you said, I’ll get some sales out of it but it’s not gonna be a high-converting channel for me.

Rob: Yeah, in all honesty, I will probably do both but I would start with the sales folks, the sales podcast. We both know at least a dozen people who have podcasts that I’m sure you could come on and talk about some aspect of your business. Try to vary it because we have this small community and so if you go on all the podcast of our friends and talk about the same thing on every podcast, everybody hears it, there’s only so many people in it. I will try to suggest different topics, different aspects. If you could talk about the launch on one, you could talk about the stress on another, you could talk about marketing approaches on another.

I do think that is still worthwhile because it’s easy for you to do because you’re used to doing podcasts and it’s 30-45 minutes of your time once it’s booked. It’s not actually that much of a time investment to be in the earbuds of likely several thousands or tens of thousands of people, but as I said, I do think I would start with trying to assess out what are kind of some B2B sales podcast that I can get on?

Mike: The interesting thing about that is there’s two different ways that I could approach that particular problem of going out to the people who are running those podcast. One of them is send directly into Bluetick and let Bluetick follow up with those people. The other one is that there’s a company I’ve stumbled across that will take kind of what your requirements are for appearing on podcast and will go out through the different network of podcasts that they have contact with, and essentially pitch you to them. I’ve mixed feelings on doing that, to be perfectly honest, but at the same time, there’s a time component that it’s gonna suck up some of my time to do it myself but in many ways, it comes across better if I do it myself.

Rob: Yeah. That’s hard. There is a balance because we get a lot of pitches on this show and on Zen Founder. If it’s not the person pitching themselves, I tend to delete them, that’s just a thing. I do glance through them but I don’t think we’ve ever had anyone on the show who wasn’t pitching themselves. When I had an executive assistant who is doing stuff back in the Drip days, when I was still running the business, she could email people as me, look straight out of my inbox, and so you could develop the pitch and have someone else send it as you. But it just depends on what you wanna do. I don’t know but I don’t have a good answer for that.

Mike: But again, at that point, I could just put it through directly into Bluetick and have Bluetick send out the email.

Rob: That’s true. Ta-da. That’s cool.

Mike: It’s interesting because occasionally, when I’ll email people whether they contacted me to ask me something about Bluetick, occasionally they’ll have heard the podcast and they’ll ask in their email as to whether or not it was sent from me personally or whether Bluetick sent it. I’m just, “If you can’t tell, doesn’t that speak to what the product does?”

Rob: Right. Does it matter? Yeah, that’s funny.

Mike: Does it matter?

Rob: We’ve talked at length here about the one-time upfront things. You have nice list of the things that you plan to do on an on-going basis, why don’t we look at a few of those?

Mike: Sure. The things that pop-up high on my priority list-actually, you know what, now that I’m looking through this, one of the other things that is on the on-going list should probably be moved over into one-time is the public Zapier integration.

Rob: Oh, yeah.

Mike: I’ve got a private integration right now but I’ve not taken it public and that’s something that I’ve been asked about a couple of times by Zapier. I just haven’t done it yet to be perfectly honest. There’s a lot of edge cases that either are not handled well or I know that there’s other changes that need to be made and I’d rather make those changes before I open it up than have to fix a bunch of other stuff. Because there’s some things that I do some manual data manipulation just to make sure that things are working right for certain customers. I need to put a more permanent solution in place for those.

That’s something that after going through the process, I believe they put it out through their mailing list. I forget what their mailing list is but it’s something like 1 million people or something like that, something ridiculously large. The conversion rate is not gonna be high but it’s more about driving awareness than it is about converting people at that point.

Rob: Yeah, you’re just trying to get the word out so people have heard of you at this point. One other one-time thing that I would do, it’s not a marketing approach, but I would set up Google alerts for relevant terms that you wanna monitor like company names of competitors, try to hear about like articles I think are relevant or conversations that are relevant, you have to use your judgment there but I do think getting something setup so that your kind of participating or at least aware of what’s going on in your space is helpful.

Mike: Yeah. I have a couple of them set up right now but it’s mainly for Bluetick. What I find is I’m getting a lot of emails about dog conversations that are happening.

Rob: Yeah, I could see that.

Mike: I guess if we’re gonna jump right into the ongoing stuff or the short term things that I was looking at, the first on my list is webinars.

Rob: Yep. Are you planning, because right below that you have JV webinars.

Mike: Right. I wouldn’t say I lumped them together but I think the general process is going to be similar for them whereas with the webinars, there’s joint webinars and there’s just the regular webinars. The regular ones are ones that I was probably gonna promote to my own email list  and then maybe do one on a regular basis or promote it on a Tuesday every other week or something like that. And then with the joint webinars those would be much more scheduled where I’m leveraging other people’s audiences and contacting influencers and see if they’re interested in having me come and talk specifically to their audience about how Bluetick can solve a particular problem for them. I see it almost like the podcast tour but with a little bit more, I’ll say, pinpoint accuracy or a little bit more focused specifically on those people because I don’t wanna go pitch somebody and say, “Hey, can I just do a joint webinar with you?” But not actually have something that’s gonna be valuable to offer to their audience.

Rob: Right. I would the joint webinars before I try to do internal webinars because it is such a nice way to reach out beyond your own audience. Just through doing webinars to your own list, you’re gonna one and then you’re not gonna fill anymore, you know what I mean, until you get more people either using your product or on your email list. We tried early on with Drip to just run Facebook ads, get people to opt into a webinar, and we’re gonna try to run one every week, and we just couldn’t get people to show up at a price that was worth it for us.

Again, not saying it’s not possible but it’s an entire funnel that you have to develop. It’s gonna take you quite a bit of time and money to do whereas the JV webinars is a low-hanging fruit for you, because JV webinars is about who you know. You do have a good network of people who I think you could contact and have access to their audience right away, basically for free, without running all the ads and developing a funnel. It’s just conversations. I’d definitely prioritize the joint webinars above do your own.

Mike: How would you structure any sort of special offers for those people going to a joint webinar? There’s a lot of discussion and I’ve thought about this myself. I was like, do I wanna offer a discount or I wanna give additional services or special templates like, “Hey, you can only get this here because you’re coming to this particular person’s webinar.” My concern is really putting a lot of extra effort into something that-at the end of the webinar, it may turn out to be nothing. I may not get very many sign-ups out of it or I may get a lot but I don’t know. It’s hard to predict how much time and effort to make things custom for that person’s audience. You know what I mean?

Rob: Yeah, I do. I would lean heavily towards some type of bonus and it’s time-limited. You say, “Hey, free to sign up in the next two or three days, then you get this extra thing.” whether it’s a discount or the thing that you billed. Discounts are the lazy way to do it. It’s like the zero time way but it chews through your money. If you have no time, absolutely no time, then yeah, give people a discount, but discounts are not exciting. They’re not as exciting as like, “Get this complete email series,” even if it’s only three or four emails, my guess is, you can crank that out just using copy+paste from what you’re using already or from what you’re recommending to people and just edit it for their specific niche.

If you talk to a bunch of freelancers then it’s like, “Here’s the way they follow-up and do it for freelancers.” A lot of it is gonna be the same as any other sequence you have but you’re just gonna tweak a few things. I’m guessing, in about half an hour you could probably crank something like that out. You don’t even need to do that in advance of the webinar because if you don’t get sign-ups then you just don’t build it. But if you get sign-ups using that coupon code then you just manually reach out to people because it’s not like you’re gonna get 500 sign-ups. You’re gonna get 10, or 20, or 30. It’s gonna be a small amount. You can just hit people up and distribute that to them. I’m thinking of something like that. It’s high value for someone signing-up but it’s pretty low effort for you to create.

Mike: Yeah, that makes sense. I think right now when you go and sign up, I was probably gonna pull this off as things progress, but when you go and sign up right now, there’s kind of an offer there that basically says I’ll create an email sequence for you based on whatever scenario you describe and that will be your first sequence. It’s kind of concierge onboarding but I’ll say it’s probably not very well described in the website right now but it is something that I just offer to people as they come to sign up.

Rob: Yeah. If you get 30 sign-ups at a time that’s gonna get tough. I think you’re gonna have to stop doing that because it’s too time-intensive. You have to back off as you start getting more sign-ups.

Mike: Right.

Rob: What else? You have direct follow-ups with the following; invite to demos, you have current mailing list, prior prospects which I think is good, and personal LinkedIn contacts.

Mike: Yep. I have a couple of different spreadsheets based on when I was doing early validation. Some people said, “Hey, now is not a good time. Maybe later on when you’re further along.” And then there’s people who have come in and I’ve done a demo with them and things just didn’t work out for whatever reason, or they sign-up but they never followed through or they used it for a little bit, and then they said, “Yeah, this isn’t working out for me.” I’ve got this pool of people that I can go to that fit into that criteria, that I can put them into a Bluetick sequence, for example, and invite them to come back and check it out or go to a demo or something like.

But in addition to that, I also have the mailing list that is in the Drip account which I have been putting on the website where there’s an email course that you can go through. It’s like a 5-day course which I’m in the process of copy+pasting all the content all of that to make it a slightly longer course. But those people that I can go to directly, I can take them out of Drip and then plug them into Bluetick, and individually follow up with each of them. I could do that based on lead score for example and just sort them by lead score and then add them in in that order and say, “These are the people that I’m gonna approach first versus these are all the people who are probably, I’ll say, less interested, but still on the list.”

Rob: Yeah. I think that’s a good idea to kind of approach. I was definitely gonna say anybody who’s cancelled in the past, if the product’s a lot better than when they’ve tried it, you definitely wanna contact them. Prospect who haven’t converted, people who’ve been paywalled because they don’t wanna give their credit card, now is the time when you’re doing this to just circle back and clean all that out.

The personal LinkedIn contacts, you gotta use your judgement there, you don’t wanna come off as… I’ve never done that but if you know someone who really should value out of it and you do a very soft pitch  like, “Hey, just to let you know I just launched this. I thought it might be helpful.” Not anything that’s forceful like, “Jump on a call. Jump on a call.” Then, I think, it’s halfway reasonable.

Mike: Yeah. I wasn’t planning on doing that. What I was gonna do was go through my LinkedIn contacts and just look. Obviously, I’m gonna hand pick which ones i’m gonna contact and which ones I’m not. I’ve got people who I know are software developers or they’re engineering managers, or something like. They’re really not a good fit for it but that doesn’t mean that I can’t go to them and say, “Hey, I just wanted to check in with you and see how are things going, and let you know I just recently launched this. If you know of anyone who could use this, I’d love an introduction just to kind of help me out.” I’m leveraging my personal relationships at that point.

Rob: I could see doing that. I just added a couple things to the list. Actually, you have retargeting on there, mostly Facebook. I think it says Facebook primarily, I think that’s a really good idea to get set up whether you use perfect audience, you have the display networks like Google and stuff already, you just tick Facebook and it gets probably a material but I think you should get that set up pretty quick. That’d be probably towards the top of my list. Do you already have the pixel installed?

Mike: Yep.

Rob: Okay, good.

Mike: yeah, I’ve had that in pixel installed for a while. But then, the reality there is, I’ve put it under ongoing because there’s a one-time piece of setting it up and there is the follow on activities where you go in and you analyze how much traffic you’ve brought in, do you have a critical mass yet, what kind of advertisements you’re doing. It’s kind of two different components to that but I do find that even with my two-step process for the sign-up, you put in your email address and password, and it takes you over to a credit card page, and there’s people who don’t fill that out.

Obviously, those people, I wanna follow up with anyway but I also wanna make sure that people who come to the iste and then go over there but never even fill out that first page, I still wanna be able to retarget those people to bring them back. Because obviously, they were interested enough to go look at the signup page but they didn’t actually sign up.

Rob: I think in the interest of time here because we’re running pretty long today. I think you should consider-paid acquisition I have written here, it’s a tough one. It all depends on if you have budget and if you have time to sit there and test a bunch of stuff, so something to consider, maybe it goes on your later list but it’s definitely if you can get it to work, it’s really, really good. Cold email outreach, you have the tool to do it, nice to use your own tool. You can go to something like LeadFuze and get a list of people, and start doing the outreach yourself, or you can hire someone to the outreach for you.

We had mixed results when we did Drip but it definitely drove enough trials that have made it worth spending. We were spending money on it at that time and it definitely had positive ROI for us. Integration Marketing which is you just think of all the top 10 integrations that you would wanna have and think about trying to get either in their director. If it’s Stripe or Basecamp, they’re probably not gonna co-promote with you because they’re so big but they have these integration directories. Or if they’re a little bit smaller, if they’re a startup, they’ll probably have a list and are willing to email out and promote you. That requires dev time, of course, so it has to be worth your while.

But that was something we did 30 something integrations with Drip and it makes a lot of sense with a tool like Drip because it it a hub of data and so we integrated with a bunch of shopping carts and all types of marketing tools. That both helped our customers but it also really helped to start to get traction and kind of be everywhere in their early days. I think those are the other three I would throw out that you may wanna do sooner rather than later.

Mike: Yeah. I’ve already been asked by people about integrating directly into Bluetick using the API and I’ve kind of pushed off mainly because I know that there are parts of the API that are still changing, so I haven’t really structured it in a way that says, “Hey, this is available for you to use and it’s pretty solid versus these other pieces where you shouldn’t touch it.” I had a conversation with somebody at FemtoConf where they said they actually have three different versions of their API published. One of them was for them internally, and then there’s another one that’s a public API, and then they have special endpoint specifically for Zapier. It’s interesting they split theirs out and I think it makes a lot of sense as well. It’s just a matter of rearranging some things a little bit to allow people to do that and say, “Hey, this area is solid. This area is off-limits or don’t touch them.”

Rob: Yep, that makes sense. Anything else that you wanna pull out of here? Either in ongoing? It looks like you have a couple more and then you have some stuff for later?

Mike: Yup. The one idea that have come to mind that somebody had mentioned to me at FemtoConf was the idea of having Bluetick offered as sort of a managed service for x thousand dollars a month. Then they’ll send all of their contacts over into Bluetick and then, it’s my responsibility to make sure that things are running smoothly for them so that they don’t have to go in and manage anything which, if you set up a lot of the automation and stuff, you don’t have to worry about that, but there’s also ongoing tweaking, A/B testing, or making sure that, “Are these numbers any reasonable ballpark of what they should be?” If you’re getting a low open rate, for example, how would you necessarily know unless you’re looking at all the other data. I have access to that but other people don’t. Those are the things that I can provide a lot of additional value for customers but they don’t necessarily have access to it on their own if they just signed up.

Rob: Yeah. That makes sense. There’s a risk with managed services because they can just suck up a bunch of your time and also the revenue is not worth nearly what a SaaS revenue is in terms of a multiple-whether you’re gonna raise funding or whether you’re gonna sell or whatever. If you have a bunch of consulting revenue, it’s worth like 1X, 1X the revenue versus actual recurring revenue, it’s a different story. I shouldn’t say recurring. It’s higher margin revenue where if it’s software it has 70% or 80% margin. If it’s consulting it has what, 10%, 20%, 30% margin. It’s something that I would consider in the early days but it just matters what cash position you’re in. I think you would do it for the cash and not really for the long term prospect of the company because I don’t think you wanna grow a big kind of productized service long term.

Mike: No, I agree. The way I was gonna structure it was like, “Hey, here’s a managed service that if you wanna subscribe to you can,” and it’s either a three-month or a six-month contract, and then that’s it. If I decide to continue offering it then they can continue paying me for it but if I decide that we’re not gonna do this anymore, then things are kind of pushed back. It wouldn’t be something that you can just go to the website and buy off the shelf but it’d be limited three to six months contract or something like that. You’re right, it would absolutely be for improving cash flow for example, but it would also put a solid number on, “Hey, what is this particular customer going to be worth to me in the next three months or in the next six months.” Does that make sense?

Rob: Yeah, I think it’s interesting. Certainly trying it with one customer is not gonna hurt much. That’s the thing, is to see how much-if it’s valuable to them, if it’s workable for you, and obviously if you do it for 10 or 20 people, you’re getting yourself in pretty deep but you don’t have to do that. You can just dip your toe and then figure it out.

Mike: Yeah. I was gonna do it for probably one to five. The other nice thing that I thought that would deliver to me is the ability to work hand-in-hand with those customers and see what exactly what it was that they’re trying to do as opposed to, “Hey, here sign up to Bluetick,” and then after that, I don’t really have a ton of visibility into their business or exactly what challenges they’re trying to solve. I know generally what they’re trying to do but I don’t get that insight or I don’t have calls with them to really see on a weekly basis like, “Hey, what are you really trying to get out with this?” I think that those insights would actually help me build a better product longer term.

Rob: One of the thing I see on your later list that I like, that I don’t think we’ve covered, is you have this library of email templates, lead gen, and you use this as a lead gen to acquire email addresses? I think that’s intriguing both for the SEO and you can always run ads to it, you could retarget to it and you’re basically giving something away. I think that’s gonna take a ton of time for you to set-up. It’s a little more complicated than it sound but I’m glad you have it on your later list so at least, in a few months, once you get some of these other ones done, you can move into that, and start thinking about how to shape that up.

Mike: Right. The other nice, I’ll say, by-product of doing that is that, I could create those inside of Bluetick as a library where you can when you create your account, you can just select from a bunch of them, kind of a similar to the way that Drip has those pre-made blueprints for different situations, this would be exactly that. Like, “What situations have I run into with different customers that they’re trying to get a response or get the customer to take an action? What sorts of things work? What sorts of things don’t? What sorts of approaches do you wanna try?” You can almost categorize them. It’s like, “This is extremely aggressive versus to do the exact same thing to get somebody to a call. This one is much more laid back and hands off, and it depends on the situation whether it’s cold email versus a warm email with somebody who’ve had three or four conversations with us.” Which one you would use?

Rob: Cool. Well this was a good run. Thanks for bringing this on the show. I had fun talking about it. I’m guessing we’ve provided quite a bit of value for the folks who are thinking about this kind of stuff.

If you have question for us, call our voicemail at 1-888-801-9690 or email us at questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from We’re Outta Control by MoOt used under Creative Commons. Subscribe to us in iTunes by searching for Startups. Visit startupsfortherestofus.com for a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.

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7 Responses to “Episode 384 | Bluetick Marketing Plan Teardown”

  1. Great episode! Could you name the service which can organize a podcast tour? You talked about it on the show but there was no name (or I missed it?)


  2. Great podcast!
    I’m a new listener and have been binge listening as much as I can the last few weeks!
    To work, on my lunch (right now) and back home!
    Tons of useful information!

  3. Is Mike ever going finish building his startup? It’s been over half a decade from auditshark to bluetick, despite he did everything in contrary to what he preached in the podcast about lean startup. With that said, I still wish him the best.

    • A startup is never done 😉 If you think about it, I’m still building Drip.

      Mike launched Bluetick months ago – it’s live, with paying customers, growing, Ramen profitable. He’s making progress adding new customers every month.

  4. Hi, Rob & Mike.

    What a great episode. Thank you for recording and sharing this with the world!

    I remember that Rob mentioned Drip’s initial marketing plan. Is it publically available somewhere?

    I tried to google for it but found nothing.

    • I never published it. It would need a lot of clean-up to do so…something I’ve considered but never carved out the time. It’s also out of date – we launched 5 years ago so some of the tactics would no longer apply.