You’re building something great. You have a landing page to attract attention. You’re collecting emails.
What are you doing with all those emails?
Just … collecting them? If you have ten or 10,000 they are a treasure trove of potential customer feedback. They are an audience waiting to be educated and engaged about what you do. Let’s break that down into two parts. The interview part, and the education part.
Every startup does customer interviews. This is the way you learn more about what you’re building. It’s the way you allow the work to teach you. It’s deep stuff, and Justin Wilcox is pretty much making a science of the customer interview over at Customer Development Labs. He will tell you how to interview customers to get the most information, and even more importantly, learn how they are feeling.
Getting into a productive interview with a prospective customer is an art. So is reaching out to them. Some recommend cold calling/cold emailing. I don’t know about that. I get a lot of emails like that, and I ignore them, even if I am on somebody’s list. To me cold=unwelcome. Don’t want that.
Create a curriculum.
Because I am teaching so much these days I think in terms of curriculum. I think about long story arcs that draw readers and students in over time, educating them about the product as we go. If you frame this well, people welcome it, simply because it’s helpful. Example? I have a six-part mini course on crowdfunding that people are signing up for in droves. They get a scheduled series of Six Crowdfunding Principles, one per week, to their inbox. It’s deliberately slow, because that’s how I’ve learned that people absorb information. If you’re giving them big stuff, they need to think about it a little. So why not a little each week? Try it. At the end of the series I invite a conversation with them. If they have questions, I’ll answer them.
Why this works.
I’m using Emma to set up the autoresponders, but MailChimp, SendGrid, SendLoop, AWeber, and Vertical Response will work just as well. If you find the right opt-in people and give them information they need, they can become loyalists. If they talk to each other about you, well, there’s an uptick in your user adoption curve right there. If you can get into a dialogue with them about what you’re working on, they can educate you about it.