Adam Osman, Director of Marketing at Dux-Soup sat down for a chat with Will van der Sanden, Founder of Dux-Soup. Here's their conversation.
Adam: Let’s start at the beginning, how did Dux Soup come about?
Will: I was working in enterprise software development and my wife was setting up her publishing company. She needed to run a lead generation campaign but was finding it hard going. Obtaining lists, copying and pasting details from websites, sending out emails, was time consuming. It just seemed so inefficient to me!
One day she asked me if I could help devise a way to do things better. I have a background in enterprise mashups – that is taking data from multiple sources and combining them into something that adds value. I love working on side projects so I didn’t take too much persuasion to start looking at the problem from a mashup perspective.
LinkedIn was the business networking platform of choice and scraping data was becoming more popular but the tools to do it at the time were quite honestly terrible to use.
I therefore started to look at how I could build a smarter way to use LinkedIn data. One of the big challenges is that the data is not in an easily useable format for the latest lead generation and social selling techniques.
And that was the origin of Dux-Soup. It was born out of the necessity to find a way for my wife to do smarter lead generation!
Adam: Dux-Soup recently passed 50,000 downloads and growth seems to be accelerating. What do you put that down to and did you have any idea that it would take off in the way it has?
Will: You always hope that a new product will be successful but I had no idea it would go the way it has. Hitting the early milestones – 1,000 downloads, 5,000 downloads, 10,000 downloads were all important steps. And today I still pinch myself when I see how popular Dux-Soup is worldwide.
We have put customer service at the heart of what we do from Day 1 and I think we are reaping the rewards of this now. When you hear the value stories our customers are reporting then you can see why there has been a ton of interest.
Much of our growth comes from users talking to their friends and sharing their successes in their own network of contacts. We have a large base of free users who are happy to tell other people what they are doing. Then after a while, they start to want the more advanced features, and they upgrade to the Professional or Turbo Editions.
We have built a nice community in our Facebook user group which has proved to be really popular. We are also investing in marketing to help spread the word in the market.
Adam: Dux-Soup is a great name. Did you consider any other names?
Will: We did a lot of brainstorming. But I kept coming back to the phrase as ‘easy as duck soup’.
Adam (interrupting): no-one I have ever spoken to has heard of this phrase, are you sure you are not just pulling my leg?
Will: (laughing): It’s definitely an established phrase. The idea is that we make lead generation on LinkedIn as easy as possible. And I quite like ducks. What’s really cool is that whilst everything looks calm and peaceful on the surface, beneath the water, the legs can be paddling away energetically.
In fact, this works as a nice analogy to how our users have a LinkedIn tool that will automate time consuming manual activities on LinkedIn and works hard for them in the background, whilst they serenely carry on with more productive tasks.
Adam: How would you define growth hacking? Why has it taken off?
Will: Growth hacking is about using innovative tools to achieve growth. It’s the natural evolution of marketing reinventing itself as traditional sales and marketing effectiveness becomes ever more time consuming and less effective.
Something similar happened in enterprise software where data used to be stored in spreadsheets and it was a struggle for sales and marketing people to extract value from it.
There is so much data online and it is accessible not just for the tech savvy generation but anyone who can use a web browser. Which also means it has the potential for a global audience.
The reason why growth hacking has taken off is that it accelerates social selling. Used in the right way, growth hacking can provide the data and content delivery mechanisms required to enable more effective relationship building and engagement.
Adam: Is Growth hacking now becoming a mainstream marketing tool?
Will: Growth hacking is following the diffusion of innovation lifecycle that Everett Rogers identified back in 1962. I think we’ve seen the early adopters as the first group to really buy into Dux-Soup for LinkedIn automation. Now, we are seeing the rest of the market tuning into the added value that automation tools can bring to a LinkedIn premium subscription.
I’ve heard of major enterprises that are encouraging all of their channel partners to explore growth hacking. It is cropping up as a more mainstream agenda topic at marketing conferences. The case studies that we have published on our website show the scale of benefits that can be achieved.
These stories are incredibly useful as they are told in the customer’s voice. Other companies like to hear about how lead generation and social selling challenges have been overcome using LinkedIn automation.
Adam: Where do you see Dux and Growth Hacking in 5 years?
Will: Honestly, I don’t think I can answer that question with any degree of certainty. Technology and our market are moving so rapidly that any projections 5 years into the future are likely to be meaningless. I believe that social selling will become as mainstream as one to one marketing. Additionally, as more of our lives take place online, the natural evolution will be more automation, using artificial intelligence-driven insights and predictive capabilities to target the audience more effectively with even greater levels of personalisation.
However, if I look into my crystal ball for 2 years ahead, I think that we can make some good predictions. LinkedIn automation tools will become fully integrated into the corporate IT environment allowing greater end to end control over lead generation. This integration is the number one requested feature and one that we have recently put into Dux-Soup Turbo.
Having said that, there is a large number of small business users that continue to get value from Dux-Soup Pro. They will be using the platform for its core automation features that can support building accurate, responsive lead generation campaigns.
Today we are at the start of the ‘early majority’ stage of the market and I think we will be further along this segment of the market evolution. With the late majority still to come, there is huge potential for continued growth.
Insights into the daily routine
Adam: What does your daily routine look like?
Will: I start the day at 7.30am with a family breakfast before dropping my kids off at school. As soon as I am back,I go into work mode which means emails, checking the support tickets, and dealing with any urgent user queries.
I aim to do some exercise before having lunch with my wife who also works from home. In the afternoon I work on development and coding, and mix this up with hosting the technical and support calls which is something that we launched fairly recently. I really enjoy these sessions as it means I am in direct contact with our customers.
After spending time with the family again after dinner, I start work again in the evening. This is pretty much the same routine that I follow 6 days a week.
Adam: What drives and motivates you?
Will: I have always been driven by a desire to find better, smarter ways to solve problems. I think this is why Iove my work so much. Each day I can be working on a different user challenge.
I am also focused on growing our customer base. If I can do this successfully then it will provide a fantastic foundation for the development of the company.
Adam: Let’s finish by looking at what you do in your spare time. What is your favourite TV show?
Will: My all-time favourite TV show is Blackadder starring Rowan Atkinson. It’s a comedy that suits my sense of humour perfectly. The second series, set in Elizabethan times has the funniest scenes and immensely quotable lines – I have a cunning plan!
A more recent show that I really like is Superstore, a comedy set in the fictional Cloud 9 department store. As you can see from my answers, I like to laugh and I try not to take myself too seriously.
Adam: Final question, if you could have a super power for a day what would it be?
Will: Ahh, that’s a difficult one. One of my other interests is speed, think fast cars and bikes and the idea of getting around more quickly really appeals to me.
Therefore, I’d have to choose flying. I’d make plans to see much more of the world and broaden my horizons without taking too much time out of my working day!
Adam: Thanks for these insights Will. Good luck with the next stage of Dux-Soup’s growth and I look forward to seeing how accurate your market predictions will be over the next few years.