Tag Archive: customer development


How to lure in early customers

By Elizabeth

james fong listiaListia was inspired by an old pair of snowboarding boots. Cofounder James Fong wanted to get rid of them, but he was having no luck on eBay and Craigslist. Yet the boots were in great condition, and had probably only been worn five times!

Now, Listia’s full-blown marketplace lets you sell all sorts of items that are lying around the house. It runs completely on virtual currency – no cash allowed – and that actually helped drive early adoption.

“We have a little referral system where you can invite friends and receive credits for getting them to join. Word of mouth has proven to be the biggest driver of traffic to our site,” says Fong.… Read the rest


The shady business behind buying email addresses

Image credit: epSos.de

By Elizabeth

Working in the email world, you learn about some seriously shady practices and what goes on behind the scenes.  I was initially reluctant to talk about this publicly, but the other day, an acquaintance approached me for some advice.

Me: Oh what’s up?
K: I bought an email list, and I want to know the best way to send these people emails.
Me: As in, you bought actual email addresses?
K: Yeah. 38,000 emails of professionals. From a site similar to Salesforce’s data.com.
Me: Oh…I see…
K: Yeah, I paid $18,000 for the list. How should I send marketing emails to them?

Read the rest


How to grow an email newsletter list? (part 2)

Image credit: Grovo 

By Elizabeth

This is part 2 of a two part post on how to grow an email newsletter list.  In part 1, I discussed the mechanics of landing pages that drive newsletter signups.   This post focuses on common customer acquisition methods for driving signups.

2 common ways to grow newsletter subscribers

1) Swaps/cross promotions

The concept behind swaps is easy.  You promote a company — let’s call it Colossus Industries, Inc.  You tweet about their new product and write a blurb about their great new offering in a blog post or newsletter.  After that, Colossus Industries does the same for your company and product(s).… Read the rest


How to grow an email newsletter list? (part 1)

Image credit: Grovo 

By Elizabeth

I received a cold-email recently from a newsletter publisher looking to increase the number of subscribers on her list.

From: –
Date: Wed, Jan 2, 2013 at 12:25 PM
To: hello [at] launchbit [dot] com

Greetings Elizabeth!

[deleted text]

My current goal is to gain 50 new newsletter subscribers by the end of this month, reaching 2.5k by the end of 2013. Not unreasonable at all, but it’s clear that the tactics that have been used so far aren’t driving even that modest growth… 

Kind regards,

The growth of our best publishers looks nothing like the exponential nature of the growth of top websites.… Read the rest


How To Use Email Marketing To Retain Customers

Image credit: BrightWork

Guest post by Jana

So, you just made a new online sale to a first-purchase customer. Congratulations! Beyond the nice boost in revenue, you received a golden nugget of information that will generate your business a ton of recurring revenue to come: your customer’s email address.

What’s next?
It’s natural to want to generate additional growth with new customers. However, your best customers are the ones who have previously purchased from you, since they’ve seen value in your product or service and already know your brand. So what’s the secret to getting these customers to convert again? Email marketing.… Read the rest


Should I run ads for my startup? (pre product/market fit)

Time is Money

Image credit: Nina Matthews Photography

By Elizabeth

I often get questions from other startups about whether they should be running ads and if so, why and when.  Startups largely fall into 2 categories: pre-product/market fit and growth stage.  The purposes for running ads at these two stages are very different.  This post focuses just on pre product/market fit, and next week, I’ll talk about the latter.

Pre product/market fit: 

If your company is pre-product/market fit, your goal is to find a product or service that meets a need, that your customers love, and that you can scale.  Startups often fail, because they try to scale before they find product/market fit.… Read the rest


What are good subscribe rates for email newsletters?

Envelope image

By Zach and Elizabeth

This is the last post of our 3 part series on open rates, click-through-rates, and subscribe rates for email newsletters.  Here’s what we’ve learned about subscribe/unsubscribe rates from stats on LaunchBit, an ad network for email newsletters.

What are good subscribe/unsubscribe rates?

To the extent of our data, subscription rates in our network are largely biforcated.  You are either growing your readership relatively slowly: 1-2% growth or you are doing crazy well and growing beyond 10% growth.  Since we don’t know how our publishers grow their lists, I surmise that the high growth publishers in our network are using paid acquisition methods to achieve 10%+ growth rate.… Read the rest


Why pivot after making $10,000 our first month?

By Elizabeth



Multi-startup holiday dinner in the Bay Area, Dec 2011.  (Photo credit: Samantha Quist, Check out her startup, TaskHatch.)

Happy New Year!  2011 was quite a ride for us at LaunchBit.  Jennifer and I are so thankful to everyone who’s helped us.

We started LaunchBit in Jan 2011 as a way to help entrepreneurs start and grow their internet businesses.  This is a problem I’ve become really passionate about, as I’ve mentioned here.  But, we didn’t know exactly how to tackle this problem, because we didn’t know *what*, in particular, entrepreneurs were struggling with.  So, we decided to hold a class on customer development and we built a customer development workflow-tool to learn what our customers were struggling with most.… Read the rest


Hate talking with customers? Go to Lean Startup Machine

By Elizabeth

Let’s be honest — talking with potential customers is a drag.  I get nervous in talking with people about their behavior, especially when I have to ask questions about price and how much they might expect to pay for things.  I don’t want to hear about why someone won’t use my potential product idea.  I don’t want to hear people’s lukewarm responses either.  I really really dread talking with potential customers.

And yet, with each business idea, I know I have to do it.  Just in talking with a handful of people, I know I can immediately get clarity around whether a product idea will fit a particular user’s behavior or not.… Read the rest


Wrap up from NACEA’s Lean Startup Methodology Conference

By Elizabeth

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending and serving as a panelist at the North American Chinese Entrepreneurs Association conference on the Lean Startup Method.  Together with investors John Ason and Ed Goodman and entrepreneurs Vineet Sinha and Danny Wen, we fielded a number of great questions about the Lean Startup Method.  The panel was moderated by serial entrepreneur Joe Chin, who led us through a number of thought-provoking discussion topics, and the audience had great questions throughout the day.


Is the Lean Startup Method formulaic?

There are definitely mixed views on this question amongst Lean Startup proponents.… Read the rest