Jane and Benedikt are long-time members of the SaaS bootstrapping community, and most recently the founders of UserList – which they launched to a crazy amount of grass-roots hype.

One of the most interesting things I saw from their launch (and I mention this in the interview) is that for about a week UserList was all I saw in my social media feeds. I wanted to sit down with Jane and Benedikt and talk about how that came about, how much was planned, and what they did to stay on track with a looming deadline, limited budget, and a brand new following.

In this interview with Jane and Benedikt, you’ll learn:

  • How to leverage the audience that you have (without abusing your personal relationships)
  • How they chose where to promote their launch
  • Why they used product hunt
  • Their decision making behind choosing to do card up front
  • Why they used ‘schedule a demo’ as their secondary CTA and how it worked out for them
  • Things they weren’t expecting to come out of the launch of the product and how people responded
  • The strategy behind what they chose as their freebie
  • Why they don’t like selling lifetime licenses

You can connect with Jane & Benedikt at:

  • Userlist.io
  • Jane Portman @uibreakfast
  • Benedikt Deicke @benediktdeicke

Transcript:

Keith: Hey, this is Keith from SegMetrics Data Beats Opinions Podcast. And I’m here talking with Jane and Benedikt today from Userlist.io, and we’re going to be talking about their super successful launch and how they plan that out and how they structured that whole thing. And so, hey guys, welcome.

Benedikt: Hello.

Jane: Hey.

Keith: Hey. So, you guys just launched Userlist.io out of beta. You were number one on Product Hunt and that was, I believe, August. What day was that, that that launched?

Jane: August six.

Keith: So it’s been about 20 days since you launched. And I was watching the whole thing and it was like a whirlwind. I’m seeing Userlist come in on Slack, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Product Hunt. Everywhere I see is Userlist. What was that like? What was that like to throw something out there and to get everyone just so excited about that?

Benedikt: Well, it was exciting to see everyone talk about it and share it. And I was happy that it actually worked that way because we really tried to make it that way. Get that reaction and get the word out in front of as many people as possible. I was quite happy that it worked out this way.

Keith: And this was not like an accident. You had put a lot of thought and a plan into this as well. You had written a blog post called Launch Strategy on the Userlist blog that kind of detailed all this. When did you start this whole process?

Jane: I think it was a few months before that because setting a hard date is always intimidating. We have this go and no go concept that we first outline what we want to do. And then a few weeks beforehand we just figured out, are we coping? Are we doing it? Are we making it to the date? That’s called a no go date. So, we were and that’s when we decided to set this blog post live and practically announce the date of the launch.

Keith: Wow, very cool. And then was it helpful then? I mean, you have that no-go, so you have an option to stop and to quit if things aren’t there. But putting that line in the sand of that deadline of, hey, we’re going to launch on August six. Was that helpful in getting everything ready or how did that kind of flow into things?

Benedikt: Yeah, I think that was very helpful. Just having that deadline made it so much easier to just prioritize, possibly in terms of product development. While the product was in a good stage for quite a while already, there was still a few small things missing and just making that line and that setting that date made it easier to prioritize the things that should go into development before that and stuff that’s probably not important for the launch was rescheduled and stuff like that. In that terms, it was super helpful just to finally commit and then make sure its launch ready by that date.

Jane: And we still managed to pull a few features that were not planned. Because there is always a temptation to make this improvement and that improvement, like let’s do it. But thankfully, the last week was pretty quiet in terms of product features so that Benedikt could focus on productivity.

Benedikt: And testing quiet.

Keith: And testing and making sure everything goes right. The worst thing you can do… I know when we had one launch, we found out that we had an extra space in our API key. And so we had all these people come in to sign up and no one could because the API key was bad. So that testing.

Benedikt: I had stuff like this happen to me before were… like similar stuff. We didn’t switch the API key from test from the test key to the production key, but just one of them so all the signups could fail and all the credit cards. It was, no, it doesn’t work. Luckily this time I think it worked.

Keith: And this is not your guys first rodeo. How many apps have you guys built in the past? I mean, not as a team, but just in general, because you guys have been doing this for a while. Let’s start with Benedikt.

Benedikt: This is the second app I’m launching by myself. I previously launched another product. It wasn’t that successful, but so what? How to not to forget the API keys. But I’ve been part of a couple of launches usually as a consultant in the past.

Keith: Jane.

Jane: As for me it’s also my second product. Previous one Tiny Reminder was also on Product Hunt. But before that, I’ve done maybe like I think three or four launches for the books and courses. That also kind of helps to feel the dynamics of how it usually goes and not to have false expectations or rainbow unicorn ideas about how it’s supposed to go.

Keith: What are some of the learnings Jane that you had from your previous launch or any of the other products that kind of fed into this? One you stated was not having those expectations or setting realistic expectations. What were some of the other things that kind of you were able to prepare for?

Jane: I think the ability to sort of quietly and without too much emotion just leverage what you have, the audience that you have, the best way to ask people for help. Because we have a certain way how we craft emails and we touched on that in the book post. So that people who want to help have multiple ways of doing that.

Jane: They can tweet, they can go to Product Hunt and help you there and develop the timeline in such way that everybody can be involved in a dignified manner. And we never never ever abuse our personal relationships in a way that like, I haven’t been in touch for five years, but we’re [inaudible 00:06:38]. We don’t do that.

Keith: I have this great supplement package I’d love you to buy kind of… It’s interesting though because I think a lot of people know that you have to reach out to your group, to your community and get that help. But I think it’s a lot harder than people really imagine. I get asked a lot for things like, “Hey, can you send a testimonial or anything?”

Keith: And it’s often this blank slate kind of problem where it’s like, “Hey, I’d love you to promote for this,” Or, “Hey, I’d love you to write a testimonial.” It’s like, okay, I don’t know what to do next. And this is something that you seem to have really been able to do effectively which is lead people into how, and you had just mentioned how they can help you so that if someone, for example, isn’t active on Twitter, they have another way they can help you.

Jane: And there is a balance. For example, we do have a lot of friends who have their audiences but we would never do like hard ask so that… We would never ask them to email their mailing list because we know this is a very serious commitment. It’s got to be a perfect fit, or to become an affiliate or anything. That’s a pretty hard ask. So you’ve got to be aware of how much you’re asking and using that relationship. You shouldn’t be abusing it. You should be asking for something that’s not challenging to the relationship between the year too.

Keith: Yeah, exactly. And the people who do want to give more and to do that affiliate, they’re going to respond back and say, yes, I want to do this. And the same way, I get a lot of people saying, hey, I really want to be on your mailing list. I’m like, that’s not something I do. Or I work with clients and they’re like, yeah, but we’re booked up for the next 18 months.

Keith: So it’s much better like you’re saying to start that conversation I think. Benedikt, how about you? What are some of the things that having this been your second personal launch in your multiple launch for clients and stuff that you have kind of seen as this is something that I was able to avoid. This is something that I knew was coming.

Benedikt: I think one realization from my previous launch was that being successful on product and in terms of getting engagement and upload some likes and comments doesn’t really automatically translate into signups and actual revenue. And that was a tough realization back then. But in hindsight it was totally obvious because with a previous product, product and community wasn’t at all the target audience for the product.

Benedikt: It just wasn’t a good fit. Everyone liked it and I think it did pretty well, but they were none of my customers there. So, why would anybody sign up for it? And luckily with this launch it was a little bit different because I feel like a part of our audience is actually on Product Hunt and the part of the product and audience is actually a good fit.

Benedikt: But then again with the type of product it is, we were also realistic enough to not expect a huge number of signups because it’s not an impulse buy product like for example a book or a course where you basically say, “Oh yeah, this book looks interesting. Let’s just buy it and never read it.”

Benedikt: With Userlist it’s a product that… Well, for one it’s a subscription. So you pay every month. That makes it harder. And then there’s a serious commitment involved in terms of integrating the product into your own SAS application and sync the data, write email campaigns, stuff like that. It was obvious to us that even if people like it, they probably won’t sign up right away.

Keith: I actually have two questions about that. One is, how did you change where you were promoting based on where you thought your best customers would be as opposed to maybe just the best people that would be willing to promote it? For example, if you were to promote on Hacker News, everyone would probably link to you because hey, you’re doing a SAS. This is awesome. But literally none of those people will sign up because it’s not the right market.

Benedikt: Yeah, I think we went with product and because, as I said, some of our audience is definitely there. I mean, there are a lot of similar products on the website regularly so that was an easy choice. And apart from that, I think we didn’t post it on any other sites, did we?

Jane: Not really. Not too much.

Benedikt: Only shared it with online communities we’re part of, and of course our Twitter audiences, our mailing list, stuff like that where knew people that are a good fit would hang out because we are mostly building the product for those people anyways.

Jane: I think the angle changed a little bit. For example, there are some Slack groups that we are part of where we have peers and fellow founders who are cheering for us and we shared the launch announcement post with a little bit of our story. It was more about like sharing babies born and personal news products launch kind of stuff. Whereas with our actual waiting list and with my with business list we would focus on the benefits of the product. It was more of a commercial announcement.

Keith: And then how long had you had that beta list for? Because you this wasn’t a launch where no one had any idea and then you just appeared out of nowhere. This is something that you’ve been building too over time.

Benedikt: I think it was a little less than two years. Am I right? I think we started the mailing list in October 2017.

Jane: Yeah, we put out the basic like website with a signup form straightaway because we know that collecting emails is super important. But what’s best, we actually talked to these people and wrote updates pretty frequently and shared a lot. That kind of worked out. I think people enjoyed our honesty.

Jane: And also, when we talk about something on the list, we try to first include some other resources that we get inspired from so that people get the whole angle about the problem not just, hey, we announced a feature. Period. We tried to be more helpful in general to fellow founders and marketers.

Keith: I think that’s always a difficult balance to run, which is some people want to know about the features and some people want to know about how things are going and strategies they can use. And some people just don’t want that at all. They consider it just marketing spam. How have you kind of…

Keith: Or is that something that you’re still trying to figure out? That balance between what is given to people as, hey, here’s how the product is improving versus here’s how you should use the product better. Kind of that marketing education versus just bare bones this is what we’re doing.

Jane: I have a suspicion that people are interested in us as humans, following our story line in general. It also helps that we kind of supply useful bits of information along the way. But we’re never pushing actual educational material. However, crafting some is a part of the story.

Jane: If we built some crazy awesome worksheets, then we’re going to share them with the list saying like this is it. We’re going to use it as a lead magnet. We’re kind of transparent. It’s kind of meta about this strategy. We’re not hiding the motive behind like that. It’s a lead magnet, but it’s a useful one and the same with other assets and stuff.

Benedikt: I think what makes it a little bit easier for us and put this particular audience is that the people who are interested in following along and basically seeing another company with their way to launch and hopefully further along are also those people who are in our audience and potential customers.

Benedikt: And that makes it a little bit easier by just sharing the story and sharing the day to day more or less already on the top of our minds in a way and for this particular tool. I think it makes it easier than when it’s more disconnected. When the origin story of the team and the company doesn’t relate with the audience and the customer.

Keith: And I think it’s true because your best customers are in exactly the same position you are where they have a SAS, where they’re trying to connect with their customers. And so the things that you find and the things that you do in your journey are direct reflections of what they’re probably struggling with as well. Now, is that something that you specifically went out for or is that just because that’s where you are every day, that’s how you kind of fell into it?

Jane: That’s more about our kind of products founder kind of thing. That we did want to serve our ecosystem and provide quality tools for them as our company mission. Surrounding ourself in that community and coming from that is that natural like consequence of that, I guess, or something that we did realize when we signed up for creating this tool and the company.

Keith: I want to talk a little bit about the launch and a couple of things that we had talked about before we started here. One of the things that you had mentioned that you did and that a lot of people I think struggle with as well is that whole card up front thing. And especially when you’re launching, there’s this tendency to want to not do card up front just because you want to get people in the door. You want to talk to more people, etc. Can you talk about the decision behind that? And then what did that create as an opportunity for you doing that card up front where it might not have otherwise?

Jane: Benedikt I think it’s up your alley. You’re the QWERTY person here.

Benedikt: The decision to do card up front was pretty set from the get go like when we started out. I think it was a brief discussion. I think we had one call discussing it. But as we are an email sending tool, this is the first line of defense against messages and spammers. So if you don’t trust us with your card, then we don’t trust you either. It’s like the first line of defense.

Benedikt: And it was also pretty clear that a free trial doesn’t make a lot of sense for us. I mean, yes, we have a free trial but only with a credit card because we expect you to pay eventually. It’s not we were going to have a free plan and you can send a lot of emails for free without giving us any any card info. Just because there’s a lot of costs involved in running the product as well.

Benedikt: I mean, an email is costly. We do a lot of data processing of events people send us. That costs money. Storing that data costs money. It was pretty obvious that we’ll have to charge. There won’t be a free plan and it will be card up front just to weed out people that are serious enough to actually give us their credit card details.

Jane: We have this requirement in place ever since the first beta days. We are already used to having objections from some parts of the audience and we were pretty solid about it. Practicing that upfront kind of helped to be more steady about the decision. I think Newsy guys have a great post up from couple years ago why they’re asking for card up front and it’s even more so for an email business like ours.

Keith: What were some of the things… Because this does prevent a lot of people from starting up, maybe they’re not opting in. They get to the beginning of the signup, they put their email address in and they’re like, I don’t know if I want to do the credit card yet. I don’t know these guys [inaudible 00:18:59] kind of thing. What strategies were you using there to kind of make that easier? What were you doing to get those people back, if anything?

Jane: We use Userlist for our own abandoned signups. Once they pass the first screen and submit their email, they’re already users in our base. We had that in place, but after we recorded that like 74% didn’t go through the card. We were like ouch! We need to be more intentional about what we do with them, so we took extra efforts. We collaborated and wrote very, very thoughtful, delicate kind of email saying, hey, we love you but please do trust us. This is for your own goodness sake, that your own emails will be delivered well if we have quality customers. And we had some people reply to us about that, so that’s nice.

Keith: That’s great. It’s always interesting to see the reply rate that you get. Not just the how many people opened our click, but actual manual replies that someone’s taking the time out of their day to give feedback with and it always warms the cockles of my heart.

Jane: We had a conversation about cards and stuff with Josh Garofalo on your breakfast podcast like last week and we haven’t even had time to discuss this with Benedikt but maybe setting up expectations about the card up front. For example in some software you will have like names of the steps that you’re going for. For example, saying the label like input your card details on step three up front when you didn’t even start.

Jane: That would already help them. And really I’m about to bring to the table a discussion whether we should say card up front on the homepage next to the CTA because there is nothing to be ashamed off, but it will help those 74% to not waste the time when their first couple steps.

Benedikt: But then again, they’re not becoming users and won’t get that nice email.

Keith: The other thing I think you had mentioned was that you were doing schedule a demo. Is that something that you were promoting to those people that abandoned? As like, hey, we want to talk to you about this? Or was that something that was higher up on the funnel?

Jane: Can I tackle this?

Benedikt: Sure.

Jane: Just in the beginning. When I designed the website a few months ago, the one that you currently see. On the homepage I had this big place for a call to action button and I designed a custom nice white secondary button which has never been used up to the launch day. On the launch day and we’ve done with everything I’m like, you know I haven’t potential of a secondary call to action, the hero section. What should we do?

Jane: Sending people to the features page didn’t make much sense because it would kind of disrupt their experience. But looking at it, so we decided to use it as a secondary option to book of demo. So we had all this demo process in place and we just enable that from the homepage and we got plenty of signups. And Benedikt, since you’ve been on the receiving side, what happened to most of them?

Benedikt: It was like unexpected side effect of the launch this like we… I think It was after we posted the website and product when we decided to put that button there, and of course suddenly my email inbox exploded. I have like, I don’t know, five calls lined up for the next week for demos. And that was unexpected-

Keith: Good problem to have though.

Benedikt: Yes, but then none of them showed up. I think one was nice enough to cancel but everyone else just didn’t show up.

Keith: That’s an interesting thing to look at, especially as you’re looking at this like a funnel. It’s like, okay, we had this many people come. This many people ask for a demo, but all of them canceled. What do you think you could have done to bring them back? Or do you think they were just low value and no matter what they weren’t going to come?

Benedikt: That’s a good question. I think we didn’t think about it a lot since… After the first one didn’t show up, we started sending out personal messages to everyone actually thanking them for taking the time to schedule a call. And hey, do you have any questions up front? But in the end, none of this helped.

Benedikt: Except for the one who explicitly canceled, never heard anything back. So yeah, I don’t know. The button was still there. Not as many people are clicking it anymore or actually signing up for a demo. But I like the idea of, do we have to schedule a demo link in that abandoned signup email? That’s probably a smart idea to do that.

Jane: We do have it there.

Benedikt: It’s there? Okay, I wasn’t quite sure.

Jane: It’s like, can we earn our trust? Let’s have a call first if you’re really having doubts about us. But with our product, there is such a range of attitudes towards I want to check out how it looks towards damn, I need this for my business now. How do we get started? And of course, our best customers are on that second side of the spectrum. And for those, I mean, the abandonment email doesn’t really save the day.

Jane: They would reach out proactively, most likely. We’ve seen a lot of such people as our beta users and we keep seeing them as customers. They would find me somewhere in a Slack group and say, hey Jane, I booked a demo. I’m like here’s more about my business. Like we had one today. So you would really not need to go looking for them and thanking them. They will be struggling to solve this pain.

Keith: And that kind of mirrors one of the things that I’ve seen which is your noisiest customers, and not all of them but most of your noisiest customers are going to be your best customers. And there’s a difference I think between a needy customer who’s just wants free support and wants all this help and is never going to actually use it and people who are just so excited about using and trying to figure out all the nuances. Those kind of power users.

Benedikt: Noisy, probably not so much. But the most excited customers are usually like the best ones.

Jane: Even though we had our first annual subscription lately and that was not that kind of customer. It was just a quiet peaceful person business who were doing their business and obviously getting value from the tool. So it’s not necessarily always so.

Benedikt: I guess there’s a range.

Keith: It’s interesting that those… And talking about the opinion versus data, I kind of went on that for my own personal opinion. But now that we’re talking more in depth I’m like, oh yeah, wait, what about those people? Where are those other people? And now I’m like, I kind of want to go into the customer list and see how many times do people email support? How good of a customer are they? What tier are they on? Where does that all and being able to find who my best customer is going to be? Whether that’s the size of the account or how often they email or maybe they never email, etc.

Jane: We’ve seen all kinds of stories unfolding with our early customers. Some of them would be super enthusiastic but then something would happen in their business or they would suddenly lack something that we don’t have yet. For example, we have one business waiting or actually a few waiting for INAP messaging and they are particularly enthusiastic to jump off Intercom to join us but they’re looking forward to the INAP part to happen.

Keith: I would also like that. I will throw my hat into the ring for wanting that feature. And that’s one thing I kind of want to talk about, which is the product development where it kind of came from. Obviously things like Intercom are big competitors, but where do you see yourself in the space? Who is your ideal client or customer for this product?

Jane: We did a lot of thinking about that ranging from how we describe what we do towards who do we serve and so on, so forth. And we do have a blog post about a positioning exercise that we did based on April Dunford’s book. And accidentally that’s probably one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written by no intention seriously. But it just goes step by step through a positioning exercise. One of the exercises is outlining competition.

Jane: And it’s incredibly important to understand that your competition is not necessarily your price range similar companies that you know. If customers knew about them, they probably would have already been using them. There is a long range of different competing solutions starting from building in-house messaging to using general purpose automation tools like Drape and ConvertKit to using super expensive enterprise tools like Intercom or customize.io or something.

Jane: I’m calling super expensive, but definitely so for the smaller sized company. And there is a table there outlining features and benefits it bring and the value and who can benefit from receiving this value. It’s kind of an exercise you do. And we discovered by doing this exercise that our features and especially lack of such, for example, lack of advanced visual customization. Lack of chap because the INAP messages we we’re talking about is not going to include chat.

Jane: And a few others, they definitely benefit small to medium sized companies and they’re actually not benefiting larger companies because those have unlimited resources. Our goal is to help people get started with limited resources being like a lack of professional marketer or lack of 10 person support team to handle that chat and stuff like that.

Jane: So as of today, our ideal customer is someone similar to ourself, may be a little bit further down the road so that they have time to automate. And definitely not a large company because for those, please go ahead and use Mixpanel, Intercom. There’s another solutions, but it will cost you like a few thousand dollars if you have a large user base. We’re striving for a subset of users smaller market.

Keith: It’s interesting that you mentioned that because I do think that having a strategic lack of features can be a feature and of itself, a benefit. Because once you go into Intercom, once you go into Mixpanel, and especially in Mixpanel, you can do anything. You can do everything and it’s so hard to do the thing that you want to do because there is so much there. You’re just overwhelmed.

Keith: Your target audience, like you said, is not the 5000 person enterprise. It’s the the smaller 10 to 20 to maybe 50 person SAS company who has a very targeted goal that they want to accomplish and you allow them to accomplish that goal in the most straightforward and effective way possible.

Jane: I’m currently listening to a book by Scott Belsky, it’s called The Messy Middle. And it’s like a collection of different insights that he’s collected over a lifetime. So one of the insights is that companies go through a natural lifecycle of the first being lean and mean and simple and beautiful towards growing and growing and then starting to serve advanced customers who can bring them most revenue.

Jane: And that’s when the younger companies can pull over and grasp that audience that’s not their focus anymore. That’s where we’re going under people for not for example Intercoms and Drapes audiences because those raise pricing and we’re striving to get those smaller clients from them sort of. Not as the evil plan, but as a natural thing.

Keith: I mean, to be honest Intercom is no longer serving that bootstrap or to probably 20k, 30k MRR company anymore. Their focus on things like Johnson & Johnson and Pizza Hut and all these companies that make billions of dollars. And so the feature set and the pricing doesn’t make sense at the lower tier anymore. And I think it’s a cycle.

Keith: At some point you’re going to get so big that you’re going to have Microsoft come and say we really need to be using Userlist and you’re going to grow up and start serving that community and someone else is going to come in at the bottom level again because that community is no longer going to be served.

Jane: Well, let’s see how it goes. I was listening to that and I was, I really need to get a piece of cardboard and print those words there and look at them. Keeping things simple, clean, not too many features. Let’s see how it goes.

Keith: And staying in that niche is also a very good strategy because there’s always going to be a space for that. And so you look at someone like DocuSign or HelloSign that huge things and then you look at something maybe like Bidsketch which is very specific and strategic and what they do. They don’t serve Microsoft and they don’t serve Toys R Us or whoever. But they do serve the audience that they want to stay at and that is a powerful growth metric as a growth strategy.

Jane: Yeah, and Docsketch is one of our first customers. Ruben’s been very, very nice to us.

Keith: Reuben’s great.

Jane: He’s on all our sales pages as a testimonial.

Keith: Excellent. I’m just kind of looking through some of the things that we talked about. Is there anything else in specific that you kind of were amazed besides the just general success of the launch. But something that you weren’t expecting to come out of the launch or the product or how people were responding that happened?

Jane: It was interesting to observe some requests from not customer people like a few investor requests to talk. We even had a TV show request which ended up being not precisely… It was a paid placement opportunity. So we didn’t get a TV feature with household names and stuff. And this was interesting to just see how maybe other companies, they process their findings on Product Hunt and use that information to reach out to a company that they consider somewhat successful I guess. That was interesting because we’ve never been there before. We’ve got probably three or 400 in the first day in terms of uploads. And previously I was like, where are these companies who are getting that many? And then we were there and it was pretty cool.

Keith: You know who’s getting those uploads? Successful companies of which you are now one. It’s really interesting and you mentioned how success builds success. Because you were able to get up there because you had all the uploads. Now you have media coming in, you have paid TV appearances and things that will help you grow further, because people are going to know about you further and it’s going to grow on itself. After the call I do want to ask who the TV company was because we had one as well reach out to us and-

Benedikt: Pretty sure it’s the same one.

Keith: It probably is. It sounded so legit. And then I said, hey, can you send me a sample of some of the people you’ve done the past? And I looked at their samples, I was like, “Oh no, I don’t want my name anywhere near that.” One last thing that you had mentioned was that you had built an opt in for this launch as people generally do.

Keith: And as you were kind of coming up with the strategy behind how you want to position that and what it should be, you specifically said it shouldn’t be an email course which is pretty common these days. What was kind of your strategy behind what to give out as that freebie, how that kind of works into your offer and how that leads into the product itself?

Jane: We have been preparing this for a while, so this freebie actually been on the website since spring I think. And generally speaking, it really helps even if you’re in beta to plan your website as if you were about to launch tomorrow. So that you have all these things in place and switching would really not take much effort, but that’s off topic.

Jane: The freebie itself we had a few principles in mind and I think they were sometime before outlined by [Kai 00:36:45] who’s working actually for your company. He had a great post about lead magnets for consultants. I’ve been using the same principles and advocating for them for SAS as well.

Jane: It needs to be something with a low effort consumption. A book doesn’t qualify, it’s too large. You would download and not read. I forgot, there are a few criteria. The other should be definitely related to your product. It should be absolutely helpful. It helps if a diagnosis the pain that you’re helping to solve so that it provides the value in terms of diagnosis, but then they’re welcome to use your solution.

Jane: And I think the one that we also employed is that doing is probably better than just reading. So we have worksheets in place. Once people are invested, they are more likely to just emotionally connect and hopefully maybe engage with us later. And as a designer, just crafting beautiful things [inaudible 00:37:56] and they will look pretty on the desk just sitting.

Jane: Because I used to do that with roommate studies, worksheets a while ago. That was something like set your monetary goal for the next five years or something. We’ve been kind of standing on the shoulders of giants in that regard. These are not new, but it was helpful to follow these principles.

Keith: And did you find good uptake on that after the launch or were people more interested in the product as that launch kind of… What got people to sign up?

Jane: I wouldn’t say we had not dramatic signups, right Benedikt?

Benedikt: I didn’t really look into it to be honest. There wasn’t many signups on the mailing list. But as we said, we didn’t really plan for that as well. I remember we had a longer discussion about, what do we actually want to launch? Do we want to launch a done for you offering or do you want to build email course or whatever and then launch that.

Benedikt: But eventually we just decided to let’s just announce that the product is out of beta and that it’s ready to use. And just don’t don’t be too clever with it. Just be very, very clear about what we’re launching on that day. And so, the lead magnet and the emailing list wasn’t that much of a focus.

Keith: I think that’s super smart because that is something that I see a lot of people do which is they’re going to launch one thing but they over complicate it and it’s like, okay, we’re going to have them opt in for this thing and then they’re going to go to here and then finally after two days they’re going to get to the product which is what we actually want to launch. I’m like, well, or you could just say, hey, here’s the product. Why make people jump through hoops to get in touch with you and get what they want?

Jane: In our business we just wanted to be on the mind of people and we have probably 7 to 10 touchpoint kind of sales funnel which we were never able to really track. And also, we don’t have the data. But I’d be be not surprised if on the Product Hunt page the number of uploads was probably even larger than the number of click throughs to the website especially because we had pretty explanatory video in place on the page.

Jane: So they didn’t really need to go anywhere in order to just know what it does. It’s all very, very multi level and we’re hoping that we’ll kind of evolve over time as we see more signups. And the number of signups definitely has increased since the launch. The later signups they are much more thoughtful than those hype first date let me check it out kind of signups.

Keith: Yeah, exactly. And you see this with a lot of freemium products. There’s just this huge glut of users coming in just to kick the tires. They might never sign in again. But the people who are coming in later who are being, like you said, thoughtful about it are going to be your best customers because they’ve had time.

Keith: Kind of like where I am right now. It’s like okay, I know that I need a solution like Userlist. How does it fit into my system? How do I then build it out? And I’m not going to sign up right now because I know that if I sign up right now I’m not ready. I don’t have anything set up. I haven’t gotten the the marketing flow setup. But as soon as I know that I’m ready I’m like okay, now here’s how I’m going to put this all together.

Jane: Let’s not talk about AppSumo and similar deal sites because our brother could not be worse for them. It’s definitely such not a feed that it’s fantastically easy to say no. We get requests like that from time to time from other deal sites but we’re so not the market for it.

Keith: I’m kind of curious, why do you feel that you’re not in the market for something like that? The lifetime deal or the lower deal for the deal sites?

Jane: Benedikt you say why you don’t like selling lifetime licenses.

Keith: Or priced licenses. I mean, lifetime especially where you guys are is-

Jane: It’s a good deal, but it’s not great for us.

Benedikt: Lifetime just doesn’t make any sense. It’s not a one time thing we’re selling and just expenses we have to cover that’s generated by people just using the product. We have to pay for those. I mean, we could make a lifetime deal where it would be super expensive and nobody would buy it.

Keith: $50,000.

Benedikt: And it sounds like a good fit for like a lifetime deal. No, it’s probably not. That was an easy choice. And in terms of discounts, I don’t know. Yeah, we could probably do it. But then again, I always feel like discounts kind of devalue the product a bit and putting the legitimate pricing into question. Is it really worth that much when they are selling it at a huge discount somewhere else? I don’t know. I don’t see us doing doing huge discounts anytime soon. But I don’t know, maybe we’ll change our opinion there.

Jane: There is one approach that can be helpful when you’re vetting marketing opportunities because you can’t just say yes to everything. So there are some marketing opportunities when you’re desperate for customers, maybe cold outreach kind of type of things and deals and others.

Jane: And you can ask yourself a qualifying question, is that something MailChimp would do? Is that something that Intercom would do? Because we’re aspiring to be at the same level with them. So why would we go for some scrappy marketing tactics? We’d rather do dignified content marketing or something truly valuable and truly helpful to people?

Keith: And I think you’re exactly right, because it really does set the expectation of the value of your product. I know that Rob Walling had talked about Drip when they joined lead pages, that they were able to offer the $1 plan. And he’s like, “We would have never been able to do this without lead pages.”

Keith: At the same time I was like, yes, this is a huge growth metric. But I wonder what is the quality of the people? I don’t know their internal numbers so maybe that was something that brought them all into that $150, $200 plan eventually but to me it felt like a very big shift to the very kind of b2c MailChimp level of Drip.

Keith: I always had like MailChimp down here at the lowest level and then it was kind of Drip and then Infusionsoft kind of leveling. And then when Drip is a $1 product it’s like, yeah, I know it’s better than MailChimp. But of monetary value, they’re hitting the same market.

Jane: Pricing is a separate story. We’ve been watching pricing your fellow companies for a while. It’s really interesting to see it evolve. There is company that we’ve considered so called the competition because they were targeting the same price level and market as we were, it’s called Gist where its like ConvertFox and they were offering.

Jane: So we ended up doing $49 to the lower plan. They were starting at like $29 with gorgeous design and we we’re like, ooh, this is hard. This is looking good. And then they switched out and I think now their plan started… And they had funding, so that’s probably where their price came from. And then now they started at $100 or something.

Jane: Another reverberation from the launch was that we started getting high volume plan requests and that made us get together, pull out a spreadsheet and truly calculate how would we price for some very large numbers of users. And we actually decided that we were under pricing on the highest plan. We cut the number of users twice I think so that the pricing per unit became more reasonable as we kind of calculated that pricing curve.

Keith: And like you said, I think we’ve opened up a can of worms here because I can talk about pricing.

Jane: I’m sorry.

Keith: No, in a good way because I could definitely talk for another hour on pricing. So I would actually love to schedule another call maybe in a little bit just to talk pricing because it is so in depth and there’s a lot of strategy behind it. But I do want to be conscious of time because everyone is listening to this. Thank you so much. And so I’d like to leave with anything else you’d like to add just in general about Userlist.io?

Benedikt: Go check out our website.

Keith: And those links will be in the show notes and the description. And then Jane, where can people find you other than Userlist.io?

Jane: That’s the best place of course. We do have our own websites and stuff, but even on my truth Twitter profile I lately changed and put Userlist co-founder first before being a consultant at UI Breakfast. So just go to Userlist. And we do strive to be very helpful. You’ll find like true founder insights there, very helpful materials, templates, other stuff. So you won’t be disappointed. It’s not boring. It’s not corporate.

Keith: Excellent. Benedikt, about yourself?

Benedikt: Same thing. I’m Benedikt Deicke on Twitter, but I’m not going to start spelling it because it’s long and complicated. I will link it in the show notes. Just go to Userlist.io. I’m on the team page somewhere and then…

Keith: Sounds good. All right guys, thanks so much for joining us and thanks for taking the time.

Jane: Thank you for hosting us. It was great.

Benedikt: Thanks for having us.

Keith: Thanks so much guys. That was super fun.

 



Keith Perhac

Keith is the Founder of SegMetrics, and has spent the last decade working on optimizing marketing funnels and nurture campaigns.

SegMetrics was born out of a frustration with how impossibly hard it is to pull trustworthy, complete and actionable data out of his client's marketing tools.