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 (https://www.facebook.com/groups/SaaSgrowthhacking/). 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 Sendlane.com.