Mailbird is one of the hottest Asian start-ups. Based in Bali, the company has 1 million users across all over the world has won several Best Email Client for Windows awards by PC World and IT World. Since its beta launch in 2013, Mailbird has been featured by the BBC, CNBC, Techcrunch, TNW and many more publications.
One of the things that make Mailbird so powerful, is that it integrates with several tools like Dropbox, Whatsapp, Todoist, Slack, Facebook, Google Calendar, Evernote, and much more. That actually makes it a productivity console, rather than just an email client.
There are several companies that have tried to build email tools and have failed or have very limited success. What did Mailbird do right?
I recently interviewed Andrea Loubier, Mailbird’s CEO about how they grew the company to more than a million users. Here’s Mailbird’s growth story.
What inspired you to build Mailbird? How did you realize that there is a need for this in the market?
The big struggle with email is that it consumes a huge amount of time to manage, sort, delete, reply, schedule, take action, mark as spam, filter, prioritize, etc.
We realized that a lot of people dislike Outlook on Windows. We also noticed Sparrow, a beautiful, simple and clean email client that just worked for Gmail users who wanted the control of a native application to manage their emails on Mac. Windows didn’t have an equally good counterpart, so we decided to build Mailbird.
Today Mailbird unifies communication, and we are constantly looking for ways to innovate the technology to save people the time it takes them to manage all the noise that comes through their inbox.
The need was validated once we started asking people about their pain points with email, so we set out to build the best email client out there for Windows. Once we get that down, we are looking across all platforms.
How did you validate your product market fit?
We built a beta tester group, we did surveys asking the right questions, we put the product out there and people started to download and buy it. You just have to get it out there, and if no one bites, then make some adjustments until they do want what you are creating.
It has to start with the problem they face, and it’s your job to solve it for them. We spent a lot of time listening and truly trying to understand the big shark bite pain point that people were having with email management and tools.
Who is your ideal customer persona?
Today its people on Windows machines or PC’s who have more than 1 email account and a ton of apps used for communication and productivity. They want their communication to be clean and uncluttered. They want to feel good about how they manage their emails.
What growth strategies did you use in your early years?
Content marketing, PR, and email marketing.
What kind of resistance did you have from the market in the early years? How did you overcome that resistance?
People not trusting the software because it wasn’t Outlook. Being used to a particular tool for years, people were reluctant to shift to a different too.
We overcame that by listening and responding to customers, and a lot of it just comes down to research and taking the time to engineer the product around it solving their big pain point of the amount of time they were wasting managing and struggling with copious amounts of emails coming through all of their different email accounts.
How have your growth strategies changed over the past few years? What works best for you now?
We focus a lot more on metrics, measuring everything, coming up with high impact growth initiatives that we can test fast, learn from them and make critical business decisions.
Great SEO and organic traffic have been our biggest win, since day one of building Mailbird, we’ve been able to easily help people find us.
Moreover, communication with existing customers is critical for us to, as our customers are the ones who are helping us build an incredible email management solution.
Which growth strategies did not work for you?
Outsourcing engineering, it ended up being more of a time and people management conundrum that was counter-productive to our need for building the product faster.
We also did a localized marketing push in China, and due to lack of research and truly understanding that particular market, we were unsuccessful in our approaches. The best thing is you learn from these failures, and that makes you much smarter in how you approach new growth initiatives and challenges.
How do you see the future of email evolving? How do you think will email tools evolve as a result of that?
I believe unification is going to be key across all communication channels as well as communication devices.
I also believe that Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning will present new opportunities in saving users time with the manual work of managing, sorting, scheduling, marking as spam, deleting, archiving, replying…all those actions that we manually have to take the time to do ourselves.
Email tools will be required to be unified and accessible from anywhere at any time in such a way that can eliminate the noise of information that comes through email.
What are your future growth plans?
We are developing Mailbird for cross platform. So soon, you’ll be able to have one tool across all platforms and all devices to help you manage the influx of information that comes via many channels.
We are looking for strategic partnerships as well where Mailbird as a unified smart email solution can help other businesses succeed as well. We are always looking for affiliates to work with.
We are looking at building a business version of Mailbird, to help small to medium enterprises operate and communicate much more efficiently and at a fraction of the cost from existing email solutions.
Finally, we are looking to expand the services and features available with Mailbird so individual users and businesses can customize their information management so it fits their individual needs.
One of the things that Andrea keeps repeating is Mailbird’s dedication to listening to their customers. The best startups listen to customers at every stage of their growth, and that’s exactly what Mailbird has been doing from Day 1. You can follow Mailbird on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, and they are always looking for awesome people to join them in their million of building one of the best email solutions.