3 growth hacks that scaled a SaaS company to $10M ARR

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Welcome to another episode of 3-Minute-Marketing, where we pack as much value-per-minute as possible into each episode. Think of them as 3-minute TED talks for growth marketing.

I’m super excited to have Guillaume Moubeche with us today. Guillaume is the CEO and Co-Founder of Lemlist, which has grown into a $10M ARR SaaS company since its founding in 2017. He’s also a speaker, both locally in his market of Paris as well as internationally, and just generally an awesome guy.

My question for Guillaume is, “what are your top 3 growth hacks for scaling a SaaS company to 10M ARR?”.

Show notes:

  1. Eat your own dog food. Lemlist actually uses their product to do sales prospecting themselves. It’s great when you can be your own customer to help build and grow your tool.
  2. Build your community. Share with and get feedback from them on a daily basis so they can be part of the product and the journey.
  3. When users wanted to be able to message each other manually to boost their deliverability, they automated it directly using the community.
  4. Build personal brands at scale. At first, Guillaume was the only person documenting everything, but as the company grew he became convinced that building a business is all about relationships. To build relationships you need people to trust you and perceive you as someone who can bring value.
  5. Documenting everything you do on your social channels will help you build an audience and help them to know you when you do reach out to them.
  6. Each person in each department at Lemlist is building their personal brand on a specific topic that will interest their audience.


– You’re listening to “Three Minute Marketing” where we interview the world’s top growth marketing leaders, and distilled their knowledge into actionable bite-sized insights. Now here’s your host, Chris Mechanic.

– [Chris Mechanic] Hello, everybody. Welcome to another episode of “Three Minute Marketing”, I’m your man, Chris Mechanic here long time growth marketer. “Three Minute Marketing” is basically three minute Ted talks for growth marketing. So we try to pack as much value per minute into these episodes as we can. I’m super excited today to have Guillaume Moubeche with us. Guillaume is a unicorn of sorts, He’s a founder of Lemlist currently, but he’s had various entrepreneurial startups before then. He’s a speaker both locally in his market in Paris as well as internationally, And just generally an awesome guy. How are you G?

– [Guillaume Moubeche] I’m great. Really happy to be here, Chris.

– [Chris Mechanic] Awesome, awesome. So we have a lot that we could talk about, but my understanding is you started Lemlist at like around 2017 and Lemlist, and by the way, is a sales automation platform. We use it ourselves, just for things like prospecting, outbound outreach and things. Really cool platform, I think it’s like simple but powerful, but I was really intrigued ’cause you started this in 2017, just a few years ago and you’ve already achieved a $10 million annual run rate. So you guys are doing some serious business, which is very impressive. So what I’d like to talk with you about today is basically like, what are your top three tips, your top three growth techniques, or how did you do that so quickly?

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Yeah, so I think the first thing that truly helped us was eating our own dog food. So we actually used our products in order to do sales prospecting ourselves. Back in the day I had like a lead generation agency, so I was running a lot of campaigns for people before actually building Lemlist. So for me, I knew what I wanted to build and I think it’s really great when you can be your own customers to actually build and grow your tool at the same time by using it. So I was using my own product, documenting everything, acquiring customers and sharing the results with them. So second growth tactic we used was building a community from the early days where we actually were able to share this, on a daily basis, feedback to the community, help them really be part of the product and be part of the journey. So a very specific example we use is we use our community to actually build something within the product, which was a common pain point that people have was essentially like the deliverability meaning whether or not their email will end up in the inbox. And what we realized is that all our community wanted to message manually each other to boost their deliverability, and we automated that directly using the community in order for us to build something that no one could ever build. And the final parts was to basically build personal brands at scale. So at first I was only one documenting everything, as the CEO, but as we grew, I was 100% convinced that building a business is really about relationships, and to build relationships you need people to trust you and also perceive you as someone who can bring value. And for that documenting everything, like on LinkedIn, Twitter or any of your social network is actually really useful because you’re going to be able to build an audience. And whenever you’re going to reach out to that audience they would actually know you a bit, thanks to the post and all the value you brought. So what we decided to do very specifically is that each person in each department at Lemlist is building their personal brand on the specific topic that will ultimately interest our audience. So for example, we know that we have a lot of founders, marketing agencies that use Lemlist. So for me, because I used to have an agency and I’m a founder, I will document my journey as a founder in order to inspire people and connect with them. Our sales department will talk about sales, give tips about like cold emails and sales in general, and our marketing team will give other tips regarding marketing. We pair people with what we call LinkedIn buddies, so each person in the team can help each other and really build that personal brand at scale. And overall, ultimately, it drives a lot of traffic and word of mouth to Lemlist.

– [Chris Mechanic] Wow. That’s really profound, that last thing with the LinkedIn buddies, and then that was perfectly timed, so just to summarize for everybody what I heard, and I want to go a layer deeper because the third thing you said, personal branding, my immediate thought was, “Okay. Yeah, we’ve heard this before.” But that approach that you mentioned is really interesting. Like basically having subject matter experts, basically targeting certain personas or targeting certain topics and the LinkedIn buddy process I want to learn more about, but there you have it folks straight from Mr. Guillaume Moubeche AKA G. He is a G himself he’s founder at Lemlist and a really impressive fellow. In his top three tips, he eats his own dog food, which means, I’m sure you had a really excellent probably outbound program. The community piece, these are things that you would hear every day, but the example that you provided of like you’re using your community network to basically warm up email domains, it sounds like, that’s brilliant, right. So that application of that is the next level in my view. And then of course the personal branding where you’re spreading out the workload you’re having different people focused on different niches with buddies, I think that’s great. G, thank you very much for your time here today, I’m sure that people listening probably want to learn more about you and Lemlist. Where would you point them to, how should they learn more about you guys?

– [Guillaume Moubeche] I think the best way is to connect with me on LinkedIn. I answer every single message, so always happy to help out.

– [Chris Mechanic] Awesome. Yeah. And check it out, also at Lemlist, it took me a while to figure out how to spell or pronounce that, so it’s L-E-M and then list. Where did the name come from by the way?

– [Guillaume Moubeche] I wanted a name that didn’t exist, and I started to brainstorm with my dad and then for him, Lem means lunar excursion module, so he told me like with a Lemlist you’re going to bring your customers to moon. And then I was like, “I love that.” My dad is a bit of the creative in the family, so the first branding for Lemlist, when we started in 2018, it was kind of movie background, et cetera. So it was a quite nice.

– [Chris Mechanic] That’s awesome man, that’s a good story. Well, hey guys, stick around or actually check out the show notes for additional footage. G and I are going to continue rapid for just a moment here. If you like this as usual we really appreciate a like, a comment, a thumbs-up, a share, helps us find and build our own communities, and we really appreciate it. But I’m interested to delve into the personal branding piece.

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Yeah, definitely.

– [Chris Mechanic] If you could just give me a little more context, like the teams or how you value divvy up the markets and what the buddies other.

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Yeah, so essentially, the way we realized about it is when I started at first Lemlist was just about cold emails and before building the multi-channel parts I wanted to testing with LinkedIn, so at first it was just cold email, and then what I started to do is instead of cold emailing people, I would add them on LinkedIn and then wait a bit for them to see my content, because I knew that I would post on a daily basis or let’s say like three to five times per week. And after that, after maybe three weeks, I would actually email them and I would realize that in the answers I would have people telling me, “Hey, by the way, “I saw your great content about XYZ, et cetera, et cetera.” So even though the people never liked my content, never engaged or whatever, they would actually see it, and when I would reach out they would actually know about me. So at that time I basically saw an increase in let’s say two and a half to five X in term of a reply rate on the campaigns by doing this multi-channel approach. So I was like, “Okay that’s really, really good.” So I tested other things where I would actually scrape, for example, all the comments and like from my posts, just take the second degree connection at them and put them in a multi-channel sequence where we could actually get, again, like a really like an uplift in replay rates. But I was like, “Okay, it’s great, it’s working for me. “Now I know that we’re going to develop Lemlist toward this multichannel but at the same time, when I was hiring and scaling the team, I was like, “Okay, it’s good to see whether “or not someone else can do it.” Because right now, whenever my first false belief was you’re the CEO, so as a CEO people obviously look always up to you and it’s maybe more difficult for heads off to build their personal brand. So I trained my head of growth to do the same thing on a different topic. So for him, I was like, “Okay, the easiest way for you to get better as a person “and at the same time to give your audience “is to document things that to master, “don’t talk about the things you don’t know. “But learn new things, and whenever you’re learning things, “just discuss it and make a post about it.” And step by step, he started to do this to everything related to growth in general and customer acquisition, which kind of helped him create his network and his audience of head of growth, market tiers, et cetera, which ultimately decided because it was kind and they were like seeing him as someone as a sort leader they became, step-by-step users of Lemlist. And I did the same with our head of sales, but this time it was like, “Okay, you’re sales, “so you’re going to focus on sales “because that’s what you do and that’s what you know. “So specifically on your targets “you need to act like you’re head of sales.” And then we started to split it by region. So for example, like if she wants to expand, exactly the same as for a sales team, you would have, for example, people focusing on the DC area, then people focusing on the, I don’t know, like California area, or like, I don’t know, like Florida or whatever. And you would do the same with the people in your team. You would have them add the specific people in a specific region, and you would have them create content that is based for the target audience that they’re adding on LinkedIn so that whenever they reach out you see the conversion rate and the replies at a much higher rates. And we’ve done that for the entire team and that’s working really well. So to be more -So you’re only emailing people that somebody from your org has already connected with on LinkedIn.

– [Chris Mechanic] So you’re only emailing people that somebody from your org has already connected with on LinkedIn.

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Yeah, exactly, yeah.

– [Chris Mechanic] Wow. Okay, that’s pretty profound. ‘Cause we would almost sometimes do it in an opposite order-

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Yeah. Where you would start emailing, and then after that, like .

– [Chris Mechanic] And then the openers are the clickers and connect on LinkedIn, but I liked that, I liked the previous. I enjoy your version, it seems like it might be a little bit difficult logistically to pull off. Do you tend to go in at once and add a thousand people or do you just like every day add 10?

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Yeah, so the way I do it is basically I do it on LinkedIn, like with using Lemlist. So for example, I’m going to create my list in Sales Navigator. The search on Sales Navigator I will input it directly into Lemlist and daily I would add, let’s say like a 10 to 15 people then wait for three weeks and then send the first email. The truth is I have an acceptance rates on LinkedIn that is above 70% because each of my invites are personalized, So I write icebreakers for everyone, And that way the invite is personalized, And then after that there is an email, another email as a follow-up and then the LinkedIn message, everything is automated after. So the times that I spend is basically like I do my LinkedIn like Sales Navigator search, I open the profile, then I have the Lemlist Chrome extension where I would write like the icebreaker for each person, the icebreaker is then used in different stages of the emails or the LinkedIn messages that I would send, but everything is automated afterwards on using Lemlist. So it’s a pretty cool way like to just, you can do this like a few, either you have your sales team that can do that all day and they add people or then you have, you can do it manually and spend a bit of time everyday. It depends what people like to do, personally, I do it either in batch or what I try to do is find, instead of having specific icebreaker for people, I find the relevancy. So for example, I’m going to search for events on LinkedIn where people are attending and then I would send in the invite like, “Just so you were at the event with XYZ, “not sure what you thought about the moment “where you shared the 10 gross tips, “but I thought the number two was dope”. Or something like that. So people because they’ve been attending the same event, technically, they know what you’re talking about, there is a bit of relevancy and if they haven’t, they can just be saying like, “Oh yeah, I was, I subscribed, but I missed it.” And then it’s a good way to a start for the conversation.

– [Chris Mechanic] That’s awesome. That’s really cool. All right. Well, so that’s, I think really interesting and I think definitely worth a test and the icebreakers you’re doing yourself and writing yourself or you use some kind of?

– [Guillaume Moubeche] So right now, yeah I wrote like so many ice breaker in my life, but we have also built something that is based on the GPT-3, so it’s like a new AI, and the icebreakers that are written are really, really good. For example, I can read one, so I put my own profile in the GPT-3, and-

– [Chris Mechanic] What is it you’re saying GPT-3?

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Yeah, GPT-3 it’s something from Google, it’s basically the Google from AI. So you can, it’s quite difficult to get access, you need to explain exactly your use case, et cetera. And they have this set of data, and then on top of it you build your model for the AI.

– [Chris Mechanic] So it’s G like girl P like Paul and then T like Tam or-

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Yeah, and 3 like a 3. So there is a-

– [Chris Mechanic] Yeah, exactly. So for me, whenever you know we built it and you send to the profile, my just the LinkedIn URL here is what it says for me, “I just discover your LinkedIn profile “and I saw that you’ve been building Lemlist since 2018. “It’s impressive to see how you’ve been able “to accelerate growth and scale Lemlist without any funding, “it must be very challenging to build a business “and I’m sure it takes a lot of confidence and ambition.”

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Jeez, that’s how to say no, you got no funding.

– [Chris Mechanic] Because basically it create entirely, so my profile, they understood that bootstrap meant without any funding, so like the it’s, yeah.

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Wow.

– [Chris Mechanic] Yeah, yeah.

– [Guillaume Moubeche] That’s impressive. What is your background? Are you more like a technical type or more of a marketer ?

– [Chris Mechanic] I’m a bit of both. So I have a chemical engineering master and also a master in marketing. So I did the, but I’m not a coder, I’m not a developer, but more in an engineer, but then I studied marketing also, which is the thing I liked the most to be honest.

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Yeah, a lot of times the best marketers tend to be somewhat technical in my view. Like if, ’cause I think it just means like your, ’cause if you can think both technically, even if you’re not a programmer, if you can just think systemically and sort of pseudo code, describe sort of like, “Hey, you know, ping to this API “and pull these things.”

– [Chris Mechanic] It helps.

– [Guillaume Moubeche] If you can think in both ways, and you can write a good icebreaker or a headline, like I think that those people that have that capacity.

– [Chris Mechanic] What’s your background?

– [Guillaume Moubeche] I am a self-taught marketer. I’m somewhat technical, probably less technical than you, but I started off in SEO and I had this buddy in college who was making like several hundred bucks a day from this website, and so I became obsessed with internet marketing and I started a series of niche websites and I was creating content and building lists, and I would monitor, I was an affiliate marketer basically, but I had a couple of my own products. Then I quit my job out of college and I was going after this thing,

– [Chris Mechanic] Full time, nice. but I eventually got recruited into the agency world where I discovered I had no idea that the agency business existed, but right when I found that I was like, “This is awesome.” Like, “I can just do this all day.” I was really young. How old are you?

– [Guillaume Moubeche] I’m 30 years old.

– [Chris Mechanic] Okay, yeah, You’re probably one of our youngest guests, if not the youngest and very impressive. Very impressive. Did you start off with a partner or was it just you solo?

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Yeah, no. I have two co-founders were a bit older and they handle really like the tech side. So it’s two brothers were around like 45 years old and they started coding when they were like six, their grandfather had one of the first computer in France. So they were like, they really grew with more computers than people I would say. It’s quite nice.

– [Chris Mechanic] That’s awesome, that’s awesome. And what’s the plan for Lemlist? Are you guys just going to keep on growing? Are you looking at some kind of exit at some point?

– [Guillaume Moubeche] So right now we actually like I’m sold about 20% of the company just to de-risk the business. So we took a 30 million dollar, so $10 million each, and right now we have still 80% of the company in order to grow to really like the next level and just be fully focused on enjoying what we do and then doing the rights, while at the same time we don’t have to think about financial and all of these things, which is quite nice.

– [Chris Mechanic] Wow. That’s amazing, dude. Congratulations.

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Thank you.

– [Chris Mechanic] So you guys fetched, if I’m doing my math right, basically $150 million valuation.

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Yeah, exactly, exactly.

– [Chris Mechanic] Damn dude, that’s big money G. That is big money man, Congratulations, dude.

– [Guillaume Moubeche] It was intense but we made it, so that’s cool.

– [Chris Mechanic] And is this your biggest venture thus far or your?

-[Guillaume Moubeche] Yeah, yeah yeah, yeah.

– [Chris Mechanic] Most significant?

– [Guillaume Moubeche] We exited another company about, another of our software that we sold, I think it was like a year ago, but it was much less. Right now the money we got is kind of like life-changing, but before that it was nice, but not life changing right now.

– [Chris Mechanic] That is bad-ass G I’m really happy for you, man, I really am.

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Thanks, I appreciate it.

– [Chris Mechanic] And the product is bad-ass and your, we’ll dig a little bit deeper into this episode and maybe, definitely we’ll include some of this bonus footage, but the things that you said while on the surface were common, I think the examples were really next level and I’m interested to hear more. Will you come back on the show sometime?

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Yeah, of course, of course.

– [Chris Mechanic] Okay

– [Guillaume Moubeche] We can re-do an episode.

– [Chris Mechanic] Love it. All right, G well, any parting words or any other thoughts for anyone that’s still listening?

– [Guillaume Moubeche] All good, I mean, if people, again, wants to reach out, I’m pretty chill, so I answer all messages on LinkedIn, so feel free to ask questions to come and say hi.

– [Chris Mechanic] Man, do you sleep rewriting all these icebreakers, man.

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Not really.

– [Chris Mechanic] All good G, well hey, we’ll talk to you soon, man.

– [Guillaume Moubeche] Awesome, thanks a lot.

– [Chris Mechanic] Bye.

Guillaume Moubeche

Guillaume MoubecheLemlist

Chris Mechanic

Chris MechanicCEO & Co-Founder

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