This is a follow up story for lemlist. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 1 year ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hey everyone! I’m Guillaume, Co-Founder & CEO at lemlist. We’re the coolest cold email and sales automation platform headquartered in Paris, France.
With lemlist, you can get more replies to your emails by making every message personalized and human. For example, you can add images and overlay them with custom screenshots and company logos of your prospects. You might want to include dynamic landing pages in your sales funnel that is tailored for prospects individually. In essence, you’ll grow your business by personalizing every step of your prospect’s journey at scale, without being trapped by spam filters.
With over 10,000 customers using lemlist successfully, we’re thrilled with the progress so far. Inspiring the sales world by highlighting the importance of relationships and creating win-win scenarios between users and us, that’s what our journey is about.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Since the launch in 2018, we managed to hit $8M ARR in revenue and grow to a 40-person team. Having positioned our brand well in a super competitive industry, I can tell you that we’re really proud of the fact that more and more people worldwide continue to find success using lemlist.
Brand is a powerful thing, you just have to patiently build it and never stop.
The key channels for us in terms of growth were building the biggest community around sales automation that today has 15.3K members, cold emails, being consistent with value-oriented content, persistent distribution, and leveraging LinkedIn where we get over 1,000,000 views monthly when you combine all profiles.
Customer support is also critical for us. We invest an enormous amount of effort in keeping the communication fun and engaging. Going the extra mile to solve any problem our users experience matters a lot. This is extremely important to us. To make it more practical for your readers, let me explain these tactics on a more actionable level.
Community. We started building it early on by inviting beta users to centralize feedback. Today, it’s a vibrant community of our users, prospects, and sales experts. 75% of the content is user-generated, while we publish the rest. Webinars with people like Aaron Ross, Nathan Latka, Becc Holland, outreach tactics, educational resources, etc. It’s a major source of inspiration. In the long run, lemlist family will continue to bring an enormous amount of value to both its members and our company.
Cold emails. Our sales team continuously sends outbound campaigns across email and LinkedIn. A big chunk of time is dedicated to research and emailing fewer people (50-100 daily). We focus on uniquely approaching every prospect and use our own product for dynamic personalization. If you want, you can borrow our cold email templates here.
Content and distribution. From day one, we followed a simple rule. Produce actionable and transparent content with examples, both good and bad. Write it in a way we speak and connect it to our brand. Talk about topics we know and have resulted in. On the flip side, having not conquered SEO yet, content distribution is “processized” for top-of-the-funnel awareness. Our team leverages LinkedIn, both company and personal profiles, syndication, DMs, micro-content units for Social Media, transforming the written word into videos and vice versa, etc. This strategy is one of the main reasons behind strong brand awareness and reach.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Honestly, I never thought we’ll have 40 people working for lemlist so fast.. And we’re still hiring. Looking back now, I can tell you that if I knew how effective it is to bring motivated, hungry people to different departments, I would’ve done it sooner. As long as you do the hiring right, keep things efficient and data-oriented, you’ll be amazed.
Let me give you an example. A few months ago, we decided to hire a person who will handle marketing in the French market. Conducting the interviews, it was difficult for me to pick the winner out of 3 finalists. So, I decided to hire all three and triple our marketing efforts. The lesson here? Have the right KPIs in place and never hesitate to bring talented people, especially if you’re growing at a fast pace.
However, never prioritize skills over teamwork and culture. On my journey, I realized it’s smart to follow MJ’s advice. “Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships.”
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
A few months back, we released an exclusive beta for the lemlist v3. The new version represents a powerful omnichannel solution for your outbound challenges. In the long-run, our dream is to become industry leaders in the outbound sales world. Give you a product that will humanize the game across all channels, but that’s also a breeze to use.
This truly keeps me fired up and I’m 100% sure you’ll get the same vibe from my teammates too.
In 2021, we’d like to 3x the business and hit the $10M ARR milestone. But, besides the money KPIs, our passion lies in growing our brand even more. I use this example frequently. I never saw an ad for a new iPhone. People buy an iPhone because they love it. Building cool products, providing value, branding, and going the extra mile for our users, while having fun along the way. We will stay on that course forever.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
The one that I liked a lot is “Lost and Founder” by Rand Fishkin. It’s an authentic, intimate, and value-packed story from an entrepreneur I admire. Besides that one, I’d highlight “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh and The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Create a distribution network first. I talked to Nathan Latka about this recently. Having a distribution network early on, and even before you launch the product, is insanely valuable. Product feedback, connection with people, ideas for content, distribution, target audience. It can all be in your Facebook community. But it has to be oriented towards value and not sales. Sales will come later.
Build a brand. Everybody can copy your feature, content, or tactic. But nobody can steal your brand. Even if you’re not ranking on the first page of Google, it’s the brand that makes people find your website. Competitors can pitch your users, but it’s the brand that will keep them using yours. Great companies brand!
For us, word-of-mouth is the main growth engine. It influences every other channel too. For example, a competitor sneaked into our community once and started pitching our users in DMs. They reported it immediately to us. Brand is a powerful thing, you just have to patiently build it and never stop.
Data, data, data. Everything you do should be connected to a metric. It’s not always revenue and conversions (e.g. you’re not going to sell with YouTube), but the metrics will tell you if you’re on the right track or not, what can you improve, and whether it makes sense to keep doing it. Revenue, engagement, reach, retention, everything can be measured. For example:
- Marketing → did a particular product video boost activation or usage of specific features? Are people really watching your videos, or are they dropping after the intro and the retention is low? How’s the engagement on the blog?
- Sales → Did their LinkedIn content reach the right people? What cold email produced the best results?
- Founders → What KPIs impact MRR, brand, and user happiness most?
Every metric can tell you if you’re going in the right direction, teach you how to become better and point you to what should be the main focus. Just make sure you have them from the start and that you don’t mix apples and oranges (e.g. sales and brand KPIs).
51% of the content work is your distribution. Create a process and be meticulously consistent about following it. Your reach, brand awareness, and, ultimately, conversions depend on it.
Who does what? What happens after an article gets published? Are you sharing it cleverly on Social Media more than once? Are you analyzing referrals and UTM-ed links to assess the impact?
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’re always looking to bring passionate people to our team. Right now we’re looking for developers and sales reps. You can discover our open positions here, but feel free to send me an email at [email protected] too.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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