Startup Lessons Learned: Wear Your Brand Like A Billboard

Marc Cuban once said he’d never invest in a company that ‘wastes money’ on tchotchkes and promo stuff to give away to your customers.  We don’t necessarily agree since the likes of Mailchimp has done a great job of branding through their awesome swag as well as their cool email marketing product.

At Dasheroo  we’re not spending big money on branding things like watches or boxer shorts, we do use Sticker Mule for our cool (and cheap!) Dasheroo stickers and our co-founder & VP Customer Success actually made it a family project to silk screen some sharp-looking Dasheroo T’s for the team.

I consider it a smart, and high ROI, investment much more than just throwing swag at employees and customers. It’s advertising, and I wear it like a billboard. You can often find me just about anywhere I am sporting a Dasheroo T, and if not that I always have my iPhone with a Dasheroo sticker emblazoned on the back cover.Dasheroo branding

I get so many people that may not have struck up a conversation before, asking me “So what’s Dasheroo?” And since everyone business in the world needs a dashboard, I’m confident my explanation will be relevant to the person next to me.

So when I pick up my phone,  point at it while I give the elevator pitch about Dasheroo, a few things happen:

  1. People are instantly drawn to the colorful logo and (they say) cute name; they smile and want to know more about what Dasheroo does! Nice branding opportunity!
  2. They see me smiling because I love what I do.
  3. 9 outta 10 times they ask for a business card (which is a fun square card with our logo and fun pictures of the Dasheroo sticker on the back, thanks Moo cards!)
  4. Often they ask for a job, or
  5. They are interested in a demo, a partnership or just launching right in and paying us. Recently, I even had a very interested person ask if he could buy us! (I factored in the 2 bourbons he had drank while we conversed into this;)

So bottom line, even though in SF and many other tech hubs large and small it seems like everyone is sporting swag of some sort, if you create cool branding and wear it well, you ‘ll get plenty of folks striking up conversations with you. And who knows where they might lead, but I guarantee you my ROI has been fantastic!

3 Email Marketing Tools To Use Today and Their 3 Top Features

With more than 80% of B2B and B2C companies using some form of email marketing technology, there is no time to waste. If you aren’t using this marketing strategy you’ll continue to fall behind the competition.

But where do we start? If this question continues to weigh you down, here are three tools you should implement today:

1. Campaign Monitor

Check out where in the world your email is being viewed using Campaign Monitor!

Check out where in the world your email is being viewed using Campaign Monitor!

Described by the company as a service that “makes it radically easy to create, send and measure the impact of your email marketing campaigns,” you can’t go wrong by choosing Campaign Monitor. Frankly we use them to do our weekly email communications.

Top 3 Features of Campaign Monitor

  • Drag-and-drop email builder with auto-save.
  • Variety of reporting and analytics tools. Worldview enables you to see REAL TIME where in the world your email is being viewed…geek out!
  • Access to email automation tools, such as drip campaigns. This is a killer feature.

2. VerticalResponse

VerticalResponse autoresponder

Create autoresponders like this when someone joins your list using VerticalResponse!

Are you interested in reaching your audience via email and social media marketing? Well, VerticalResponse brings together the best of both worlds. We know, most of our team has either worked for or co-founded this company!

With the ability to create professional emails in minutes, thanks to a variety of customizable templates, you can be up and running in an hour.

Top 3 Features of VerticalResponse

  • Super awesome HTML editor and image manipulation tools to make your email the best it can be!
  • Powerful autoresponder tools to thank your new subscribers when they sign up for your newsletter.
  • Send up to 4,000 emails to 1,000 contacts every month, free of charge.

3. Emma

Emma email marketing

It’s easy to set up a lightbox form on your website with Emma!

Here is how Emma describes its service:

“Emma helps you build smarter email programs that maximize the power of marketing’s most effective channel.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, it will sound even better once you learn more about Emma.

Top 3 Features of Emma

  • Pricing that fits any and every email program.
  • Option to code your own HTML, great for advanced users that know how to code and want an awesome delivery mechanism.
  • Super cool lightbox forms that can almost double your subscription rate!

Make Your Move

Email marketing is not dead. In fact, it’s more powerful than ever before. Which one of these email marketing tools will you use to improve this area of your business?

P.S. Check out the awesome apps Dasheroo integrates with for your email marketing dashboard!

Startup Lessons Learned: SaaS Conversion Metrics

Ben Chestnut Sales funnel

We love Ben Chesnut’s (Mailchimp) reversed sales funnel!

We’re big into measurement here at Dasheroo. We use tools like Mixpanel, Optimizely, Google Analytics and our own businessdashboards to measure results and instrument improvements. This is particularly true in what we call the ‘auto-convert’ side of the house. These are the type of low ARPU users that we need to move through the conversion funnel without the need of sales assistance.

So I thought I’d share our current sales funnel metrics. First, as a business freemium model we do not pay for advertising! Our traffic is driven by inbound marketing – search engine optimization, lots of content marketing, an active social media presence and co-marketing with our partners like Salesforce, Infusionsoft and Shopify. Plus that great viral growth from positive word of mouth and just a great product.

Once these people visit our site, here’s how our conversion funnel stacks up:

  • 10.4% of users sign up for a free account. Yes, over 10%! That is amazing, as at other freemium businesses we’ve run we would have been thrilled to get 2-3%! And this isn’t just a blip, we have maintained this signup conversion rate for months.
  • 65% connect an application and create a dashboard (this is trending up, April was 70%). That means that healthy signup rate is also driving qualified users!
  • And that 65% connect & create their dashboard 2 minutes or less. Wow, that’s pretty fast.
  • 2.1% convert to a paid account. Our goal is 3%, so we have some work to do!
  • with a ‘DTP’ (Days to Pay) of 29 days (this is trending shorter; April was 26.5 days)
  • And an ARPU of $24.26

What’s important is to establish both what your SaaS conversion metrics are, and then set and measure against goals. At the very start of your SaaS business you may not know exactly what the goals should be, but you should definitely know what the conversion metrics are. Then measure and instrument your business to show month over month, or at least quarter over quarter gains. What are your metrics for your SaaS business, share them!

Track Our Startup: Release On Its Way + April KPIs

We’ve got a bunch of releases in the queue and if you’ve been following us we have been wrestling a biggie to the ground. We plan on winning this match this week so stay tuned. Then we’ll be breaking the releases down into smaller chunks so we don’t have too many moving parts to handle. This release we lovingly call “p26.”Vision Quest KPIs
For p27 we’ve got a new data source and a few new nuggets on existing data sources. We’ll release Sendgrid as our new data source and we’ve got a host of new Google AdWords insights; one being a drill down to the Ad level. We’ve also got a few Facebook Ads insight improvements and a behind-the-scenes upgrade we had to do for the Mailchimp API.
Mimi, our Sales Director, is starting to pick up traction on  QUALITY demos. Demos are expensive and she’s doing a great job of setting pricing expectations in the email she is sending to people that sign up for more information on Dasheroo for Agencies ahead of scheduling a demo so that people aren’t surprised about pricing after the time is spent on both sides. Great job Mimi! So great I wrote my Startup Lessons Learned about it last week.
We’ve beat all of our KPIs last month. We’re tracking KPIs (revenue is one!) very closely on a day-to-day basis so there are not surprises, we’re pretty excited.
We got some great mentions last week in Fast Company 5 Ways to Keep Small Teams Efficient and on the HubSpot blog, 7 Client Reporting Tools That Will Save Your Company Time. Thanks guys!
Gotta run and grab lunch!

Startup Lessons Learned: Business Freemium Model

Here at Dasheroo, we embraced a business freemium model to help drive the growth of our business. That means instead of relying on advertising on Google Adwords or other venues, we offer a tier of service for free. The premise is that freemium will drive risk-free adoption that will in turn generate awareness and positive word of mouth, or viral growth, without advertising.

It’s a big bet. There’s lots of success stories (Slack, Mailchimp, Box, Evernote) but also some folks in our space who have switched from freemium to a standard free trial model (Sumall). Many of the switchers to free trial are mainly focused on the Enterprise,  and as opposed to consumer freemium, business freemium typically takes longer to catch on. So how’s it working for Dasheroo in the early stages? Well, let’s look at this nifty Google Sheets dashboard:

business freemium growth

Early on, we were a very ‘hit driven’ business. We were very dependent on getting influencers to talk about us, and link to us, and we did a ton of 1:1 outreach. We were fortunate to get superstars like like Eve Mayer the LinkedIn Queen to talk about us on social media,  and MatthewToren to write a great article about us on Entrepreneur. You can see the spike we got in October from that.

But these days we find ourselves simply growing more organically. We send an email to every new user asking them how they heard about us and why they like us and and we get about aa 20% response rate. From their answers we get an increasing number of people telling us they heard about us from a colleague or at a conference. All of this thanks to what we hope is a great product and user experience.

So, the big question: does business freemium replace salespeople? Nope. But about 10% (and growing) of our new users are large companies that feed our higher-value deals via our sales team. Just a few months ago, that percentage was less than 3%!

So, is business freemium is working for us? We think so at least at this early stage!

Track Our Startup: New Dashboards Release

Dasheroo's Infusionsoft CRM dashboards: Contacts

Have you seen our Infusionsoft dashboards?

As you know we just released Infusionsoft CRM dashboards but we can’t stand still! Our team has been busy on adding new insights and metrics to current insights. So without further adieu:

Email Marketing Enhancements

Google Analytics 

  • Added goal completions to Goals by source/medium
  • Added goal completions to Goals by source
  • Added goal completions to Goals by medium

New Infusionsoft Insight

  • Goal Completions: A trending line insight that shows the number of goal completions for a chosen goal within a specific campaign for the given time period.

What’s Next?

Our team is going nuts on releases. In the hopper we’ve got our push API where any developer can push data into our dashboards because a business needs better data visualization. Hubspot dashboards, Google Apps Marketplace integration, Sendgrid integration are all on the way since we’ve gotten a lot of requests from users for this.

We’re working on error messaging which sounds kinda ho-hum, but it’s not. Setting expectations that an error will fix itself is important and would save a user from a) being annoyed and 2) wasting their valuable time contacting us.

Stuff to ReadInc.com article - 21 blogs to read guaranteed to get you more customers

Janine wrote this killer article for Inc.com:  21 Blogs to Subscribe to in 2016 Guaranteed to Get You New Customers. It’s a great list to have around. She also wrote The Chief is Laid Up With an Illness, Is Your Business Prepared?

What Else?

We continue working on our 5-year revenue model which is a bear of a project but we’re close. Our team is looking closely at a new pricing model to come fast and furiously, especially as we’re in dev with a ton of new features so stay tuned! Back to my spreadsheets!

Track Our Startup! Release: Pinterest Analytics & More Google Campaigns

We got Pinterest out into the wild, so if you’re an avid pinner for your business you’re going to love the Pinterest analytics we’re giving you to track on your dashboard. Check out all that we’re offering here! Along with Pinterest we were able to also release a bunch o’ awesome stuff:

New Email Marketing Dashboard InsightsDasheroo email marketing subscriber dashboard

Now you can track email subscriber growth for each list in your account for: Campaign Monitor, VerticalResponse, AWeber, Emma, Mailchimp, Constant Contact and Get Response.

New Google Analytics Campaign Insights

We dove back into Google Analytics and created a few more insights for Campaigns that users were asking for.

  • Top Keywords by Sessions Leaderboard – Bar charts tracks the different organic keywords and the revenue that these keywords brought in.
  • Top Campaigns by Sessions Leaderboard – Bar chart tracks your Google Analytics Campaigns by Sessions.
  • Top Keyword by Revenue Leaderboard – Bar chart that tracks the different organic keywords and the revenue that these keywords brought in.

We also fixed a few bugs that hopefully you didn’t see so I won’t list them!

What else is going on? Isn’t that enough? No.

So we’re in Austin today. So far the co-founders got together for the first part of the Mind Meld yesterdayRepublic of the Sandwich in Austin, today the whole team is together. We’re going to share a bunch of data with the team, then go out and have some fun in this amazing city. Watch out Austin, I’ll post some pix to Instagram. Love this town. Oh, Uchiko, here we come, that’s right, land-locked sushi, but it’s the best ever!

One more thing we’re pretty excited about on the food train, James went to school with the Thomas who started Republic of the Sandwich in Austin, yep, we got takeout. If you’re in Austin it’s awesome, check them out!

Janine wrote some killer articles for Inc.com this week, Want to Get to SEO Perfection? It’s Time to Revisit Your Keywords! and Stop Wasting Time–5 Important Tasks To Outsource to a Virtual Assistant

We got amazing mentions in Bill Brelsford’s blog for his marketing consultancy Rebar Business Builders entitled Getting The Most Out of Your Dashboard and we’re pretty stoked about it. He’s a great person who knows more than a thing or two about helping business grow by analyzing business analytics. Thanks Bill!

Ok, time to get back to the meeting! – John

Track Our Startup: Dasheroo Invited to the LAUNCH Scale Demo Pit!

We Launch Logowere so excited and proud that Dasheroo was nominated to host a demo table at LAUNCH Scale  as a Top 100 company most likely to scale! Holy Moly! We’re even happier to be invited to the Top 100 Demo Pit!! If you’re in San Francisco today or Wednesday (sorry for the short notice!) you should go to this event! Stop by and say hi to Josh or Alf.

Back to Scaling…

We are ready for Q4 I tell ya. We’re tracking our numbers for the early part of Q4 and it’s looking good as far as website visits, converted leads and new customers finding value in what we provide (i.e. paying us!) Onward and upward as they say.

New Stuff We’re Working On…

We’ve been working on a few new integrations like Pinterest. It’s not been easy and it’s our #1 requested integration but they recently opened up their API to give us data for your Pinterest analytics. So they’re up next!

For Pinterest you’ll be able to track business metrics like:

  • Total number of boards
  • Total number of pins
  • Total number of followers
  • Total number of re-pins
  • Total number of comments
  • Total number of favorites
We’re also working on dashboard insight for Pinterest Reach,  Engagement, New Followers, Engagement Rate, Engagement Rate by Boards, Boards Leaderboard, Highest Engagement Pins and Popular Pin Types. Whew!
We’ve been revisiting current integrations we have and adding additional insights for you to include on your data dashboard.

For all email marketing providers like VerticalResponse, Campaign Monitor, AWeber, Emma, Constant Contact, Mail Chimp and Get Response you’ll now be able to track growth broken out by each subscriber list.

Alerts (we had to put this feature on hold for a bit but it’s back!) –  You’ll soon be able to set an alert when a threshold is met on a KPI you track in your dashboard. For instance if you want to know the minute you hit 100 Likes on a given day on your Facebook page you’ll get an email!

We continue to work on our Partner program administrative functionality which we’d like to release soon. So if you’re an agency or you manage a larger team of people and you need controls over who sees what data, we’ve got you covered.

Our co-founder James developed the coolest way to export your data into a PDF. He’s calling it Drone and soon we’re gong to release it to all of our users and he’s going to release it as an open source application to the developer community. We’re pretty happy about that for many, many, many reasons!

Now back to work and back to LAUNCH Scale!

Startup Lessons Learned This Week: Setting Our Pricing

Last week in Startup Lessons Learned I discussed the importance of establishing sales strategies on both ends of the business spectrum – from a strong ‘auto convert’ for the SMBs all the way up to big ‘ol enterprise types. What that means is this – folks that will pull out their credit card for a $19 purchase when electronically prompted, all the way up to negotiated contracts in the several of thousands of dollars.

So when deciding on your startup pricing strategy, there are so many important items to consider. But I’m going to focus on the 3 biggies we drilled into when setting our initial ‘auto convert’ pricing, as I feel they establish the foundation of a good pricing strategy. Here we go:

1) Your costs. Evaluate both fixed and especially variable costs. For us, the incremental costs of supporting each new user is relatively low. Our incremental costs get down to efficiently scaling the backend server and database costs, being very efficient with API calls to the 3rd party applications we connect to, and customer support. With a business freemium model like we have, incremental variable costs must remain low. For yours? Who knows, but start with your cost basis, and make sure you are very realistic on your costs now, and how they will change over time, especially if you grow.

2) Your competition. You need to be mindful of the competitive environment. Businesses are very cost-sensitive. Does that mean you need to undercut your competition? Not necessarily. First, try to understand your competitor’s pricing approach. What are they basing it on?  Is it per user or per ‘widget’? Figure out their pricing metric(s). If you can understand that you can shape your pricing to be a greater value. And that is really what it comes down to, to win the long term race. Value.

Note: Don’t get too crazed by just one competitor’s pricing. You could whip yourself into a frenzy trying to compete with it, and then they change their pricing the next day!

3) Your value. Here’s where your pricing strategy culminates into a successful business. Answering the question “What do users derive the most value from?” You can’t trick, cajole, or hold important stuff hostage, in order to drive long term profitable relationships with your users. And although price points are a huge consideration, if they are not based on ‘value realized’ it won’t matter.

Bottom line, here’s what we did for our SMB auto-convert pricing (I’ll talk agency and larger company pricing in a future post.)

Ou just launched business dashboard pricing

Our just launched business dashboard pricing!

  • Free! We call this our “Tall” pricing tier. We feel business freemium reduces the risk a business takes, and allows for rapid global adoption. Sharp folks like Mailchimp, LinkedIn, Hootsuite and SurveyMonkey have all proven this out. Otherwise, users are forced to make a pay/flee decision after a 14-30 day trial, and often these busy users need a longer period of time to derive value from a product. We felt that leading with a 100% risk-free offer satisfies my three considerations above,  provides a huge value, a competitive advantage and fits within our cost structure.
    • We’re big believers in really providing great value in the freemium edition. No stripped down bait-and-switch type stuff. At VerticalResponse (where a lot of us have experience from) we re-tooled the traditional 30-day free trial into a freemium.

Dilbert: Freemium Model Cartoon

  • No ‘per user’ pricing. We really deliberated on this one! Debated. Argued. Hell, I think I argued with myself on this decision! But at the end, we all came to agreement that our pricing should be more like Basecamp’s pricing for project management than Insightly’s per-user pricing for CRM. CRM tools like Insightly naturally lend themselves to a per-user pricing schema, but with business dashboards, you get some users that may casually log in once per month, others that log in daily. So why make people hesitant to invite that casual user?
  • Great conversion price points and clear value triggers. So, the next pricing tiers are Grande and Venti, tipping a hat to Starbucks. You want to achieve a couple things here. First, there are natural price points that tend to drive a conversion. As in our $19 Grande plan. Sure we could have priced at $23 or $16. But we’ve done enough testing in our (long) lives to know that we’ll get as many folks to pay us $19 than $16 (I’ll take an extra $3/month to invest in innovation), and probably drive 30%+ conversions than pricing a couple bucks over the magic $20. Same goes for the Venti pricing. Secondly, our value-add (triggers) are clear. It’s completely usage based. You consume more Insights, we hope it’s clear that you should budget a little more per month for that additional usage, and a couple more bells and whistles.

A guarantee? We’ll most likely change our pricing at some point. As we learn, instrument (we love Mixpanel!) usage, get feedback from our awesome users and add more features and functionality we’ll adjust our prices. But we plan on always treating our current users well, and offer ‘grandfather’ plans to them.

Oh yeah, why the caffienated pricing? It just seemed catchy and fun. Hopefully it’s clear to people, otherwise we may change those labels as well!

Small Business Computing Product Review of Dasheroo

Small business computing's review of DasherooDasheroo is very, very proud to be reviewed by the fine folks over at Small Business Computing! We gotta tell you, we were a bit nervous being that we’ve been in development with our business dashboards for a year with our business dashboards. But with the help of our beta users telling us what they want and with the amazing team building the product that adds huge value to business, we were super excited to have our first review be pretty darn amazing.

One of our favorite quotes:

“If Dasheroo stopped at that aggregation of data, it would certainly be worth signing up for that handy convenience. But the system goes a couple steps further. Most notable are the custom “Mashup” matchups. These let you pair metrics from different services to see if there’s a correlation between the data and to spot trends you might otherwise have missed.”

Do we have work to do? You bet! But we’ll always have work to do depending on what our users want.

So here’s our review, check it out.