Email Marketing for Startups and More (Part 1)

Published on May 13, 2015

Email Marketing for Startups and More (Part 1)

    Email Marketing

    If you have your own company, then you probably already thought about how to conduct Email marketing. And if you have not thought about it, then it's time to begin to understand, because today it is already obvious that Email marketing is an effective tool for interacting with customers.
    In a series of articles, we will share tips on how you can use Email marketing in a startup at different stages of a project.

    The Email-Competitors project was born from the idea of ​​creating a mailing list library that allows you to monitor competitors, analyze the market and provides a service that helps solve the problems of creating effective email newsletters. We have collected and daily replenish a unique database of email marketing practices from thousands of Russian and world companies. You can read more about the Email-Competitors project here ( siliconrus ) and here ( it-eburg ), and in this article we will share first of all our own email marketing experience, but try to summarize the recommendations so that they can be used by anyone, making a correction for the specifics of their business.

    It happens that the founders of startups are so much focused on product development that they don’t think in advance about its introduction to the market and about further promotion. Of course, “problems should be solved as they become available,” but in this case this is not the best approach, because it is much more efficient to prepare well and collect contacts of your target audience by the time the product launches. With the help of email marketing this can be done with minimal cost.

    Before starting a project - Contact collection


    About a month and a half before the launch of Email-Competitors, we created a service promo page. She looked very simple, briefly acquainted with the capabilities of the service and the value proposition for Central Asia. But, most importantly, a contact data collection form was placed on this landing with a call to subscribe and receive an invitation when the service is launched for beta testing.

    The text of the subscription form looked like this:

    Subscription form

    Important: do not complicate the landing page, do not immediately strive to make a large and complex site, this is a difficult task and will consume a lot of resources. At this stage, this is not the most important thing, it is important to attract target audience, briefly and clearly give them an idea of ​​your product and give them the opportunity (most important!) To become your customers.

    Technically, Mailchimp was chosen as the platform for email marketing, with which we already worked and had a good idea of ​​its capabilities. For a startup, the free version is quite enough at first.

    The main channel for attracting visitors to our landing page was Facebook. Several founder posts on their pages and profile groups about email marketing gave 90 subscribers in the first week. In total, by the time of launch, using free publications on Facebook, we had 160 subscribers who wanted to get an invite to test the service. From a preliminary assessment of the market, which we, of course, did, we decided that this is enough to start with and that you can not waste resources on further attraction. Determine for yourself the necessary and sufficient number of users, based on the specifics of your product and market features.

    It is worth mentioning that we launched the project based on Inbox Marketing, and the founders of Email-Competitors are recognized experts in the field of email marketing. If you have not yet become an authority in the chosen field, free channels of attraction may not work as well as in our case, and then you need to think over a reserve strategy for attracting the first subscribers in advance.

    We admit honestly: after receiving contacts, we did not interact with our subscribers for a month and a half. I just did not have enough hands, like all startups. Of course, it’s more correct to warm up interest, write to subscribers about the project stage or send some valuable information. It is enough to write once a week or even once every 2 weeks, more often it is not necessary. If you have such an opportunity, do it.

    Launch of the project


    Contacts of all signatories before the launch of the project, we entered into the database. It was a database of non-activated users. After the project started, a personal letter was sent to all subscribers, with a personal account activation link. However, to our surprise, about half of the users did not activate their accounts, although the activation is very easy: just click on the activation button in the letter, come up with a password and start using the service.

    We think that a low activation percentage could be due to a delay in receiving emails, as well as the fact that in Gmail emails often go to other bookmarks rather than to Inbox. Of course, someone could first sign up and then change their mind, someone could get a link on a smartphone - and not everyone is ready to go directly to a service from a smartphone, enter a password, etc. But there are many reasons why subscribers do not become users. But almost 50% is too much, agree.

    Life after launch


    Ten days later, the launch field we already had 400 users (which is quite a good indicator in the b2b segment), but, again, approximately 25% of the accounts were not activated. And here we seriously thought - what to do with non-activated users?

    We do not know what other projects are doing, we suspect that most often nothing. Larger companies engage in remarketing, killing people with ads.

    But we came up with this: launch a personalized activator letter (we have marketing with a human face).
    Activator letter

    Thus, we received an additional 33% of non-activated users, without spending money on attracting them.

    A trigger was born from this letter: automatically send an activation letter to inactive users. Now this trigger fires 1 time, on weekdays, the day after registration. Thus, we reduced the number of non-activated accounts to 5%.

    What you should pay attention to?


    Sometimes people indicate someone else's email when they sign up. Someone, probably, thinks that it might be interesting to his friend, someone, maybe, on the contrary, out of harm ... One way or another, this moment must be kept in mind. For example, we received one complaint from a user. What to do? Double opt in, email confirmation. And, of course, activation - I don’t like it, you don’t activate it. If the user does not activate after receiving the activation letter, he does not get on our mailing list - we never send anything to the user without his consent. This is a matter of professional ethics. If this argument is not enough - just remember your feelings about the spam of any brand - and you will understand that our approach is not only more honest, but also more effective.

    It is important to monitor the situation daily. One fine day after updating the system, we saw that over the previous day none of the registered users had activated an account. There were clicks - activation did not occur. It turns out that after the update a bug occurred during activation. We quickly fixed it and immediately sent an apology letter to the signatories during this time. The letter gave us activation, which in another case (if we later discovered a bug or didn’t let users understand that we fixed it) might not have happened.

    In the next post, we talk about the triggers that we use and we can advise you to use them, how to configure them, and what it will give.