Josh Ledgard

Get Slack Notifications for New Leads on KickoffLabs Campaigns

We upgraded our support for new lead notifications to include Slack. If you didn’t know Slack is messaging app for teams that can be used for collaborative chatting and broad notifications.

At KickoffLabs, when you receive a new lead on one of your campaigns we already supported new lead notification emails and custom WebHooks, but now you can setup notifications for your company Slack Channels.


Learn how to set this up now!

We now also support the ability to setup multiple custom WebHook notifications. WebHooks are used by developers and some marketing tools as a way to push new lead information. We had previously limited you to one WebHook notification per campaign. Now you can setup as many of these custom notifications as you need.

Pick me a winner! More referrals mean more chances to win in a social contest.

A lot of you are running amazing contests with KickoffLabs. These contests aim to reward people with more entries for every person they refer to your contest. Or at least they should be doing this as a best practice using one of our “Leaderboard” themes. :)

Introducing “Pick a winner”

Our new “Pick contest winner(s)” feature allows you to draw one or more names from the hat. That’s cool, but what’s even better is that if someone referred you 20 additional leads… their name will be in the “hat” an extra 20 times! You can find it under the main campaign menu here:

Pick a winner menu

From the winner picking page you’ll have an opportunity to determine how the winner(s) will be picked. You can:

  • Choose how you want to weight the entries. This is where you can say that for every referral someone generated they have their name in the hat an extra time. We factor this into the selection to improve their odds. You could also ignore weighting and just make it 100% random. :)
  • Choose to only select from people who have “verified” if you are using advanced fraud protection.
  • Choose to select multiple winners if needed.

Pick a Winner

Once winners have been selected you’ll see them on the results page. This feature will not automatically notify the winners. We think you should have a chance to confirm they met your contest rules and expectations first. But you can use the contact information provided to reach out to them.


We think it’s a pretty nifty feature. Don’t hesitate to let us know what you think.

Advanced fraud protection now automatically excludes bad emails

The response to our contest fraud prevention has been great. But we didn’t want to stop at IP banning and Verification emails.

We have now released an update to fraud prevention that allows you to also exclude emails from contests that are known to be bad.

Under the campaign fraud settings you’ll now this this:


If an email address entered into your contest falls into one of these categories…

  • It will not count as a referral in contests.
  • If will not be included in future emails.
  • If will be marked as such in the lead card.
  • No one will get credit for referring the bad email address.

This means that, for example, if someone enters a lot of fake email addresses (that bounce) they will not get any credit for them.

Note that it can take a few hours to confirm that an email address has bounced so we recommend waiting until a few hours after a contest has officially ended in order to award the winners.

Let us know if you have any questions or feedback on this update via

Introducing leaderboard pages and contest scoring for KickoffLabs campaigns

A lot of you have been using KickoffLabs campaigns to run amazing referral contests. In these contests you are picking the winner based based on how many people they have referred.

This strategy works because it engages your audience in a fun competition and gives everyone incentive to invite friends into your audience.

But how do people who are participating in these contests know where they stand?

How do they know if they are in the top 10 or how many more referrals they need to get in?

What if you had a leaderboard that everyone could see and use to track their progress?

Introducing Leaderboard Pages

We’ve created new thank you pages that do exactly that. These new landing page templates let people see where they stand in relation to the leaders and use the sharing tools to invite more friends. This way they can easily track how their rankings have improved.

Side by Side Leaderboard

Simple Leaderboard

To setup a contest with a leaderboard simply:

  1. Pick any template or form for the signup page.
  2. Create a thank you page with one of the two leaderboard templates.
  3. Use the Redirect Option on the signup page to connect to one of the published thank you pages.


This feature is available on all Premium level accounts.

You can also see the full leaderboard by looking at your list of leads and sorting it by contest scoring as shown here:


This data is also available on the export of your leads.

Custom Contest Scoring

By default we’ll score your leaderboard by the number of referrals that someone has sent to your contest. A Business level account will allow you to customize the scoring.

On your campaign dropdown choose “Contest Scoring”:


This will let you give out a different number of points based on the type of referral. You’ll be able to then choose different values for verified referrals or even separate direct versus indirect (referral from a referral) referrals.

Let us know if you have any feedback on these features by emailing!

Introducing KickoffLabs Advanced Fraud Protection for Viral Marketing Contests and Campaigns

Running a viral contest on KickoffLabs to generate new leads and buzz is very easy. Pick a template, enter some content, and click publish.

From there every new lead you find becomes a potential source for even more leads, who can send you more leads, and so on. In fact most KickoffLabs campaigns see 35% of their leads come from this social sharing that we call our “Viral Boost”.

Campaigns that add more incentive to the sharing grow even faster. We’ve even made it easy to distribute reward notifications automatically with Viral Incentive Emails that can be sent when people reach certain referral milestones.

Significant rewards for sharing will lead to a greater boost in the number of leads you’ll generate! Unfortunately, the better the rewards, the more likely it is that people will try and fraudulently increase their contest scores by gaming the system.

KickoffLabs Advanced Fraud Protection

We’ve now released three new features to both help mitigate contest fraud and improve the quality of leads you capture:

  • Campaign Lead Verification – when enabled, all new leads will need to verify their their email addresses in order to participate in the contest and be counted as valid referrals.
  • IP Address Filtering – when enabled, you can exclude a list of ip addresses from your contest scoring. People from these sources will not be counted as valid referrals.
  • Email Status Flags – We’ll automatically label email addresses that are potentially fake because email we sent to them bounced.

These features are available NOW on our Business plan. This is just the start of the work we are doing here. Read on for more information.

Free Guide to Fraud Detection in Viral Contests

Today we’ve also released a free guide that shows you how to do very quick scans for fraud in your contests based on the exclusive lead data we generate for every email address you capture. Learn how to identify fraud on any viral campaign with KickoffLabs.

Campaign Lead Verification

When campaign verification is enabled new leads will be required to verify an email address.

Lead Verification

We’ll send out a Verification Email that you can modify from the emails tab.

Verification Email

Until the email address is verified:

  • Notifications are not sent to MailChimp, Aweber, etc
  • Automatic reply and other KickoffLabs campaign emails are not sent.
  • They will not be counted as a verified referral for the person that referred them.

When campaign verification is enabled we start counting both verified conversions & referrals as well as unverified conversions and referrals. So you’ll see two counts like this:

Verified Lead Count

Verified Referrals

You have two choices with how to use this information when you configure verified campaigns.

  • Required verification – when this is selected all contest scores, emails, etc are based off of only verified leads and verified referrals.
  • Optional verification – when this is selected counts/emails/contests are based off the unverified counts.

This choice depends on your campaign.

Required verification is great if you are going to automatically give out coupon codes or rewards that have significant value.

Optional verification is great if the rewards are of lower value. If you are going to draw a winner at the end of the contest that can be manually verified using the scores that we’ll show you.

KickoffLabs customers with a Business plan can turn on this feature under the new “Edit Campaign” screen from the campaign menu.

Edit Campaign

IP Address Filtering

Have you identified fake leads coming from a particular IP address? You can now start excluding them automatically by adding particular IP addresses to the IP address filtering option under campaign settings.

IP Address Filtering

Once an IP address is filtered we will:

  • Not count leads that come from that IP address in conversion counts.
  • Flag leads that have come from those IP addresses in the view of your leads.

We still include the leads in invalid ips in all other reports/emails/etc. We are very purposely being cautious here to both ensure you do not anger their potential leads and those with shared IP addresses (which is actually very common) are not accidentally excluded.

Business level subscribers users can now enable this under the Campaign Settings page.

Email Status Flagging

When we send email to your leads we track if any lead emails bounce, are marked as spam, or are invalid (.con instead of .com/etc). Previously, we set the lead as opted out for the current campaign if any of these flags were set.

Now, when we receive one of these signals we are going to make it obvious so you can use this information.

  • We will now highlight any lead with an email issue (including opting out) in the main lead list
  • We will show which flag(s) was set on the lead card
  • We will include all the flags in the export

Email Status Flag

This information can also be useful to detect if someones referrals are fraudulent. For example… if you look at the list of people one lead has referred and a majority of those leads are marked as having an email address that bounces… that’s an indication that they may be submitted fake email addresses.

The Hard Truth

There is never going to be a 100% fraud proof solution. If there is enough value in the reward people may try and game any system. To date that hasn’t stopped any of our customers from running amazing contests.

These features, along with the best practice of simply leveraging the information (including the social data) we collect on leads should give you confidence. Confidence that the people you are rewarding have truly earned it.

Please let us know what you think by sending feedback to

Josh Ledgard
Founder – KickoffLabs

Set default sharing and thank you links for your campaign

You created a great signup page and paired it with an awesome thank you page. You also setup a pop-up widget and a KickoffLabs Bounce exit intent solution to capture leads. Leads are raining like cats and dogs!

But what link should all these leads be sharing for you? You want them to refer more friends right? By default we’ll set the share link to be whatever page the lead signed up on… but you may want to force all referrals through one particular page. That’s why we created…

Default Social Share URL

Use this feature, under campaign settings, to ensure you are always sending referrals to a great landing page. The default URL can be used one of two ways:

  1. Only use it if we don’t have a page set… perhaps you imported leads. We wouldn’t know what page they signed up at and should be sharing.
  2. Always use this URL. In this case we’ll always tell people to share this particular URL.

Default Redirect (thank you) URL

This option is similar, but is used to know what URL people that have signed up should see next. By default all of our landing pages have a built in thank you experience. We also allow you to setup dedicated thank you pages.

Setting a default thank you page forces every signup, no matter how they sign up, to be redirected to one particular page in your funnel. There are also two ways to use this feature:

  1. Only use it if a page or widget didn’t specifically set it’s own thank you page.
  2. Always use this URL. In this case we’ll send everyone that signs up to this URL.

You can find both of these options under our new “Campaign Settings” page:


These features are available on all plans.

Finally, we’ve also introduced a new token you can use in any of your campaign emails.

Linking to your thanks/referral pages in campaign emails…

When you are running a viral campaign that encourages sharing you want people to be able to check thier status. They should be able to go back and check how many referrals they have generated. Our thank you pages automatically remember people, but what if they forget the URL?

You can now add the following email token to any email:

{% thankyou_link %}

You can also optionally set the text on it (it is just the link if missing)

{% thankyou_link Visit My Thank You Page %}

This will also leverage the default redirect/thanks URL option mentioned above.


Using this feature requires a paid plan that can send emails. :)

How to Secure 300,000 Facebook Fans, 50,000 Email Subscribers, and Crowdfunding

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Rossa Shanks and his co-founder, Rich Brown, in the last few years have secured 300,000 Facebook fans; 45,000 Twitter followers; they crowdfunded their business… and most recently collected an additional 50,000 email subscribers on their most recent campaign for the Great Little Place app through KickoffLabs.

What’s your background? What got you to the start of Great Little Place?

Great Little Place Story (1)

Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

I started my career in advertising where I worked at a couple of different ad agencies. The first was AMV BBDO, then at Grey London.

I cut my teeth in advertising, which is a great grounding for building a business. You learn how to build a brand, what’s an incredible value proposition, how to reach an audience and engage an audience. From a marketing point of view, it was kind of perfect.

That’s where I met my co-founder, Rich Brown, as well. We weren’t at the same ad agency, but we met at a course, and then started talking about this idea.

We basically started the idea in our spare time. It was kind of a passion project where we really enjoyed finding kind of quirky, off the beaten track places.

Before we went full time in it, I ended up head of marketing at the Sun newspaper, which is one of the biggest newspapers here in the UK. Rich (my co-founder) left advertising as well and moved down more of a kind of product management route, and got into user experience.

Great Little Place Story (2)

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

It’s clear that you guys are trying to do something different than Yelp, Foursquare, Time Out, or one of the more traditional travel sites.

What makes your idea different than what other companies are doing?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

I think it’s a few things. The first comes from what the value proposition is.

Our idea was really simple: Everyone loves great little places… the kind of places you tell a story about, places with personality.

The trick is they’re really hard to find and it’s amazing when you stumble across one, but they’re few and far between. There’s obviously a lot of information out there, in terms of finding them, but it’s a bit of a deluge.

We had a idea which is really simple: Everyone knows at least one great little place. If we can get everyone in the world to say, “I know this great little place in …”, and share their amazing discoveries with everyone else, then we might just create the ultimate list.

I think that’s where the differentiation starts. We never sought out to have an app which was just another city guide with places everywhere and anywhere, and you differentiate those places by star ratings.

Ours is much more of a binary platform, whereby… it’s either somewhere great, or it’s not good enough. If it’s not good enough, it’s not on the platform.

When you take that model, you don’t need ratings. To some extent, ratings actually take away from trust versus actually adding trust.

That’s the first thing. Only great little places.

Second is, it’s all personally recommended. We don’t just add business on there randomly. They all come from a recommendation that’s written by a user.

The best bit is that the platform is then self curating, because we don’t get involved editorially; the community decides what stays and what goes. It’s really meritocratic and also democratic.

We might have someone who uses the app in London… or maybe someone from New York travelling in Mexico… and they find somewhere in a random little village and add it. It’s very much like everyone’s little black book of places, woven together.

Great Little Place Story (3)

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I think what’s impressive is that they’re really strong about the curation process.

They say it’s self curated, but you can’t just go and submit your local Applebee’s. The rest of the crowd is going to vote Applebee’s right off the list of venues.

Talk about the initial organic grow. You guys started in 2010…

What was the first version of your idea?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

A lot of people in the entrepreneurial world know about MVP’s now – minimal viable products.

For us, that wasn’t something that was widespread and certainly not talked about back in 2010. But we instinctively thought to ourselves, “We’re restricted because we don’t have loads of money, we’re not developers… but we want to get this idea out there, test it, and see if it resonates with people“.

We had two things we needed to prove in order to take the idea forward:

  1. Does anyone care about this idea other than us, and how many people do?
  2. Would people share their favorite places, or keep them a secret?

We decided that the perfect platform to test the idea was Facebook – an inherently social platform – where people can join in on a page and give recommendations. We set up a page called I Know This Great Little Place in London.

Great Little Place Story (5)

The name of it was intentional; we thought if you saw that name in your news feed and you saw a few of your friends had liked it, there’d be a bit of social proof. But also that name is kind of curious and piques your interest. We thought people would click it and clickthrough.

Luckily our hypothesis was right.

On the first day, we badgered everyone we knew to sign up, because we knew that to trigger a viral effect you need to get as many people together to do something in a short period of time.

Within two weeks it had grown to 40,000 likes!


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

How did you get the first 1,000 fans?

Did you have any relationships with key influencers in the market? You have friends in advertising; were they pivotal in getting the first 1,000 to 40,000 fans?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

Absolutely. If you think about what might trigger a viral effect, the key thing always is the first group of people knowing each other or being self-referencing, if you like to use a term from the book “Crossing the Chasm”.

If people can’t talk to each other, or don’t know each other… it’s a lot harder for that idea to spread.

If you are within a close community, whether that’s on a university campus or that’s in a certain industry like advertising, that’s critical.

We invited literally all our friends. A lot of them were obviously in advertising, so there’s a lot of overlapping friendship groups, which meant that even though there were only, let’s say, 300 in the first day, it got to 1,000 the second day actually, in London, anyway.

It’s a small community; everyone knows each other. If you were on Facebook, you’d suddenly see 20 of your friends from advertising have liked this page. That was enough of a group of people to start the fire; it’s like the kindling before the fire happened.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

What did you do after the initial traction?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

We obviously maintained the communities and gave them a relevant concept that they loved. We’re doing something that people enjoy, so it worked well within Facebook where people are talking about their social lives.

We tested that the idea resonated, then we decided to ask our audience for free money basically.

We wanted to build a website, but couldn’t afford to do it at the time. We also couldn’t develop it ourselves.

So we used to raise over £10,000 pounds from our audience.

That allowed us to build… which was, again, just another way of us proving that the idea worked.

The main hypothesis to prove there was: will people add places on our own platform, not just on Facebook? And they did, in the thousands. That again was a big tic box for us.

But in the back of our minds, we always knew that we wanted to go into mobile. That was going to be the way forward.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

This is an example of one of their posts they did once they started having a following…

Great Little Place Story (6)

One of the things that work really well for them is the intentional title: “I Know This Great Little Place in London”. I’m sure that got people to read the rest of the posts they were doing, because the title is very thought out in terms of piquing people’s curiosity.

The other thing about it that we see with our customers that works really well is that they’re being very specific in the early days.

It says, “I Know This Great Little Place”… it’s not just any place, it’s a great little place. But they’re also specific about saying London.

They’re very much targeting, while London is a large community, they weren’t saying worldwide we’re going to help you find the best little places.

That contributed a lot to their growth, because we see that technique work well for other companies.

Even if your ultimate plan is to grow beyond just one city, start small, be very focused, and nail it within that community.

It’s very powerful for people because it engages and makes them say, “This is for me because I live there and I like great little places“, as opposed to just saying, “We’re going to help you find a great little place anywhere“.


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

That was crucial, because if we’d have just called it “I Know This Great Little Place”, no one would have joined it, because there’s no relevancy to you.

While it was a bit of a hassle, we did open lots of pages with different cities. The way we did that was whoever reached out to us and said “I want a page for Toronto, or for Amsterdam”, we basically made them the admin or editor of that community so that they could manage it locally.

Because people really cared about the idea, we had very much a mission-led idea, which is we’re going to protect all these labors of love, all these independent venues from the big chains, etc.

People really got involved with that and fell in love with the idea. They were willing to volunteer their time, so it really caught the imagination.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Did you guys ever use Facebook Advertising to drive any of the growth?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

No, not any of our organic growth on the pages.

When we launched, it was a lot easier to go viral. Facebook was a lot more generous with impressions that they allowed you to have, as it were.

We’ve recently turned to advertising to drive people to our pre-launch sign-up page, and that’s been working for us to great effect.

One of the ironic byproducts of doing advertising to the pre-launch landing page – which is where we’ve got our KickoffLabs landing page – is that we’ve had another 40,000 likes in the last week because people have seen ads that they’ve liked and they’re literally tagging themselves in the ads, which is quite funny. Yeah, that’s working really well :)

Great Little Place Story (9)

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

You mentioned raising £10,000 pounds from your audience through crowdfunding… and at this point you had 100,000 or 200,000 followers on social media.

Did you just ask fans to check out the crowdfunding page and back the project?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

The trick with crowdfunding is, it’s definitely not easy.

We weren’t raising lots of money, but we were essentially asking for free money, because our prizes were pretty weak.

The top prize was if you put in £500 pounds sterling, we’ll sort you out a trip to a great little place somewhere. Because we’ve got relationships with the venues and we can get free stuff.

The basic prizes were stuff like, put in £10 and you’ll get on our credits’ page. Put in £50 and you’ll be invited to our launch party, that sort of stuff.

We didn’t have a product, we weren’t selling some new tech product that we could give away a discounted value on.

It was very much asking for support just for the sake of the idea. You can see all the names here of all the people that supported us. There was over 300 people I think that chipped in, just small amounts, but some people put in quite a lot. One person put in £500 and we just literally didn’t know who they were.

With crowdfunding you’ve got to be prepared. You need your own network, to a certain degree, and you need to ask the network before you do it, “Would you be willing to pledge money?”.

Get pre-pledges and get people warmed up to the idea before actually launching your campaign.

I would also give yourself as much time as possible. I would do the maximum, not the minimum. We actually did it in quite a short period of time; I think it was 45 days. But it got a bit hectic near the end when we thought we might not make it. You’ve got to give yourself enough time.

Good prizes are obviously always good. If you’ve got a product that you can actually offer a discounted price on, that’s a good place to start.

Great Little Place Story (10)

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I love the idea. It’s something that a lot of people forget to do, is just saying thank you.

That page that’s up there is just a great way to say thank you to the audience; people who are helping, who are funding at that point, who are maybe contributing pieces of what you were doing.

Let’s talk about the app and the landing page.

You said you always wanted to get into mobile and already had a decent sized audience, but told me in private that your goal is to collect 100,000 email addresses through the mobile app pre-launch campaign.

Why collect 100,000 email addresses as part of this app launch?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

The answer is simple: The anticipation of something can really contribute to the excitement of it.

If we’d have just released our app into the wild, yes, I guess people would have responded well. But it’s much easier to sell the promise of something before you launch it.

With something like an app, there’s various things you need to consider…if we can build up an audience before we launch – so that on day 1 when we launch there’s a ton of people downloading the app – that helps you from a distribution point of view because you’ve moved up the ranks in the app stores.

To get to number 1 in any category on a single day, you probably need, in the UK anyway… it’s probably more in the states… about 15,000 downloads. In the states I imagine it’s probably 50 to 100,000.

Those things help get organic growth from users. We want to launch with a big bang with that organic wave.

Also, when something’s not launched early adopters get excited. And when you’re trying to sign people up, the promise of something’s more exciting than the reality often. Obviously we’re going to make ours as good as it can be, but that’s the psychological truth about it.

People want to feel like they’re cutting edge and they’re going to be the first to trial something, and that’s exciting, and be the first in the know… and they want something they can’t have.

You can capitalize on a lot of psychological hooks there, that are just part of our human makeup.

Great Little Place Story (12)

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I want to talk about a couple of the psychological hooks that you’re leveraging on your KickoffLabs landing page.

One of the things I notice right away is that you’ve text above the email box that says “Become Founding Member #…”.

glpapp april 2

What do you think, is the impact of that number right above the email list?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

We spent a lot of time reading books on virality, on social behavior, how you engender viral effects, and how you make something contagious.

Everything on the page is deliberate for us. It wasn’t that we just mocked something up, just got it out there… every single thing is considered.

We’ve made changes to that page every week since it launched. KickoffLabs gave us some useful feedback and we’ve made even more changes.

The “Founding Member” thing… is utilizing the concept known as social proof. All that means is we very much follow a herd behavior a lot of the time.

If you pass 2 restaurants; and on one side a restaurant is full, and on the other side of the street a restaurant’s completely empty… we’re kind of risk-averse as human beings. We assume that the one that’s full, is full because of merit; because it’s got better food or whatever the case may be. It might be that actually the other restaurant is exceptionally good, it’s just no one was brave enough to be the first person to walk in there.

Social proof’s really important. You’re much more likely to go to the restaurant that’s full than the one that’s empty.

The same principle applies here: if you can see that a lot of people have signed up to something and it’s popular…

  1. it gives it endorsement,
  2. it means that you’re not wrong for thinking that this is a good idea to sign up,
  3. it helps engender a fear of missing out.

You want to be part of that community, you want to be part of the “in crowd”.

That’s why on a later iteration of this page we use language like, “Get Early Access” because that taps into people’s adoption process. “Become Founding Member” to make it feel like a club and make them feel important.

TIP: The Great Little Place team were in fact manually updating their founding member number “by hand”. Granted they were updating this with their true audience size… but you can potentially use this growth hack for your campaigns, just but careful not to artificially inflate # this too much!

We very much display the total figure because that’s really important. Once you get to a certain amount it’s almost the tipping point and it helps with your conversions when new people land on the page.

We also deliberately made the page sparse of lots of different social buttons and we’ve also got different versions for different cities. This page you’re displaying here is a generic one, but for our London iteration we’ve got a lot of fans in London; we’ve got 320,000 fans now. That was also another bit of social proof.

I know this great little place___ - glpapp_com_london april 2 2015

For us the purpose of the page isn’t to get more likes, or to get more followers; we removed all those buttons, so there was no other real distraction apart from just putting in your email.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I love that, because that’s the opposite of what I see a lot of people do.

A lot of people come to us and they say, “I want to add my Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter… all of these things… and I want this parallax scrolling effect on the page”.

You guys boiled it down to the simplest thing you could get that gets people to convert.

The other thing about this page which struck me is; there’s no slideshows, there’s no scrolling effect, there’s not 100 bits of feature information on the page about what it is.

It talks about their mission. It says, “Introducing the last city guide. We’re creating a magical app to help you find the greatest little places around the world, from quirky bars to weird, wonderful restaurants. We promise to make it the last city guide you’ll ever need, so come on board“.

Notice it doesn’t talk about features of the app, what it’ll do, how specifically it helps you. It talks about why they exist.

That’s probably the most challenging copy for people to write… thinking about the why on the page, like why you should become a member.

Some people don’t get to the point where they talk about what the app is, but if you spend too much time focusing on sharing the what of a coming soon application, then you’ll lose track of the why.

The why is what’s really effective on this page at getting people to convert, because they’re presenting their mission, and they’re looking for people who really want to be part of that mission, of why Great Little Place exists.


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

Were you talking about Simon Sinek’s Start With Why, is that right?


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Yes, in a roundabout way. I was explaining how on your landing page you hardly mention anything about the app, other than showing that it is an app on a phone. You’re talking about the why.


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

100%. We talk about that a lot.

But whenever I hear startups pitching their ideas, they always start with what it is. Doing that you’ll lose people. You’ve got to make it relevant to them.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Do you have any book recommendations?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

Start With Why is a great book. If you don’t fancy reading the whole thing he’s got a Ted Talk that sums it up in 5 minutes.

Contagious by Jonah Berger is a very good book. It runs through all the different ways in which you can make an idea spread, like making something very visible so other people can talk about it.

I know it’s gone badly since… but the Lance Armstrong yellow LiveStrong band was contagious because so many people saw it when it was a talking point.

I think Contagious is relevant to whatever business; it’s not just about tech startups, it’s just the principles of how to spread an idea.

Viral Loop by Adam Penenberg as well, which is a good book. I think I probably prefer Contagious, but it’s definitely a good book.

Andrew Chen did another more like a blog into a book, which is pretty good, called The Viral Startup.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I’m grateful you guys are happy to share some of the numbers here with us.

Great Little Place Story (13)

This is straight off of your dashboard, and it shows from January, your conversion rate through recently.

What kind of expectations did you have going into this? Were you hoping for a 10, 20, 40% conversion rate?

What kind of expectations or goals did you set?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

It’s really hard with these things, because I think there’s an expectation as an entrepreneur that when you finally get someone on your platform they will do whatever you want them to do… and of course they’ll be dying to sign up for this amazing thing that you’ve created.

But of course, no one ever gets 100% conversion. It just doesn’t happen, because someone could go on a page and get distracted at work and then forgets about what they were doing, and then goes off. It’s impossible to get everyone.

We knew it was going to be under 50%, because obviously 50% would be ridiculously high. We also realized not everyone is on iPhones. There’s a lot of Android users and there’s Windows users as well, etc.

Unfortunately for us, we were only able to develop for the iPhone first, and we will move to Android and other platforms later… so you’re naturally going to get a drop off there. Then, not everyone gets excited about the idea.

When we first started, the conversion rates were like 27%, around about that, and my goal was to get that up to over 30%.

I’m happy to say it’s just under 32% over the whole period.

I think that has come from making those little tweaks on the page from different people’s opinions. Kickofflabs gave us some great advice and we made some fundamental changes which instantly saw results; where last week’s conversion rate was more like 34%, which has dragged up the whole average to 31.9%.

The trick there is, whenever your page is live, never think it’s done. It can always be improved.

We haven’t done this and should have done, but A/B testing different things. Even like the copy on a button. We started off with “Notify Me”, and we’ve changed it to “Become Member”, just because it feels more exclusive. That was a suggestion from Kickofflabs that we implemented.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

What did you use to build the landing page?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

We got a web developer to do it. It’s just simple HTML and CSS, there’s nothing fancy there.

It’s a pretty simple page and it’s responsive as well. I think that’s really important, especially for us. We’re a mobile app, and all the advertising we’ve done to that page is to mobile devices.

Don’t think for a second that it’s done when you’re looking at a desktop version. Check it on your phone, because over 50% of people will check the page from their mobile device, without a doubt. That’s really important, that it’s responsive.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

You then used our Anyform widget to plug in your custom built landing page to KickoffLabs?

Which is great; that’s why we developed it :)

We knew that everybody has a unique vision, and we could have 1000 templates in a marketplace, but people would still want to do something on their own to implement it.

Great Little Place Story (14)

Going into the next set of numbers, if you look at over time the leads generated, there’s 3 distinct spikes in here with the leads that come in.

Can you talk about what happened in these dates, January, February, and then later in March?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

That first initial spike, mid-January was purely our organic social media. We posted to 3 of our Facebook city pages, all of them in the UK – London, Glasgow, and Edinburgh – and that’s why we saw good organic numbers then.

We were tweeting about it, although Twitter doesn’t tend to drive up huge traffic.

You can see that organic curve goes down as people get bored of being pestered to sign up on your page.

Then you’ll start to see there was a mini-spike in February, twice there. We started experimenting with using advertising to drive to the page. We’re assuming the actual cost of signing up someone for the app launch is going to be a lot cheaper than once we’ve launched.

It’s a whole other ball game when something is already out there and you feel like you’re being advertised to because you’re saying “download me now”, and it feels a like a hard sell.

When you’re promoting something before it’s actually launched it can be much more engaging a lot of the time.

Advertising worked okay, and this is all on Facebook. We did actually try Twitter Ads as well, but we found Twitter wasn’t as effective for us.

Then we put very low effort into the promotion mid-February onwards, because we’d been really super-busy actually making the app and getting it ready.

What’s happened in the the third spike is, we feel like we’ve really cracked a formula that works on Facebook for the ads. We’re using a new format that Facebook’s rolled out called Multi-Product Ads, that’s working really well for us.

These seem to be better ads, there’s not even call to actions on them so then don’t really feel like ads.

One of them just says it comes from our page I Know This Great Little Place in London, and it says, “London has many secrets, We have the key.” Then a range of images of just amazing places, whether it’s a cocktail bar or a romantic restaurant.

The hilarious thing is, people have been tagging themselves in the ads, going, “hey, we must go here … Sara, take me here! … things like that, and tons of likes.

Again, that social proof kicks in, because as soon as an advert starts getting comments and likes and shares, other people think, “Oh, this is okay, this thing must be good. Maybe I’m missing out here, I’ll get involved“.

They’ve been incredibly effective for us over the last week, and I think we’ve driven, just in one week alone 30,000 sign-ups!

Great Little Place Story (15)

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

That’s pretty amazing to get 30,000 just in the one last week.

It sounds like one of your techniques in the ads is you’re making something that feels like it’s at home in the Facebook feed. It’s not something that’s like, “Hey, come sign up for me“.

You’re making something that tries to pique somebody’s interest in the feed. Is that correct?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

Yeah, that’s right. I think it almost feels like it’s not an ad.

We’ve deliberately not used any of Facebook’s traditional buttons that you can add. Facebook has buttons like “Shop Now”, “Download”, “Sign Up”. We deliberately decided not to use them, because we thought it would be more natural if we did a soft sell.

In the text of the ad we’re not saying, “Download our app now … sign up now“. We’re just creating intrigue.

The copy is stuff like, “London has many secrets, we have the key”. We’re being quite enigmatic.

Other ones are a bit more overt: One is, “Our app is going to be your ultimate little black book of places“. Another one is, “Find places you never knew existed“. All of the ads contain a range of beautiful imagery.

The best thing on Facebook is to fit in with the community, don’t oversell.

Use amazing imagery, because it’s a visual platform.

The tone of voice is important as well. For us, a good tone of voice is making something feel cool and making everyone feel like they’re an insider if they get on board.

Great Little Place Storyleads

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

It’s certainly showing that’s where your leads are coming from.

Looking at your stats, of the 50,000 people you’re dealing with, more than 80% of them are coming from Facebook, so it certainly is a working strategy for you.

How are you sourcing the photos? Both for Facebook and for the mobile app?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

For posting on Facebook, a lot of venues have their own photography so we just ask them.

We also know quite a few photographers who take amazing pictures of London and other places around the world. They love what we’re doing and said we can use their photography as long as we credit them. That’s what we do there.

The way the mobile app will work going forward is it’s all people’s recommendations. The initial concept is recommendations we’ve taken from our Facebook pages around the world, so when you come to the app it’s useful, there’s content there for everyone to see.

But very much the engine of growth for that concept is people adding their own. What happens is we have a system for that whereby when someone adds something we have a team of people that contact the venues or work with them, and get images from their websites and that sort of stuff, so the app is full of beautiful imagery.

One thing we realized very early on was a picture really does tell a thousand stories.

If you’ve got a great image of a venue, an image tells you as much as a long review, if not more… and whether it’s going to be something you’ll like or enjoy or you think looks cool.

Images are really paramount for us.

Great Little Place Story (16)

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Let’s talk about the future. You specifically quit your job about 15 months ago…

Are you feeling confident about the growth and the business model?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

Yes. I think we’ve cracked a great product.

It actually looks a lot different to the one you’ve got there; we’ve improved the design immensely.

I think the great thing is,if you’re in a tech startup, the cost of producing products now has diminished incredibly.

It’s not free to make a digital product, but it’s a lot cheaper than it used to be. There’s a lot of platforms that help you develop and all those sort of things. There’s lots of code that’s already been written that you can reuse and things like that.

The trick really, with all these things that define success, is actually the marketing of them.

Can you get traction for it?

Everyone can build a product, but not everyone can find a market for that product.

That’s really encouraging for us, that people have rallied around the idea on social media. We get tons of lovely emails from people randomly just saying, “love what you guys are doing, wish you all the best”. Those sort of things make us think we’re on to something.

What’s really been great is these signups on our Kickofflabs landing page. If that gets to 100,000 before we launch, or more if we dream a little bigger, then I think we’re going to off to a really great start.

When I look at other big companies that have gone on to be hugely successful, most of them didn’t even start with the numbers that we’re starting with pre-launch!

That’s given us a lot of confidence in what we’re doing, but it always remains to be seen.

I think we’ll be okay from a user acquisition point of view. The question is, as always in the mobile app world, is whether people stick around and whether you can retain them. A lot of apps get downloaded, used once, and then no one ever comes back.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Aside from crowdfunding, have you guys taken any other sources of funding?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

Yeah, we raised an angel round last July, and then a seed round. What we’re aiming to do this year if we hit the numbers that we want to hit, is we want to raise a Series A round, which will be significant.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

How many people are working with you guys now?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

We’ve got in the office a team of 4, we’re hiring 3 more as we speak… we’re hiring 3 developers at the moment. So there will be 7 very shortly.

If we take on a Series A, that team will probably grow to 20 or so. We’ll probably open an office in the US, I imagine.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

That’s amazing! It’s great to hear that kind of success.

Great Little Place Story (17)

I think what’s interesting is that you guys are really harvesting the power of an engaged audience with a mission.

You have a really clearly defined why, you’re giving people a mission to find these places, and you’re getting them engaged in your story… and helping them.

It’s what people want. A problem they want to have solved. It’s amazing to me to see how powerful that can be in action.

We had somebody in the chat who said they liked one of the Great Little Place Facebook pages ages ago, hadn’t used the platform or the app yet, but thought their feed on Facebook was the best platform for them to discover things.

What I took away from that is that you’ve got this multi-layer audience where you’ve got:

  • people that may just engage with you and follow you on Facebook,
  • people that are going actively to the website,
  • an audience that’s going to be participating in the app and seeding all the content and participating through the app at the highly engaged side of things.

You guys have done an excellent job in providing content for each of those different levels…

It seems like all that’s intentional. Am I right?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

Yeah it is. Community’s everything for us.

The idea is about getting everyone’s recommendations. You’ve really got to look after the community, and that isn’t easy, but it does mean you’ve got to respond to every email that comes in.

Those people – every person you touch – they’re probably going to tell 20 people about you, if they love what you’re doing.

It’s sometimes a deluge of information and connections that you get when you’re on multiple social platforms; Pinterest, Twitter, whatever you might be on. It can be a handful, but it does pay dividends if you do everything right by the community. You keep them involved.

One example is, we have a private group of about 500 people, a private community for GLP that we’ve cultivated to keep them involved with the app development, to get their advice and feedback.

Whether it’s saying, “do you like these designs? do you like the color?“, we got them involved with our rebrand.

We have 400 people voting in a Survey Monkey about which colors and which brand and icon they liked and preferred.

People really respect that openness and engagement.

The trick with social media is just to be yourself and open, and keep people involved. Don’t think of yourself as a company. Everyone knows there’s a person writing those things. You’ve got to be normal and natural.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Is there anything that you would have expected a question about or something we didn’t talk about that you feel like the audience missed out on?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

One thing I’d like to elaborate on is; I sort of feel like we’ve been lucky enough to have the traction in social media and other things.

But in other ways, of all the services and products – our one in particular, which is about going out, and your social life – fits in particularly well with especially Facebook where it’s more personal connections, etc.

The thing is, it might seem like there’s not a lot to learn from that, because if you’ve got something other people might consider dry, like a financial services company or something, or you’ve got an expenses app that you’ve developed… to a lot of people that might seem a bit boring, and it might feel hard to figure out how you might engage people in social media if you’ve got something that on the surface might appear a bit boring.

But the trick with social media is to either make something entertaining, or make it useful. A lot of products can still provide a lot of utility.

Back to the mission point in the Simon Sinek thing; if you start with why… if I was developing, let’s say, an expenses app.

If I was developing an app called “Finance App”, and another one called… let’s call it the “Reassurance App”.

The “Finance App” might describe their product like this: “We help you log all your expenses and your finances so it’s all in one place and really convenient”.

Whereas the “Reassurance App” might be more like: “We understand how stressful it is when finances get out of control, and we think everyone should be financially literate. Because if you are then you’ll be stress-free and lead a better life and be able to invest in things you want to. We just happen to make an expenses app that’s really simple to use”.

That’s an example of thinking about what your why is, and if you were to take that through to social media, you’ve got your social strategy right there: Helping people become financially literate, and giving them advice, tips, things like that.

What I want to communicate is you can find a mission in almost anything. Even if it feels like you’ve got a product that people might not naturally get behind.

If you can tap into a human truth or a human behavior or something, you can leverage that and still build a community that’s engaged.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

That makes total sense, and it’s a great thing to bring up and remind people of.

When launching or growing your business…

What was something that you were wrong about, or thought was correct but turned out to be false?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

That’s a very good question. We’re definitely not always right!

I think if anything, we probably should have gone to mobile quicker.

We probably spent too long with our website, when it was clear to us that if you looked at the stats most of our traffic was mobile. Alarm bells really should have been ringing in our ears to say it’s time to develop the other platform, instead of continuing on.

Business is not necessarily about making wrong decisions, as every decision has its permutations.

I don’t think we’ve made anything catastrophically wrong, but what I would say is we could probably have made decisions a lot quicker.

If we’d have focused on what our audience really wanted, which we’d had emails obviously saying, “you guys should do a mobile app”, and obviously we wanted to. But we probably delayed it much longer than we should have done.

We should have started it a long time ago. Lesson learned.

I don’t think we’ve lost out dramatically, I think in some ways we’re probably building a better mobile product today, than we would have done had we built it 2 years ago.

The mobile space has evolved, and there’s a lot more exciting things you can build upon and do.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

There’s something to be said for the fact that you guys spent a lot of time building the audience first ahead of building the app.

You let other people get some of the trial and error out of the way.

You’ve taken on a little bit of funding, but for every business, no matter how they take on funding, cost is still extremely important to consider. If you guys went out and blew a bunch of money on being an early adopter of mobile platforms, you wouldn’t be able to take on the advice of seeing all the apps that have tried and failed or tried and done well.

Now you can leverage a lot of that success into your audience that you’ve spent your time building. Which is not necessarily wrong because you spent time doing other valuable things for the business, which was probably a great thing to do.


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

I think that’s right. A lot of the apps out there, when you load them up, whether it’s Foursquare or Yelp or all these things, they just show you lists of places, and it’s literally like a tiny thumbnail of the venue, the name of it, how far away it is, and the rating… and it’s not particularly inspirational, and it doesn’t pique your interest.

That’s why we’ve gone a very visual route and we show you one place at a time. We’ve got fewer places, so we want you to consider them all, and show them off in all their glory.

Seeing what other people have done in the market has helped us to then differentiate ourselves. Because we haven’t honestly raised as much money as Yelp’s done, and they’re a massive player, so we’ve got to be different and we’ve got to innovate in a different way.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

This was a lot of fun. I’ve learned a lot from your story.

One of our chat attendees said “This guy has got it nailed”… whenever we get comments like that during our chat, we can tell there’s a ton of good advice that people are going to enjoy.

Definitely go check out the Great Little Place mobile app signup page, if you’re interested in finding great little places all around the world. Go to

As a final question…

How would you define KickoffLabs’ why and what we’re helping you do?


Rossa Shanks, Co-Founder of Great Little Place:

I would say:

We understand how important it is to get your business off to the right start. We think the best way to do that is to build up an engaged audience that are raving about your product.

That’s why we built a product that has viral loops in-built to really get people signed up even before it launches”.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Appreciate the feedback. It’s good to hear from a customer what message they take away. There’s elements of that we talk about behind the scenes that we could do a better job of explaining to our other customers :)

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Now go check out if you haven’t already…

We make it easy for you to get off to the right start, build an engaged audience from the beginning. We’ve got a lot of great tools to help you get there.

How Used KickoffLabs to Gather 35,000 Emails in 2 Weeks

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Our goal is to provide you with quick and easy ways to grow your online audience organically.

We love great customer success stories and today we’re talking with the founder of, Mike Madrid.

They used KickoffLabs to gather over 35,000 emails in 2 weeks.

Anthem Boxer Briefs Launch Story (1)

Mike Madrid founded in 2014. Comfortable Boxers Co. is an Austin based startup, partnering with crafters, designers, and procurements partners from around the world to bring you the last underwear you’ll ever want to try on.

That’s what your bio says, but tell us a little more about you.

Mike Madrid, Founder of

Hello and thanks very much for having me. It’s been a wonderful experience using your tool. I’m very happy with the results.

As for the company, we started about a year ago with an idea… and we actually started with a very personal problem: I was tired of spending $30 on a pair of undies.

I’m strict on my comfort level requirements and still thought $30 was not worthy of an underwear.

So having my experience sourcing and with procurement, I went about finding the right partners.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Go back a bit and tell us how you got the experience with procurement.

What were you doing before you had this idea that gave you this background?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

I’ve been through a whole bunch of businesses.

I’m currently working at another company, which I will have to quit in a couple months, but I’m a procurement director for a very large company in Latin America. With this company we source product and take care of quality control.

It’s a very hard problem to solve when you’re importing products. You have to take make sure to get things right before it gets on the the boat. So sourcing and supply chain is my experience.

The transition into underwear is a bit hazy, I believe it was more of an “aha moment”. I was actually reading a book on entrepreneurship.

The book is called the “The E Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It” and explains why most startups fail. I highly recommend it.

Basically, the message behind says that you have to start in an orderly way… otherwise you’re going to be buying yourself a job that you’re going to hate eventually.

I just grabbed life by the horns and did it.

Anthem Boxer Briefs Launch Story (2)

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Some of the comments I get a lot from other founders are; “I’m not sure I have a good idea, there’s a lot of people who do this”, or “there’s already a lot of X out there”, or “there’s already a big company that does Y”.

And so here you are going headlong into an industry where a lot of companies sell underwear; Gap, Walmart, Target, Hanes, just to name a few.

What motivates you to enter an industry with so much competition?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

There’s 2 segments to take note of in the underwear market:

There is the “Target” segment, where they sell a six-pack of Hanes underwear for $10. It’s a great deal, but it’s a market for people that don’t really care about their underwear.

Then there’s the “Premium Underwear” segment, that’s the $30+. There’s a whole bunch of brands in that space; Saxx, MeUndies, Calvin Klein, UnderArmour.

I ran a cost model and got some quotes from some factories, and $30 does not merit what you’re getting.

Those larger companies have huge marketing budgets to cover; with commercials, magazine ads, million dollar models… I wanted to cut that out and try to appeal to people that really care about changing the way we sell things online.

That’s another thing, my market is online only. If I go ahead and sell my product at a department store, that adds another 50% markup. I’m avoiding that. That’s the idea.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

So working on disrupting the traditional sales model for premium underwear.

Is it just you or do you have people that are involved in building this?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

Right now, I have 2 partners working on materials, fabric and sourcing. I have my brother helping as well… it is a family business in that sense.

The guys working on procurement and fabrics have plenty of experience in those areas.

Anthem Boxer Briefs Launch Story (3)

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

You wanted to get a launch page up before you had pre-orders available.

Why start with a launch landing page as opposed to waiting until you had the product ready?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

I could’ve gone ahead and opened up a store on any ecommerce platform to start selling directly.

The thing is I probably would’ve launched to crickets.

There won’t be anybody out there that knows about the product. Because your website is your storefront, it’s like placing it in the middle of the Arizona desert.

The idea was getting a following before we launched. It also works as a litmus test, to gauge enough interest to merit the project going forward. It definitely proved to do so :)

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Tell us more about the launch page… You used KickoffLabs (obviously).

Why go with an online platform and not code-it-yourself?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

I wouldn’t want to show what I was using before KickoffLabs, it’s a bit embarrassing.

I went through a bunch of “newsletter signup” services, but those didn’t have the tools that I needed to get the word going and automating that process.

I looked into the Harry’s Launch, which is a very popular pre-launch story. They used a tool that required coding, so I went ahead and hired a freelancer on Odesk. We got a Ruby on Rails tool going called “Prelaunchr”.

The thing about that is I depended on someone else.

It didn’t look the way I wanted, I couldn’t update as quickly as I wanted and it just didn’t work out. That’s when I found KickoffLabs (through a Reddit post) and it had exactly what I needed.

I needed a tool that tells people how many friends have signed up under their link. And that’s key, people want to keep track of this.They can’t depend on you telling them “you earned 50 referrals”, when they don’t know exactly how they’re doing.

Giving people the tools to share easily as well. KickoffLabs worked wonderfully for this and it’s very customizable too.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I love how you used our Harrys Goes Viral theme to communicate what you are doing.

I liked the headline which included a date, making the campaign feel more real and authentic. You have the key which makes it feel like you’re unlocking something. And then you have a great product explanation below.

anthem starter kol page

How did you optimize the initial design and improve the initial conversion rate?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

It was definitely trial and error. I did get some feedback from KickoffLabs during one of your Live Landing Page Review webinars, which I really thank you for.

The thing about it is that you follow a specific template out of concepts that you have to respect.

The first being a welcome message that has to be very clear. That’s the first thing that people are going to read.

You have to then present your product, and if it’s a service; what does it do.

After that there’s the famous call-to-action. I made it a bit like the Harry’s launch, where the signup key shows that something is going to happen if they input an email address.

After that, of course you have to explain your product in a bit more detail. The thing is there’s also a specific guideline you have to follow for this. You have to add pictures, otherwise people are not going to know what they’re signing up for. And you have to provide clear messaging on what you’re solving.

People don’t like spam in their inbox, so they’re not just going to give their email away just because. If you look like a company that’s giving aways or going to sell a product that’s worth it and the message resonates, you’ll definitely get the email.

That’s the leap of faith that you convince people to take for you.

I kept things very concise and straightforward.

The message “Premium no longer means expensive”, that hits a spot with me. “Premium” I associate with big name brands, but “no longer means expensive” means things are changing.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

You mentioned several times about being concise with the message… I see a lot of people struggle with clearly communicating what they’re doing.

So I always tell people: “if you do nothing else on the page, clearly communicate what problem you’re solving and why it’s important to you”… and you did both of those things.

I think the other thing that worked really well for your page was having the images that backed up the text and not relying on solely one or the other.

And you’re right, there’s a psychological trick to that key. It stands for access and people are curious what they’re getting access to.

Mike Madrid, Founder of

Yeah, I actually tried out a set of different messages for that. “Be the first to know” was one of the last ones. One of the first was “Sign up and you could earn free product”, that message definitely kickstarted a whole bunch of people to sign up. It got the ball rolling a little bit faster than the “Be the first to know” message.

But you have to be clear, if you sign up you’re not guaranteed free product it says you could earn. That’s key for me.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Yeah, you don’t want to break somebody’s trust too early in the customer relationship.

How large was the initial list you promoted the landing page to? How many people did you start with?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

It actually got started before I was even ready. I still hadn’t gotten all the integrations ready. But I did post a question on Reddit asking people to critique my landing page.

From all the reviews and critiques I got, one of those people signed up and shared it on Facebook. Consequently, a whole snowball emerged out of that so I quickly scrambled to get the landing page to look nicer.

That happened in a matter of a few hours. I started getting a whole bunch of email notifications from KickoffLabs of new signups, so much that I had to turn those off.

I didn’t even promote the thing to get started. That tells you that this worked without even having to try too much.

If I did have an email list to send this to, it would have been even bigger.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

There’s 2 things that stick out about that:

  1. You didn’t have much of an audience to begin with.
  2. As a subtle way to get people viewing your page, you went to places where people might be interested and asking for feedback.

It looks like you posted in a few places, so you had the guts to go out there and found the places you wanted to post it to.

A lot of people fail at this promotion stage.

What gave you the guts to post it without even being ready for launch?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

People are afraid of being critiqued, but it’s something I got over a couple years ago.

Embrace the reviews, embrace someone telling you “this sucks”. Take it as a teaching lesson. It might mean a lost customer but there’s a billion others that are ready to look at this after you fix it.

Getting over that small scare is what it takes.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

My co-founder Scott is keen on saying, even to this day when we launch potential features, “we’ve probably reached 0.1% of 0.1% of our potential market, so if we lose 1 person now but we get feedback sooner that makes it better for the next 99%… then we’ll be much better off”.

Anthem Boxer Briefs Launch Story (4)

You talked about the initial promotion and spreading the word. The sharing is what really started to make it take off, I imagine.

How did you come up with what you wanted to give away in the sharing?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

That’s probably the most important part of this project.

You have to assume that you can afford to give something away to begin with. You also have to have something to give away. Depending on what it is, what benefit it gives the customer and how much it resonates with them. That’s how big your company could be.

Anthem Boxer Briefs Launch Story (6)

Who can say no to free underwear?

How I designed the tier levels was too early in the stage to change it afterwards, but it worked out the way I wanted to. I assumed that 95% of people would never reach the 10 signups, which resulted to be true. Most people reached 0 to 9, that means they’re getting a coupon code.

I’m not giving away free product, but I’m giving away a coupon that will incentivize people to actually buy my product. So it’s a win / win for the customer and me.

Once they reached 10 referrals, they got a free boxer. If you gave me 10 referrals and given that I can afford giving away a pair of boxer briefs – including shipping, logistics and everything – you probably deserve something physical from me. That covers people that got 10-25.

Once people got into the 20 referral range, that’s when they really got interested in getting more and more. So they started pushing and sharing more. Those are the people that really made a difference.

50 is a very aspirational # and about 1% of people reached this. It’s very hard to get 50 of your friends to sign up. But if people managed to get 50 for me, they deserve something special.

First, you have to be able to afford it. That means it costs something and people know this.

If you are a service, say an online or offline service, and are not going to give away your product… you have to give away something that is worth the exchange of an email. It might be an instructional PDF, a free lesson, a coupon code for use at a later date. You can’t just tell people to sign up and see what happens.

Anthem Boxer Briefs Launch Story (9)

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

This is a screenshot from your dashboard that listed your top referrers.

Your top reward level was fifty, but you can see the last person in this screenshot has done 11X that number.

Why do you think people kept going?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

At the end of the landing page was a referral policy that was very clear on how it was going to work if people went over 50.

There’s plenty of things you can do; but I just reset the counter so people can earn unlimited product. That works great for influential people with thousands of followers.

It is in a sense paying for advertising, but there’s a fun aspect behind it and it get’s people to share.

You can do it another way as well… the way Harry’s did it was to setup a target cap, and if you reached that cap you would earn a lifetime of free product. But they are a subscription model so it works differently for my business.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Do you have an idea where most of you share were coming from?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

The landing page at had pre-filled sharing messages for Twitter and Facebook – which is a tool that KickoffLabs lets you do – and the message was kept very friendly.

can't wait for

The most trackable one was Twitter. The night that it went bananas my Twitter account was actually trending in Canada. I got a notification from a bot that tracks these.

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I saw this while at the gym and had to run to my house to see what was going on!

But the biggest source of referrals was actually Facebook. It seems that since Facebook shares have an image attached to it, it was more visual. I also see Facebook as more of a trustworthy platform for friends.

Email did about 10% of the work.

Posting the KickoffLabs social referral link on websites gathered a good 50%. People who have relevant blogs would post the link and get their audience to sign up as well.

I did get a few posts from coupon websites, which is not exactly the target I want. You know: freebies and giveaways people. These people are coupon junkies who look for free stuff. That’s probably not going to be a recurring customer in the future. But if you do get them, even that small percentage is okay.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

In addition to the pre-filled social sharing messages that we help fill out at KickoffLabs.

How else did you interact with people who signed up?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

I got a lot of emails and social posts asking general questions. People who were genuinely interested in the company as a startup.

Anthem Boxer Briefs Launch Story (7)

Besides through those channels, people would reply back to the KickoffLabs automated email. The reply to email that I used was “”, it’s a very welcoming email. I made them feel as though they can talk to me if they found the need to. And they did, I got plenty of emails asking questions.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

You followed the basics of thanking them. You have a great subject line, a big image and then immediately dive into asking people to share with the sharing links below that.

You also took the next step – which we encourage all of our customers to do – and activated the KickoffLabs Influencer Email.

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Which had the same really simple, effective layout.

Can you talk about these emails and how you set them up?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

The influencer email is one of the most important features inside of KickoffLabs.

If somebody manages to grab a few referrals, this is a reminder to guide people on their way to getting free product. It gives them a sense of social importance.

The email reattaches the sharing links, and it’s automated! It’s also a daily thing that gets sent out. So instead of people signing up and forgetting about the whole thing, they would get reminder emails on their progress. That’s a HUGE viral aspect for this.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

In our product, it’s called the Influencer Email… and guys probably would’ve benefited from our recently launched Viral Incentive Emails, which actually let’s you set the specific referral targets for email rewards automatically :)

But yeah, I notice that customers who set up this Influencer Email understand a little more what they’re doing and really does drive a lot more signups. Just letting people know that they were successful in getting customers helps them feel like they are making an impact.

Psychologically that encourages people to do it more.

Mike Madrid, Founder of

Exactly. And if people would revisit the landing page at, they would see their sharing page (as opposed to the sign up page) with a status of their referrals.

It’s not only a reminder that people already signed up, but this is how they are doing.

Anthem Boxer Briefs Launch Story (12)

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Looking at the Campaign Conversion Rate and Viral Boost, it says you got a nearly 60% conversion rate on your landing page and nearly 87% of your leads were coming from people that were using their KickoffLabs unique social referral links.

Can you talk a bit about the psychology as to why this works?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

I did some A/B testing – which is another KickoffLabs feature I liked. I setup 2 landing pages where 50% of people who see landing page A and 50% would get landing page B.

I varied the language between them and also some colors as well. But the whole concept was the same, but the conversion rate stayed the same. That tells me that tiny changes didn’t make any difference, it was the whole concept in it’s totality.

As for the 60% of people that signed up during their visit, that tells me that I nabbed the correct market. It’s like advertising on Google and telling them, just advertise to men. That’s too broad.

I believe the success behind it is that the people that landed on the page were actually interested in the product to begin with.

Besides, if people click on a Facebook post that says “you can get free undies”… they are probably in the market for undies.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I don’t know if you’ll answer this question, but…

What was your budget for the campaign?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

The budget was tied into the product. I did a cost-model on what I expected to give away versus my profitability once the campaign starts.

I went a little bit over, because I probably should’ve given away less… but I can’t specifically say the number.

You just have to be prepared for a budget that you can handle, because there is money involved in giving away free product.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Did you pay for any initial advertising or to keep the ball rolling?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

Zip, zero, nada. Nothing at all. It did everything on it’s own.

This project was a litmus test where I was gauging interest. If people were sharing it was because they wanted to, so there was no need.

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Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

What have you done to ensure fraud prevention?


Mike Madrid, Founder of

There’s some built in identifiers, biggest one being the IP address. Once some people sign up, they start trying to cheat the system by using alternative emails. I got plenty “”s and “’s, but it’s a tiny fraction.

I made sure to notify on the policy that if there’s two signups with the same IP address it would become invalid.

I integrated KickoffLabs with Mailchimp to send leads there, once there I sent it to a 3rd party service that would check for legitimacy on the emails, then sent a transactional email to the signup… and if it bounced back I would discount it from the list and reduce the referral amount for the person who referred.

It does take a bit of work to filter out, but it’s worth it.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

In general, KickoffLabs does some things behind the scenes to filter out invalid email addresses. We’ll scrub those frequently and from the referral counts for people.

Any time you’re running some kind of competition, people are going to try and game the system. It’s just the way people are, but do your best to look at your list. It’ll become fairly obvious who’s trying to cheat.

It’s easy to export your list as a CSV and see any suspicious activity.

Anthem Boxer Briefs Launch Story (13)

You generated over 35,000 email subscribers with this campaign…

How did you get that major traffic spike on day 3 of your campaign?

Mike Madrid, Founder of

That’s when I was at the gym and was surprised that this was happening. I posted on Reddit 3 days back, and it just started rolling!

It was a complete surprise to me. A few bloggers that had posted really got the ball rolling for me.

It was a great experience, though you do want to be ready for that. If something is broken; your email service is not working; something is not connected… you are missing out on the wave. So you have to be ready.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

So this is a quote that you made:

Anthem Boxer Briefs Launch Story (14)

Mike Madrid, Founder of

Yup, that is actually the first blog post I wrote for

I’m very happy with KickoffLabs and have recommended you as well.

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Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Where are you guys now and what’s next?


Mike Madrid, Founder of

So I have this huge email list :)

How I’m going to use it is key, there has to be a purpose behind it.

I can start bombarding my audience with emails right now and tell them “hey, this is us. We’re starting in June”.

Or I can hold off for something more important. I believe fundraising is a huge part of my companies future success and I’m going to launch a Kickstarter in a month or two.

If you start sending emails that people are not interested in, they are going to unsubscribe.

That’s my next step, the Kickstarter.

Alongside that, there’s going to be a blogger outreach program. Where I get samples shipped out to them and have them review it.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I see that as a model now. Nobody wants to launch a Kickstarter campaign where you’re actually asking for money right away. So it’s become common practice to try and build an email list before.

You want some initial success to reach your campaign funding goal.

Even without the Kickstarter campaign… you’ve led to some dollars coming in through this list, right?

Comfortable Men's Boxer Briefs I ComfortableBoxers_com - comfortableboxers_com

Mike Madrid, Founder of

I had to launch a web page. I didn’t want to leave the signup form indefinitely. I wanted to set a date where the campaign ended and keep my audience informed.

Immediately after the pre-launch campaign ended, I launched the official website where I described the product and manufacturing in more detail. Things you can’t do on a landing page because it would be too much.

I also setup my pre-ordering system. I connected my fulfillment center, my ShipStation account… I connected everything.

With this, I actually got people to buy my product without advertising. I was still getting traffic coming into the website and that did wonders, even though the landing page was over!

That helped me get some orders and I still get visitors, looking at my analytics there’s traffic all day long.

What probably did the job was SEO, because I got so many hits my domain is considered an important domain. And the name is very SEO friendly too. That helped a lot as well.

I’m doing a lot of social media, but am not advertising just yet.

It’s working great. That’s a very good sign if you’re getting pre-orders on a product that’s launching in months!

A Fair Price - The Comfortable Boxers Co_ - comfortableboxers_com_pages_a-fair-price-1

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I see that from the lessons you learned A/B testing the landing page, you’ve carried that through to your current website. I saw a lot of the quotes from your landing page there because you realized that was important.

Mike Madrid, Founder of

Yeah :)

The website is a whole other subject, but you can see that my homepage right now doesn’t follow all the ideas I used for the pre-launch landing page. But that’s because it’s still under development.

I will follow the same concepts of the call-to-action, a message, something that’s going to convince to click on a button. It’s the same psychology that will be applied.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I encourage everybody to check out and pick up some “comfy” boxers.

Mike’s done a great job documenting this entire process on the blog, so be sure to check that out too.

Lastly, if you want to launch your own success story. Give KickoffLabs a try!

Anthem Boxer Briefs Launch Story (16)

Mike had a great campaign to begin with. The marketing tool that he used is just a vessel, but I’d like to think that we helped get him started :)

Thanks Mike for coming out and sharing your story! There’s a lot of people who are in your situation who would love to build a huge email list like this.

Mike Madrid, Founder of

I’m extremely happy with KickoffLabs. If I could use it again I would… and with your ongoing lead generation capability I probably will.

I’m actually thinking about other products I can launch to use KickoffLabs again! It was that good.

We love telling these stories and want to tell more of them!

You really should get started now with KickoffLabs.

We want to help you get your own success so you can come back and tell an amazing tale, and be like Mike!

How Acompli Launched with KickoffLabs and Went On to a $200M Acquisition

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Acompli is an amazing email application available on Android and iOS… this is their story of starting as a KickoffLabs customer, going well beyond that being recently acquired for $200 million dollars by Microsoft.

It was interesting because when I saw the news stories coming across as the acquisition, I had to go back and say “wait a minute… think I remember a customer by that name”.

So I dug through our customer list and sure enough, saw that they got their start as a launch page and API using our product!

Joining us to share their story is Kevin Henrikson. He currently leads engineering for Outlook mobile at Microsoft.

Prior to that he was a co-founder and head of engineering at Acompli…


Tell us a little more about your background.

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

I grew up in California, have lived here all my life. Went to school in Los Angeles. Started studying to become a mechanical engineer and then realized that the internet was happening.

I graduated school in like ‘99 or ‘00, so the internet made a lot more sense than building cars and airplanes, even though that – as a kid growing up – was more what I expected to be doing.

I’ve been working at software companies since about ‘99.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

What lead you to found Acompli?


Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Around 2001, after the first startup where I was working went bankrupt, I moved up to the Bay Area and joined a company called Openwave, which was focused on carrier email. So I’ve been doing email of email related software for the last 15 years.

Then worked for a company called Zimbra, focused on enterprise email.

And now Acompli, which is like taking it to the modern age asking: “How do we make people more productive with email, specifically on their mobile phones?”.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

How did you know that was a winning idea?


Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

I think there are 2 pieces to that:

  1. What are the key pieces of how we came up with Acompli?
  2. And why we thought about the problem were trying to solve?

The background for that, over the last years… up until the last year or two there’s been lots of new people “re-inventing” email.

You think about Sparrow being the kind of first original, very popular Gmail client.

And then Mailbox had went through their really crazy, wild launch where they had a huge waiting list, and a million people trying it. And then Dropbox acquiring them for $85 or $100 million.

That was about the same time I was starting to look at new ideas and talk to lots of founders.

Javier Soltero, my co-founder and I were having this conversation saying “all of the things that folks have done around email, today even, have been really focused around the consumer”.

So they’re building something on top of Gmail which, is possible but it’s not as technically hard because there’s lots of free code to connect to IMAP servers.

I used to joke that within an hour you can go to GitHub and grab a project, connect to an IMAP server at GMAIL, OAuth into it and then paint a screen; whether it’s Javascript, Objective-C or whatever.

As we started thinking through that, we knew, with Zimbra coming from the trying to sell email servers against Exchange (it was just the dominant force, particularly in enterprise – where the global 2000 all used Exchange).

We knew that if we were going to build an email client – sitting on Exchange for work, and Gmail for our personal mail – having an email client that can combine all of that and having a modern UI was something we thought would be interesting.

So we started to tear that apart at business meetings and asking: “why don’t you use a lot of email on your mobile phone?”.

  • When you travel around to meetings or are driving around, you’re constantly jumping in and out of your phone. If you get a set of emails you have to wait until you get back to the office.
  • Composing and typing anything but the simplest email is hard, forget about long responses.
  • Search was very broken. There was a continued search on server, that would sort of work if it was local, but it would only search your inbox folder.
  • The context was scattered. App switching sucks. You get things coming in for email and you have to look up something in another app… even for something as basic as meetings.

It was this constant back and forth, and we asked “how can we make somebody’s workflow easier, and do that on a mobile phone?”. Where an average app session is 24 seconds, we asked “what can people do in 24 seconds to go and be very productive with email?”.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I have to admit that I came from a Microsoft background, so when I left Microsoft I really missed using Outlook. Because on a Mac desktop, the Email and Calendar apps being separate is just such a pain.

Then my first time using your app on the iPhone was the first time I experienced that on the phone where it was like “wow, certain things like email and calendar just makes sense to be together”.

You guys executed brilliantly on that basic idea. The rest of it is great too, it’s just that was the magic part that hit me that I really loved.

So, you have this idea and you talked a little bit about following the money. Everybody is focusing on the consumer and you’re focused on the enterprise.

Even though you’re focused on the business side of things, lets talk a little bit about the concept of putting up a launch page.

 What made you want to put up a launch page before you had an app, before you had customers? Because you weren’t targeting the consumer side, you were targeting business customers.


Can you talk about the motivation for the launch page?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

We think of everybody as a consumer.

The notion that people are only a business user or only a consumer has been destroyed with the app store.

Whether you’re a consumer or a business person in enterprise, everybody has a job or at least everyone has email these days.

And so the fact that you’re kind of both, there’s these things that you choose for your personal productivity and there’s things that your job or company provides that you don’t choose.

Our view is that the world is going to move to a place where consumers have more power, and even consumers inside of the enterprise will have more power to choose. That’s where we came up with the idea of how do we connect those two.

The idea of a launch page was simple: Validate the idea with more people outside of our own scope.

The very first launch page is a much less pretty version that I literally built with my engineering skills, not my design skills…

1st acompli page

… the idea was that we could start talking about this with friends and family whenever they asked what we were working on.

The page didn’t even mention email, just a vague launching soon landing page.

We had hundreds, probably in the low thousands of users before we announced the company and launched the first official launch landing page.

We launched it when we announced $5 million dollar funding from Redpoint and another $2 million dollars from some really great investors.

That basically led us to say we’re doing email and we knew iOS would be first, with the goal of reinventing email on the iPhone.

We had a really cool launch video and set up the launch landing page. At that point, with the help of press articles, it exploded the number of users that signed up.

Then we slowly started sending out invites.

At this point we really started to accelerate that and use some of the viral features built into KickoffLabs to say “hey, tell your friends”.

We would send an email to our list saying that the the top referring people would get more invites. Instantly we would see people trying to game the system by posting on Reddit or writing blog posts trying to promote it, which is awesome! That was what we were trying to create.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

That definitely seemed to give you a boost. I won’t give away your numbers, but I can see that you benefited from people sharing their KickoffLabs unique social referral links.

How did you get users to sign up when you were in stealth mode?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

It was basically my family that would sign up when they asked what I was working on, then they would tell their friends.

We were tweeting about doing Acompli saying very vague things, we wouldn’t say we were working on email, we would say that we were doing something cool for the iPhone.

It was literally hustling; tweeting people directly, asking people at cafes to try the app… very much guerrilla marketing, getting people one-by-one to signup.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I want to ask about the page itself, as it was pretty minimal. And that’s a mistake I see a lot of people make: try and throw as many things on the page as they can.

But you used everything to kind of amplify itself; with the background image, the video option, etc…

How did you come up with the copy and the message? Did you test variations of that?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Yes, we did. Our CMO is awesome, he was the VP of Marketing at Flurry, Peter Farago. He came up with a ton of crazy taglines, where we tested some with Facebook and Google Adwords.

We also had another domain, which was like something, something email app dot com… it was very long and generic yet very specific keyword spammy looking domain. And we setup the same webpage on that as a secondary domain inside of KickoffLabs. We used that to kind of test and bought traffic against it to see what would convert… among testing a few other things.

Most of the tests were to test the tagline that we ended up putting on our main launch landing page.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

So before you really focused on the page, you actually did the simple thing of testing headlines with ads trying to see which one gets more people to click?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Yup, exactly. And it’s super cheap to test ads on Facebook for even $10 dollars. It’s pretty inexpensive.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Yeah, I tell people all the time. It’s an easy win for people when they are just starting out.

Most are so focused on Google Adwords, but that’s become a very expensive place to start testing if you’re after big targets.

So you had a video on the page that you highlighted…

Do you have any metrics or a rough idea of how many people watched the video?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

In terms of the exact percentage, I’m not too sure. But it was definitely higher than average early on, because we kind of forced it front and center as the hero video; having this whole narrative of the app making you awesome at work.

It wasn’t cheap to make a video like that, but I think it was something that made a big difference. Especially now that iTunes and Google let’s you upload video as part of the app store.

Leading up to the launch, the video was helpful in telling our story in a visual way. Because as you know, some people are visual learners, some just want to read about it, some don’t care and just sign up for anything new.

We literally tried everything to try and get as many users as we could. What we needed them for was testing. In reality, we were creating our QA team.

With the app world as it is, it’s very hard to test something as complex as an email and calendaring app with all the different ways that people do it.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

You started talking a little about the marketing of the launch and you talked about starting with just the really simple page with friends and family, Facebook ads, etc.

Once you were really ready with this page…

What marketing strategies were successful before you had the app ready for download?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Having people game against each other to see if they can refer other people to get to the top of the list worked well.

We also found all the places that you can launch an app, a company, or a startup. So we came up with a list of about a hundred different sites, where we tested about 75 of them.

Some of them were paid, like Betalist where we bought an ad for a few hundred bucks. Some of them were just free by submitting your site.

Many of those drove conversions. Betalist by far worked the best in terms of being able to attract a large number of users at a low cost.

More importantly, whenever I would share a link with one of these… I would post a KickoffLabs link with a referral code and so then you can track who was bringing them back based on which source. It was pretty easy to see that Betalist drove a lot of pre-registrations.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

So you literally went out and did the thing of finding all the places you can possibly register cheaply and did that to start doing the promotion.

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Yeah, at this point it was either me just walking down the street telling people, “hey, what do you use for email? You should try this cool app”.

Or finding places on the web and throwing up a link to see if we can get a few more users. Because at the size we were at, we knew that every user helped.

Every time we would get one person to sign up, we would use the viral features to potentially have them share it and get into the beta earlier.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

One of our attendees sent in an interesting question asking:

Do you think a higher cost product could use KickoffLabs during their launch?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

For sure… Acompli, the app itself was free but what we were selling to businesses was millions of dollars.

The way we license our software was very expensive. But that 1 free app user that then converted into a very large enterprise sale

The way Acompli made money was by offering a free app, but then as a business or as an IT person you could buy additional services and acquire a paid plan with dedicated hosting, tenants and stuff on the backend.

What we were actually selling was a very high value product. True that the frontend of it was a free app.

Having something that is low-cost or no-cost, obviously it’s a lot easier to collect somebody’s email address. That’s just kind of basic marketing.

The way I’ve marketed other very high-cost things in the past is by offering free ebooks, free webinars, etc… get people to sign up for things.

Give people something whether it’s information or some kind of service that you’re offering at a very low-cost or no-cost to start that conversation. And then you can go deeper.

Clearly more expensive things are going to take longer to convert.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

We’re not going to talk about exact numbers, but…

Can you give us an idea of how many people you got before the app was ready to go?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

We had on the order of tens of thousands prior to launching in the app store.

Prior to launching the company we had single digit thousands, so less than 10,000 users.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

That leads into measuring where the hits are coming from and using the referral codes or campaign links for each.

What were you optimizing the launch landing page for?

Raw numbers trying to drive as much traffic as humanly possible? Looking for a high conversion rate?

How were you measuring the success leading up to the launch?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

The conversion rate obviously varied across channels; Twitter, Facebook, Betalist, our friends, a popular person that writes a blog post because they heard about or know us.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

What kind of relationship did you have with influencers or press people that helped grow your list?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

We don’t really have a relationship with press people, but people picked it up after they saw the launch and wrote about it.

We’ve built companies before and have friends in the Bay Area, but it’s nobody superfamous.

Anybody that we could convince that had a blog, we would try to get them to write about it.

Peter, who was our CMO had a great relationship with the press. So we did a ton of outreach and pitched our story to them.

We did have a PR firm that helped with some of the introductions, but at the end of the day you have to have a great story.

Acompli on NBC News

The best stories and the articles were ones where we sat down with those reporters, demoed the app, walked through the app, told a story and was able to demonstrate value.

However, the goal was really signups… how many unique email addresses can we collect to start that conversation? From there it was… how do we get people into our app?

As we were marketing an iPhone app, we knew that eventually we would get to Android… so we were collecting and segmenting those people, letting them opt-in to which one they wanted.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Did you automatically include everybody on the list into the beta? Or how did you know that somebody was a good participant?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

1. We started by filtering out competitors, which was pretty obvious when they signed up with their name.

2. And then we started ranking by who’d referred the most people, people who seemed active on social media, or had some kind of activity inside of it… so we granted access in waves.

Every time you make a big change to your onboarding or your signup flow, you really can’t test the old users… you have to use new users. So we purposely launched in patches to walk through that at a slow pace. Making sure that we always had fresh users every week to add to the cycle. Testing the quality of that funnel and how accurate we were.

3. We were very active on Twitter and through email talking to our beta users.

4. We used a program called HelpShift, which is in-app customer support. That was super instrumental in helping us have a conversation with our beta users privately.

Inside of the app they were able to just tap a button, load up a chat and talk back and forth.

That was helpful for us talking to people about features, bugs, etc. This allowed us to augment that close relationship.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

You guys are fanatical about 2 things; 1) figuring out what the customers wanted as a group, not just the minority. & 2) focusing on the quality during the beta.

How do you balance that with the innovation that you wanted to drive?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Yeah, we use another service called HockeyApp which is pretty popular… Microsoft acquired them shortly after they acquired us, which allows you to collect crash reporting and details around that.

So we use that as a first-line of defense, because if the app is crashing people get frustrated.

Then we ran a weekly report of the support tickets and categorized them into groups. We obviously dealt with users individually, but for our future roadmap we looked at it as a whole.

The third is the critical piece of innovation. Where we constantly have to think about improving the general workflow and productivity of our users.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I think what sums it up, is that your team is focused on customer happiness :-)

During the beta were there any other metrics or statistics that you were measuring?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

If you had to pick one metric in the mobile world, it’s retention.

If you can’t keep users, no matter how many users you buy or you get… you’re going to lose them.

Are users staying and at a high percentage?

From our point of view, we discovered that users who only use a single personal email address retained at one rate, while people with different business accounts retained at another.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

So in addition to all the other stuff, you were focused on measuring retention? Seeing people stick with the app, using it day in and day out.


One thing I saw that Acompli did was trying to leverage people who were influencers (people who are big fans of the app) after you launched.

You created a landing page off of your site, called #RockTheDock Twitter contest.

There you asked people to take a screenshot of their dock with Acompli installed and tweet it.

How did this campaign work for you?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Yeah, our CMO came up with idea of people getting people to “rock their dock” with our app. We wanted to see if we could get to replace the email client that lives in somebody’s dock.

Generally, as we started to talk to more people, we realized that was the ultimate signup commitment. If you had moved this dock into your app, we just started putting that in the tagline of our email marketing and built the landing page to promote it event more.

We would retweet and comment with people, give them badges and be kind of cute on Twitter talking to people… just some kind of virtual award for posting their dock.

It worked well, because you started to see more and more Twitter famous people say “hey, this is something that I’m using and I like it”. Then they’d tweet it and that would pick up more.

We had some really good bursts of user pickup from the #RockTheDock campaign.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

That was interesting market research for Acompli too, right?


Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Yes, because we got to see what other apps people were using… It was really insightful seeing who the users were, but also more importantly their email app use behaviour.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Did you measure any of that and have your team go through the images? Or did you see them as they came in?


Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

We never got super data-driven around the exact makeup of the various homescreens that were tweeted, but we did look at a lot of those.

The ones we did see, we were categorizing between them thinking about potential inter-linkings and partnerships.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I love when a campaign is able to take something that helps you and also do the marketing.

One of the reasons that at KickoffLabs we do regular landing page reviews, where we ask people to submit their pages and then we’ll take a look at them publicly (if they’re willing the stand up to the scrutiny).

Selfishly that really helps us do market research, because we get to see all kinds of campaigns and landing pages. A majority of the pages submitted aren’t even on our platform yet, so A) we get to pitch them or B) if nothing else, we’re able to help them.

So I love hearing about stories when it’s a marketing campaign, but it’s dual-purposed as market research.


How did you approach companies that would be a good fit for an acquisition?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

We never intended to sell the company. Great companies are bought, not sold.

Our goal was to build a company that we liked working for, with people we like, while doing something we thought was meaningful and interesting.

That was the path we were on… yeah, we were getting great press & reviews, and the user base was growing well beyond our expectations. So at that point we were looking to license our software to some enterprise customers and some ISPs. We really wanted to get Acompli everywhere.

One of the discussions we had with Microsoft was about licensing our software as a potential client to use for their various email platforms.

That was how that conversation started and then escalated to the ultimate acquisition. But we never went out and tried to reach out to companies to buy us.

We had great software that a lot of people were using and loved, so the discussion centered around that.


Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Where do you think the future is for email and mobile apps?


Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

We can’t talk specifically about what the Microsoft Outlook roadmap is, but the mission that Acompli was on to make users more productive with email and calendar on their device is only just beginning.

We’d only been in the app store for like 6 months. We really had just gotten our first version, we didn’t even have time to rollout our version 2 yet. It was really early.

We still feel that way. What we produced is great and people love it. But we have lots of new things to do to continue the theme.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Yeah, I was really impressed with the acquisition at how quickly you guys turned around. It spoke both about the quality of your team and also that Microsoft was interested in letting you keep that.

Apple Right Now


For the email collection and the viral stuff… what product did you use for that?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

We used the KickoffLabs API to connect our custom landing page to the KickoffLabs platform.

Initially we had the landing page hosted for free on KickoffLabs, then moved to the API and continued to use that until we were well into our public beta.

We were using KickoffLabs to drive all our leads to the beta because we could allow people to promote and share with their friends.

We also integrated with Mailchimp to push leads from KickoffLabs into a list, then we would market to them directly with the Mailchimp tools.

But the first few emails that we sent were through KickoffLabs – the automatic thank you email, influencer email & viral incentive emails.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Happy to hear it!

I was thrilled when I looked back – when I heard about the acquisition – to see that you had created 2 more campaigns after you had launched 2 different ones for the beta.

It’s our intention to help with long-term marketing, not just launches.

It was a lot of fun, thank you!

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Thanks, Josh! Thanks for having me.


We love telling these stories and want to tell more of them!

You really should get started now with KickoffLabs.

We want to help you get your own success so you can come back and tell an amazing tale, like Kevin just did!

Introducing KickoffLabs Viral Incentive Emails

You won’t find this anywhere else! Viral sharing has always been included by default with KickoffLabs. This referral generation accelerates your growth much quicker than traditional approaches.

Today, we are excited to announce the something which will take this to another level, Incentive Emails.

Incentive Emails

This is a feature you won’t find with any other Landing Page or Online Form provider.
With Incentive Emails, you can deliver emails to your leads once they reach key sharing thresholds. For example, you could send a lead an email after they have generated three new leads for your business.

Check it out…


Some common use cases:

1. Deliver an ebook after one successful referral

2. Offer a discount after 3 referrals

3. Offer an extra discounts or coupon codes after 10 referrals

How to activate this…

1. Log into your KickoffLabs account.

2. Select your Campaign.

3. Click Emails > Incentive Emails


4. Click Add New Incentive Email

5. Choose a referral number that will trigger this email.

6. Write your email, preview, and save!


We know incentive emails will help supercharge your lead generation campaign and we cannot wait to see what you do with them.

This capability works great with our viral thank you pages.
Scott Watermasysk
Co-Founder – KickoffLabs