Emails are great for early stage startups in terms of attracting new customers and proving product-market fit. But how do we get those first 100 people to send emails to?
Some founders think that emailing era has long passed and sending emails to your perspective customers is totally lame. Others believe that if you don’t tell people about your product, the chances of them finding you on their own are very few. My personal opinion: mailing lists might come in handy for some products and can be vitally important for others. It all comes down to pain points and customers awareness of new solutions available to solve their problems. Besides, if you’re going to approach a bank or an investor, having a mailing list with at least 100 perspective customers is always a good proof of the fact that you know your marketing and start selling your product as soon as you bank accounts are refilled. So, where do you start looking for this first 100 emails?
Let’s first focus on the easy part and presume you have a small budget to spend on the initial mailing list. The best way to approach it is to set up a pre-launch landing page, and product/service accounts in Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram (YouTube and TikTok for some locations and services)
Add information about your product/service, describe benefits for the customers, what problems is your product going to solve, specify the timeline (when your launch is planned) and call to cation (leave your email to be informed about the launch)..
Usually, this pre-launch subscription presumes an award for early users as well (totally free service or a reasonable discount). Use your small budget to promote this page in social networks and get your first mailing list. If you target your adds wisely, there is a good chance of getting 100 first emails in couple of weeks.
Besides, this exercise will get you something to think about. Analysing the traffic to your website and visitors behaviour you might get an insight on how successful your sales strategy is. If you get 1000 visitors and no emails left, there’s definitely something wrong with your product positioning (let’s presume, you’ve already ran customers interviews and surveys using lean startup principles and know for sure that there is a product-market fit for your idea). This way you’ll have time to iterate and make your message to customers better or more specified before actual commercial launch.
The good news is that there is a number of free tools you might use to grow your mailing list. The bad news is that with these tools you’d probably get access to readers but not the real email addresses. That is, you’ll be able to get visitors on your web-site, but you probably won’t know how many people had actual exposure to your brand. Still, if the tools are free calculating CPC is not that challenging, right?
The most popular way of getting access to email readers is to create a Newsletter. Your product / service newsletter should contain useful information for your target audience, explaining how exactly you plan to help them with their pains. There’re dozens of services that allow you to create beautiful newsletters (Mailchimp, Sendgrid, Mailjet, Tidio, Canva — some of them have free offers for limited number of readers, some limit features you can use in free account), but you definitely can create awesome newsletter designs using tools that are totally free: Google docs or MS Word. If you need more options to choose from, Zappier has created a list for the best online software services for 2020 depending on what exactly you’d like to include in your newsletters.
The next step — list your newsletter in newsletter directories. Those are totally free. You can list your newsletter in one or all of them. There is no guarantee your content will be admitted, but if it’s useful enough there are no reasons for it to be rejected.
Here is the list of the most populated newsletter directories you may use to submit your newsletter:
Don’t forget to add a link to your newsletter to your digital business card, your personal and business accounts in social networks. As long as you publish it it makes sense to use all channels you may get your hands on for promotion.
You can also use a referral program to your newsletters (like Sparkloop) and cross-promotion (like Pipewing) to get more audience reach for your newsletter. All these options are free and it never hurts to include them in your marketing mix..
You can use those not only with newsletter but in all you marketing activities including most strategical ones. Whatever channels you can use for getting more exposure to your potential customers — go for it. Google up platforms or solutions in your industry that offer collaboration and contact then. One of my personal favourites among recently launched ones — https://coil.com These guys use amazing idea of totally secure internet and access to unique content in exchange for a small fee for end users. If your service or product deal with content, I suggest you contact Coil.