I took part in a webinar on Customer growth and engagement–Startup’s guide by Brendan Yell.

He is a director in Twilio – cloud communications platform as a service company based in San Francisco, California, focused on programmatically creating a perform other communication functions using its web service APIs.

In his talk, Brendan emphasis on the strategy for startups to engage their users.

A lot of times, you would like to build new and fancy features and invite people to use them.

In reality, very few people even when they register will start using your service regularly.

The problem of being overwhelmed

Startups need to grow and engage their customer, but there is one big issue with that.

Seth Godin talks about the lizard brain, it’s the part of us where resistance comes. Asking your customer to use your product means that they need to think, to change their habit and most probably to be overwhelmed with learning new software, new concept, to be spammed with new information.

“The lizard brain is the reason you’re afraid, the reason you don’t do all the art you can, the reason you don’t ship when you can. The lizard brain is the source of the resistance.”

— Seth Godin

This is also an issue I see with my Alumni organization where the email that is sent once per month consist of a huge amount of information and you can guess how many people actually read it.

People were happy receiving emails in the past when emails were a scarcity. Now 99% of the emails are spam. On top of that everyone wants our email to spam us. I receive sometimes 100 spam emails per day. How about you?

Every day hundreds of new business, small enterprises, coaching and consulting are created and all of them want your email!

Even the author of this blog asks you for your email to send you a quality information.

How can we fix the constant spam issue and increase the engagement?

Engage and grow your customer base – make it personal

The first thing you need to do is make it personal. One blog for financial services does this very well. In the header they use my name and a little text. By making it personal, you will skip the long queue of not personalized emails and got a priority pass.

There are a lot of researches pointing that we are accustomed to listen for our name. If you don’t believe me, ask a friend of yours to randomly say your name in a conversation at the other part of a room. If you don’t have headphones most probably you will be able to notice this information and attract your attention.

Is just using someone’s name in an email enough for startups to grow and engage with their customers?

If it was so easy, every new company would be a champion and have their revenue skyrocket!

But there is more!

Make the content specific

Another big mistakes startups make is to copy past their content to every category users they have.

I had seen it in some coaches, who send email and then copy past the email on Facebook.

Your audience will expect you to react in a different way in different social medias. Don’t try to create one solution, fit it all. It is better to really plan in advance the message you want to convey for each platform you are using.

Make it condense

In the beginning, I wrote about the fact that people don’t have a lot of time. And have too many emails to read. Instead of sending a long story selling your product, try to make it simple.

There are many experts who are sold on the long story approach, but who does have the time to read your 3 pages long email and is not your mother?

Unless you are sending a status email to your family or best friends, it is better to keep it short and condense and have one email per point.

Don’t overwhelm your readers, because they might decide to unsubscribe and never hear from you again!


I had fantastic times during the talk with Brendan Yell who is a director at Twilio. He shared valuable points regarding customer engagement and how to use email marketing in the right way. Another valuable point I had learned is that different channels should have a different strategy for engagement and not using the copy-past approach.

Following these startups grow and engage strategies would help you to have a better engagement and retention rate.

What are your strategies to grow and engage your audience?

Aleks Vladimriov is a Senior Software Developer, recognized Project Manager and Soft-skilled trainer and a coach.

Aleks Vladimirov

Solution Engineering Manager at Thales | Senior IT Professional | Startup Mentor and Product Manager

Aleks is experienced Product Manager with an engineer background and over 10 years of experience as a software developer. He works with different governments and is responsible for negotiation features and requirements, understanding the customers’ needs and supporting the senior management with regular reports and analysis. He held various positions starting as a software developer, moving to a team leader and software architect.

He strives in waterfall and agile environment alike. He is certified Scrum Master and Prince2 Practitioner and he knows how to design business processes and help teams optimize their work.
During his tenure, he had to wear many hats, prioritizing business requirements, delegating work and mentoring team members, creating mockups with Balsamiq, providing MS Project plan to the senior management.

He had worked in many international teams, located in the same city or distributed in different countries and continents. He had been a team leader of cross functional international team of 8 people.

In his current position, he is very much client focused. He has excellent presentation skills.
He delivers training sessions on presentation skills and leadership and he had helped hundred of people to improve their presentation skills.

He is also interested in creating more positive changes in the workplace by using entrepreneurship skills.
He had won startup competition where his team had validated and develop a business idea from scratch.

In his free time, he writes in his blog about effective product development.

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