The Importance of SaaS Collaboration With Smaller Blogs

“The lesser known blogs we worked with had very attentive audiences and served their niche perfectly, whereas articles about us that were published on popular blogs seemed to perish quickly.”

 

Written by Sterling Sweeney: Published Sept 5th, 2019 | Updated Sept 5th, 2019.

Sterling Sweeney is a growth hacker and the driving force behind WhalePages, a company that offers SaaS growth boxes to help software companies grow. Today, he sits down with Tobias Knobl, the CEO of Mailbutler to talk about his company’s impressive growth.

 

7 Minute Read

An Email SaaS Company That Hit $2000 MRR in 2 Weeks.

Today, WhalePages was lucky enough to sit down and chat with Tobias Knobl, CEO and co-founder of Mailbutler, a productivity suite for email sending and organization which already has 100,000 users signed up. Mailbutler’s impressive team is based in Berlin, Germany and Tobias is here today to chat with us about the company’s growth journey from day one until today. So let’s jump in.

First, to help provide a bit of context and background, can you begin by telling us a little bit more about what Mailbutler is? 

Mailbutler GmbH is a German software company that Fabian Jäger and I founded in 2015. The product itself is a productivity extension for Apple Mail and Gmail designed to help professionals and teams manage their emails better. Some of our features include Send Later, Tracking, Templates and Signatures.

Our goal has always been and will always be to provide an all-in-one solution for all email related topics that will help people boost their productivity and stay on top of their inbox.

I met Fabian in 2015 when he came to the Entrepreneurship Center at the RWTH Aachen University where I was working at the time. He told me about some email plug-ins he was developing and I immediately recognized their potential. We ended up founding Mailbutler together and relocated to Berlin that same year. Mailbutler was officially launched in March of 2016 and a relaunch including redefined features and a completely new infrastructure took place in January of 2018.

Does Mailbutler have investors onboard or are you completely self funded? What are some of the pros and cons of the funding approach you’ve taken?

We are entirely self-funded and profitable. This allows us to fully focus on our product and our customers without having to satisfy investors at the same time. Since no approval process is required, we have freedom of choice and don’t depend on a multitude of shareholders. The downside of self-funding is having limited resources to grow our start-up. However, taking full responsibility for funding our business has worked out pretty well for us.

Now, let’s talk a little bit more about your early growth days. What were the primary marketing strategies that helped Mailbutler gain its first bit of traction and onboard its first customers? 

Word of mouth recommendations played a vital role in growing our company – even to this day! That’s why we put a lot of effort into our customer support and, of course, the product itself. Word of Mouth Marketing is an insanely powerful way to influence business results, which we are witnessing first-hand.

“Word of Mouth Marketing is an insanely powerful way to influence business results, which we are witnessing first-hand.”

Today your company offers users many features. You have Tracking, Send Later, Signatures, Templates, Follow-Ups, Snooze and more. However, when you first launched your MVP what features did you launch with and how have you gone about expanding your feature set over time? What feedback loops do you have integrated into your company to help you get feature ideas from your users? Up until this point has your focus been on? Broadening your set of features, or adding depth to existing features?

We have added new features over time and are continuing to work on the ones that already exist to improve the user experience. The first Mailbutler version included the following features: Signatures, Send Later, Attachment Reminder, Cloud Upload, Avatar Images and Evernote Exporter. We added features such as Notes, Tasks, Tracking and Message Templates later on.

When we develop new features, we mostly focus on what our customers are requesting. Our customer support team collects feedback and forwards it to Fabian and me. After evaluating the requests we determine if it would be useful to implement certain features based on the potential benefits for our users.

What are some growth channels you’ve tried that haven’t worked as well as you thought? What are some growth channels you’ve tried and worked better than expected?

In the past we payed magazines and blogs to promote us by writing articles about Mailbutler. This was definitely a learning experience because we realized that smaller, more affordable “niche bloggers” benefited our company more than well known, more expensive magazines and blogs. The lesser known blogs we worked with had very attentive audiences and served their niche perfectly, whereas articles about us that were published on popular blogs seemed to perish quickly.

“The lesser known blogs we worked with had very attentive audiences and served their niche perfectly, whereas articles about us that were published on popular blogs seemed to perish quickly.”

That’s really interesting you say that. We see the same thing here at WhalePages. We help SaaS companies get their projects mentioned on blogs (see the service here). Our customers are often really happy when we get them mentions on bigger blogs, but we often see it’s the smaller to mid sized blogs that offer the best returns and drive a consistent drip of new sign ups and sales. Smaller blogs are also much easier to get featured on (less hassle, less negotiation etc). 

Moving on now, you have various plans available at different price points to meet the different needs of your customers. How much have you experimented with pricing and monetization? 

We started off with only the Essential and Professional plans and added the Business plan later on. The Business plan is slightly more complex than the other two, it offers unlimited ‘Team’ features which help increase the productivity amongst people who are working together. The Essential plan is usually sufficient enough for private users as it offers customers 30 free Professional or Business actions each month. Another great thing about the different plan types is that customers can mix and match subscriptions. If Mailbutler is used within a team not everybody needs to be subscribed to the same plan. This is one of the things that differentiates us from other SaaS providers.

Where does your team spend the most time between customer acquisition, monetization and retention?

We’re continuously working on improving ourselves in all areas. We don’t just want to gain new subscribers, we also want to satisfy our existing customers. This is why our current main focus lies on user retention. After downloading Mailbutler our customers receive a series of helpful onboarding emails. With these we want to make sure that everything is working properly and also help our customers get to know Mailbutler’s features better. Apart from these emails we also rely on very good and attentive customer service. Our customer service team is extremely engaged and happy to answer any question that might come up – whether it’s about the installation process, certain features or general feedback. To have excellent customer support is crucial for us when it comes to user retention.

Can you tell us a little bit more about what your Search Engine Optimization efforts entail and how big of a driver has it been to growth?

Online Marketing, especially SEO is definitely something we’re focusing on. Most of our traffic comes from organic search, especially through Google, which is why it’s crucial for us to have an optimised website. We’re quite lucky because email productivity suites are something many people are actively looking for – hence the importance of search engine results.

How long did it take you to hit $2000 MRR?

Thanks to our loyal group of users it only took us around two weeks to hit this target. Here’s why: the features already existed before Mailbutler was founded. People were able to purchase them as individual plug-ins which is why the features already had somewhat of a fanbase prior to the launch of Mailbutler. This means that the actual product and the company itself were already semi-established back then.

“Thanks to our loyal group of users it only took us around two weeks to hit this target ($2000 MRR).

Lastly, if you had to start over again and do three things differently, what would those three things be?

To be completely honest, there are some things that we would do differently now, but fortunately for us those never really had a negative impact on our business. I do however believe that we learned a lot throughout the years. For example, we once made the mistake of releasing a new Mailbutler version during the summer when sales are generally not as good because most people are on holiday. That was certainly a mistake we won’t be repeating any time soon. Also, when we changed our payment method from a one-time payment to monthly/yearly subscriptions, we should’ve informed our subscribers sooner about the upcoming change because many of them weren’t familiar with subscriptions back then and disliked it at first. But there are also things that worked out right from the beginning. We always positioned ourselves globally and therefore had the chance to establish Mailbutler on the American market as a German company which tends to be quite hard. However, since most of our customers are American, we haven’t been focusing on the German market as much as we could have. This is why we’re currently working on a Mailbutler version for Microsoft Outlook, which is one of the most used email providers in Germany.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. To our readers, if you want to learn more about Mailbutler please head over to their website to learn more!

If you have enjoyed this interview and would like to read more just like it, then head over to our SaaS marketing blog.

Written by Sterling Sweeney: Published Sept 5th, 2019 | Updated Sept 5th, 2019.

Sterling Sweeney is a growth hacker and the driving force behind WhalePages, a company that grows SaaS websites. So, if you have a SaaS company and you’re kinda into things like website traffic and increasing your MRR, then our SaaS growth boxes are probably for you.

 

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