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Dave Greiner and Ben Richardson – What We Learnt Building Campaign Monitor

Background

  • started IT firm ‘Switch IT’ during the first web bubble 2003-2004 approached by more customers to send bulk email
  • Always something missing from existing applications – the seed of idea is planted
  • Took a few hours per day for 6 months to have a go at building their dream email campaign system
  • Designed exclusively for web designers – 15,000 clients so far, 1,000 new users per month, 90 million emails delivered so far.
  • Campaign moniter has grown from a project to a small software development company.

Deciding What to Build

  • Knew there was a problem, knew how to fix it.
  • Mentions example of 37signals and Basecamp – solving your own problem first, then making it available for others.
  • Don’t try to please everybody
  • Chose to target a small group of customers – in this instance, web designers. This choice allows you to develop the killer features that are perfect for that market.
  • Kill the bloat your chosen market doesn’t need.
  • Shows example of trying to do everything – ‘Constant Contact’ – requires 83 fields to be filled to send an email. Campagin Monitor uses one field by allowing designers to point to URL of their own email design
  • More chance of creating passionate users – “It’s almost like it was built just for me”

Pricing Your Application

  • Many people don’t think about pricing until the end; or throw it up for free and add a ‘beta’ tag
  • Investigate competitors, but you don’t need to be the cheapest. If your biggest draw point is price, that can quickly fail.
  • If you solve the problem better, don’t be afraid to charge more.
  • Keep charges simple – charge in a way that is best for your users rather than best for you. Eg: no monthly charge on campaign monitor, charging by email recipient instead. Simple pricing model has worked for them to get more good publicity
  • Try before you buy: C.M. allows campaigns to go to 5 subscribers for free.

Build the Sucker

  • Identify ‘Need to Have’ features – light, agile.
  • Give yourself a version 1 deadline and stick to it
  • Use it yourself – Eat your own dogfood. This allows you to find the UI elements and features that may annoy future clients. Will result in a smoother, less frustrating end-user experience.
  • If you’re not going to make your self-imposed deadline, re-asses the Must Have feature list and consider leaving some for a later iteration
  • Early feedback: REAL customers. Iterate, iterate, iterate. Don’t dismiss this early feedback just because it might be opposed to what you thought they would want. Flickr given as an example – started as a game with a photo sharing app on the side. Photo app became much more popular, so Ludicorp dropped the game and kept with flickr.
  • Technology is irrelevant – solve the problem and clients will be happy

Marketing and Support

  • Make an app worth talking about – word of mouth is golden.
  • Update religiously, be transparent. Shows community and activity around application, this in turn breeds confidence in potential users.
  • If you’ve chosen to fix a problem for a small market, it is easier to market directly to them. Eg: tool for designers advertised on design sites
  • Promotion through education – write about your industry to draw new traffic. More trust.
  • Export Market Development Grant available in Australia to assist with international marketing and pushing your new product
  • Feel their pain – Ben and Dave still do all their customer support.
  • Opposite time zone troubles – provide a comprehensive help system within the application; increase the chance of the users helping themselves. Let them know what time it is where you are, eg: it’s 2:37am in Sydney right now

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Dave Greiner Founder, Campaign Monitor