Growth April 4, 2020

Why it’s so tough to Grow a SaaS business?

Navin Poeran @Navinp

I run a small “email delivery / SMTP servers” business, and even though I have worked really hard on email delivery (90+% score on ReturnPath, 10/10 Mail-Tester score etc), and have a low pricing of only $5 p/mo, it has been really tough for me to get users to convert and pay for the service.

I know that in the “email industry”, there are a lot of spammers looking for cheap services, and perhaps they are disappointed that my SMTP service does not allow any form of spam, but just acquiring legitimate businesses. Why so hard :/

My website: https://Kingmailer.co (different design now)

I also noticed a lot of users here rather using existing large corporations instead of giving small businesses a chance to grow. Why though? If we all keep using Amazon, how will other companies grow or survive?

Do you guys have experience with growing your SaaS business?

  1. 8

    Couple things I notice off the bat:

    1. The landing page could use a lot of work. It doesn't have a very polished look/feel to it, and I assume the app itself shares this. A lot of people will be turned off by this because they assume the quality of the product is poor. Invest in having a designer help you create a more visually appealing landing page.

    2. You say you have trouble getting users to convert. Are you actually measuring your conversion rates? Meaning: are you tracking and seeing a < 1% conversion rate from first time visitor to paid subscriber? Or do you just feel like you don't have as many total customers as you want? If the former, you should email the people who signed up but didn't convert. If the latter, you SHOULD be tracking real conversion rates, AND you probably need to focus on top-of-funnel traffic.

    3. @filvdg is right. Cheaper is not always better. Having a low cost makes people assume the product is low quality or there's some other catch. Everyone knows sending emails is not free, so if your price is too low they will think there's something fishy.

    4. I also agree with @toughyear. This market is very saturated. Your competitors have a lot of brand awareness and market share and have a more polished and professional product than you do. You either need to find a niche that makes you better than them in some way, or you have an uphill battle to compete with them.

    1. 1

      I am using the official reseller theme supplied by GoDaddy, didn't realize it was that bad :/

      And this is the actual product dashboard:

      Thanks for the feedback.

    2. 1

      learned a lot from here, thanks

  2. 4

    Hi, I'm a Mailgun customer and I'm 100% your target market because I send kind of email you allowed to. I will be honest with you.

    1. Your website needs a lot of work. Like A LOT. Your website looks like made by a beginner, it will make you less credible. Honestly with a website like that I will not trust your service at all.

    2. Where is the documentation? I can't see how to use it in Node JS. I will not spend my time blindly trying your service without any guidance.

    3. Amazon SES and Mailgun are cheaper than yours for small businesses because they have pay as you go plan. If you want to compete to be the cheapest you need to provide pay as you go plan. Otherwise sells features with a higher price.

    4. Do you need additional proof? We can supply, just email us.

    May I ask you how many times your web visitor contact you to ask for a proof? Put it on your landing page immediately

    1. Your content across pages is repeated over and over again.

    2. Your copy is waaay too technical. Cloud SMTP Mail Servers? What is that? "Email delivery service for transactional emails" would be easier to digest.

    I don't intend to discourage you. But email delivery service is an established industry with a lot of big players. You need more polished products, provide documentation and provide value that distinguish you from others.

    1. 1

      Hi, thanks for your feedback, would love to reply:

      1. The website layout is the Official Reseller theme which you get from GoDaddy, this theme is integrated with GoDaddy, have been using it since last year and didn't realize it was so bad. (and no I am not a reseller)

      https://wordpress.org/themes/turnkey-storefront/

      1. I have added a link to the documentation in the navigation.

      2. Will work on pricing, for now $7 unlimited transactional emails

      3. Additional proof, I left it there as a comfort for users that are not convinced and want more info

      4. Repeated content: yes, because most visitors don't browse the whole website, so some important information is repeated on multiple pages, like pricing comparison, faq, some product info

      5. Technical content, will work on this, thank you.

      The actual product dashboard:

      https://kingmailer.co/downloads/screenshot-dashboard.png

      One question for you:

      Amazon is a large store selling a lot of products, with great pricing, and delivery etc, does this mean others should not open a shop? Jus asking.

      1. 2

        The website layout is the Official Reseller theme which you get from GoDaddy, this theme is integrated with GoDaddy, have been using it since last year and didn't realize it was so bad. (and no I am not a reseller)

        Now it's time for improvement :)

        Will work on pricing, for now $7 unlimited transactional emails

        That's great! Now you have an advantage among others. Now if someone's Mailgun pay-as-you-go bill exceeds $7, it would be more make sense to migrate to your service!

        Repeated content: yes, because most visitors don't browse the whole website, so some important information is repeated on multiple pages, like pricing comparison, faq, some product info

        I suggest you to learn about how to build a good landing page, we can not force visitors to read by presenting our content over and over again. Instead, we should adapt to them, provide simple and easy to understand copy. Provide nice images/illustration, etc :)

        Amazon is a large store selling a lot of products, with great pricing, and delivery etc, does this mean others should not open a shop? Just asking.

        No, competition is good. If a company starts dominating the market (monopoly) it's not good for customers and people will start hating them, just look at Microsoft.

        Also, although Amazon AWS provides almost ANYTHING related to cloud service with really good quality and cheap prices, I never use them but their Amazon S3. Instead, I use render.com which more expensive compared to AWS. Why? Because they easier to use and their pricing is not confusing.

        Good luck bro, you can do it!

        1. 1

          Do you like the updated/new layout? Or do you thing it still needs a lot of work?

          1. 1

            Nice to see an improvement!

            The content now is more organized and easier to read. And your website looks good on the mobile phone. It's much better than before.

            But, "the Free SMTP Server" page and "Buy SMTP with bitcoin" page is totally the same, I suggest to omit or rethink the design and content of those two pages because it looks spammy. I guest you provide those 2 pages for SEO purposes, right?

            On the desktop, I think your layout is not convincing enough. Your layout still looks like a basic bootstrap template. A simple input for me:

            • All the section headers should be center-aligned

            • For inspiration, the "All plans have" section can be turned into a grid and put some image/icon on it to catch the eyes. For example: https://formcubes.com/for-freelancers-and-agencies.html (open it on desktop, fyi: it's my website and I still working on the layout too)

            • The "Plans and Pricing" section will look better if aligned to the center

            • Split the FaQ into 2 columns

            • Align your hero (first section) to the center

            • Add more images/visual illustration

            And I suggest you to create a new post on the "Landing page feedback" group to get more detailed input from other IHers.

        2. 1

          “I suggest you to learn about how to build a good landing page, we can not force visitors to read by presenting our content over and over again. Instead, we should adapt to them, provide simple and easy to understand copy. Provide nice images/illustration, etc :)“

          It has to do with long tail keywords, hence different pages, some users are searching with specific keywords and want specific information related to that keyword presented to them.

          🔥🔥👊

          1. 1

            It has to do with long tail keywords, hence different pages, some users are searching with specific keywords and want specific information related to that keyword presented to them.

            No, I mean the principle design of a good landing page. Do a quick google search with "How to build a good landing page" keyword, you will get it.

            If you have a limited time to redesign your website, i suggest to you to use nocode platform like https://carrd.co/, https://versoly.com/ (or any other similar services). With just a small amount of dollars you can get a good looking professional website with ease.

  3. 2

    Hi Ishtar ,

    your pricepoint is too low , it screams low quality, maybe start with doubling your price
    12 to 15 usd is still very cheap, maybe you will have some margin to do some marketing

    kr
    Filip

    1. 1

      I read about this... just wanted to create value for my customers without hurting them in their pockets.

      Thanks for your feedback though. I understand it can be a turn off... will take your feedback into consideration 👊

      1. 1

        Sending emails is typically a critical aspect of a business. Quality of service is much more important than 5 or 10 dollars per month. Therefore, people gravitate towards the established players that have been tried out and proven by others before.

      2. 1

        Honestly, you can start with mailgun for 0$ in the beginning. Everyone who does Business Right can easily afford 10$+ and therefore choose a more professionell Service like postmark etc.

        So as filip mentioned, in my opinion you are just comparing for those customers who want cheap prices which can be done with a low Quality service/product. Right now, this is the path you are going

  4. 1

    As others have stated. The website is a downer. Unfortunately, humans quickly judge a book by its cover.

    1. 1

      True, will update/change the layout ASAP.

  5. 1

    My 2 cents as someone who was desperately searching for a good email service provider recently. You don't really offer a competitive advantage other than price. And you have some odd restrictions. No newsletters? That's one of the most important uses cases in this industry. If you just allow transactional emails - why wouldn't I just use straight SES instead? Your landing page really isn't convincing at all. Good delivery stats just isn't enough.

    As for the saturation of the industry - I am no so sure.

    IMO the pricing models of all the good services out there are hilarious. I understand a SaaS wants a fix monthly rate - but as an indie I want a pay per use model. I am not paying 50 bucks per month to maintain a glorified excel sheet. And most of the free tiers are so restricted - they are more like trials. Also onboarding was so incredibly bad for some of the services - I just gave up. With some of the providers standard use cases are awkwardly covered - at best. And don't get me started on the self-install php solutions.

    To cover my needs I have written a slim, but powerful wrapper around Amazon SES. It doesn't require a powerful server and still allows for more than 10k subscriptions per second and multi-threaded delivery to Amazon. More than I will ever need. Tracking, bounce handling, webhooks - it's all there. Still not sure what to do with it as the path to a user facing solution is still more work than I want to put into it. I am more of a backend guy.

    But to come back to your post: I think I would be in your target niche. I am not eager to maintain the infrastructure I am currently running - but I would probably not convert either.

    1. 1

      I couldn't make out the point you were trying to make

    2. 1

      So you're saying ... ?

      1. 1
        1. I don't see a competitive advantage besides price (and even that might be debatable when looking at all the angles)
        2. You are excluding very common use cases (e.g. newsletters)
        3. You don't offer a pay-as-you-go pricing
        4. I haven't tried your sign-up/setup process but make sure it's flawless
        5. Delivery stats is not enough
        6. I am in your niche and your landing page is not getting me interested
        1. 1

          Really happy you taking your time to clear this up.

          • No newsletter option yet, in the future yes, not at the moment because: it requires extra programming, which will cost me $$$ ... so in the future yes, it will be possible for customers to use my service for that purpose.

          • No pay-as-you-go pricing at the moment, because the pricing was already so low, only $5 p/mo, for unlimited transactional emails

          If there are other reasons you'd need a service like this, apart from sending newsletters, I'd really value your feedback.

          1. 1

            You don't really need promotional/marketing/newsletter capabilities to be successful though. I mean look at https://postmarkapp.com/ (I'm not affiliated, just a customer). They do transactional emails but they do it really well.

            1. 1

              But might add this in the future, need the resources first ($$$)

            2. 1

              I agree with you 👌🔥

          2. 1

            The thing with pay-as-you-go pricing - it does not have to be that cheap. I would payed more not to have a fix cost. $5 isn't really a hurdle, but maybe you should increase the monthly price and also introduce a pay-as-you-go.

            I tried many services. The thing that is closest to what I wanted/needed was sendinblue. Not ideal but I could have lived with it. Unfortunately they had so many problems that I gave up. Sendwithses is too simplistic. So I wrote my own.

            If I just needed transactional email (which I don't) I would probably still rather go with SES. No monthly costs (5$ or not) and it's sure to not go away (more important). To be blunt: Why would I risk using your service for transactional emails?

            I just don't see a good reason to pick kingmailer. I think that's the most important thing you need to address.

            1. 1

              The customers I have now are using my service for their e-commerce stores.

              They could have easily used SES and given their money to Jeff Bezos

              As long as I don’t offer newsletter option and pay as you go, my service is not a fit for you.

              Thank you for your response.

              Pay as you go can be possible with additional programming.

  6. 1

    Stumbled upon this in google news feed. My honest feedback echoes many of what other people have stated. Image is EVERYTHING in a website and content is king. Some tips:

    • Remove the Videos from the front page (All of them)

    • Your Header needs to be the formula “We do X for Y”. You have to understand the problem your customer has and how YOU can solve it. The site needs to take about your solution, but in the eyes of the customer and how it not only relates to their problem but how it will fix it.

    • I took a beginner web course from Udemy and created this site. I think the format and styling is modern so it should give you an idea of what a somewhat polished site looks like.

    http://surfe.tech/omnifood/

    • Study the competition. Take down notes on what you like and don’t like about their site, price, offering etc. then, shape your site to adopt (not copy) those characteristics.
    • Your Website should be a representation of you and your company and should relate to your customers

    I know that if someone sent this to me and I needed this service, based on the site I wouldn’t purchase it. Which is a shame because the service could be better than the other guys (and after analysis it seems like it might be)

    Good luck!

  7. 1

    Hi all, thanks for the feedback. Very much appreciated.

    Will work on the points made here.

  8. 1

    @Ishtar so I run a SAAS, I use sendgrid, am on the lookout for an alternative and 1. Have never heard of you, and 2. Based on your landing page would not use you. Here's why:

    • landing page seems unfinished, untrustworthy. Feels like a sales template someone grabbed.

    • takes a long time to get to the value prop. I didn't read far enough to know whether delivery rates were good or if it was easy to use or anything about customer service.

    • never heard about you. Have you tried getting on the Heroku store (I find a lot through there) or podcast ads (again, that's where I find out about most services I seek out)

    Number one though is, you definitely need to rethink your landing page.

    I wouldn't worry about being to cheap though. Usually it's not good to compete in price but I think things change in a recession.

    Also maybe think about how you can more narrowly target a particular niche audience... Maybe it's the best email service for Heroku users, or react apps, or WordPress sites or something...

    Best of luck. There's a lot of low having fruit to fix so maybe not too tough to turn this around 👍

    1. 1

      Yes, it's tough to be a new player in the market, most blogs write about already known providers, new providers gets less attention, or you need to pay big bucks, where providers such as Amazon SES are getting free promotion...

  9. 1

    Nice that someone is building a cheaper Mailgun. I agree with others that the site/admin/docs have to be more professional.

  10. 1

    There's a lot of good feedback here already, though I'd just like to add the one super weird thing that stuck out to me. You embedded a video about the importance of email marketing, but you don't allow marketing newsletters. There's definitely a disconnect there, and if that's not clear, what other miscommunications can I expect to have using the service?

    Email is a critical aspect of any application, and spending all the time properly integrating an email service, only to not know if it'll be pulled away from you because you violated an unclear expectation about its use is too big a risk to take a chance on.

    1. 1

      I used to provide also for email marketing, but my current infrastructure needs additional programming to make this happen. As long as some parts are not programmed, I cannot provide, and to have this programmed, I will need some investment, and for the investment, some customers xD you get it...

      The feedback here is very good, I agree.

  11. 1

    I'm confused when people say no-code! So do you use a platform like bubble.io/webflow by designing the webapp then you add integrations using zappier, stripe, and slack into the webapp design through bubble? how does this work? This is unclear.

  12. 1

    @Ishtar As far as I know, the niche is already saturated. There are cheaper and/or more polished products from big companies to compete with you. You need to create a value point that distinguishes you from others. Then it will be easier for you to get conversions. In short, it is time for a pivot. Also, your site looks unpolished, to be honest. Work on that too. Hope to see you shining soon. Best of Luck

  13. 1

    Hello,

    You can visit my website here:
    https://Kingmailer.co

  14. 1

    What is your website?

  15. 1

    This comment was deleted 5 months ago.

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