Issue #10: Lead gen, cold outreach, and first beta users 📤

Implementation of lead gen and cold outreach by someone that never did it

This week was very different from all the previous ones. It’s my first time doing “proper” outreach, and it’s taxing! 😅 

Let’s dive into how I approached it!

Table of Contents

Getting beta users

As I anticipated last week, this week I wanted to have some beta users onboarded and using the application, and this is exactly what I did! 🎉 

The first step was building my spreadsheet-based CRM.

I know that there are tons of CRMs out there, but since this is my first time doing this type of activity, I’m still learning what I need so I decided to start with a spreadsheet.

These are all the columns that I have:

  • Main

    • Name

    • Role

    • Company (if any)

    • Email

  • State

    • Beta user: [yes, no, pending, not reached out]

    • Is qualified: [yes, no, likely]

    • Next step: [cold reach out, can’t reach out, qualification, follow-up, onboard, converted, disqualified, not interested]

  • Socials

    • LinkedIn: LinkedIn profile

    • X: X profile

    • Reddit: Reddit profile

  • Reference

    • Source: [network, reddit, x, search, linkedin, waitlist],

    • Source link: link related to how the lead was found

    • Source notes: any note to associate with the lead

    • Mode: [interaction, inbound, outbound]

    • Added: discovery date

  • Usage

    • Content platform: the platform used for the newsletter

    • Social targets: the social platforms used for repurposing the content

  • Outreach

    • Date and Info for each interaction

They should all be self-explanatory. But it is worth talking about a few of them. Currently, a lead is qualified if the following conditions are true:

  1. Owns a newsletter and does it seriously (consistent posting or a good enough number of subscribers 1k+ or good growth),

  2. The newsletter is on Beehiiv,

  3. The publisher has an interest in repurposing on X.

In the next section, I’ll explain how I find the leads so the “Reference” columns will be more clear. ✨ 

If you’re curious here’s a link to a copy of the spreadsheet where I removed the references to the leads’ profiles:

Finding leads

For finding leads I relied mainly on these sources:

  • Reddit,

  • X,

  • LinkedIn,

  • Waitlist.

For the waitlist, there’s not much to say because of what I shared last week, so let’s talk about the rest.

Reddit

There’s a r/beehiiv sub on Reddit, and that’s gold! For this reason, a few weeks ago I posted an early demo of EchoWords there:

Everyone who commented automatically became a lead in the CRM. 🎉 

Indeed I had a 100% response rate from them! 🥳 

Unfortunately, the list of members of subreddits is not public, otherwise it would have been a very juicy list as this sub has 1.3k members. What I did require some manual effort, but it should bring good results (I haven’t reached out to this list yet):

  1. Sort the posts by “Top This Year“,

  2. Open each post with at least 5 upvotes or 5 comments,

  3. Get all the participants and add them as leads.

In total, I have around 85 leads from Reddit.

X

Even in this case, I got lucky! 😂 

Some Beehiiv publishers share their achievements like the number of subs, how much they love the platform, etc., and the Beehiiv X profile reposts some of them! 🥳 

A lot of manual effort again, but what I did was to check every single repost by Beehiiv for the last 3 months and collect the profiles corresponding to Beehiiv publishers.

Even the leads from Reddit are likely very good because taken from the specific r/beehiiv sub, these should be even better as it’s already the intersection of X and Beehiiv which are the requirements for being a qualified lead. 🚀 

In total, I have around 120 leads from X.

LinkedIn

Nothing fancy in this case, I just searched for the “beehiiv” term in the LinkedIn search bar and collected the authors of the resulting posts.

Again, a lot of manual effort, but I hope it will be worth it. 😅 

In total, I have around 60 leads from LinkedIn.

Cold outreach

Once you have a list, it’s time for the actual outreach! ✨ 

I reached out only to 85 leads as I just cannot stand doing this for more than a couple of hours a day, it’s exhausting. 😅 

I know some tools would help here, I’ll likely check a few next week.

But there’s no proper outreach without a template message! Here’s the one that I used for X:

Hi [Lead’s Name],


[personalization hook].

I’m Marvin, the founder of EchoWords (@useEchoWords) and I'm a Beehiiv publisher myself as well.

We’re launching a new tool to help Beehiiv newsletter creators like you repurpose long-form content for social media effortlessly. We’re looking for a few beta users to try it out for free and provide feedback. As a thank you, beta users will get a special discount once we launch. You can check out a quick overview in this video: https://www.loom.com/share/a03d73f940de4c4ea0f4e9f95ffb7a2c.

Would you be interested in joining our beta program?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Best,

Marvin

The video is a video that I recorded as a demo (3 minutes in length). What takes a lot of time is writing the personalization hook which is fundamental to catching the reader’s attention. Some examples:

  • Congrats on surpassing 2.5k subscribers in your newsletter! I hope to get there as well!

  • Wow, I saw that even @denk_tweets subscribed to your newsletter! Congrats man! 👏

  • Congrats on the success of your newsletter! I'm also a Soft Eng by background! I've been working both as IC, and as lead.

  • It seems like since you started your Beehiiv newsletter you've been greatly consistent! That's the key to success!

How do I write them? By skimming through their profile and newsletter to understand what could work. 😁 

The approach that I’ll use for LinkedIn and Reddit is going to be mostly the same:

  1. template message,

  2. find what could catch their attention,

  3. add personalization to the message,

  4. cross fingers. 🤣 

Outreach performance stats

It’s numbers time!

  • Outreaches: 89 (total DMs sent)

  • Responses: 14 (number of people that replied)

  • Qualified: 12 (number of respondents that qualified)

  • Committed: 10 (number of qualified that verbally committed to try)

  • Converted: 4 (number of committed that signed up)

This leads to:

  • Response rate: 15.7%

  • Qualification rate: 85.7%

  • Verbal commitment rate: 83.3%

  • Conversion rate: 33.3%

These numbers should be solid! 🚀 

What concerns me the most is the gap between those who committed and those who converted. I’ll talk more about this in the next section.

Moreover, these numbers might be solid now that the product is free to use for beta testers, who knows what will happen once it will be generally available and not free anymore. We’ll see. 🤞 

Onboarding complexity

The onboarding is very bad. 😅 

The platform is currently accessible through a direct invitation, but there’s no smooth flow to handle that yet.

This is how it works right now:

  1. I send a cold DM,

  2. the lead replies and shows interest,

  3. I reply with the URL to sign up and ask them to ping me once they’re in because right now I need to enable their account after they sign up,

  4. the lead replies telling me they’re in,

  5. I switch the flag to activate their account and provide instructions on how to integrate Beehiiv with screenshots.

Too many touchpoints! 😭 

Moreover, given that the communication is async, this means that end-to-end it could take even days from commitment to convert.

Steps 3-4 could be removed by providing a signup URL with some sort of invitation key. This would allow the user to be enabled automatically if the invitation key is valid.

Step 5 could also be removed with friendlier in-app onboarding.

I think it’s fine for a beta, but step 5 is definitely something that has to be improved by the launch.

First beta users and first bugs

Nonetheless, I got the first beta users! So far only one actually used the platform, and another one is having issues with the integration.

Some created the account, but I just came back to them with the instructions on how to move forward. I expect them to try it out in the next few days or on Monday.

Users of EchoWords

Having the first beta users has been really valuable! 🤩 

I got a few bugs already that would have been hard to spot by dogfooding my newsletter:

  1. gated posts were not supported: Beehiiv supports gated posts, and since I’m not using them I didn’t realize that I was not supporting them, but it’s commonly used by the publishers.

  2. empty posts error handling: the thread editor allows creating empty posts, but this was causing an error in the sender that as a consequence was not updating the status to “delivered“. This would have caused the sender to continuously send the same thread over and over again. Luckily I was not AFK and I fixed it on the fly. 🫣 

Conclusion

This week was a whole new experience. 😁 

It has been bittersweet because I admit that I do not enjoy outreach. Maybe I just need to get used to it, but a few times I felt a bit like a beggar. 😅 

On the other side, having real users providing feedback, using the app for real, and hearing some willing to try it out is a good feeling! We’re still talking about small numbers, but let’s see if, by the end of next week, the picture will be more clear. ✨ 

I’m not planning to keep the beta phase for too long. As soon as I see that the product is stable enough without too pressing frictions, I will launch it. Hopefully, that would help with some inbound as well, but let’s see how things will go.

In the meantime, I’m also thinking about other ideas in case this won’t be successful. 🤞 It’s not easy to balance patience for results vs. recognizing that it’s a no-go and need to think about something else, but so far so good.

Next week I will continue outreaching and stabilizing the product.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s updates! 👋 

If you’re interested in following my journey, make sure to subscribe or follow me on X/Twitter and LinkedIn!

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