My Bootstrapped Stack
Trying to keep costs down while growing your SaaS business effectively can be tough, but thankfully there’s a heap of products out there at pleasing price points. Here’s the tools integrated into my workflow which I’m indebted to and regularly recommend.
Sales & Marketing
You’d be hard-pressed not to find alternatives to Microsoft Office. but G Suite presents a good case for becoming the behemoth of business applications. First off, it’s free and delivers many of the same benefits as paid options, but having your presentations, documents and spreadsheets available on any device in the cloud is invaluable.
G Suite is good for pitch decks, collaborating on docs, building a sales contacts list, P&Ls, press releases, and simple databases for automation.
Before you can knock on someone’s door, you need to know their address. Most companies will create their emails by a common pattern, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org, and Hunter knows most of these patterns. By entering a name and company, it’ll tell you its best guess of their address, and their Email Verifier can help you check the results. It’s helped us establish contact with people we now proudly call customers!
Hunter is good for finding contact details for leads and journalists, verifying email addresses, and qualifying lead scores.
If No Reply
Following up with contacts can be a pain. More often than not, it’s the second or third email that will get someone’s attention, but when you’re jumping between tasks it’s easy to forget who to chase. Enter If No Reply from Ed Moyse and Harry Huang, a tool to create automated email sequences swiftly.
Create your messages, customise the schedule and send. That’s it! It’s saved me a ton of time, and helped increased the response rate of initial sales emails. They’re a bootstrapped team themselves, and the plans are priced comfortably if you outgrow the free option.
If No Reply is good for sales outreach, increasing email response rates, and mail merge.
As a one-person sales department, I’ve a fairly busy schedule. In between all the demands on my time, it’s a pain to go back and forth over several emails finding a time to demo to people. Calendly removes that pain, allowing contacts to book a slot when I’m free. They pick a date that works for them, and Calendly shows the times I’m available, adding the event to my schedule when they’re done.
It’s even part of our onboarding, giving new users the ability to book a simple training demo straight after they’ve registered.
Calendly is good for scheduling phone calls, product demos and one-to-ones.
This tool from Price Intelligently turns your Stripe data into digestible information. It gives you a comprehensive overview of your growth, trials, MRR trends and cash flow, and even provides analysis for your cohorts.
Set yourself a monthly goal and you’ll be notified of your progress daily, which is great for achieving your targets. It’s been instrumental in proving our pricing strategy too, which I covered in another post. Thanks ProfitWell!
ProfitWell is good for one-glance SaaS metrics, sales reporting, and financial breakdowns.
Iteration is a cyclical process. Build, measure, learn. Your website is no different, and it’s only through measuring interaction with your website that you’ll be able to improve conversion rates through your entire funnel. Hotjar will track your visitors and generate heatmaps for clicks and scrolls, across all devices. Recording visitors’ journeys has been essential too, as I can observe people becoming frustrated at the lack of information or waylaid by less-than-perfect layouts.
Hotjar is good for visitor heatmaps, recording site journeys, and improving conversion points.
PingGo is good for press release newbies, focusing on important details, and building a contacts list of journalists.
GoSquared is probably the star of the show, if I’m honest. We initially adopted the tool for in-app analytics, to show us which features people were using and a plotted journey of user sessions, but then they released a massive feature: live chat. It revolutionised not only our customer support but also our ability to turn visitors into sales too. Once I even managed to convert a visitor while I sipped on a pint in the pub.
Alongside analytics and live chat, GoSquared allows us to fire off emails when users become inactive, find new customers on social networks, build referral campaigns, etc. It’s a hefty cabinet of useful customer intelligence, and my personal preference to Intercom. Massive thanks to James, Geoff, JT and their team!
GoSquared is good for landing page and in-app analytics, customer intelligence, contextual automation, and live chat.
Sometimes it’s quicker and easier to integrate your services with Zapier than turn to a dev. Besides, the team is working on ace features (or essential bug fixes) and their talent is better spent there. It handles our new customer sign-ups for one product: the user receives a welcome email, is added to the CRM and has their shareable content generated as soon as they sign up. I don’t have to lift a finger.
Zapier is good for automating workflows between different services without bothering your devs.
I’ve only been using Roadmap for three days but it’s already proving its worth. On Friday, I wanted to put together a public roadmap for our users, to give them a little more transparency on our plans. It took minutes to set up, but I booked a product demo with Brittany, one of the co-founders, to learn a little more.
It’s going to change the way we collect feedback by unifying the contact channels and splitting suggestions from our Jira backlog. The public roadmap has seen a lot of interaction already too, meaning that our customers can see that we take their ideas seriously.
Edit: Sadly, Roadmap has decided to close, but they’ve given us a lot of value whilst in operation. I’m sure the team will move on to more good things!
Edit 2: Thankfully, Roadmap have decided not to close! Startup life can be rocky, for sure, and we wish them every success in the future.
Roadmap is good for capturing feedback, backlog prioritisation, escalating feedback to user stories, and public roadmaps.
For beta testing rounds, onboarding surveys, NPS and all those other occasions you need to survey people, look no further than Typeform. The primary benefit is that it’s device agnostic, working beautifully across desktops, tablets and mobile devices equally. Second to that comes its glorious UI, making it a breeze for users to answer questions. Finally, there’s enough customisation features and integrations with other tools in the free plan to link it up to the rest of your stack.
Typeform is good for research and information, onboarding surveys, NPS surveys, and building contact forms.
I mean, we do use Jira and their Kanban for our cases, but there’s nothing quite like being able to move notes around on a whiteboard. Or stick ideas on the wall. Or line up user journeys on your desk.
Post-it Notes are good for tactile roadmaps, user journey design, empathy mapping, and Great Office Post-it Battles.
After becoming tired with Selenium, I found Test Anywhere on Product Hunt. The main attractions: no coding required, and cloud-based testing. With the Test Builder I’m able to load our site, click around and produce a workflow of checks to run through, all done through the front end. Tests run on my chosen schedule from a cloud-based machine, notifying our Slack channel when a test fails. Magic.
Test Anywhere is good for automated front-end testing, regression tests, and ensuring the stability of your web application without hassle.
From those folk at Evernote came Skitch, which though no longer supported is still available and hugely useful. It allows you to annotate pictures and screenshots with notes, shapes and sketches, making it a whole lot easier to convey points to your userbase. It’s still available for all your user support needs, and since it’s free it costs much less than subscribing to Photoshop et al.
Skitch is good for annotating screenshots, pointing out specific elements, and blurring out API keys and tokens.
Quite honestly, my philosopher’s stone at work. With simple commands, I can remind myself or a colleague to do something. Need I say more? Since I have the app on my iPhone too, I can capture those work-related thoughts that spring up in the shower, at dinner or when I’m on holiday. You can even use it as a simple Pomodoro timer too (thanks Mitchell!).
Slack Reminders is good for alerts to call a customer back, periodically recurring tasks, and instructions for colleagues while I’m on leave.
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