In the interview:
01:31 – When you can’t get a .com
06:01 – Where was Clay in 2015?
08:14 – The tools behind strategic pursuit
12:43 – Life as CEO of a fast-growing startup
14:04 – Where to get good info
16:13 – Should you raise venture capital?
17:42 – How to think bigger
18:49 – Who does Clay blog for?
20:59 – Partnerships that work
22:35 – Local vs remote employees
24:07 – Lessons learned from the subscription model
26:16 – How much to invest in retention
28:40 – Is that customer worth keeping?
30:28 – Best first conference ever?
31:57 – Innovating to meet a need
34:49 – The product people have been waiting for
38:45 – A question James could have asked
Get expert help growing your business with SuperFastBusiness membership
James: Alright, Clay Collins is on the line, and I’m recording. Good day mate!
Clay: James, it’s been forever. It’s good to be talking with you.
James: You know what, it was May 2014, we last recorded our series, where we’d spoken many times prior to that, and we had a little failed attempt in between, to catch up last year. But a lot has been happening since you had 55 employees in your business.
Clay: Yeah. Like a ton. So we’re now over 40,000 active customers, we’re over 150 people, we’ve raised over 35 million in venture capital, we’ve raised 38 million in venture capital. We hosted our first conference. Yeah, just lots of stuff has happened.
James: I’d like to just sort of chat to you about some of the things that have been going on in that last growth phase because I’m really doing my best to document this stratospheric rise. I mean I was there right at the beginning, even before you had your current product name. So it’s been interesting to watch. Do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions and you can choose how you want to answer them? Some of them might not be pleasant but I think they’re really interesting for our listeners.
Clay: Absolutely. Let’s do it.
Choosing a domain name
James: Alright. First off, a lot of people, when they’re choosing domains, they say, “What should I get?” And I often say, “Get a .com.” Sometimes, they point to LeadPages having a .net. Has that been a problem?
Clay: Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, I don’t think it’s been, like I’m glad we moved quickly. So when we were going to get a name, we wanted LeadPages.com. The person who owned that domain really wasn’t communicating with us. I felt strongly about the name, and I felt strongly that we shouldn’t do leadpages.co or leadpagesapp.com or something like that. So I felt strongly about the name, and I felt strongly that the most important thing was the name.
So if you look at companies like Tesla Motors, Tesla Motors, or actually it’s just Tesla, right? But Tesla is at TeslaMotors.com. No one calls them Tesla Motors. They’re just Tesla, right? You have lots of companies like that, Square for example, that makes the payment processing device. They recently IPO’d, Jack Dorsey is their CEO. He’s now the dual CEO of Square and Twitter. Square is at Squareapp.com.
And so I think, from a branding perspective, the name of your organization is first and foremost, and if you can’t get the .com, then if you get large enough, you will eventually be able to purchase it. I think what happened for us is by the time that we had the success and the cash where we could purchase it, we decided that if we were going to spend that kind of money, we might as well get a single word .com, highly brandable name. So we got Center.com, and we’re sort of in the final stages of making that happen, but we have signed contracts and the current owners are phasing it of off their system and giving it to us.
I think honestly, the whole thing went down in a way that was somewhat unfortunate for the owner of leadpages.com. They could have made quite a bit, but frankly were not really willing to negotiate with us.
James: So in summary, you’re saying it’s good to have .com if you can get it, and the longer you wait to buy it, the more expensive it will probably become to acquire. But the more likely you are to be able to afford it. And ideally, you just get a killer, brandable .com as the ultimate.
Clay: Ideally, I think at the end of the day though, you shouldn’t let the availability of the domain affect your brand decision. I think brand is probably first and foremost. And there’s lots of options now. There’s .co, there’s .io, which is kind of interesting.
James: And this is different to trademark, right?
Clay: Yeah. I mean, you generally don’t trademark the domain name, right? So the exception back in the day when .coms were rare was like drugstore.com and like diapers.com. There were all these .coms. And from a trademark perspective, and I’m not an attorney, I can’t give legal advice all that, people can’t really append those domain names to their trademarks anymore. So it’s just like whatever the brand is, and of course you need to talk with a trademark attorney.
When you’re a startup, you don’t have time for any of that. And the longer you operate with a name, at least here in the US, the longer you operate with a name uncontested, the less likely someone could be to take it from you.
James: Well I’ve had the situation where someone can’t take it from me, but they can set up a similar thing in a different region and start sort of swamping the search results and making it inconvenient for you. I like the sort of idea of setting a trigger point. When you get to a certain point, that’s when you trigger things like ownership and branding decisions that will have a big impact on your business for the long haul. But I think in your case, you got so big and so strong that whatever domain you had was going to be irrelevant by this point now. The first thing I said when I heard about this name was, what a great name. It say’s what it is too.
Clay: Yeah, we like it. We like it quite a bit. And so we should be rolling that over to center.com for this product, not for the entire brand, but for this product, we should be rolling that over like mid-February.
James: In the last year and somewhere in between 55 and 150 people, you kind of got hard to get to and gobbled up by the whole machine there somehow, and then you popped back out and did a blog post, and here we are updating the mini-series. Can you tell me about what happened? Was it like a three-wave hold down when you’re surfing a big wave point break, or what’s the last year been like for Clay?
“Brand is first and foremost.”
How was last year for Clay?
Clay: Yeah. I didn’t that I was hard to get to. I certainly wasn’t posting a lot on social media, I wasn’t speaking at events, but I think a lot of things happened. I think that honestly, while perhaps the hardest thing that I’ve ever done in my career, sort of the first year and a half of a software company is really a lot easier than the second year and half.
Starting things I think is really easy for marketers. You live in this world where there’s no technical debt around your product, you don’t have infrastructure issues, you don’t have scaling issues, and there’s sort of this logarithmic relationship between the number of engineers you have and how quickly you can put out products. In other words, you know, getting out an initial version of LeadPages.
For developers, we’re essentially creating the core of that product up until like a year and a half. And then after that, we added a whole bunch of other people, essentially taking our product and engineering teams to literally over 60 people and what most people saw was the same. And that was because we had learned from the first year and a half, we had money, cashflow and a customer base, and we were like, “Now that we know all this, what do we really want to build?” I guess what I mean is, more like, how do you really want to build it rather than what, because we know what we want to build.
James: So basically, a lot of the original restrictions that a normal business would have, have been lifted. You’ve got an audience, you’ve got that user base, you’ve got money, and now it’s like, it turns into more of the creative strategic pursuit, right?
Clay: Yeah. It’s a lot more strategic.
James: And what tools do you use or what processes do you have? Is it just what Clay’s vision is when he jumps out of bed in the morning? Is it ikigai? Is it something else?
Tools and frameworks
Clay: Yeah, so great question. You know, there’s lots of frameworks around. There’s something called a one-page strategic plan, which is kind of outlined in a book called Scaling Up. I think that’s good exercise to go through. There’s something that I think actually isn’t very well-known in the internet marketing space but is really well respected outside of it, and it’s called Pragmatic Marketing. So there’s a series of Pragmatic Marketing courses and they go through frameworks on market-driven development.
So I think when you’re a small company, everyone kind of gets the vision. There’s lot of access to the founders. Everyone’s talking all the time, and as you get larger, everyone kind of needs the vision explained in a much more systematic way. So what’s the theme for the year, what are the top four goals, and how do we translate from this high level vision that I might have? All the way to what an individual product or an individual marketing or an individual and sales, how do they line up what they’re doing with the department goal, with the company goal? This is just like the hard part of building a company.
So 2015 was freakin’ hard. We doubled to get into business, which was nice. But there was a lot of things that felt like they just needed to be cleaned up after a couple of years of hyper growth. There was a lot of dust in the closets. So I was not very visible and I was back with the rest of my team just cleaning out closets, just working on foundations. That’s really what I was doing, and it was hard work, and it was frustrating work. I love launching new things. 2015 was not the year of not launching new things.
James: I’m glad you raised this point of clearing out the closet and building up dust. I’m in this constant process of pruning, and refining, and simplifying, and stripping back because as someone who’s a prolific creator, and a lot of entrepreneurs are, we go out and register all these domains, these websites, we start different business divisions, we’ve got this trail of stuff, and it’s really expensive to clean up. And people, when they’re buying a domain for $9 at 2 in the morning, they’re not thinking about that they’re going to have to renew this for the next six years while it’s sitting there gathering dust, but also, at some point in the future, they’ve committed to having to sit down, look at that domain, make a decision to kill it, or grow it, or sell it, or whatever and get rid of it.
So we can collect and grab too many things. I guess as you’ve emerged with this new direction that you’re taking, I guess getting rid of things and making decisions on what to kill off or stop or not put focus on to is just as important as what you decide to focus on.
Clay: Yeah. I think that’s true. I think that if you are a 5-person business, it’s really easy to have three brands. I think, if you’re a 150-person business, it is incredibly hard to have even two brands because the more people you have involved, the more you have to systematize. That systematization takes just a whole lot of overhead and work, and it’s necessary and it’s good, but I actually think you can do less in terms of spitting off new projects the larger you get. I think it’s a good thing actually, and I think it keeps you focused on what matters.
So yeah, it’s been less about eliminating things, and it’s been more about cleaning up and creating structures and processes around what we already had and around creating structures and processes for the future. Like we’re starting on 2016 here and we actually have a 2016 strategic plan with a budget that lines up to it with a projected panel that lines up to that, with sort of head count that lines up under those things. And then that’s derived from the annual goals. It’s rigorous stuff, it’s next level stuff, it’s stuff that’s I think most people or at least a lot of people that get started, they never aspire to do this. They never want to do this.
James: It’s hard work, isn’t it?
The life of a CEO
Clay: It’s freakin’ hard work. Like 2015 has been probably, in terms of pushing myself to the next level, it’s been the hardest year. Here’s what I think the life of a CEO is of a fast-growing start up: so you spend about six months doing an OK job at what you do, and then you spend about three months realizing that your job has fundamentally changed, that you have a completely new job now, even though the title is the same. And then you spend about three months doing everything you can to learn your new job, and then you spend six months being OK at that until you realize that your job has changed all over again, and you have to relearn a new set of skills.
And so, 2015 really was the year of learning a new job for me. It’s one of the most humbling experiences for me, but it’s also been a really beautiful, fantastic one, and I’m glad that I got to be a part of it. I think that’s what you get when you work for a startup business. You get to see your job change over and over and over again, what would take people sort of four or five careers to accomplish, they’d get to do in a much more compressed time span.
James: That’s really interesting. I used to think when I was progressing through sales and sales management, general management, I was working like five years to everyone else’s one. I wasn’t doing the same year over each year. I was starting a whole new chapter, reading another bunch of books, implementing new things.
I was going to ask you about your emotional changes, but you’ve partially answered that. Where do you draw from, as a busy CEO, with all this funding, and huge responsibility, and 40,000 active subscribers, where does Clay Collins go to for good information as a CEO? Where do you draw from?
Clay: I think the bigger we get, the more I find myself drawing from the C-level talents in our organization and also our senior leadership team. So you know, books are good, and systems are good, but at some point, you’ve just like consumed enough information, that more information isn’t going to really move the needle substantially in your life. It’s at those times, having people in your business on a day-to-day basis who have battle scars, who have had ups and downs and other businesses that sort of know you and they know the business and they know that phase of the business, and I think they can counsel you often in ways, like you’re just never going to get there that fast with additional information.
James: So where do you get those people? Are they masterminds? I remember when you got funding, you told me that you didn’t really need the money but you wanted the contacts. Did that pan out to be the case in hindsight, or did you end up needing the money as well?
Clay: You know, so no. We have started spending a little of the money. So we’ve raised 38, and our series A was 5 million. So we just kind of started tapping into that series A money. So the contacts were, there have been a lot of contacts. For example, someone I’m speaking to right now was the CFO of Oracle at one point and was on the board of Priceline, that person has had just like tremendous advice. I’m wondering if, am I supposed to say his name or not? I probably shouldn’t.
James: Just don’t. We’ll be fine.
Clay: Yeah. So I mean that person came through a VC recommendation. I think the VCs themselves have been the most, have sort of provided the greatest amount of advice. So one of our venture capitalists, they owned 30% of Fitbit when Fitbit IPO’d like a $5 billion valuation. So they own like 30% of Fitbit. So they had seen every single phase of that business’s growth, and every single phase of like Moz’s growth, and every single phase of like Zynga’s growth.
So when you’re sitting on the board to these companies, there’s sort of day-to-day management, and then there’s board level governance around hiring C-level people, managing plans, making sure that your legal stuff is kind of in a row. So it’s been absolutely one of the best things that I think we’ve done. Not everyone has had the same experience.
When people say, “Should we raise venture capital?” I always say like, “Well, should you get married?” Like it just really depends on who the other person in the relationship is. For us, it’s been absolutely fantastic. So another person who invested in us is a person named Doug Burgum. Doug Burgum is the chairperson of Atlassian, which is an Australian company, which just IPO’d, I believe, they’re trading it at a valuation of 6 billion. That’s like the third time he’s done that kind of thing.
So there’s been a lot of really good advice that has come from that. So it was absolutely worth it. I would absolutely do it again. So no regrets there whatsoever.
“Raising venture capital is like getting married.”
James: How do you think bigger? I’m sure you must get to probably thinking, gosh, other people think more of me than I do sometimes.
James: Aside from guys like me telling you that you’re always going to be successful, which is so easy to say now in hindsight, but I said it beforehand; you know, who else is in your cheerleading squad?
Clay: Yeah, so in terms of pushing me to think bigger, I think Doug Burgum, the person I mentioned, pushes me to think bigger. There’s a guy here locally, he’s a COO of a company called Code42, which is just crushing it, he pushes me to think bigger. And then of course, when I read books like the Elon Musk book, it’s like, OK. We’re making marketing software, for crying out loud, and he’s putting people on the moon.
James: He’s doing spaceships and electronic cars and stuff.
Clay: Yeah. While he’s building up Tesla. So you know, it’s like in the scheme of things…
James: So you’re really using benchmarking and social references.
Clay: I think so. Yeah. That makes sense.
James: That’s good. Clay, what about when you do blog posts, how much do you feel you’re posting for the customer, and how much do you feel you’re posting for the investor?
Blog posting for the customer/investor
Clay: Oh, I don’t know that we’re posting for the investor almost ever. Yeah, I can’t. When we did the Center launch, that was all for the customer. Yeah, that’s a great question. I honestly, truly, authentically can’t recall a single blogpost that I think we posted for the investor.
James: Oh, that’s cool.
Clay: Are you thinking of a specific post?
James: You know, I mean. the one you sort of posted after not being posting for a while, it was lengthy and explained Center, it was a big announcement. There were some whispers in the hallways, “Oh, you know, this is designed for the investors to be confident about the company,” but I thought, you know what, I’m going to ask Clay straight up because Clay wrote the post presumably.
I think, I mean, when you get a lot of funding, it would be interesting to see how long it takes to turn from a Padawan into Darth Vader. And in your case, it sounds like you’re still with the force.
Clay: Yeah. So whatever post that was, which I think was speaking to someone high level, but I also think it was speaking like to our market. So if you read the comments of those posts, I would say people got it. So you know, if we had a certain type of person posting in there and the customer base just wasn’t getting it at all or our market wasn’t getting it, I think that would be something extremely different. But read the comments in there and see who fundamentally commented and who that message fundamentally resonated with.
James: I got it. I thought it was very clear cut and you’ve posted it. It wasn’t someone in the PR department, etc. It’s great. I mean, you’ve gone from this kid making videos under his staircase to a very public, high profile CEO. So that’s what I like about this journey and as this story unfolds, you know, we’re tracking it.
What have you learned about ownership structure, and equity and things? Is there anything you’d change? Have you found yourself in a weird situation with overgiving or under contributing? Because partnerships are common discussion amongst businesses, and I think you had a couple of partners or co-founders. How’s all those relationships going? Is it like that movie with Dustin and Mark Zuckerberg? Is it changing the relationship between partners or are you all still cozy?
“Learn from the battle-scarred.”
Clay: Yeah. I’d say we’re cozy. The company started with Tracy and myself, and then we have a technical co-founder, who lives in Prague. I’d say that to the best of my knowledge, everything is actually really good. Tracy and I still talk on a regular basis, and Simon who was the third co-founder is part of our engineering organization. And so, unfortunately, I don’t get to communicate with him as much because I’m speaking more with our VP of product delivery, but he’s still with the company and things are good. So as far as I know, there’s no crazy breakups, and Tracy and I are as strong as ever, and Simon and I unfortunately don’t get to talk as much as we used to, but there’s no weirdness there. It is a part of just our day-to-day sort of operational patterns to talk. But every once in a while he’ll come to the US, and we’ll hang out and grab a beer and reminisce about the old days.
Local versus virtual staff
James: As a company, you’ve been pretty strong on having people work in your hometown. Has that been a good strategy, instead of going sort of a remote path?
Clay: Yeah, so we have remote employees, I’m really grateful for them, and they’ve added a ton. And I’m really glad that we have a local culture that when we’re talking about difficult product decisions, we can do that in a room together, we can look each other in the eye, we can run up to the whiteboard and we can collaborate. And I do not care how much people say, well, there’s GoToWebinar and there’s Skype and there’s Voxer and there’s like this, and there’s Slack. I think you get probably 10 to 20 percent more bandwidth when you’re collaborating in real time.
So we have a situation where people can work from home 2 days a week and then we’re in the office 3 days a week, and I think that’s a fantastic balance. In my mind, there’s absolutely zero chance that we would have grown as big as we are, as fast a we are, had the level of success we’ve had as a virtual business. There’s just a level at which that stops working, and I think that’s probably at around 30 people, really, in an engineering-driven culture.
On the subscription business model
James: Yeah, I can totally see that. It’s great to see that people do that. I’ve seen other companies be successful bringing in a culture, whether it’s Microsoft or Google. That’s good. What have you learned about the subscription business model? That’s a really great topic for our clients at SuperFastBusiness. I think originally some of your products were one-time purchases or even free, and then you’ve gone to a subscription business model. Any side steps that you would do differently or things that are vital for someone to consider if they’re a software as a service subscription business?
Clay: You know, I think that the software subscription business, or just the subscription business in general, is really, it is its own thing. And people might think they know that space. I thought I knew that space, but I did not know that business model like I do now. And there’s just a whole lot of stuff there. So what happens is when you first start out, you’re adding customers extremely fast or you know, we were, and we still are. And obviously people churn out of that subscriber base.
So let’s say hypothetically you know, you have a 3 percent monthly churn. So you’re losing, on any given month, you’re losing 3 percent of your customer base. Well, you know, when you have 100,000 customers, that 3 percent is 3,000 people, which means you need to, at a minimum, add 3,000 people to your business just to break even. Right? And then if you want to grow 3 percent, you have to be adding 6,000 people per month, like new customers, to your business to get even a 3 percent month over month growth.
So the law of large numbers really kicks in. And I think the problem that a lot of membership site owners have and people who just are kind of operating at sort of like sub-10,000 customers or probably around 10,000 customers is that growing that subscription business seems easy, but at a larger scale, there’s things that come up.
Looking after retention
And so I think that if your ambition is to get 100,000 subscribers, 200,000 subscribers, then you should be investing in retention as much or more as you’re investing in marketing. And I see most companies doing the opposite, is maybe they’ll have a 10 percent marketing team, and they’ll have like 2 people on retention. It’s like well, you need like 15 people on retention and 10 people on marketing.
James: And I guess in your case coders could be considered part of the retention, if you’re making great product that people just have to have, that would be a great retention strategy, too.
Clay: Yeah. I think, you know, at the end of the day, everyone’s retention. And so even marketers are retention. Like are they acquiring customers, like if you have $100,000 in adspend to spend for Group A that churns at a high rate, or you could spend it on Group B that churns at a much lower rate, you should be spending it on Group B, right? Product should be making sure that sort of onboarding flows are there, support should be doing everything they can to proactively help the customer before they get frustrated and want to leave. Product and engineering should be aligning around it.
So retention is absolutely everyone’s job. It’s not the kind of thing that you can just, like, you know, I’ve heard this expression before, we don’t use it at LeadPages, but it’s not the kind of thing where you can just like throw bodies at. Like, these 2 people are going to be doing retention. What the heck does that mean?
James: Yeah, exactly. I’m glad you’re tipping into the cool stuff, you know, like predictive analysis and cohorts.
Clay: Oh, yeah.
James: These are the things that you’re going to be thinking about. I mean, if you take your example of 100,000 subscriber base and you’re losing 3,000 a month, and if your average product was just, even if your lifetime value was only $100, that’s a lot of money to be losing.
James: So if you could plug the hole in the bucket, that’s great. And I’m so glad you mentioned it. A lot of the efforts that I’ve put into my coaching students is fixing up their, at least their unsubscribe sequence. When people leave, you’ve got to find out why and start putting that back into the system and see if you can get them back, and then we work back from there. How do we stop them from leaving in the first place?
Picking your customers
Clay: Yeah. And another thing that I think is really incredibly valid is, was I selling a product to someone who has no business buying this kind of product in the first place?
James: Exactly. Framing and expectations, and message to market match. Did they buy it because they got a free iPad, or they got a chance of one, or did they buy it because they really need to be able to capture someone’s email address on their landing page?
Clay: Yeah, it’s an incredible point. And I think that a lot of people kind of do this stuff, and I think it happens in the infoproducts space where literally you could do everything in the world and you are just not going to retain this person because this was an opportunity seeker who is going to be buying a bunch of products right now and they’re going to have the same success with them that they had with the last 10 products that they bought, which is the same success they had with their new year’s resolution, which is the same success they had with the treadmill that they bought, and that is like nothing.
And so if you are seductive to the kind of person who is not likely to actually succeed, then your business model flaw goes a lot deeper than just sort of this abstract notion of retention and onboarding sequences and framing. Like you have a long term business problem there. And that’s something that’s really hard to recover from.
James: That’s awesome. I’ve only got two questions to close out with, Clay. You’ve been very generous so far with sharing your answers. I’m deliberately choosing some questions that you may not have answered before, or certainly not publicly, that I think people would be really fascinated with.
“Invest in retention as much as or more than you invest in marketing.”
Clay’s live event
Tell me about the live conference. How did that go, and is it something you’ll continue to do?
Clay: Yeah. It was a fantastic event, so we had 500 people there, it was a packed house. We want to double next year. We will absolutely do that again. We’re planning next year’s live event right now. So it’s at converted.com, so we did CONVERTED 2015, and we’ll be doing CONVERTED 2016. And the goal with this was not to create some pitch from the stage. We didn’t pitch anything from the stage at all. The purpose of that was to build an industry conference and to build value.
And I’m really, really happy with the initial version. It’s probably like the best first conference, and I’m biased of course, but it’s probably the best first conference that I’ve ever seen a company do. I’m really proud of how it turned out, I’m really proud of Julie and our marketing team, and we’re absolutely in for round 2.
What excites Clay right now
James: That’s fantastic. So just in closing, each time I’ve spoken to you, you’ve always been sort of busting out of your skin about something that’s around the corner, something that you’re so excited about that you can just hear it coming through. What is Clay Collins excited about right now, at this point or at the beginning of 2016? What have we got to look forward to?
Clay: Yeah, so one huge thing that I’m looking forward to is Center, Center.com, which is a marketing command center. And you basically plug in all the integrations that you’re using, and you can run marketing campaigns across all of them.
So what we’re finding is that people are using more and more tools, sort of they’re using a smaller percentage of the available feature set of their all-in-one marketing platform, and instead using a whole bunch of point solutions. The problem is that it’s hard to sort of run a coordinated marketing campaign with a bunch of one-off point solutions.
And that’s what Center is for, you can do things like say, hey, if someone watches 50 percent of this Wistia video, and they attended the last webinar, if they visit the pricing page but don’t check out, then send them a text message. Or hey, if someone, let’s say someone attended a webinar, but only watched 5 percent of it, then passed that through to HubSpot, unless they’ve done this other activity on the website, in which case send them to SalesForce as a sales lead.
You can do all kinds of things like that. And so it’s kind of automating across your existing tools, rather than taking the approach of trying to build everything. And I think that the one thing that a lot of us can agree on is that in marketing technology, the companies that are trying to do everything are not really doing anything well. So there are companies that will do your shopping carts and your affiliate system and your email and your automation and your landing pages and your analytics blah, blah, blah.
And what we’re finding is that people are still subscribing to those things, and many of those are good tools, but they’re using Stripe for their payments, and they’re using like Sancart for their shopping cart, and they’re using like SendGrid or Mandrill for their transactional emails, and they’re using like HasOffers or CAKE for their affiliate system, and they’re using like us for their landing pages, and they’re using Mixpanel or Google Analytics for their analytics.
And so there’s a lot of fragmentation happening. And so we want to be the command center that you plug everything into and basically be an open marketing automation tool, so a tool like Marketo or HubSpot might be, that’s sort of a closed system. So you can automate across signals that, for example, Marketo is getting. If Marketo knows you visited this page, and if Marketo built the landing page and if Marketo sent you the email, then you can create automation rules based on that. But if you have like 8 different tools that you’re plugged into, you can’t automate at that level anymore. So that’s what Center is for. That’s one thing I’m really excited about.
A long-awaited product
The second thing that we’re excited about is we’re releasing our drag-and-drop builder. And this is something that people have been asking for for a long, long time, literally since we launched LeadPages. And honestly, the reason why we did it was because we looked at the available technology, we didn’t think anyone was doing it right, and we didn’t think the technology was there.
And I’ll tell you, I’ve played with Squarespace, I’ve played with Wix, I’ve played with Weebly, I’ve played with all the tools out there, and I think what people are going to find is something that’s actually better than Wix or Weebly or Squarespace, but yet is made from the ground up for conversion, like LeadPages currently exists today. And I think that this is one of the areas where we’ve leapfrogged everyone else probably a good 3 years. And there’s literally 15 full-time people working on that project. It’s sort of the best-crafted thing I’ve seen us ever create and I’m really excited about people getting that.
James: So you do feel that you’re able to cover such a huge undertaking like that. It’s like a mega, all-in-one Swiss army knife, so it’s going to require a lot of APIs and integrations and constant updates, which I know you’ve had a lot of experience with with your first product, with the LeadPlayer product, constantly YouTube changing their coding, etc. So it’s a huge undertaking, I imagine you’re going to need lots of coding and it’s going to be a substantial project but also a market category killer.
Clay: Yeah, so the first version of that is going to be available to our early adopters in February, and then we’re aiming for March or April to release version 1 of that to the world. And it’s a super complex problem, and we’ve solved it, we’re looking at code right now and we’re playing with the product right now and we’ve solved this issue but we had to build out an integrations team. I think a lot of times when people build marketing software, they kind of just throw, they’ll have a developer pick it up. And there’s a big difference between that and creating an entire integrations infrastructure from the ground up that’s architected for literally hundreds of integrations and that’s created for third parties to write integrations with you.
So like right now, people come to us, and they’re like, will you write an integration with product X, product Y or product Z. And because the architecture, like we have to write that integration ourselves, no one can write that integration for us. And what should be available in March or April is like anyone who wants LeadPages or Center to integrate with them can literally write their own integration with us, regardless of whether we’re sending data to them, or they’re sending data to us. They can write their own integration. So we want to kind of democratize access to our integrations platform.
James: Like you did with the Marketplace for your templates?
James: Clever. I guess you’re repeating what works. Clay, amazing. I know I’ve kept you on the line a long time. Just in closing now, firstly thank you, great job.
Clay: Yeah, thank you.
The unasked question
James: It’s great to see LeadPages soaring to the upper echelons, and I’m sure you’re not even close to where it’s going. What do you think I should have asked you that I may have overlooked?
Clay: Oh, man. That’s a great question. I really can’t think of much. I think maybe that you were getting at it there when you said like kind of, when the stakes get higher and the pressure gets larger, who do you turn to? I think you were about to ask that, or what do you turn to.
And so I think there’s sort of the informational component, but I think at the end of the day meditation has really saved my life, and I’m not about to get on some sort of religious thing here, I’m just saying like 15 minutes of meditating a day is something I wish I would have started doing much, much earlier in life, and I think it’s made me a better husband, I think it’s made me a better coworker, I think it’s made me a better leader. And it doesn’t do what everyone expects it to do, but it kind of just gives you a few milliseconds between saying something really stupid and being like, yeah, maybe I shouldn’t say that dumb thing. You know?
James: You know what, I’m not surprised you said it, it’s a common characteristic of people with high pressure. I certainly got a lot from walking the dog around the block and listening to those brainwave entrainment things a decade ago. But these days it’s surfing for me, and only yesterday I ordered Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind on Kindle. I’m right up that alley and I think it’s a good place to be. I think even Steve Jobs was into some of that stuff, too.
Clay: I bet. I bet. You’ve got to have something, or hard drugs. (Laughs)
James: (Laughs) And we’re certainly not endorsing that, kids. OK, Clay, thanks so much. I love catching up. I hope you can keep doing this for the next few years, because it’s just fascinating as an observer to go on this ride, and thank you so much for sharing.
Clay: I always enjoy talking with you. It’s been fun to have these conversations along the way, and so yeah, thanks for the opportunity.
For more podcast episodes, subscribe on iTunes