In this article, I'll share with you how we created a monster that brings us leads and reliable clients who became our friends.

We've made a closed FB group - "The Sales Automation Family". It gives us a way to communicate directly with our users on a platform where people usually hang out with friends.

The group is growing super fast.

FB group growth

Of course, managing a passive community is not the ambition. At the end of the day, it's better to have 10 active than 100 passive members.

The work in this aspect has really paid off as 80% of TSAC members are actively participating in conversations.

FB group active members

Now, let me tell you the entire story, along with cold email and content tactics we used how we grew TSAC from 0 to 7.5k members.

Why we decided to build a community for our SaaS

“Build something of value for your customers that isn’t easy to replicate” Jason Fried Founder of 37 Signals

It's easy to copy features, a blog our our go-to-market strategy.

But it's impossible to copy our identity.

We always felt that we need to talk to our current and potential clients more.

Nevertheless, it's hard to do it at scale. You can't make 100 meaningful calls per day or talk to 100 people via LinkedIn.

You can 😬, but you still have many other tasks to handle. Time trade-offs are not easy.

So we decided to create a place where our users, sales practitioners, and prospects can discuss B2B lead generation and cold emails.

Here's how it looks from the inside.

  1. Ask questions and get answers ❤️
Community engagement

2.   Share outbound sales strategies and cold email templates 🚀

Marketing webinars

3.   Have fun and share cool life stories

For example, Juraj shared a campaign he sent to invite friends to his wedding 👰

FB community engagement

How to get more members in a Facebook group using cold emails?

We know how to write cold emails that get replies (pretty obvious, since we've built a sales automation platform 😂).

We wanted to show potential community members that we're practitioners of the craft, so we started sending cold emails to them.

.... and it worked!

Here are some of the replies we got from awesome people from big companies:

The Telegraph - huge British media.

Cold email reply

Revolut - huge financial company from UK.

Canva - one of the most successful graphic platforms.

Cold email reply from Canva

Quickly enough, more and more cool people were joining the community thanks to the cold emails we were sending.

Wanna know why where these cold emails special?

Best Group Invitation Email Template to Grow Community
Looking for ways to grow your online community? Try cold email outreach using this effective group invitation email template.

I'll show you!

Step 1: Find the right target audience

Community for everyone is a community for nobody.

First things first... we've created our ideal customer profile.

Won't dive deeper into details, you can see the full tutorial on how we've found ideal customer profile for lemlist.

But in a nutshell, we've analyzed:

  1. Who are our current clients
  2. Who should be our new clients

There were 2 main sources of people we used to contact them: LinkedIn and email databases.

Step 2: LinkedIn <> lemlist cold email campaign

I'll show you now something outstanding in the cold outreach world...

Cold email automation workflow

You can find the right audience by title, region and many other filters on LinkedIn (even without Sales Navigator).

For example, I tried to find VPs of Sales in San Francisco.

LinkedIn Search

Then I used "LinkedIn <> lemlist" integration to automatically connect with them. Once they accept, lemlist automatically sends them a cold email.

The results I got:

(The main metric here is the click rate on the link to the community)

Cold email stats

Here is the email I used:

Community invitation cold email template

I've used a personalized logo and screenshot feature in lemlist. Here's how you can do it too in no more than 82 seconds.


Let's understand why it worked:

  1. Unusual greeting

Everyone says "Hi Tom", I wanted to be more creative and make a joke, like "Heyo {firstName}, ahah joking Tom". That's the reason why I had a 80% open rate.

Opening line cold email

2.  Reference to LinkedIn connection

Since I send this email after they accept me on LinkedIn, people were more likely to check out the email.

3.  Image personalization

When people see the screenshot of their website and logo, they will really pay attention to it. Best part, I just set the template and everything is dynamically updated.

Here is how to make this LinkedIn <> lemlist integration 👇


Step 3: Personalized video

There was one more source of the new people - email databases, like LeadFuze and UpLead.

For example, we were searching for VP of Sales in small companies in the UK. Once you filter them out, you have an option to put these people to a lemlist campaign directly:

Find anyone email address

When you click on the "lemlist" button, you're able to add that person to the campaign immediately.

No need to worry about email deliverability, by the way.

UpLead automatically verifies email addresses before sending them to lemlist. For example, my bounce rate was 2%, which is acceptable. 😂

Uplead lemlist integration

Since I didn't have their LinkedIn profiles, I decided to go with cold emails only.

The results I got:

Cold email results

Again, the "click rate" is the main metric I was aiming to crush.

Here is the template:

Community invitation cold email template #2

I sent the email with dynamic landing pages, so when people click on the image, they will see a custom video, like this:

Video personalization cold email

Let's define why this email worked well:

  1. It's sharp

People don't have to read your huge cold emails, even if they are super valuable. It's just a matter of time. So I tried to be super precise with no extra words.

2.  Personalized video

Text personalization - is ok, everyone knows it. But video personalization is something new. So this is what grabs attention and motivate people to join a community.

Here is how to make dynamic landing pages in your cold emails:

Grow a Facebook community with word of mouth

Virality is key for every community. People need to tell other people that The Sales Automation Family is an awesome place.

There are two things we're pushing consistently to achieve the "word of mouth" effect:

  1. Activate people's engagement
  2. Provide exclusive and top content

Activate people's engagement

Not everyone can join our group.

We need people passionate about sales and growth marketing. It doesn't matter if you're just starting out or already years in business, or if you're a founder or an employee. Passion and "practicing the craft" are things that matter.

So before joining TSAC, you need to answer a few questions first.

The Sales Automation Family

We use answers to:

  1. qualify new people
  2. send a welcome email

First, we check your LinkedIn profile to see whether this person fits our ICP.

  • Yes -> accept
  • Nope -> decline

(Almost AI-level of decision making 😂)

The "Welcome message" is also quite important. Since we ask for an email address so early, we can share value straight away when somebody joins. They don't even have to check the group content, they will get value regardless.

For example, this is one of the version of the "Welcome email":

lemlist
Quite important: In order to not send emails to those who you were reaching out before, I choose "remove email addresses that are already in any campaign":
lemlist

It's not a cold email anymore since these people know me and know the brand of "The Sales Automation Family", so of course, results were mind-blowing:

lemlist

Also we make a "Welcome post" to engage more new people.

So we tag every new community member and ask them a simple question with "Yes/No, 1 or 2 and so on":

The Sales Automation Family

This works pretty well:

  1. People get value
  2. People feel human connection

Provide exclusive and off-the-hook content

I'll share with you only one example, that I personally love the most.

Exclusive interviews with top salespeople and marketers via the live webinar format.

And when I say "top", I mean "T-O-P" like Aaron Ross, Rand Fishkin, Tim Soulo, Jill Rowley and others.

lemlist webinars

Although this is not what our main goal is but, thanks to webinars, this happens:

  1. Word of mouth by our current community members
  2. New people from announces

For example, we got lots of new members after Rand's post:

lemlist webinars

How did we manage to interview so many cool people?

You wouldn't believe... cold emails.

Yeah, Vuk (our Head of Growth) made an amazing Tiramisu strategy with cold outreach.

I won't dive deeper into it, since he already wrote an amazing article "Tiramisu cold email that got us interviews with Rand Fishkin, Aaron Ross, Tim Soulo..."

Content marketing

We write a lot of content: articles, LinkedIn posts, GH & Indie Hackers posts and so on.

All excellent places to mention a community. Here's how we play it out:

LinkedIn Posts

We love LinkedIn. It's growing with Usain Bolt's speed.

With that in mind, it needs great content creators. If more people share cool posts, more people will scroll down their newsfeed. As a result, LinkedIn will show more ads and earn more money.

A circle of LinkedIn life, if you will.

So they push great posts on a bigger audience. For example, my LinkedIn post about the community got 24k views (with my 11k followers):

LinkedIn content

I usually track all links I mention with Reactlink.

LinkedIn content

We've got almost 1300 new community members just from LinkedIn posts.

If you want to know how to rock'n'roll on LinkedIn in 2020 -> check this guide.

Blog articles

We also publish articles on our blog regularly.

And usually we ask questions in the group to understand whether it's a painful topic or what is the current situation among our community members.

For example, we wanted to make a CRM guide, but we didn't know what CRM we should focus on first.

Our community helped us with a poll:

This feedback led to me writing a Pipedrive automation guide where we mentioned this poll and the link to the group.

lemlist

That worked pretty well, since people understand that their engagement within the group make a direct impact on our content and strategy.

To wrap this section up, content marketing can be a major growth driver for your community... if you play it right.

Pop-ups and CRO

We hate pop-ups.

You need to click three times "X" in order to just start reading an article.

But the hype train is so huge, so we finally decided to test one type of pop-ups.

The small bar on the top after two minutes of reading the article.

lemlist

And here are the results of 3 pop-ups we've made:

lemlist

We got over 1k new people in TSAC.

We should be happy...

However, the conversion rate is less than 2%. We've analyzed who reads our articles and found out that this 2% is low.

Yes we get some results, but the overall UX of the reading becomes harder and harder.

So now we decided to stop showing pop-ups.

Bottom line

The community is the #1 thing for every SaaS business. It lets you talk to your clients and leads like real friends do.

But at the same time, it's hard to grow. You need to keep in mind different sources of the growth, like cold outreach, content, word of mouth and so on.


If you found our story useful and awesome, share this article to your friends and colleagues ❤️