09 December 2023

I Launched SleepEasy to Early Access Users aaaaand...

Last week I soft-launched SleepEasy to people on my early access list. I had a small email list of about 30 people who had signed up because they wanted SleepEasy to monitor their domain, and in the course of talking about the early access launch, another 10 or so people joined that list.

So, how did it go? How many people signed up?

Keep in mind, I was launching to an intentionally small group. I wanted to shake out any issues before opening it up to a wider field. I figured I’d be lucky to get 5-10 signups.

Well, out of those 40 or so people…

[Drumroll, please! 🥁 🥁 🥁]

Zero signed up. Not one.

Sad trombone

I was initially extremely discouraged. As days passed with no interest, I started questioning whether the product had any future at all. It was crushingly demotivating. But as the days went on, I had two thoughts that encouraged me:

First, had I really learned anything surprising? I had already been thinking the ideal market for SleepEasy wouldn’t be software teams—the kind of people I’m naturally connected to on social media—but rather operators of ecommerce sites… people who don’t have the capacity to stitch this stuff together out of their existing observability tooling, because they don’t have observability tooling.

Second, I figured I should reach out to the people on the list who blew off the early access launch and try to figure out why they’d lost interest. Keep in mind, these are people who had gone to SleepEasy.app and explicitly signed up to get access! What had changed between the time they signed up for that email list and now?

To that end, I put together an email like this and sent it (from my personal email) to each of them individually:

Hey [name]!

You signed up for the SleepEasy early access list a week or so ago, but I haven’t heard back from you about getting started monitoring your web site.

I’m guessing SleepEasy isn’t a good fit for you? Maybe it’s missing something, or just not solving an important problem?

I’d massively appreciate any feedback you have… the harsher the better (I promise you can’t hurt my feelings). Plus, I certainly don’t want to keep sending you emails if you’re not interested any more. I haaaaate receiving junk mail, and I don’t want to inflict that on anybody else.

Anyway, let me know!

I’ve only heard back from a few of those people so far, but the overwhelming response has been some variant of “huh?”. It seems people didn’t see the email, either because it just got lost in the flood of their inbox or it went to spam. There are two conclusions I draw from this:

First, I need to get other marketing channels going in addition to email. Having a dedicated Twitter and Mastodon for SleepEasy would be an easy additional way to get in front of people, and they’re likely to appeal to a different crowd than emails.

Second, I need to warm up the email sending domain. I need to get more people positively interacting with the emails to keep it out of spam. I think the fastest path to that is to open up signups for a free tier of SleepEasy and coach people through the account confirmation process—before you can use SleepEasy, you’ll need to open your email, find the confirmation message, and click the link. If it’s in spam, make sure to move it to your inbox. Even add the sender to your contacts so you’ll get our alerts when things go wrong.

That seems like the best way to make sure our normal marketing messages get through, but there are still a few features I need to ship before I’m ready to open signups like that (like routing emails through a human verification step to make sure people never receive a false positive!). Nonetheless, I’ve already pointed a few people to the self-serve signup and they’ve gotten setup.

All in all, we’re getting there, but there’s still a long road ahead!