Growth October 24, 2020

Poll: How big will your email list be before launching?

Chris Buehlmeyer @ChrisBuehl

Hey Indie Hackers,

I currently try to build an email list for my current project. I guess most of us have gone through that stage. As I missed building the list for my previous projects I have this question to the community:

How big should an email list be before launching?

I am aware that this depends strongly on your product/service. Would love see a comment on what you experienced and if email lists worked out for you.

How many unique potential users you had on your email list before launch?
  1. I don't have an email list at all
  2. 1 - 200
  3. 201 - 500
  4. 500 - 1000
  5. 1000 - 5000
  6. 5000+
Vote
  1. 3

    Mine was less than 10 before I launched on Product Hunt. And then it went up to 457.

    Here's a post that I wrote on Hackernoon about my (crazy) journey.

    1. 2

      Wow what a great story. Especially the second part of the post really was insightful for me and the tipps on Product Hunt launch are so helpful 👍 Also nice to see how HN boostet traffic on your site.
      Regarding the mailing list I will take it as an example how to be successful with a small email list.

      1. 2

        Yes, definitely! Glad I was able to help! Hope you have a great launch - feel free to ping me on Twitter (@FNTey) when you do, I'd love to help support & give it an upvote + comment + review! :)

  2. 2

    I didn’t have an email list prior to launching my first eBook this year. Most of my growth came in from Twitter—but I quickly set up a Zapier integration to add customers to my email lists, and since then, I’ve started creating email lists in advance of a launch. Recently I launched a program for developer advocates and the waitlist for that was 57 people.

    1. 1

      Thanks for your answer. As you mentioned Twitter: This for sure is also a great possible source for potential customers. Have not looked into Zapier yet, but it is on my list to dig into.

  3. 2

    Back up:

    • how much would you want to earn to make this launch feel successful?
    • how many sales would that take at your product's price?
    1. 1

      Hi Alex, I think these are really the right questions to answer the ideal size of an email list.

      I have just answered to @armgitaar that it will take in may case probably around 3000 people in the email list.

      With this thread I mainly intented to hear from fellow indie hackers what email list size they want or had to prior start.

      Have you already launched with an email list?

      1. 2

        Many times! I've launched to big lists and small lists. On track to do > $500k this year from products sold almost exclusively through email lists.

        Across our own launches and our biz students, I'd say 2.5% is pretty common for a well executed first launch. 5-10% is doable IF your core strategy and product are sound: if the problem solves a real pain, if the audience buys on value, and if they trust you.

        My most recent launch was for my first book, started with a brand new waiting list of ~300 people so very small but had an extremely high conversion rate, well over 50%. Wrote a bit about it here https://www.indiehackers.com/post/experimenting-with-part-of-heys-launch-strategy-on-my-new-book-9b30f96086

        But the subscriber count is really just one small factor in the size of the list.

        • what got them on the list in the first place?
        • what do you send them before, during, and after launch?
        • what reason(s) do they have to buy at the time of launch, vs putting it off until later?

        Another thing is see is people waiting until some magical number to launch. In this case, do you need to get 100 customers at launch? What if you got 10, and then kept going?

        You're gonna have to keep going either way so get the process of making sales started sooner!!

        1. 1

          Thanks Alex for sharing these numbers. This all sounds very reasonable.

          The conversion rate on your book for sure was exceptional great -congratz to that success. Seems like you targeted very well.

          I liked your post about your experiment with parts of the Heys launch. What a nice approach they had with skipping the form but instead you had to write an email to them.

          Regarding your comment about the "magical numbers" before launching: I think we tend to search for a security net for our endeavors. Like "If I have X in place then I can launch and assume it is not a failure". But reality of course is not as simple as that.

          1. 2

            I agree with you about the safety net! What's unfortunate is how many people use arbitrary numbers as a tool to procrastinate rather than a tool to plan.

            The other thing that I think people forget is that after the initial launch...you can still community with the list of people who didn't buy yet!

            You can keep earning their trust, sending them valuable stuff, and even if they don't but they may help share your content or products.

            I guess my point is that email lists are a valuable asset into themselves, not just a pre-req for launch. :)

  4. 1

    Hey Chris, [Growthunt] (https://www.growthunt.com/)has a couple of case strategies on the "Pre-launch" topic. Do check it out and let me know if you have any feedback.

    Cheers.

    1. 1

      Hey Yun, thanks for the link. Thats why I like indiehackers :) There are so many valuable resources to be shared within the community

  5. 1

    You need 200 customers to get feedback on product to market fit. To get leads for customers you need a email list about 10X-20X of the leads you need. A conversion rate would be great at 6%. Work on telling your story early. Use medium and social media to test your story. There are ways to get some of your competitors customer contact information. Start there.

  6. 1

    Depends what you're looking to do and what launching means to you.

    Are you having people sign-up, scraping emails, both?

    In general, I assume less than 4% of a list will convert to do something meaningful to me. But, that doesn't really mean I want a huge list. More so, good quality users that provide feedback and learning opportunities as well as who are willing to stick with the product while kinks are still being worked out.

    1. 1

      Thanks for your answer. Perhaps a good approach is really to assume 3 or 4% of conversation. If you can make your mind about how much people you need for a successful launch, then you can calculate the size of the email list.

      Have you already launched with an email list?

      For MockupFox I am just gathering emails right now (no sign-up). This time I wanted to go with a "build your audience first" approach.
      Having 100 paying users on launch would be great, this would mean with a 3% conversion rate in my case I would need an email list of 3000 people.
      Thats a long way to go for me 😅

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