47 Insights / Podcast  / Ep. 20: Launching Shift with Nadia Tatlow of Redbrick
Nadia Tatlow, Shift, Redbrick

Ep. 20: Launching Shift with Nadia Tatlow of Redbrick

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 20: Nadia Tatlow, Redbrick

Nadia Tatlow, General Manger of Shift app at Redbrick, outlines how she went about launching the product on Product Hunt and driving traffic through Google and Facebook.

Editor: breandanmcghee@gmail.com


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Episode 20 Transcript

Paul: Hello and Welcome to SaaS marketing insights The show where we ask SaaS founders, CEOs, marketers and investors about the lessons they’ve learned in their quest to grow their companies. My name is Paul Stephenson, and I’m founder and CEO of SaaS marketing agency 47Insights. On today’s show, I have an interview with Nadia Tatlow, General Manager at Shift. Hope you enjoy it.

Nadia from Redbrick, thank you very much for inviting me, what a great place you got here.

Nadia: Thanks for coming.

Paul: So this is Victoria, British Columbia. I don’t know a lot about Redbrick, but you guys are like a software company or whatever… so maybe we should back up and hear a bit more about your journey and how you got started in SaaS marketing and about Redbrick, and one of your… one of your products that Redbrick has in particular.

Nadia: Sure. Um, so I started at Redbrick about five years ago, and moved here from Toronto, where I was working at a marketing agency working with, you know, some of the big big brands through this agency. You know, Microsoft and Rogers and kind of some of those big, big brands, but we were a small agency kind of start up in that world. So we… you know, I really got my toes wet in the marketing world there. And then moved out to Victoria about five years ago, and started with Redbrick. At the time Shift was not not in the fold yet. So Redbrick for people who don’t know, is a software development company, we developed several different products. And in our… we have about four different business units. So shift is one of those. And so that’s the one that I’m heading up from a business perspective right now. And it’s our SaaS product for Gmail, Gmail management, it’s really a productivity app. It covers a lot of different, different tools. But really, it’s about helping people to manage different… all of their different email accounts from Gmail, Outlook, and Hotmail. And then, recently, we’ve added the ability to switch between all of your web apps and extensions as well.

Paul: Wow, so it sounds like Shift came about as an idea that maybe somebody was developing or an idea that came out of Redbrick at least, and then it was commercialised, or was it from the start or commercial idea?

Nadia: I think it came out of an internal need, really. So I guess to backtrack a little bit when I started here, you know, all of us were really working across several different products.

Paul: So you had different identities…

Nadia: Different identities, different brands within the Redbrick umbrella company. So managing all the different email accounts and brands was something that we all recognised as a kind of internal pain point.

Paul: Lots of different tabs in your browser.

Nadia: Yeah exactly, multiple tabs, multiple browsers. So we started looking into options and,  really didn’t find something that really clicked with us. So we decided, you know… at the time to also showcase one of our analytics… software analytics products, let’s build Shift as a, almost a case study. So we built it, we use it internally. And then I was really in a, you know, full on marketing across the red brick products at the time really.

Paul: Group marketing manager.

Nadia: You know, really managing marketing across everything. Yeah, exactly. So I got involved early on, I guess, spring of 2016, you know, naming the product to building out this brand of what is Shift and what is kind of the brand identity that we want it to have. And then we launched it to a really small design community, a beta community…

Before Product Hunt, actually. So in… I think it was September of 2016, we launched on this beta website, just to kind of get it out there and get it beyond our companies. And, and it, it really got a positive reception from there. So we thought, you know what, let’s, let’s really go hard for the last quarter and make this something that we can present to the world on Product Hunt. So that was all of our first time on Product Hunt. We we built up to that and in December, actually December 20th, we launched full on with Shift 1.0 on Product Hunt.

Paul: So how did you do that, was it on Product Hunt?

So, what was the reception?

Nadia: It was great. Yeah… Product Hunt, if you’re not familiar with the community is kind of product savvy, Silicon Valley Tech people…

Paul: I’m in there, upvo ting.

Nadia: Yeah. Okay. There’s actually a lot of Victoria companies that are on there now. And actually, in in those times or in that time, you couldn’t pre schedule your launch in any way. So you couldn’t really prep things…

Paul: They got that ship…

Nadia: The Ship product now that allows you to kind of line things up. So for us, it was really launching at midnight, everything. We didn’t have our link until that moment. And of course, we had a lot of other channels that we were you know, launching on to really create the momentum on Product Hunt that we needed.

Paul: So what’s with the midnight launches?

Nadia: Timing, maximizing your time zones. So I guess, PST, we’re, you know… we’re a little bit behind the time. Yeah. So getting on there at midnight allows you to capture, you know, all those CEOs and, anyone who’s in the tech world that’s getting online in Europe, you know.

Paul: So it’s midnight where?

Nadia: So midnight PST? And that’s supposed to be the, you know… it’s really 12:01 that you launch on there. Yeah, there’s lots of blog articles about product launches. And I have a checklist that I’m, you know… I follow religiously when i’m going through those.

Paul: So you launched it on some other platforms as as well?

Nadia: Yeah. So I guess backstory on Redbrick is that, you know, we’re really… our bread and butter has been performance marketing. So, you know, user acquisition, and in Facebook and Google are kind of everything in terms of all of our products is where we, you know test and drive user acquisition. So it’s no different with Shift.

Paul: So that’s the core kind of, well, obviously, developing software, but but also performance marketing side. Those two go hand in hand. Without… all of the other products have sprung out from from those central skills that the expertise that you have within this business.

Nadia: Yeah, I think just being able to use those channels for testing, testing and gathering data and just driving large volumes.

Paul: Validation.

Nadia: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, getting… I mean, getting anything to scale. And, you know, we have talked about this before, but sometimes we’ll have a creative idea, you know, a new landing page or ad sets, and Facebook has been a huge, huge channel for Shift, just in that it allows us to test all of that stuff. Pretty quickly in the scheme of things, so, you know, we’ll have a brand new landing page, that’s not even quite ready. So we’ll create a bunch of ads around it and just test and see if those work. One example is we recently launched a light theme on Shift. So you can switch, sort of, like on Twitter where you can switch between dark mode and light mode, we have a similar feature for Shift, you know, really just a nice setting for people who, you know, care about the UI and want it to flow with their workflow. So we tested alot of ads on Facebook to make sure that, you know… before we go to the effort of really pushing this through development, let’s make sure that this is something that our customers are going to respond to.

Paul: So great. So shift is what, 18 months old?

Nadia: Yeah, so I’d say December 2016, was really the full on launch. Then November, so we had this launch on Product Hunt that went very well. And at the time Shift was really email management. So managing multiple email accounts and being able to toggle between those accounts as well as mail calendar and drive. Shift is built on Electron so similar to Slack or Spotify, it sits on your desktop. And it’s beautiful at you know… I think where it kicked off was that the design community loved it. And it’s something that just really streamlines your productivity. So what we we kept on getting requests for was apps and extension. So you know, a lot of people are in email all day, but they need their CRM and they need project management or Facebook, business manager, Asana, Trello, Flow in there. So we started building in the apps, and spent, I guess, that full year really pushing out, pushing those apps into Shift and then building a feature called unified search, which allows you to search across all of your different email accounts.

Paul: Wow, that sounds clever. I bet that gave someone a headache.

Nadia: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So you can… if you accidentally saved a document in your personal account, you can search across everything, and you know, it’s supposed to be in your work, work drive, you’ll find it in in one search rather than…

Paul: Wow. There’s definitely a need for that.

Nadia: Yeah, exactly. So we built in unified search, more Google services, all your Google Apps, and then pretty much every popular web app. We threw that into Shift as part of the 2.0 launch, so we actually went back on Product Hunt, and back to that community as part of a really an organic push, but also something to really drive our team to a deadline. And, it’s been great for that and great for feedback. But of course, you know, Facebook has been really the the driving channel for the full, I guess, 18 months that it’s, it’s been out there in the public.

Paul: So, so the products really developed. So in terms of… it’s a freemium business model right? Or is it trial?

Nadia: So no trial, that’s another thing we’ve tested a huge amount. Pricing and trial offering, offering a trial or not offering the trial. So when we first launched, we did offer a trial, and we actually decided that it was more effective for our users to offer just a completely free version of Shift so you get an idea of, of how it all works and switch between two different email accounts in the free version.

Paul: So it’s kind of limited?

Nadia: A little bit limited. Yes. But you can see how it works. See if it works on your desktop and how you have your monitor setup. And then we added… you can upgrade to Pro. And that’s a yearly subscription fee of $29.99.

Paul: Pocket money.

Nadia: Yeah, exactly, per year, we’re kind of… a lot of people, I think, assume that its monthly, they don’t read it carefully, it’s actually only per year. So that allows you unlimited email accounts. And then once you go to an into advanced, that’s really where the real I think value and premium version of Shift is where you can add all of your apps, all of your extensions, unlimited email accounts, Google services, unified search.

Paul: So does it have any kind of organisational vitality in the same way that Slack does, do you see people like adopting it? And then it spreads throughout an organisation?

Nadia: Yeah, you know, what we’ve… we’ve actually got a shift for teams offering that’s doing quite well. Because, you know, people are always talking in the office, you know, what do you use for productivity, how do you focus? How do you get your stuff done? The thing we found about our users is that Shift is a staple in their day to day workflow, they have it open every single day all day.

Paul: It’s earned its place.

Nadia: Yeah, exactly. So our engagement is really high. And, as a result… I think word of mouth has been big, with a network effect, with our referral programme, that in terms of organic marketing… and we push our referral programme, through our email campaigns and a little bit through Facebook and Google, but that team version is really, you know, someone on the team, whether they’re technically the decision maker, in terms of the software, productivity software, often it spirals. We have teams every day that started around five people. And then, you know, we get a request, okay lets add five more seats, let’s add 10 more seats, you know, so, yeah.

Paul: So, to back up, so I just wanted to sanity check somthing because… I do a lot of stuff in SaaS marketing, paid acquisition. So you doing paid acquisition on Facebook for something that’s $29 a year?

Nadia: Mmmm hmmm.

Paul: Wow.

Nadia: Well, you know, what… Well, $29 or I think the average, you know… it averages out more on the Advanced side most people end up chosing the upgrade. Okay, great. I think people who see the full value and really see Shift as something that they end up relying on in their day to day end up, upgrading to advance, so it’s really more leaning to the $100 a year price point. But yeah, we’re… I guess we’re 18 months in and, you know, it’s nice to see that we can get people in the door and people can use Shift for free and get utility out of it, but then choose if it’s something they want to upgrade on.

Paul: Great. So sounds like there’s a clear kind of roadmap and probably pushing up in terms of organisational size. Is there anything you can tell us about? In terms of future developments? I understand if you can’t, anything around the corner?

Nadia: Yeah, I think somewhere where we see opportunity, potentially down the road is mobile, we’ve really focused in on the desktop as being the pain point. You know, there’s a lot of options for Mobile Email management, and it tends to be less of a pain point. But there’s definitely a huge opportunity for Shift to be, you know… just cover cover all devices, basically, right now, we’ve really honing in on desktop as the issue.

Paul: So, is that through customer feedback?

Nadia: Um, yeah, I think so. And just in terms of… we do run mobile ads, and we know that there, you know, most of our customers are on their phones all day too, so it wouldn’t hurt, I don’t think to have that. But otherwise, I think immediately, apps are a big focus. So making sure that we’re offering everything that our customers actually rely on every day because that tends to be a decision making point, it’s a make or break thing, we need to offer a huge selection.

Paul: So one of the things that… just hearing your story that I’m interested in is, you know, the shift that you’ve made, on a more personal note, from agency to, SaaS company, and you’ve gone from being a marketer on the front line. To now, you probably wear many hats, but you’re more of a general manager in that kind of shift role. So more overseeing the aspect of marketing, in that kind of personal development, from from agency side to SaaS, to now, management, if I can call you that. What have you found that has been the big challenges for you, as you’ve gone long.

Nadia: You know, I guess even to go back further, when I started at Redbrick, Marketing was almost off the side of my desk, and I was doing a lot of sales. And, really focused in on revenue growth through our publishers, and then our advertising base. So I think getting really… you know, I’ve had a good split through my career of marketing and sales, partnerships, and really just start up, where I think everyone wears a lot of hats and everyone’s pretty close to the bottom line. So I think that that’s been a cool experience for me, and something that’s kind of made that transition a little bit more organic, where, you know, I look around now, and we do look like more of a, you know, corporate type company, but I think we operate more like a startup. And Shift definitely within the Redbrick umbrella is really a startup within. So I actually manage, I have my head in our Facebook campaigns every day, my head in our Google stuff every day working with our designers to build up the creative. And then you know, and then more the management side, we have a growing team. And, then, even writing content and stuff. It’s something we have a team behind but we’re… I definitely have my finger on the pulse still on all that so.

Paul: Great, Nadia, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me today. I really appreciate it. I wish you good luck with Shift, thank you.

Paul: I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Nadia. For more info on Shift, please visit tryshift.com. For more info about this show. And to get our links to iTunes, Google Play SoundCloud, Stitcher and YouTube, check out www.47insights.com. And if you have any SaaS marketing insights that you’d like to share on the show, please get in touch. Until next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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Founder & CEO

Paul is Founder & CEO of 47 Insights. He has been advising both software and publishing subscription businesses on growth strategies since 1995.