Random Ramblings

Self-replicating top tools lists.

  Gregg Blanchard     August 31, 2021    

One of the things I wanted to do as I started writing more is take folks along on the ride of building an email-focused SaaS product. So, today, I'm gonna touch on a small, but interesting hurdle we've faced lately.

There are millions of lessons we've learned along this journey, but many tie back to the simple fact that email isn't that sexy to folks outside of email. I recognized this with a social media tool I built 6+ years ago: it was easier to covered on blogs, news sites, podcasts, etc. even thought the product wasn't nearly as useful. Why? Because there were so stinkin' many people talking about marketing and slick social media trends/tools/etc is something they love to cover.

Not so with email.

If you pitch an email product to a general marketing or even digital marketing outlet? It's just not shiny enough to get featured compared to the social, AI, etc. stuff.

Which brings me to lists with headlines like:

"Top Digital Marketing Tools for 2021"

In this case, in the name of SEO and word counts and being thorough, they often do include a section about competitor monitoring and they often do include a section about email. And they can drive a lot of traffic.

Which is awesome...sorta.

Because when you look at these lists - especially on the email side - they are almost all 90% replicas of each other. The author may swap out one or two items and will likely change the wording at least a little, but it's almost always the same ESPs, the same dynamic image tools, the same email builders, and, yes, the same competitor tracking tools.

In other words, the only way to get on more lists is to get on more lists in the first place because, well, the old lists serve as inspiration for the new ones.

Old lists are where new lists start.

Chicken or the egg.

In other words, growth is about a lot of things, but it's also about hitting some sort of tipping point. While we have seen some momentum in other places, we're not there yet on the top tools and lists side. But I think we're getting close.