Advanced SaaS Email Marketing Campaigns & Automation Tools with Jane Portman of Userlist

Have you ever considered automating your SaaS and B2B email marketing campaigns?

In this edition of the UpTech Report, host Alexander Ferguson meets with the CEO of Userlist, Jane Portman, to discuss email marketing automation strategies going into 2022.

At its core, Userlist is helping to automate the email marketing lifecycle with its new email automation tool. It makes starting email marketing campaigns and delivering custom email blasts that are personally tailored to SaaS businesses easier than ever before.  It’s event-based email marketing, taken to the next level through data.

Through data-driven analysis, Userlist’s email campaign tools and autoresponders are able to learn about your customers on a deep level. Then, they’ll take all of the necessary actions to onboard, engage, and nurture your marketing leads throughout the full customer lifecycle.

Jane Portman is the co-founder of Userlist — an email marketing tool for SaaS companies. Previously a UI/UX consultant, she also raises three kids, enjoys scuba diving, and runs two podcast shows: UI Breakfast and Better Done Than Perfect.

Userlist is an email automation tool for SaaS companies. Unlike other email tools, it meets the complexity of your SaaS business. You can track clean company-level data, and trigger campaigns based on company-level events. It’s the best way to onboard, engage, and nurture customers and marketing leads.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Jane Portman 0:00
We are an email automation tool that matches and understands your customer data model.

Alexander Ferguson 0:12
Welcome to UpTech Report. This is our applied tech series. UpTech Report is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of customer stories at Today, I’m joined by my guest, Jane Portman, co founder of Userlist. Welcome, Jane. Good to have you on.

Jane Portman 0:28
Excited to be here. Thank you, Alexander.

Alexander Ferguson 0:30
Absolutely. Now, user list is all focused around email automation, specifically for software as a service companies. Can you can you describe to me, Jane, very briefly, what is the problem that you set out to solve with user list?

Jane Portman 0:46
Would you like to hear like the whole retrospective back four years ago? Or what we’re doing right now?

Alexander Ferguson 0:52
Let’s let’s start with the now like, like in like one sentence, what is what is it the problem and then we’ll then we’ll hear the journey, where it began.

Jane Portman 1:02
We provide an email automation tool, full cycle from email marketing leads to customers lifecycle email, for SaaS companies. And unlike other tools, we focus exclusively on b2b SaaS, which helps us meet their data model and do other great things.

Alexander Ferguson 1:19
Email marketing. Gosh, it’s been around forever, feel like and some even say Are we are we past that yet? Like social media etc. But I guess you would agree you have a company based on its that is not true. Email is still so relevant for for everyone. I’m curious though, you’re really honing in on on SAS and software companies helping them b2b SaaS and software, as you stated, I mean, the email space is pretty saturated. It’s busy. So let’s now let’s hear a bit more of the journey. Like where did this began? And you say, yeah, let me carve out my own space in this email marketing space.

Jane Portman 1:56
When we started out in the fall of 2017, four years ago, we had no clue that we’re gonna become like a full, classic ESB email service provider, we were just going to do some behavior based email, you know, like a little bit, just capture some customer data, just send some behavior email, and we had no clue about the how complex and competitive this industry is and how challenging it is to get new customers. One of the key ideas we had in mind was great retention. Because once you’re in, you’re in, sure, but yeah, that also comes with hard adoption, and many other challenges, education, whatever else we’ve been doing for the last few years, it’s really, really getting better. But it is not an easy journey. For sure. Not for the weak of the heart.

Alexander Ferguson 2:54
I feel like that’s a lot of sasco fenders could probably appreciate that exact statement of like, you start at something you’re trying and you’re like, wow, okay, this little bit harder. We got to explore what where’s this going? Now you also have a podcast and around UI breakfast. And so you’ve actually building up an email list and content around there as well, for what did that begin? 2012?

Jane Portman 3:17
I believe 2014 No, 13 Probably. And UI breakfast is a good old design podcast. We’ve just crossed 2 million downloads last year. And I believe we’re the good way to the three because it took like six years to get to the first million and another year. For the second imagine like how attraction really works. So I’m pretty sure we’ll We’ll get there soon.

Alexander Ferguson 3:46
It’s slow at first, but this scales ideally after so you, you’ve you’re familiar with building lists and building building followers and then you start to build a solution to stay in contact and connection with folks of deliverability using email. I’m curious of like, okay, when did that really start to form and fashion into tailor to software solutions and, and and where you are now today?

Jane Portman 4:11
We had the audience of SaaS companies in mind from day one. So that’s exactly the vision the mission to to provide a great quality, enjoyable tool that would help specific SAS problems that is that has not changed. So I’m glad that like the DNA remained the same.

Alexander Ferguson 4:33
How did how did that how does that evolve now over the last few years?

Jane Portman 4:38
So what has been happening on the product side, we’ve just been gradually building nice solid product and build and building up features. And we’re really have just expanded the feature set. We haven’t killed anything we haven’t pivoted dramatically. Well, we have redesigned the colors. Maybe ones, like we turned black and white instead of furball. us here, but nothing crazy, really. So on the back end, it’s been the same nice product that has grown this feature set from very young MVP version on to what it is right now. But on the front side, on the marketing side, we’ve been sort of pivoting and shifting our positioning to better find, you know, that match in the eyes of the founders and product people. And we started with the behavior based email pitch. And then we transition into customer messaging for SAS a little bit there. We have a great post, where we dissect our positioning process based on April done for its workshop, not sorry, not workshop book. And it’s ranks really well for April Dunford,

Alexander Ferguson 6:01
which is a lead source for you is just being I

Jane Portman 6:04
think it’s a like it’s it’s done like think they these are like bottom of the funnel leads, but definitely eyeballs. So we have a great post about that. And then last year, we’ve positioned the back again, into email automation, we added marketing leads to the mix. So previously, we’ve just doing customer email lifecycle email, and then we expanded to the full cycle of marketing, then the lifecycle so from marketing signups to trials to paying customers. Full thing

Alexander Ferguson 6:41
also that that’s that’s gonna be really interesting, when you look at that entire email marketing lifecycle of from a, as you just mentioned, a very bottom of funnel potential cold lead to they are getting on your interest and growing and then they become a customer and then all the way through that customer journey, you’re trying to provide a solution to the

Jane Portman 7:03
entirety? Yeah, yeah, we’ve been always, for the first two or three years, we’ve been super stubborn about just handling the customer part. So everything happens after they sign up for your free trial, for example. Because it’s just easier when they sign up you you’re in this product relationship, you don’t need constant. I mean, don’t know opt in or anything, no lead magnets, they just, you just have the customer data. And your goal is to help them make things easier. However, we did learn over time that founders want all their email in one tool, they just want to use the same platform for sending marketing emails and customer emails. And that’s what we did. It certainly did introduce certain complexity. But it’s interesting that we started from from the heart and an edit the easiest aside, usually an ESB goes backwards, they would have marketing email first. And then they would start layering up hard stuff, the behavior based campaigns, the customer data, everything that is like really challenging. We have that from day one. And then we just removed some limitations to allow for marketing leads.

Alexander Ferguson 8:23
I’m always fascinated with the potential directions one could build a company rather use from the hard side, the easy side of you go for big fish, good for small fish ground up top down.

Jane Portman 8:35
Not the end of the story yet no data store yet. There is another pivot that we made just recently. It’s not the pivot. It’s just it’s a positioning pivot explaining, explaining what is that we’re best at. And that is the keyword we settled on is the customer data. We are an email automation tool that matches and understands your customer data model. And are really particularly means that all set all email tools out there. They pretend that we serve individual users, they would have just one big list of lead leads and customers. And you would have 1500 heads in there. And you would not know is that three accounts is that 20 accounts. What is it? And we do have another data layer to this we have company counts which help users structurally structure customers into accounts, store metrics on the accounts level, do other stuff that sounds super complex, but in fact, it brings clarity and simplicity because it just matches what the SAS has behind the curtains. And that is the beauty. We try to tackle this problem with the name of light company counts, but it just doesn’t really resonate. But the customer data is something that people understand. So it’s our key word.

Alexander Ferguson 10:10
It talks about a journey to find the right keywords that your customers resonate with. And sounds like customer data or client data, maybe. I’m curious, I mean, what’s when you start to look back at building, you mentioned, you start with the harder things first, what was? What were some of the aspects that made it difficult and other pieces easier?

Jane Portman 10:31
Well, it’s just, it’s a complex engineering problem, the Automation Engine that stores and analyzes behavior data and processes that and then triggers campaigns based on that. First, it’s a complex engineering problem. And second, you can just go with the dirty MVP out there like that. It this stuff is sending customer email, it’s got to be good. So the closed beta, private beta period was pretty long, then we officially launched only two years later in August of 2019. So it was just much slower than, than some of the cusp. Startups out there can move.

Alexander Ferguson 11:14
Hmm. What when you look at at being able to do this different email automation? Are there certain aspects that are easier to automate than others?

Jane Portman 11:25
For example?

Alexander Ferguson 11:28
Well, I’m curious, when you when you start to look at that you document the entire lifecycle. Now, you have a clue that the email the marketing side is easier, versus the consumer data driven behavior side. So I’m curious just giving me some insight into I’m not a mail marketing expert or or definitely on the on the product development side of it. But I’m just curious itself of like, as you started to build this on both sides, is there certain parts that are easier that you’ve been able to develop and other parts that are just been harder to tackle?

Jane Portman 12:00
marketing email is easier in that regard that typically ILEAD is basically a bare bones email address, that’s all it’s necessary to call it elite. Sure, you can layer on some marketing attribution, but there is no product behavior associated associated with it. And the mechanics is pretty simple. People create forms and have a Form Builder. Now, this was a recruit forms added to the website, set up lead magnets and and then you know, something happens when somebody submits a form that is as easy to get. But when it comes to customer lifecycle is just super complex depends on the complexity of the product. It’s also hard for the customers for our customers to grasp. To grasp it from scratch, nobody’s born. To think about lifecycle email, right? And we have to do great deal of education that friend,

Alexander Ferguson 13:02
when you when you look at all the data that you’re able to collect and pull in, what does that look like, as far as like the connection to a software SAS what some of the data that you’re able to to ingest and track and then be able to make behavioral decisions to send certain emails,

Jane Portman 13:19
we’re not tracking something, we’re helping our customers track something, basically, we accept as much or as little data to our direct API integration, as the product manager considers necessary. So it will be typically if you things, so some user properties, such as you know, billing, billing plan, a, some success metrics, things like that. And we also accept events, also, like as many and as or as little as you need. But all of that is related to customer success metrics, obviously. And those metrics, when they change and grow into different lifecycle phases. They help trigger automations

Alexander Ferguson 14:08
is simply basically whatever outputs they want to come from their own application that would trigger said emails that you would set up inside of user list.

Jane Portman 14:20
Yes, and no, they would send this behavior data to us useless would process the data, make conclusions? Segment? Calculate, and then that engine would trigger emails? That makes sense.

Alexander Ferguson 14:35
Yeah, let’s let’s explain a little bit more, because I’m curious because I’ve seen some variety of different email solutions out there where you’re setting up a lot yourself as the the user of Alright, if x happens do Y. How much of this is more your engineering, as you mentioned? Is it is it just it’s figuring out? How does that process work?

Jane Portman 14:56
Well, I’m no engineer to explain but basically If you would have an API integration that sends information to us, let’s say for the editing app, each user has a number of albums and the number of photos they have. And you just want this information of dates, you send it to us a list. And in some other part of the app, you have your definition of a segment that is called advanced users. And the definition of that segment would be the criterias, they have at least 50 albums. So when the number of the property reaches 50, the segment starts working, like they dynamically join the segment. And then in another part of the app, you would have an automation campaign that says when the user joins segment, advanced users, then you can send them this campaign that would introduce them to different features, checking on something else, etc, etc. Basically, that’s the bare bones mechanics.

Alexander Ferguson 15:59
Is it is it often the word the type of customers you’re working with? Who’s the person in there is this a product marketing manager, like who’s using this and setting this up? Often,

Jane Portman 16:09
the most qualified users are probably product managers, and also marketing managers on the marketing side. But the people who make the most sense of the customer data, the product managers, yes, that’s their biggest domain. For smaller scale, SAS, it’s very often the founder themselves who are both technical and setting up the marketing technology. So it would be them doing the integration and things. But it always comes on the edge of, they might have had like hard baked hard coded email, but they have to go to their code base to fix like to fix a typo. And when they bring on somebody who writes emails, it becomes this solution becomes not viable, and they need an interface. That’s like a classic example of when a smaller scale, SAS founder would need an email automation tool,

Alexander Ferguson 17:05
I’d say often starts with baked in into the code, the technical co founders built that way. But you can’t scale when you bring in a marketing manager doesn’t necessarily have that skill set to go into code. Yeah, that’s we need the interface. How much? And when you look at kind of the roadmap of where you guys are going, what what, what do you get? What are you excited about? Like, where do you see email? Marketing and email automation? For the for the user side? Where do you see it going?

Jane Portman 17:39
We’re mostly excited about growing our name, and sharing the market. Because we do feel this area is just does not deserve to get the attention it deserves yet, and there is lack of education, and current tools are really not offering the powerful solution that would really leverage clean data and help do automation is the right way, not the way they can do like simple campaigns or whatever. So really, like there’s so much to do. And there are so many companies that on the front side, they all look like they’re doing some advanced stuff, but really when it comes to, and they probably are on the marketing email, but when it comes to lifecycle email, it’s just surprising how many untapped opportunities there are that are not being leveraged? Can you

Alexander Ferguson 18:35
give an example of a use case either of one of your customers? Or even one? Have you thought about a use case that that that really highlights what’s being missed in customer lifecycle email.

Jane Portman 18:48
One of our customers who were bigger companies is toggle plan. So you may be familiar with a toggle TimeTracker. So they have a division, another tool called toggle plan. And they have been looking for a tool that understands account level data for a while, and they haven’t found one. So they were really thrilled when they could implement their, their, their ideas when they found user list. So that’s one of the case studies

Alexander Ferguson 19:20
that show it’s being able to already see we have all this account level data, how do we how do we utilize that they’re already a customer, but being able to use it to the next step further, you really say that it’s an untapped market that really isn’t being met right now.

Jane Portman 19:38
Nobody is doing it much because it’s hard to do with the tools. Basically, if one user does something, another user does another thing and how do you know what’s the activity on the compound activity on the left on the account? You can’t really track that it’s you have to do some work around hacks and nobody really goes into that too much.

Alexander Ferguson 20:02
I guess this is a great example of a difficult challenge. A lot of people maybe don’t even want to touch. But you did. You did. And you’re solving a need. So I’m curious. But if you think about just a general email marketing tip that you could share with a product marketer or a marketing manager out there, what comes to your

Jane Portman 20:21
mind? Look beyond user onboarding. And user onboarding is a hot word, everybody cares. Because after activation is obviously important, but and I love it, because it’s a great SEO word like it’s, it’s understood across all industries. But go beyond that, and look into customer loyalty campaigns that you could set up, look at the upgrades upsells you can ask people for reviews, you can ask for referrals, you can provide like automate some of the great customer success work that has like a few clicks of a button away really, but nobody, oh, not nobody, but it’s just such not a priority. That is a shame that really very few companies do it.

Alexander Ferguson 21:09
That’s a good a good tip. They often just start stop at the onboarding, but don’t want to don’t miss it the opportunity for loyalty and and everything beyond that. I’m curious if you just like, personally been interested in email before all this? Or did that just kind of start to grow?

Jane Portman 21:29
I’ve been an active user of email marketing tools before because I’ve been doing info products before jumping into the SAS train, have like four books in my portfolio have been practicing in my own marketing sandbox. They’re making side money. But yeah, I’ve been curious what’s going on. And the existing tools were also quite surprising. They were not like never really delightful to use or anything. So I had certain my past as a UI UX consultant. So never been delighted by by email UX. And that’s a shame, I think. So yeah, there’s certain like, everybody has the love and hate relationships with their email provider. That’s a common.

Alexander Ferguson 22:18
And it’s from your perspective, which I appreciate it. Even UI UX. It’s like having that enjoyable experience, both from the user and then the consumer, and individual using it. It sounds like you probably embedded that into what you’ve created.

Jane Portman 22:36
It’s, it’s a buzzword, really. Being simple and beautiful is not a selling point. But it is so great to have it. Because if you go to, okay, I don’t want to call out names. But basically every tool that has a visual builder where you can, like, do complex stuff with, like diagrams and stuff in order to get to the body of that message, how many clicks do have to make, like in order to find the actual text, that is like, five or so. And that is so frustrating, because if you’re working on your sequences, you’re I mean, you’re working with the text very often you want to see what’s inside. And it’s it’s pretty sad that I mean, it looks fancy, but it’s not too usable, unfortunately. So we’re hoping to solve that part, at least a little bit.

Alexander Ferguson 23:31
Got it? I’m curious, when you just as a an a technology side, one question. I would like to ask, is there any technology that you really enjoy using any apps or software out there as a as a founder or as a leader as entrepreneur that, that you’ve used? Simple ones?

Jane Portman 23:51
I should probably ask for some affiliate revenue from them there. Because it’s a common question. And I have been saying that a lot of the last year. So in 2021, we have added two tools to our toolbox it user list. One is pitch the presentation software, so it helps you build slide decks. I am a designer, and it is hard to impress or inspire me with a presentation tool like they’re always heaters and stuff. This tool was just so lovely, modern and had wonderful templates in it. I was delighted and it managed to inspire and love my presentations. That is something to say. And another one is livestorm. And it does the same thing but for webinars, workshops and other live events. It’s probably more than a tentative to like go to webinar or other webinars software. There was a runner up previously Crowdcast that IO it’s also lovely but livestorm just He is absolutely UX delightful. There are some Yeah, sure. It’s, it’s complex software, there might be some challenges, but it’s so lovely to use. So these two pitch by storm

Alexander Ferguson 25:17
googling it while you mentioned that the other those both, I would love to ask because like, the fun thing about different software and test solutions that there are always new opportunities, new ones coming up. And he’s like, What is something I don’t know? And when you find it, like, Oh,

Jane Portman 25:29
what are yours? What are yours?

Alexander Ferguson 25:33
When using, I guess in the same space as pitch. I’m also a big fan of one of these, why do these interviews I get to meet a lot of cool SAS startups. So another one is journey. I think what they’re doing is pretty cool, too. But there’s a lot so I don’t want to give any favorites. But those just popped in my head similar space of just presentations and giving a interaction.

Jane Portman 25:56
You can tell the naming trend is towards simple words, right? So

Alexander Ferguson 26:01
one we’re gonna run out. That’s why I never do all these other TDs, right, like no, no more calm because they don’t exist for it. You have to dot app dot whatever.

Jane Portman 26:12
We hadn’t had that IO as part of our brand name for a while. And then we purchased in 2019. And to be honest, we were quite tired that when we would type users that IO, it would instantly transform into link anywhere. And that’s just not fun. Sometimes you don’t want that. Like sometimes you want to put accent on another link in your message. Oh, it was quite tiring. Like, just infrastructure wise.

Alexander Ferguson 26:42
Like we want. We want the comms and stuff putting as part of our name. What was it a pretty expensive to make the purchase?

Jane Portman 26:52
4k. We got it for 4k? I think it’s a deal. It’s a deal. Still. It’s basically a steal though. We started negotiations years ago and starting bid was like 20k USD. And we’re like, No, we’re brand new bootstrap startup, no 20k. But then we grew. And they coincided. Like I gave up on us a bit. And that was the sweet intersection. It was like, end of month, and the manager was probably looking to meet their quota for a domain sales. And they were like, if you say 4k, they will settle and we did. We’re never looked back.

Alexander Ferguson 27:35
Well, you’re like, yes, yes, please. Take time. Yeah. When you look back at at the the years now you’ve you’ve been growing and developing user lists. What are some of the marketing, aha moments in getting the word out and be able to grow your own user base?

Jane Portman 27:57
It’s been such a journey. Like we have not picked an easy battle. It’s like a series of mini aha moments throughout. But yeah, like one of the recent aha moments is that we have been trying to say account level company level, nobody was getting it. And then we suddenly someone recommended that we use customer data in the headline, and we were like, that is that like that? But the Yeah.

Alexander Ferguson 28:30
When you realize that that was it? Was it was it? Was it in an in an ad, you’re running in an email? Like what what what, what was the feedback that made you realize, okay, this is working with our customers?

Jane Portman 28:42
Oh, that’s great. We we redesigned our homepage to include this new positioning where we would prioritize this company level feature, like front and center, because it is our unique selling proposition. And so I launched this new page, put a screenshot of the header section of the like, Hero section on Twitter saying like, here it is, we are planting a flag and this direction, and then comments started flooding in with people who are like, we’re not getting it. We’re not getting it. Like, what does it mean? And I had to explain, and it was like, too bad. Like the future is really good. We know, why is nobody getting it and then their grammar when we were friends. He was like just say, you know, email automation, SAS for SAS that gets our customer data model. And we were like, yes. And we borrowed that. And yes, we decided and what not, not just the copy, but really the realization that if there is no single keyword that you might look for something else from a different angle. Unfortunate Like keywords is still important for selling your product. And not just for SEO, but for explaining what it does for the pitch for the sales copy for anything.

Alexander Ferguson 30:12
Yeah, people want to jump to the to the realization, I understand what you’re selling, I know what problem it’s solving for me. And if you can’t get to that quickly, they skip by. And I guess that’s what the key word is really for, to make that realization faster. So it sounds like what you do is changing the website, copy the messaging on your homepage. And then either you’re getting questions from people like what what does this mean or you’re not? And ideally, that there you’re seeing the conversion rates go up, based off of just what that word those words are.

Jane Portman 30:44
It’s pretty fascinating how, with SAS, you could have the same product, but approach, try different ways of selling it. And it’s, it’s kind of awesome. It’s like an untapped world of opportunities. And the word is out that bigger companies, they test their value prop all the time like that test, different homepages all the time, and we just we didn’t notice it much because, you know, Dropbox, still Dropbox. But trust me, they’re still running like some tests on their homepage, even though they probably don’t need much explanation.

Alexander Ferguson 31:17
It’s like, there’s so much power in in being able to test by the way, if you want to know another one, someone I interviewed recently do what works. And Andris Guzman and what he’s doing. He’s been tracking what are the top Sass companies are not just ask, but companies, what are they testing? And what’s working? And he’s tracking that. So then you

Jane Portman 31:36
for that? Where can we go?

Alexander Ferguson 31:38
Yeah, the biggest do what works, duck? Let’s see, we as we talked to like, there’s It is it is that I do it works. That IO.

Jane Portman 31:47
Thing is the thing is, what works for Dropbox does not work for sat like a small startup because it’s unfortunately that the accomplished SAS companies, they have already solved the like the traction and the market fit problem. They are known for something, it doesn’t matter what’s on their homepage. What they’re doing, of course, they’re refining it. But it’s not a deal breaker for small SAS.

Alexander Ferguson 32:17
It’s like they’ve already done all the major shifting. And now it’s just tiny minor here to test your 10 year this year first, for earlier stage, software companies you’re doing you’re still doing the major shifts, like entire messaging ships. To define it. That’s a good interesting question to ask is like when when do you know you’re in a you’re in a good place to stop doing the major ships and to start doing more minor ships?

Jane Portman 32:41
Well, that does just just just just depends. I mean, there is never a place where you feel like oh, we got it like let’s stop. Really?

Alexander Ferguson 32:52
Yeah. Hey, are you doing any outbound to advertise like LinkedIn ads or SEO? Or Google Pay Per Click type of stuff? Or is it all inbound and content creation and email marketing?

Jane Portman 33:06
Yes, mostly mostly that we are heavy on content, we produce a great podcast called better than than perfect. And

Unknown Speaker 33:15
I have two that says BD TP Marist, a little bit on your, for those that are listening to audio.

Jane Portman 33:26
So yeah, it’s kind of a motto that we run by, because myself and my co founder Benedict, are recovering perfectionist, and especially like in our interests, we can polish your tool forever. So we, we do strive to find a balance between shipping and learning and polishing it to death. So we prefer shipping and learning when we can but it’s hard. So we run the podcast, with that name, who have different seasons to get different things. And it’s a great way to meet industry experts. We have a Consultants Program. So we build relationships with email marketing consultants, we have put out some great content on the blog. We’ll have monthly workshops with industry experts, and just trying to raise the awareness, you know,

Alexander Ferguson 34:20
based off of all the different things you’re doing, what what would you say is like the top two or three, or even just top one that you see the most traction as far as traffic and interest and like leads coming through

Jane Portman 34:31
75% of the traffic we get is from people typing in their box or searching for user list on Google, which means they’ve heard of us somewhere. And this means that it’s working but but yes, it’s a long term content play that works. Podcast appearances are fun. There have been across our journey if you that have had big audiences and kind of really brought in influxes of fleets one was caught indie hackers. Another one was startups for the rest of us by robocalling. So these are just like good old accomplished shows that brought in more years eyeballs to our problem.

Alexander Ferguson 35:19
Yeah, just being paying attention to the direct traffic, obviously, meaning, when you see a giant spike, you’re looking for a recent appearance. But if it’s a general increase, it’s coming from your overall branding content and creating content. That’s fast. Since obviously, your customers and those who are be fascinated with your product or are probably interested in how customers connect and find a journey. I feel like all this is is very relevant. I’m I’m always fascinated with businesses, startups and SAS software companies, how do they grow? How do they get to the next stage? How do they get interest and get that messaging across? So I appreciate you sharing the journey that

Jane Portman 35:54
you thank you slow and steady and my co founder Benedict’s also runs a show. Yeah, we you see, we’re really big on podcasting. He runs a show with his friend, the Benedictine. So it’s Benedict and Benedictine at the moment. It’s called Slow and steady. They commiserate weekly on like, the daily ups and downs. So like my shows are all interviews. I love interviewing people. And he they do this like talk style when you when you just share the updates and stuff like that. Yeah. So that’s slow and steady. It is slow and steady. It’s not like overnight, not for many people.

Alexander Ferguson 36:32
We much appreciate that. This dramatic increase and lots of money and things are good. But there are good things in slow and steady, you have more opportunity to fine tune and really know where you’re going. least that’s what I’m I’m pulling out. Yeah, I feel like is a good answer.

Jane Portman 36:51
Except that there’s always this feeling that you’re missing out on something. And there is like this rocket ship opportunity behind the corner. But where is that? What is it? You know?

Alexander Ferguson 37:01
Yeah, there’s a few folks when I think back of who I’ve interviewed, where they were Bootstrap, mostly from the beginning. And then then they decided to actually get some funding. And they talked about this, they’re like, well, there’s really no right answer, but we kind of wish we got it sooner. Because some of the competitors leapt ahead of us. And so that, you know, with us being able to get the funding now we can actually get the messaging out faster and further. But that’s in the case where I feel like the competition is pushing you and you need to go faster. And maybe it makes sense to do that. But I guess if you’re if you don’t have that same competition, maybe the speed of, of throwing more money at it is not necessarily needed.

Jane Portman 37:44
We haven’t really experimented with paid on on top of the funnel, but from the experiments we ran, it’s not like you see a Facebook ad. And you sign up for an email automation tool. Seriously. It’s not the type of funnel, I like it. Yeah, sure. They’re more complex content funnels, we probably there’s untapped potential for us to make them work with content, but not with like, oh, useless. Nice. I’m signing up. Well, no, you’ve got to hear about it like 10 times probably.

Alexander Ferguson 38:19
I feel like that’s that’s typical for b2b Solutions and b2b Software Solutions. It’s like you’re not just gonna unless it’s a free trial, maybe you might see an ad and say let me try it out.

Jane Portman 38:32
That I wouldn’t say like trying out or complex b2b tool, what is it gonna do like it’s it hasn’t got your data in it, you’ve got to integrate do the work. Yeah, even other channel,

Alexander Ferguson 38:45
and easy and you could just get into it. If it takes a while for you to actually see the benefits and use it. It still taking Can I free the cost of your time

Jane Portman 38:53
or off more than that? We’ve been experiment not experimenting, we’ve been raising our price. testing different pricing, not testing, like changing pricing. And the the higher the total, the total price, the more accountability and respect you and reason to put in work you have. So free like we had a $9 plan two years ago. Imagine like we had those people who paid $9 Keep paying $9 doing nothing. We had a whole range of them cohort. Wow. That doesn’t show that a few months. Yeah. Oh,

Alexander Ferguson 39:36
man. Oh, it talks about refinement and testing and slowly getting for for just kind of any closing thoughts for whether the Kofa other founders out there or or product marketers or market managers? Are there any thoughts that you’d want them to think about and know about whether it is email marketing or more just general In growing a b2b software company, or SAS tool, what would it be?

Jane Portman 40:06
Hiring help, instead of doing things yourself and just accelerating that process, maybe you you probably need a little bit of funding to do that. Or you hit a you know, goldmine of product market fit or something. But getting some hands on board is better than just doing it alone going along because you will get there a little bit faster. And it’s always it shouldn’t be like there should be more hands doing the work. And it doesn’t have to be expert expensive hands you can leverage different opportunities. For us when we didn’t have good funding early on the solution would be to find specialists working hands in in niche specializations. So wouldn’t be like a brilliant generalist marketer that we hire or brilliant marketing director, but it could be very solid, hard working SEO I don’t know PPC contractor who would like manage our ads like they do this? They know this stuff they did well, they did for the reasonable money. Part time very doable, really no reason why SAS founders should go and manage the ads themselves. Like I procrastinate on that for a year. And then I when we started working with a consultant last year, I was like, no wonder I’ve been procrastinating and that that is like a lot of work and not a pleasant kind of work either. Just an example. Nice down like segment those ideas for help and just implemented

Alexander Ferguson 41:44
as a great, great tip for you. Maybe you can’t afford he’s a an awesome generalist, but going very specific. Getting a small thing off your plate can definitely

Jane Portman 41:56
help you divide and conquer, divide and conquer, sort of,

Alexander Ferguson 42:00
I love it. Thank you so much for sharing the journey, the product that you guys are building, and also the some of the struggles and how you’ve been solving those over this time. This has been great to have you on the series.

Jane Portman 42:11
Amazing. Thanks for having us. Absolutely.

Alexander Ferguson 42:14
And we’ll see you all in the next episode of UpTech Report. Have you seen a company using AI machine learning or other technology to transform the way we live work and do business? Go to UpTech and let us know


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