Marketing technology can be tremendously powerful, both in enabling marketers to do innovative things and in allowing them to automate common tasks. But there are two big problems marketers face in working with their technology stack (or more accurately, their marketing technology matrix) today.
The first problem is that most of the tools simply aren’t very smart. Which means, too often, that their net effect is to enable marketers to do the wrong things more quickly and at a lower cost. For example, to send a specific message to a specific group on Tuesday morning at 10:00—even if that message isn’t right for that group, or Tuesday at 10:00 isn’t the best time to send it.
The second problem, which is part of the reason for the first, is that marketers too often must work with stacks or matrices of tools that are disconnected from each other. The resulting gaps and overlaps make it difficult for marketers to make the best decisions.
While running an ecommerce company in his prior role, Nicolas Wegener recognized the fragmentation in the customer journey caused by the number of software platforms his company had to use to run its online store. It was a big hindrance, and figuring out which tools worked the best with one another was challenging.
Even when he found two that worked well together, they would have holes in the product offering or didn’t work with the other dozen or so marketing applications the company used.
He knew there had to be a better way to optimize ecommerce marketing, so he set out to create it. Here’s the story behind SendSquared (originally called AdBase).
SendSquared is an all-in-one predictive marketing system for small business and ecommerce marketers. It combines multiple functions—email marketing automation, landing pages and pop-up forms, SMS alerts, pay-per-click (PPC) campaign management, and marketing analytics—into a single integrated platform.
This approach is considerably less costly than assembling a set of disparate tools to accomplish each function. But more importantly, because all of these capabilities are integrated and share data, SendSquared can apply artificial intelligence (AI) to help marketers make better decisions—like sending email messages at the ideal times to optimize open rates, and predicting which prospects are most likely to buy next.
Year founded: 2019
Funding rounds: Self-funded
Current size: Approaching 100 early-adopter companies on the platform. In six months of public beta, sent more than 1 million messages with a contact base near 300k.
Webbiquity: What inspired you to work on a solution to this particular problem?
Nicolas Wegener: I personally faced this problem head-on in a prior role. And I knew not only as an entrepreneur, but also as a software engineer that I could fix it, and not only just appropriately—but totally shift the way small companies will handle direct digital marketing.
This is confusing for anybody. I recall once sitting in a meeting, reviewing our sales volumes, and seeing the high percentage of double and false-positive discounts—meaning customers who had already purchased, but just received a discount or offer, and returned the product, or complained to customer support for the same offer.
We would write in the losses, and inflate the product pricing to account for this. It’s a larger issue than most online shops are aware of, let alone consumers.
I understood that a single system that could see between the data silos of the customer journey from a macro perspective would have the data available to not only intelligently gauge their progress through the customer funnel, but also predictively measure customers.
So, I set out to create a true scientific marketing platform with AI at its core. To bring ease and continuity to the marketing manager and organization. Much like what social marketing ad platforms have done for marketers, only in the form of direct digital marketing, where the company owns their lists, contacts, and data.
This makes our approach completely different from anyone else’s.
Webbiquity: What were the most effective channels or methods for you to get the word out to prospective customers when you first launched your product?
NW: I actually get this question a lot, and it’s likely just on the basis of who we are, and what we’re doing. But as I mention to most, we use our own product in our delivery of our marketing efforts.
Unlike the shoemaker’s children, we are mindful of how who and when we approach our messaging and marketing. It’s important for us to ensure that our customers know we’re seeking early adopters. Setting expectations from the start or early on is key to building a new SaaS-based product.
Second, we ask for strong communications of thoughts, wants, and features. The strong communication and a feedback loop are not only effective for early retention, but also the best source to help guide the platform’s roadmap.
Of course, we apply some caution here; after all, it’s easy to let the tail wag the dog. But we need to be close to the source, to ensure we are solving the big and small problems.
Webbiquity: Finish this sentence: “Knowing what I know now, if I were starting over today, what I would do differently is…”
NW: Address the desired target market sooner. We knew we wanted SendSquared to have a broad appeal to many small businesses. However, bringing a beta-product to market with a limited budget requires a hyper-focus on a concentrated market-segment.
Quite some time was spent assessing the Total Addressable Market (TAM) for our first market cohort, which by all means is a difficult thing to determine early on. Needless to say, like many things when running a startup, our initial market just fell into our lap.
Webbiquity: What’s the most important advice you could offer to an entrepreneur starting out today?
NW: Never give up. I’m certain you’ve heard this before, if not, be prepared for all the analogies and different ways this will get communicated to you. I’ve uncertainly had my share. But the advice is gold, and deeply correct.
I’ve had a world full of reasons to quit, or rambled through the self-doubt and in reflection ask if it was the correct course. Further, I have even quit a large project before, only to look back and wonder, “what if I had kept on going?” That lesson has proven invaluable and continues to echo in my thoughts.
Even during the launch of AdBase (now SendSquared), I’ve had all kinds of things happen that have gotten in the way. All of these are sprinkles of doubt and tests of faith.
A prominent example occurred to me this past fall during October of 2019. I was struck by a car in a hit and run in St. Paul, the city I so love, while riding my bicycle. I broke both of my arms. Moreover, I needed surgery, and a titanium bar with 13 screws in my clavicle to recover. Even worse, due to the hit and run, my insurance was all that was available to cover the medical bills.
But in all the peril, healing, doctors, surgery, and even costs, rather than giving up and throwing in the towel, I found inspiration from another person—someone who’s own life experiences fueled my spirit and lifted me to continue and compete. They reminded me of a path I could have had, but instead long ago chose to settle and quit.
So my advice is, never give up! Look for the good in everything, even if it’s something terrible.