How Using Pipedrive CRM Improved My Business Habits

A Peak Inside My Pipedrive CRM Sales Pipeline

This month, I started using the Pipedrive CRM. It’s been fantastic! You might assume that I’m excited because I’ve used it to close a deal. That hasn’t happened yet. In fact, the reason I like it comes down to process and habits.

Pipedrive advocates the “activity-based sales” concept, which I find quite helpful. Instead of hoping and praying for a sale to close, you view sales as a series of discrete steps. Once you have that view, you can ask, “what happens at each stage of the sale?” Then you can become much more confident in planning your daily and weekly activities.

In my case, I started with a simple sales habit. I would listen to a podcast episode that involved someone from my target market – marketing automation software companies. Next, I would send then an introduction email and log this action through Pipedrive. In fact, I can open up my email and send it directly from the Pipedrive app.

Unlike other CRMs I have used, Pipedrive makes it easy to track activity for the individual user. I find that immensely helpful because I can see how many deals I have started and plan the next activity of the sales process. Too many other CRMs have reporting and analytics designed for the needs of senior management rather than the end user.

Now that I have this daily habit established, how else can use Pipedrive as a platform to grow sales habits? This is an area that I’m still figuring out. Some initial thoughts include:

1) Weekly Habit: Pipeline Review – Determine Next Action.

Review the pipeline to ensure that every deal has a next action assigned. Without an assigned next action, I’m essentially relying on the other person to take action. That’s not good enough! Estimated time required: 1 hour.

2) Weekly Habit: Prepare For Value Added Follow Up

. Research value-added follow up. Instead of sending boring “did you get my email?” style follow up messages, I want to do something better. Ideally, I want to share valuable insight with each person I contact. To do that, I need to read and consume a significant amount of industry information.

Estimated time required: 1-4 hours. Note that some information gathering like listening to podcasts is doable during commuting, errands, and other activities. A few of my favorites include The Top Podcast with Nathan Latka, The SaaS Podcast with Omer Khan and the Indie Hackers podcast by Courtland Allen.

3) Monthly Activity: Sales Process Continuous Improvement.

Assess the sales process for continuous improvement. What is working? What isn’t working? For example, I might review the email copy I’m using and the what kind of replies I’ve received. An outside perspective during this review might also be helpful.

Time Required: 1-2 hours

4) Quarterly Activity: Sales Pipeline Maintenance

Clean the pipeline! Seeing a pipeline with hundreds of deals in it may give a false sense of security. During this process, I would review each deal and assess whether it is worth keeping. In some cases, using The Magic Email might make sense to get deals moving again.

Time Required: Varies depending on the size of the pipeline

Be Mindful of The Habits Your Tools Encourage

In this case, I have found that the Pipedrive CRM has encouraged productive sales habits. Other apps may encourage habits that are good for the company (e.g. “habit forming” websites or social media services that consume attention without much benefit). Ask yourself whether you can use an app like a CRM to stimulate better habits in your business.

5 Marketing Automation Software Companies Getting Funded In 2019

Tired of reading about Google Ads and Facebook Ads? Those two giants tend to dominate discussions about online marketing because they have the ability to deliver incredible traffic. However, there are other up and coming companies you need to know about.

To find them, let’s look at startups that investors are funding in 2019. It might sound scary to trust part of your company’s marketing strategy to an untested startup. Here’s a different way to look at it. You are going to seize the advantage of a new ways to increase marketing productivity before your competition finds them.

1. Adjust (Berlin, Germany, Established 2012)

Total Funding: Over $255 million (per Crunchbase)
Employees: 301 Employees

How do you know if your online advertising budget is being wasted? That’s one of the problems that Adjust solves. According to their LinkedIn page, “Adjust is the industry leader in mobile measurement and fraud prevention.” To add to their capabilities, Adjust has acquired several other companies including (a data aggregation platform) and Unbotify (a cybersecurity startup).

With 25,000 apps already using Adjust’s platform, it looks like the company has found a successful niche. Preventing fraud and enhancing measurement are needs that are going away anytime soon.

2. CleverTap (Sunnyvale, CA, Established 2013)

Total Funding: Over $41 million (per Crunchbase)
Employees: 128 Employees

With over 8000 brands on its platform, CleverTap is a marketing platform that uses machine learning to support segmentation. On G2 Crowd, the company has attracted over 100 reviews with an average rating of 4.6 Unlike other platforms that simply provide analytics data, CleverTap makes it easy to bring those insights and apply them to campaigns. Some of CleverTap’s key benefits for users focus on re-engagement and evaluating customer acquisition activities.

CleverTap extends its value by working with various partners such as AWS, Branch, Mandrill, SendGrid, Mobincube, and AppsFlyer. I was somewhat surprised to see that Zapier was not on their list, but perhaps that partnership will come in the future.

In terms of content marketing, CleverTap is exceeding expectations with the sheer variety of resources on its websites. For example, the company offers a Customer Lifetime Value Calculator ( where users need to opt-in to receive the results. Other content resources include case studies, podcasts, webinars, and white papers. Well done, CleverTap!

3. (San Francisco, CA, Established 2012)

Total Funding: Over $50 million (per Crunchbase)
Employees: 106 Employees

Have you heard of the “no code” revolution? It’s a trend to make software and automation techniques easier to implement. As the Tray homepage puts it: “Empower your citizen automators to grow your company faster. No dev resources required.” At first glance, Tray strikes me as an enterprise-level version of Zapier, a popular automation and integration platform. From a marketing perspective, I like that Tray combines content marketing (e.g., “Free Guide: Automate the Lead Lifecycle”) and chat style services. If you already use Clearbit, G Sheets, Intercom, Salesforce, and Asana, it’s worth looking into the Tray’s platform.

On G2 Crowd, has 18 reviews with an average rating of 4.7 as of this writing. One reviewer pointed out that helps them to automate GDPR processes. Other users have commented on the lack of some more advanced collaboration features. However, it looks like is making fast progress in adding new features and working to take care of customers.

4. The Ticket Fairy (San Francisco, CA, Established 2011)

Total Funding: Over $3 million (per Crunchbase)
Employees: 22 Employees

When you spend all your time in front of a computer, it’s easy to forget how important events are. Have you seen how many corporate events that Las Vegas alone holds every month? The event marketing industry is vast. Yet, I also know from personal experience that it is difficult to optimize. That’s where The Ticket Fairy comes to play. Whether you are looking to increase ticket revenue or improve marketing results, The Ticket Fairy is an interesting choice. Event organizers will also appreciate the fact that fraud prevention is a key feature for the platform.

5. Iterable (San Francisco, CA, Established 2013)

Total Funding: Over $82 million (per Crunchbase)
Employees: 224 Employees

This marketing automation platform is designed to empower marketers without involving engineering. Cross-channel engagement is the focus of Iterable. If you want to market on the web, SMS or in-app, this platform can do it.

From a content perspective, it’s interesting to note that Iterable runs two blogs. There’s an engineering blog focused on topics like Scrum and feature announcements. There is also another more traditional company blog. The blog has dedicated themes covering areas such as growth marketing, cross-channel, company, and product. When I visited the website on June 14, it looks like the blog had not been updated in several weeks.

Tip: Iterable is currently hiring for two marketing roles in San Francisco: Field Marketing Manager and Senior Demand Generation Marketing Manager.

What Can We Learn From These Growing Marketing Automation Companies?

There are four themes we can see from these platforms.

First, there is still tremendous opportunity to integrate marketing across multiple channels. The dream of “omnichannel marketing” where a customer or prospect has a consistent experience regardless of location or media is still not quite here. 

Second: partnerships and integrations are becoming more important. Several of these companies emphasize partnerships with companies like Zapier. That tells me that marketing automation firms recognize they can’t think of everything. Therefore, there’s a push to empower the user to connect their platform to

Third, we see the continued rise of “code less” marketing automation. In practical terms, that means that marketers will need to develop more technical skills. If your primary discipline is copywriting or design, you will need to develop more skills to enhance your value. I recommend looking into Zapier as an entry point into the world of automation. To give you a sense of what’s possible, I recommend Maria Myre’s post, “Turn Your Google Analytics Data into Actionable Tasks.”

Fourth, all five of these companies received venture investment in 2019. There is still investment pouring into marketing automation. Unlike other niches, marketing automation has clear value: get more customers and retain current customers. Increased regulatory controls on marketing like GDPR mean that companies need to become more sophisticated in their marketing.

Lost CRM Opportunities: Lessons From Buying New Shoes

Yesterday, I bought new black dress shoes from a store in Toronto. I’ve bought shoes and boots from the same store a few years in a row. While the store is doing the fundamentals right, there’s a big piece missing in their CRM and use of customer data!

As I completed the checkout process, they asked me for my phone number. After I provided it, they pulled up my customer file on their terminal. Out of curiosity, I asked if they had a record of the last purchase I made. They did! In fact, they had three or four different purchases logged in their file.
The problem? They were collecting detailed customer profiles and then doing nothing with it. I can’t recall receiving a single phone call from the store. If you’re never going to call the customer, why bother asking for the information? Likewise, they only send generic direct mail to me. Given the fact that they collect detailed purchase data, this seems like a major oversight.

What Could This Shoe Store Do Differently?

There are at least three different ways the company could make better use of their CRM data. My suggestions are partly inspired by one of the best sales books of all time: The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes.

  1. Call the customer after purchase to check on satisfaction and offer an upsell
    The salesperson mentioned that the shoes could be returned in a certain amount of time. Why not use this guarantee to proactively reach out to me by day five or six after the purchase? If the customer is unhappy, you can work to address their problems. If they are content, you can offer an upsell (e.g., a replacement cleaning product to be sold in three months).
  2. Contact the customer when the seasons change
    I’m based in Toronto, Canada. That means we have an intense winter season for several months each year. My wonderful new black dress shoes are not going to perform well in half a foot of snow. So, they could make a note in their CRM to contact me in late November. Perhaps let me know about a Christmas sale?
  3. Send a customized card or offer in the mail A few years ago, I received a customized thank you card in the mail after buying some clothes at Brooks Brothers. They are the only retailer that has ever done that! Admittedly, not every retailer will have high enough customer lifetime value (CLV) to justify that effort. A decent shoe store that sells shows for $150, $200 or more? A customer for such a store is easily worth $500 or $1000 over several years. That means there is a good case to be made for sending a customized card.

What Does This Mean For Marketing Automation Companies?

Rethink the customer information you are gathering.

In a post GDPR world, simply gathering all the data you can in the hope that you can find a use for it later is not going to cut it. Your CRM data is only usable if you encourage staff to build habits and processes to do the following:

Acknowledge customers!

Thank them for their business. In the marketing automation industry, ClickFunnels is fantastic at this process.

Set out checkpoints for Customer Success.

In the first month as a customer, ask the customer success team to reach out to the customer. Don’t accept the “let us know if you have any questions” approach. Come prepared with one value-added tip that helps new users use the problem.

Why Tech Marketers Should Read “Sell It Like Serhant” Even If You Have No Interest In Real Estate

I discovered Ryan Serhant a few months ago through his YouTube channel. His approach to productivity, schedules, routines, and zest for life and work caught my attention. Of course, it also helps that Ryan is based in New York City. More than anywhere else, I love New York City – it’s my favorite city in the USA. I’ve been there three times, and that’s where I proposed to my wife. Now, let’s get back to Ryan’s book.

Lesson 1: Your College Education Is Not Your Destiny

Did you study business in college or university? If so, you can skip ahead to the next lesson. For the rest of you, pay attention. I studied history and political science. It was wonderful, and it helps me to understand myself and the world. However, these fields have limited direct application to the business world. Ryan was just the same. In fact, he studied theater in college and hustled for two years in New York in pursuit of acting. After that time, he decided it was time to switch gears into real estate.

Lesson 2: Follow Up Forever

Buying real estate is a major decision. For 99% of us, it is probably the largest single purchase we will ever make. So it should come as no surprise that buyers and sellers in real estate are demanding. It should also come as no surprise that deals fall through all the time. Like any large sale, there are multiple stakeholders involved: your spouse, the mortgage lender, and so on.

To keep deals going, you need to follow up. How long? In cold email, it is standard to do 3-5 follow up attempts and then call it a day. In Ryan’s real estate world? He has done follow up with prospects for several years and then closed a multi-million dollar deals. Do more follow up work with prospects!

Lesson 3: The FKD System

A few years ago, I read a classic business book “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber. He makes the point that it is essential to work on your business (e.g., building systems) as well as doing technical work (e.g., coding, writing, or serving customers). I agreed with Gerber’s point, but I didn’t do much with it.

Ryan’s approach to systems is much more accessible, especially if you want to approach this mentality to your day to day work. His system is simple: FKD (Finder, Keeper, Doer). Let’s break down each part.

Finder. Dedicate time every day to finding new business — cold outreach, networking, and anything else that helps you to meet new people.

Keeper. Manage your business’s money. Decide how much to reinvest into the business and how much to keep in your pocket.

Doer. Deliver on the technical work that you’re paid to deliver.

Lesson 4: Take An Improv Class

I’ve attended a few improv shows at Second City in Toronto and have enjoyed them. However, I never thought about attending a class myself. Then, two things changed. First, I read about how Ryan makes everybody on his team take an improv class and how it helped him to improve his sales ability. I also had the opportunity to participate in a half-day Second City improv-inspired business communication workshop. It was a stimulating combination of light stress (“ah! I’m doing something new and strange!”) and fun.

Lesson 5: You Can Learn Lessons From People Outside Your Industry

Since I help technology companies to grow with marketing, I studied that industry regularly. I listen to interviews, read books like “The Upstarts” and go to events. However, reflecting on Ryan’s book has got me thinking that I should read a bit more widely to get new ideas and inspiration.

What’s A Book You’ve Read From A Different Industry That You Gained From?

How Baremetrics Markets With Financial Transparency and Sharing The Founder’s Journey

Do you really know the numbers behind your SaaS business? No, I’m not talking about monthly P&L statements. I’m talking about business metrics like customer lifetime value, churn and monthly recurring revenue. You don’t have to hire an analyst to crunch the numbers. Just use Baremetrics. Hat tip to Ryan Robinson (see his interview about growing with content marketing) for introducing me to Baremetrics.

Josh Pigford, founder of BareMetrics, shared his insights about growing the company, content marketing and more.

What is Baremetrics and how does it help customers?

Example Baremetrics Dashboard

Baremetrics is a revenue analytics product. We help businesses get insights on the money that’s coming in. For subscription-based companies, we would track metrics like monthly recurring revenue, lifetime value of a customer, churn rates, and other data points. The metrics themselves are not necessarily new to the industry, but they are traditionally really hard to calculate on your own. Without a tool like this, you would need to do lots of spreadsheet calculations or build internal tools. Baremetrics completely replaces all that. You can get up and running a few minutes.

What do you find most challenging in marketing Baremetrics?

There are two challenges. One, finding a channel that’s scalable from a cost standpoint, especially for paid acquisition. Two, finding a channel that is easy to track or attribute performance. It is difficult for us to say, “This is the channel. This is how much it costs to acquire through that channel, and here’s how we scale it up.”

When it comes to content, you can make some guesses about things, or even have some high-level data points. Knowing for sure is a different story. Connecting the dots between a prospect reading article A and becoming a customer is difficult to track.

What is your thought process around content marketing for Baremetrics? In a recent blog post, you mentioned that past efforts at content marketing at other companies did not generate results. It sounds like you are taking a different approach today.

In the early days of content marketing days, say five years ago, SEO considerations were at the top of the agenda. The approach was let’s produce much content to rank for a specific keyword. Recently, my approach to content marketing has shifted to focus on how we create the content, in and of itself, really valuable. Search engine optimization can be a part of that, but first and foremost, you need to be writing for humans.

When I started Baremetrics, I tried the SEO focused content marketing. That approach did not work well for us. Going forward, I wanted to produce content that was genuinely helpful for other businesses. If there was an SEO impact, fantastic. If not, I am sort of indifferent about that. Ultimately, I wanted something that people could read and get much use out of.

What makes a piece of content “genuinely helpful” in your view?

I want something that’s actionable – you can do something with the thing that you just read. That may be a resource or downloads such as a spreadsheet you can use or a marketing how-to. Alternatively, I want you to be sitting and thinking about it for a while. So, I want it to be something that a week later, you are still chewing on it in your head. Like, “Oh, I had not thought of something that way.”

The article about our Medium experience (Why we transitioned from Medium back to our blog) was more on the how-to or actionable side. It had some practical points on how you can use medium based on our experience using the website.

In other posts, it is more a case of sharing the struggles of running a business such as burnout (e.g., The Impossibility of Separating Work & Life). If you are thinking about one of these articles later that day or a few days later, that is a sign of a successful article.

How do you organize and publish your content assets?

We have two different silos of our content. First, we have got the main blog with articles aimed aim founders, business owners, and people who are work at startups can get much use out of. Second, there’s the academy which has more a SEO focus. There’s content related to keywords like monthly recurring revenue such as glossary article on monthly recurring revenue. The Academy is about answering questions people are searching for on Google.

For the Founders blog, I produce nine out of ten articles. For the academy, most of our production is outsourced to freelancers. In many cases, academy content references and repurposes articles I have written.

Are you using paid customer acquisition methods?

We have tested these methods, but nothing has made sense from a scaling perspective.

What would you say has been your most successful marketing channel so far?

The content we produce is by far the most successful channel.

Your content includes publishing revenue figures (e.g., open benchmarks). How did that come about?

After we had made our metrics public, other companies contacted us and asked to be listed.

What does your free trial to paid customer process look like?

You start by signing up for a 14-day trial. During the trial, it is a self-serve process with automated emails that guide you through onboarding and getting value from the product quickly. At the end of the 14 days, you either upgrade to a paid account or stop using the product.

What kind of touch points do you have with prospects and customers during this process?

I try to hop on a call with most new trials, or someone on our customer success team will try to hop on a call. At the very least, we reach out via email. So, it is not high touch, but it is not any touch, either. Sometimes this will involve doing a video chat, a screen share and walking them through their dashboard.

Why do have a 14-day free trial?

You can do 30 days instead, but our view is that we want you to start paying soon after you start getting some business value out of it.

Contrast our product to other software where you start with a blank slate – Google Apps, or Dropbox, or Slack for example. All of these tools require you to start using them, slowly getting data put in, and then you begin to see the value.

With Baremetrics, depending on how much data you have with your payment processor, you can start to see value in minutes or a few hours. That is how long it takes to see a whole dashboard full of data. So, the time between when you sign up and when you start getting value is extremely short compared to most SaaS products.

The 14 day period gives us a little bit more time to help you see the benefits, or to show you all that’s there. It is not just the single page that shows you some numbers that there’s a lot more depth to it.

What conversion rates do you see from free to paid?

Currently, we are around 14% from free to pay.

If you sign up, but it turns out you do not use a data source that we support, you will probably not convert to paid. Our conversion rate of people who have a data source that we support would be a lot higher, but it is difficult to track and report that separately. We support payment processors like Stripe, Braintree, and Recurly.

Is there a demand for people to use something like a QuickBooks or an accounting app as a data source?

There are certainly people who have asked for it. The problem is, we need a particular type of data, or format of data, to provide our metrics and subscription numbers. The problem with QuickBooks or Xero is the nature of the data. It is flat data. We could certainly see, “Oh, in this category you brought in $10,000,” but we would not be able to get any insight into that. It would require us to reformat your accounting books to process it. We are trying hard not to be accounting app. Our goal is not to give you accounting insights but rather higher level business metrics instead.

What business metrics have the greatest predictive value for your customers?

It depends on the stage of the business. One of the more consistent indicators would be churn (see “How Churn Prediction Can Improve Your Business” on  Put it another way: at what pace are people canceling? That is a good indicator of the health of the business. It is one of the more actionable metrics. If it is in the double digits or over 20%, you have a big problem on your hands. In that case, you should focus on nothing else except fixing that and figuring out why customers are canceled in such large numbers.

What is a marketing experiment from the past year that you are proud of?

Our sort transparency journey has been the gift that keeps on giving. It has been almost four years, but at the same time, it consistently keeps working for us, and new opportunities come from that. We continue to see other people reference Baremetrics regarding transparency for our numbers and how that helps other businesses.

What kind of new opportunities has that brought to Baremetrics recently?

A new company will want to make their data public on our website. When that happens, we tend to see a new influx of customers or at least visitors to the site.

At Baremetrics, who is responsible for marketing activities?

I am responsible for marketing. To do that, I have support from freelancers in content creation, administrative support, and engineers helping with data to inform the content.

For readers that would like to connect with you and find out more about Baremetrics, where should they go?

Start with If you want to reach out or have any questions about anything, email me at josh AT or on Twitter.

Sell More With Sendlane’s Behavior Based Email Marketing Automation

Building an email list is a critical marketing asset. How can you translate email marketing into low stress added revenue? Once you have your offer and copy dialed in, the next step is email marketing automation!

The problem with marketing automation? It is too difficult to implement for most of us. Sendlane is here to help you achieve results-driven email marketing.

When I heard about Sendlane’s success on Nathan Latka’s podcast, I simply had to feature them in the interview series. Jimmy Kim, the CEO of Sendlane, sat down with me to share a few insights on how he built the business.

Who is a good customer for Sendlane and how does the product help them?

Sendlane was built for digital marketers, specifically info product owners, affiliate marketers, SaaS owners, and eCommerce owners. We are more than your basic email automation tool. We are an advanced email automation tool focusing on features designed to help track and sell with email marketing and automation.

How do landing pages and personalization features fit into the product?

To stay competitive, I see these features as essential. We do not say that we are the best in landing pages, but we provide you with a solution that you can use. We focus on behavior-based automation, or email automation, or personalization automation. You can customize and tailor every experience for every customer or subscriber that you get on your email list.

How do you provide this personalization for email marketing?

You can personalize your messages based on the user’s actions, whatever that may be. For example: if the user opened a specific email or clicked a link in an email. Further, you can look at higher level automation such as how much they have spent with you, if they have visited a certain page, if they are from a particular country, the device they use, time of use and so forth. Anything that you can think of, we allow you to segment your emails based on that. Furthermore, you can create custom fields and such so that you can collect information in addition to name and email. You can obtain other information like phone number and segment based on that.

Would this email marketing personalization help a SaaS company convert a free trial user to a paid user?

We use Sendlane to market our service. We do multiple touch points on follow-ups, depending on their actions (e.g., did the user click “add to cart,” did they stop during the sign-up process). The personalization varies depending on their activity. Other SaaS companies can use a similar approach to marketing based on the user’s actions. This process continues when the user makes a purchase – they will get put into a different sequence.

We are proud that we have built a profile-centric platform, not a subscriber-centric one. With Sendlane, you do not are on multiple lists; the user profile has various tags. You can then do customization based on the tags.

What are some of the important marketing channels you use at Sendlane?

Initially, we focused on influencer marketing, finding great users to find, and then asking for referrals. Furthermore, we did some integrations and content marketing. We have started to get into paid marketing. We make sure that we are sharing great content out there so that we can advertise it via Facebook, and Google, and YouTube, and other places to stay visible.

Are there particular integrations that stand out regarding helping with growth?

It is difficult to track if new customers come from integrations. For example, ClickFunnels integrates with us, via our API, so, unfortunately, we cannot see who is using that connection. On the other hand, Shopify uses a native connection so that we can see the users. I am not sure if they drove the customers, or we drove the customers. That is the only part we cannot see.

As a SaaS company, integrations support our brand and puts us next to other leading companies.  Considering we are in such a crowded space in what we do, we knew that it was critical to get your name in front of our name next to the other companies. Putting our name next to MailChimp, a leader in the email marketing space, helps possible customers to know that we exist and that we are an option.

What does your paid traffic marketing look like?

We spend the majority of our time in Google and AdRoll right now, and we spend a lot less time on Facebook. We look at two paid media methods. With Facebook ads, it is a more disruptive marketing approach – you are showing up when the user is doing something else. With Google, you have users who are actively searching for information. We find that Google AdWords is providing better results than Facebook. There are significant costs regarding cost per click, but the result is always dramatically better for us. We have been testing this process for the last six months, and we continue to see this result over, and over again.

What does the funnel look like after they click?

We have been testing multiple approaches. We do have a free white paper available, and we have been testing that as well. It seems that the white paper does a decent job. The best top-of-the-funnel action is driving the user to our homepage which is optimized for conversions.

How does the Sendlane blog contribute to your marketing? Is the objective to get email signups, demos?

The primary purpose of the blog is to support our branding. You need to expose prospects to the brand multiple times through different channels. Some blog posts are written in-house, and we also hire third parties as well. We are always looking for people who have written in the technology space who have some level of clout. At the same time, we try not to credit too many outside writers as well. Ideally, we are interested in ghostwriters that have written for major publications.

A few of our most successful blog posts include:

How do you approach segmentation in your marketing?

We are looking for someone who makes a purchase or looking at someone who may have come to a site, added to cart, but then stopped. Therefore, we know we need to do follow-up and make sure they are in the right automation flow.

Whether you are in eCommerce, SaaS, information products, marketing to someone who has got to the checkout process is robust. That is why segmentation based on cart or checkout behaviors is powerful.

How does the affiliate program contribute to your marketing?

We offer a 30% commission for the life of the customer to our affiliates.  Affiliates make up less than 5% of our monthly revenue. We built this affiliate platform just to have it, but we do not rely on it at any level. I think that it is good to have it as a way to help your current users spread their message and spread their word and get paid to do so. At the same time, I believe that building a business, or a SaaS on affiliate traffic is not the best way to make a long-term profitable company.

Do you use offline marketing methods?

We were recently at Traffic & Conversion event, and we have a couple more coming up this year. When you have face-time with customers and potential customers, it helps our marketing research. When you attend these events, it is important to ask people about what they want and what they are looking for. You would be surprised at the different answers. You should build your SaaS based on what the market wants not what you think would be a good feature.

What does influencer marketing look like for Sendlane?

When I say, “influencer marketing,” it is different from the traditional definition. Influencer marketing is focused on finding a person with a big audience, and you are asking them to promote your product.

In our case, we focus on finding people with a following in our market. Instead of asking them to directly promote the product, we invite them with an offer like: “Come try us out. We will give you a special deal because you are an influencer and you are doing great work.” Furthermore, we encourage happy influencers to share the message that they are happy with our platform.

For example, we had a charity that was a great customer. They loved our customer service and told their other friends in charities. We try to encourage that activity.  For our influencer marketing, we are focused on people using the platform, not celebrities promoting the product for a payday. Instead, we like to reach out to our top users and our power users. We ask them for referrals and encourage them to spread the word.

What marketing metrics and indicators are important for Sendlane to engage free trial users?

Engagement with the platform is important. I look at how many times they have logged in and how often they are logging in. Every day during the free trial, we connect with them. It might be sharing a story or providing advice and we make sure to tell them when they are about to be billed.

The traditional marketing advice would say that you should not remind me that you are about to charge them for the first time when the free trial is about to end. In our case, we reach out three days before, two days before, the day before and the day they are charged. In fact, we make it a celebration, an event that people are joining and finally signing up for a paid account.

Here is an examples of our celebration style email:

What conversion rate do you see from free trial to paid users?

Our free trial to paid customer conversion is 65%. So we have a very high conversion rate in the industry. We are currently working on our onboarding system to make it an even better user experience.

When did the company’s first marketing hire come in and why?

In December 2015, we hired our first marketing person. Our decision came about because we were overloaded. We wanted to devote more time and attention to our content marketing and social media strategy. It was essential to bring in an expert who could maximize our marketing. They also handle other channels of marketing as well. As we continue to grow, we have recognized that we have to increase each person’s focus.

It looks like you do not have any sales staff. Did you decide to focus on marketing over sales?

Not necessarily. We never really focused on building a marketing or sales department in the same way other companies would do. Our focus has been growing based on warm leads and our network for the first few years. We are now just getting to the point where we are putting resources into paid marketing. We are a bootstrap company, and we have focused on building a great product that people would love and use.

Personally, my focus in the company is in sales and marketing. That includes demos and calls with the larger clients. If it looks like a prospect is going to spend $1,000 or more per month with us, it needs a more of a human touch. Working directly with me gives the prospect more comfort about the company, how we work and the customer service experience. I am also involved in the marketing we do with Facebook, Bing, AdRoll and other platforms.

Sendlane has a three-minute customer service guarantee with US-based support. How does that contribute to the company’s success?

Yes, I built a customer support team here in San Diego with a three minute response time 24 hours a day. A few years ago, I read “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh. He talked about the importance of customer service in building Zappos. I have also spent time and money on customer service because a happy paying customer will continue to pay you over and over again.

Where do you go online to stay up-to-date on SaaS marketing, connect with other people in the industry?

There are some Facebook Groups like SaaS Growth Hacks ( My number one resource to better understand my company’s performance is a tool called ProfitWell. I use it to check what our churn rates are, what our ARPU (average revenue per user), LTV (customer lifetime value) as well as other measures. For more information on Sendlane, go to