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How do handwritten notes help businesses improve outbound meeting books, increase customer retention and boost customer loyalty?
This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Handwrytten Founder David Wachs explains how combining handwritten notes with inbound marketing can yield incredible results, and how his company is helping customers automate and send handwritten notes at scale.
Check out the episode to hear exactly how Handwrytten works and how companies large and small are using it to increase sales and improve customer retention.
Highlights from my conversation with David include:
David is the Founder of Handwrytten, which enables companies to automate handwritten notes at scale.
Handwrytten has a website and smartphone app interface, as well as integrations with Salesforce, HubSpot and Zapier.
The notes that Handwrytten creates are generated using robots that hold real pilot G2 ballpoint pens, so they look incredibly authentic.
Handwrytten is growing at about 300% a year.
Companies use Handwrytten in three different ways: 1) sending thank you notes to customers; 2) e-commerce companies include notes in-box with new orders; and 3) outbound outreach.
Handwrytten clients that use handwritten notes for outbound meeting booking requests get 3x to 4x more responses, which tracks with the fact that handwritten envelopes get opened three to four times more than typed ones do.
One of the companies e-commerce clients has improved customer retention by 5 to 10% by including handwritten notes in their boxes.
Several other clients have gotten valuable social proof when their customers post pictures of the handwritten notes they receive on their social media accounts, driving incredible brand loyalty.
Handwrytten offers a number of options for customizing notes, from custom handwriting fonts, to inserting your business card or a gift card, etc.
I'm your host Kathleen Booth and this week my guest is David Wachs who is the founder of Handwrytten. Welcome David.
David Wachs (Guest): Thank you very much Kathleen. I'm thrilled to be here.
David and Kathleen recording this episode.
Kathleen: I am really excited to have you here and I say that every week. I do really mean it, but I'm really excited for this one and I have to share this story with my listeners because how this happened I think is so serendipitous.
Not that long ago, a few weeks ago, I was sitting around my dining room table with my husband on a Sunday morning and I subscribe to the Washington Post, which I get once a week, and I read this article in the Washington Post that mentioned this company called Handwrytten and talked about what it was doing and how it helps businesses send handwritten notes.
I stopped him and I was like, "You have to read this. This is really interesting. We should check this out."
Not more than one week later, David sends me a LinkedIn message saying, "Hey Kathleen, I've been listening to your podcast and I would love to come on."
I was like, wait, what? This is the same person. How did that just happen?
Anyway, that's my story of how David and I connected.
David, can you tell my listeners a little bit about yourself, Handwrytten, and what led you to start this business because I think it's really cool?
About David Wachs and Handwrytten
David: Well thank you very much and it really is an honor to be here.
I am a listener to the show and I've learned a lot and because of it I am now an Inc. contributor because I listened to one of your episodes where you talked about getting your own content out there in a number of ways as well as a lot of other stuff.
Thank you for putting on this wonderful podcast.
I've actually been doing Handwrytten - we are a six year old startup - I've been doing this for six years now and I have to apologize, there's some construction noise in the background that I have no control over, so hopefully ...
Kathleen: I don't hear anything, but if we hear a beep, beep, beep, we'll hope that nobody's backing up into your office.
David: I started this six years ago.
Prior to Handwrytten, and this is important as to why I started Handwrytten, I had a company that did text messaging and in that business we'd send millions of text messages a day for large brands like Abercrombie and Fitch, ToysRUs, Chicago Tribune and others.
What I realized from that, while all that marketing worked and people came out in droves to tropical smoothie cafe and Abercrombie and those types of things, when we sent the messages, they were quickly forgotten and deleted.
I started looking around when it was time to exit Sell It - the name of the company was Sell It - when I was looking around for other opportunities and I walk into my sales people's offices and I'd see handwritten notes on display in their offices.
Not only were they kept, but they were treasured.
I think a lot of this is because the average office worker gets 147 or 150 emails a day. You typically get about 40 to 50 text messages a day, something crazy like that.
In all that, and with new tools, and I know HubSpot's a great tool, but tools like HubSpot and all the rest, it's easier and easier to send all these emails and electronic forms of communication. After a while it all just becomes noise.
When somebody takes the time to send you a handwritten note, it really stands out as something unique and thoughtful and cherish.
I thought, gee, I'm too lazy to actually send handwritten notes.
For my mom's birthday, I would go to the Walgreens, buy a greeting card, promised myself I'd mail it, stick it in my briefcase, and never get around to it because I wouldn't get a stamp, and I'd never sit down to write it.
Kathleen: I may or may not have that problem in common with you.
David: This happened over and over and in all my suitcases and briefcases, I find banged up birthday cards and stuff. I thought there has to be a way to automate this.
That's what led us to start Handwrytten, was being able to take an offline form of communication and make it scale in the same way that emails and texts and tweets and all that does.
We do that through technology in a few forms. On the front-end or what you use, we have a website where you can type in one handwritten note or upload a spreadsheet of 10,000.
We've got iPhone apps and Android apps mostly for consumers, but they can be used for businesses as well.
Then we have a salesforce.com integration. Directly from Salesforce, you can send notes and track them. HubSpot CRM integration, and then Zapier integration.
All these methods are trying to turn our software really into a platform where you can send handwritten notes wherever you want and even better, hopefully automate that so you don't even have to think about it.
Then on the other side, the way we fulfill your orders, is we have now about 85 robots that we build here in our facility in Phoenix, Arizona. Each robot holds a real pen. It's a pilot G2 ballpoint pen.
You can buy them at Staples, and it writes your note out just like you would. In fact it's no faster, maybe a little bit slower than you are, but it doesn't take any breaks.
We're constantly building robots to keep up with demand.
We don't sell the robots or lease them out, we just keep building them and putting them on racks in our facility here. We've got about 85 of those. They're pretty cool.
They're 3D printed and laser cut and there's all sorts of cool technologies that I've learned about throughout this process.
When the notes come off the line, if I'm staring at some of the notes that might have the handwriting styles that I am not familiar with, perhaps it's a handwriting style of like a client and we've custom made it, I am flabbergasted because it looks so real.
I see it coming off the machine and I can't tell the difference.
Anyway, we're doing about a hundred thousand last month. December was a very busy month. We did about 115,000 of those notes.
We've been growing at about 300% a year, so after six years we're finally hitting our stride.
It was a long curve, but it's been a very interesting process because we have clients that range the gamut. They range from individual realtors and mortgage brokers all the way up to high-end Italian goods manufacturers that sends us with their quarterly catalog. I'm happy to talk about all those.
In a nutshell, if I had to segment how clients use us, they really use us in three different ways.
They use us for thank you notes or correspondence to existing clients. That is if you buy a home or if you buy a handbag or whatever, we will package up a handwritten note with a handwritten envelope and then mail it out to you.
The second way is we do in-box.
For large online mattress companies or meal box companies, when you open up that meal box or that mattress box, you might find a handwritten note sitting at the top of that package that says thank you so much for your purchase.
We all really care about what you think. Review us on Amazon, Yelp, Trustpilot, or whatever that is, or refer us to your friends. We do a lot of that.
Then the third is the outbound outreach, such as a jewelry store. They might be opening up in a new location. We'll do a database pull of all the homes in that area that meets certain revenue criteria and then send them all a handwritten note.
Now that is very expensive because you're paying for a real forever stamp. Unlike a junk mail piece, which is just printed, we have to start at that level.
We have to print something, print the stationary, and then we have to write on top of it. It's never going to be as cheap as a junk mail piece, but it also gets opened substantially more frequently and I can talk about that.
Those are the three ways: inbox, send via the mail to existing clients and customers, and then outreach to new prospects, but the new prospects is rather small just because it is so expensive.
Kathleen: I have so many questions I want to ask you.
David: Go for it.
How do handwritten notes fit in with digital marketing?
Kathleen: I'm about to ask my question, but before I do, I want to let everyone who's listening know you're going to notice that it sounds a little different because David and I were talking and we heard a little echo on his end.
We've switched gears and he's called in so that we can give you guys better audio. That's why, if things sound a little different, you're not going crazy.
What I wanted to ask you, David, I think it's so fascinating what you're doing and I want to zoom out and start big picture, which is that, so much of, when we talk about inbound marketing these days, we're almost 99% of the time we're talking digital.
You've almost, everyone else is going right you're going left. You've gone really back and you're investing in this very traditional form of, I don't even know if most people would call it marketing. Handwritten letters. It's a very old school approach.
Talk a little bit about, if you would, how you see that fitting in with digital marketing or the future of marketing in general.
David: Yeah, and I hope everybody can hear me. I think as everything's gone digital people are really craving human connection and they can't go to the store now and know that person that sold them the good in China on Amazon.
They want to feel like there is a human on the other end of that Amazon shipping box.
That's really where we step in. When I started this company six years ago, the tagline was and still is: quality cards, your words in pen and ink. Really we were quality cards first because we thought everybody wanted that tactile experience.
That's certainly part of it, but how does this fit into digital marketing?
Well we think marketing is marketing and sales is sales and you have to have a holistic cross channel approach.
When you visit the Handwrytten website, and obviously this is a very specific example because it has to do with us, but when you visit the Handwrytten website and you request handwriting samples, that triggers a whole Zapier flow that obviously includes a handwritten note that gets sent out to you automatically.
We do this a lot for insurance firms and other people as well. The same website form interaction flow.
On top of that, you also get emails and you get phone calls from us. I don't see Handwrytten the company being any different than anybody else.
If you're looking to reach out to your clients, whether they're inbound leads or outbound prospects, you want to have a multichannel approach.
Not everybody quite frankly connects online. For example, we're working with some healthcare brands and they're trying to go after Medicare seniors and they're finding a lot of these patients aren't responding to emails.
By sending them a handwritten note to get them to come into the doctor or sign up to their plan or whatever it is, it's able to appeal to a different demographic.
David: Also, there is definitely a novelty factor. I think the average person receives between one and two actual handwritten notes, or we're an actual handwritten note too, handwritten notes a month.
While you might get hundreds of junk mail pieces and tens of thousands of emails during that time, this is a very different piece of mail that you're going to receive. I think it can apply almost universally.
People say, who are your clients? We say it's anybody that wants to use the mail. That's really what it is.
I don't know if I'm answering your question, but I think whether it's an inbound campaign or an outbound communication process that you're trying to build, you have to think about voice.
You have to think about obviously email and perhaps social, but you should also think about what's your mail strategy and does that mail strategy include handwritten notes.
Kathleen: Yeah. It's interesting to me because I've been observing what's happening with marketing and with consumer behavior and there definitely is a little bit of a craving.
I think I agree with you for things that harken back to a different time because we have gotten into this era of everything being so digital and so disconnected in terms of, you're not necessarily talking to a real person and everything's very automated. I think it's interesting that there's this resurrection of the handwritten letter at this time.
I also think it's interesting as the parent of a 13-year-old that kids that age are not being taught cursive in school anymore and I can see where the prospect, especially for younger people coming into the workforce, the prospect of sitting down and having to spend time writing out notes, cards, letters, what have you, seems daunting because they're not really taught to write the way that perhaps somebody my age was when we went through school.
Examples of companies using handwritten notes in their marketing
David: Yeah, absolutely. This stuff does work. We know that handwritten envelopes, forget about the actual note itself, but the handwritten envelope gets opened three times as frequently as a printed envelope.
We have clients that are doing outbound meeting booking requests, and they get about a three to four X responses right there versus sending out email blasts.
We've got Team Rubicon, which is one of the...Unfortunately most clients don't want us to mention who they are, but we have a few examples that do.
Nobody wants to be known as sending notes through us, but Team Rubicon, it's a nonprofit organization and they've been able to improve their redonation rates substantially.
A meal box subscription is able to increase its customer retention by 5% to 10%, which was moving the needle for them. Just the simple thing of including this little note in the box has had some really cool results.
Another side effect is thanks to Instagram and pint-, I guess more Instagram and Twitter, people are tweeting and Instagram sharing the notes they receive.
Another client that I'm allowed to mention is a VYNL, V. Y. N. L. They're a record subscription. They are perfect for us because they're old school records and we're old school handwritten notes and a lot of people will Instagram and tweet pictures of the handwritten notes they received from VYNL.
What's so amazing about VYNL is each note is individually curated for the recipient.
it's like, "Hey Kathleen, I saw on Spotify you listen to whomever, because you're listening to that band we sent you these two other records."
Then that note gets written out by us and then every day we ship notes to VYNL and they insert them with records. It's pretty cool.
There is that Instagramming, tweeting element, which gets back to your online marketing strategy.
What's crazy is we work with one client that runs a huge, one of the most popular daily YouTube shows, and they were trying to create a fan club basically, and part of that $5 admission to the fan club, you get a handwritten note from the stars of the video.
People were complaining if they didn't get their handwritten note fast enough, which was crazy.
They'd see all these handwritten notes online and the YouTube group didn't change it up per person. Pretty much the same note everybody got, but they loved it so much that they would complain if they didn't get that note fast enough.
Oftentimes, I mean the vast majority of the times it had nothing to do with us. It was just the post office or a bad address or whatever, but it was really interesting to see that.
I think all of this just comes down to customer experience management and improving that process for the individual because they feel so genericized by everything else.
We have one client that does snack boxes for offices. You could sign up and get a box of granola and chips and whatever else and they'll send it to you on a monthly basis.
What they found was if they screwed up your order on your snack, and then they followed up with sending another free snack box with the handwritten note, now granted the free snacks play a huge part in this, they follow up with a free snack box and the handwritten note, your loyalty was much higher than if they never screwed up at all.
Then they actually started screwing up on purpose.
Kathleen: That's hysterical.
David: Yeah, because they found that it added so much value to have that experience where you reprove yourself to the clients. That was super interesting to us as well.
Kathleen:That's incredible. I don't know whether I feel like it's just sad or exciting that people are so thrilled to get a handwritten note that the tweet it.
It's sad in the sense that it's become a lost art, truly. I still do force my kids to send handwritten thank you notes after Christmas. It's so funny because some of them resist and don't necessarily always do it.
The younger ones I can stand over and force them and they're always like, why? Why do I have to do it? No one does this anymore. I'm like, you will do it.
David: That's exactly why they should do it is because nobody does it anymore.
Customizing the handwriting for your notes
Kathleen: Exactly. Well, that's neat. Now I want to switch gears for a second and talk about, somebody listening and they're like, this sounds really interesting and I might want to do it.
You said something earlier that really peaked my interest, which is that you can customize the handwriting. Talk to me about that because that I did not realize and that is a game changer.
David: Yeah, so we have two options there.
One, you can use any of our pre-canned fonts. I shouldn't call them fonts, handwriting styles.
You can find them on Handwrytten.com and those, I think we're up to 18 currently, and they range from overly fancy Jenna, to compact Lulu, to very blocky, to everything in between. Most clients can get by with those.
If you want to go and actually have your own handwriting style made, it is a process. It's really an art form.
We have two people here. That's all they do is generate these handwriting styles. It's not cheap. Relatively, I guess it's cheap.
It's about a thousand dollars one time fee, but it takes several days for us to perfect that style because it's not just writing out the alphabet and writing out capitals and lowercase, but it's writing six copies of each letter, and then writing a ligature combinations, which are like two Os together, two Ls together, two Ts, because the way you'd write two T's, would you cross them with one line.
How do your double O's look? Do you loop those together? All that type of stuff gets taken to account and then the end result is something that looks pretty darn close to your own handwriting.
For a much lower fee of a thousand, instead of that, for $250 we can just do your signature and then you could just insert that in any note.
The thousand dollars does include the signature. You get it for "free" there. We do have about 60 to 65 clients that have done that. The vast majority of our clients just use one of our, I don't even have my own custom style, I just use one on the website.
Kathleen: Right, the cobbler's child. Right?
David: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. We didn't even send out Christmas cards this year for the same reason. We were too busy sending everybody else's. That's how all that works.
I will say, like I said earlier, they do look, overall the biggest question we got is, we get a few questions, but the number one question is, does it look real?
I would say on some of those to me it fools me even, but if I were to hand you a handwritten note and I say, "Hey Kathleen, did you receive my handwritten note?" You'd say, "Absolutely. Looks great. Thank you so much for thinking about me."
If I said to you, "Hey Kathleen, what did you think of that handwritten note? Could you tell it's written by a robot?" If I asked you that it's going to change your viewing of that handwritten note entirely.
At that point maybe 50/50 you might determine, oh wow, at the bottom it looks like that. Oh, at the top or something like that.
Kathleen: Right. The lines are very clean. That's the one thing I noticed. When I write, I'm all over the place, but that's the only tell to me is that it's very linear, I don't know if that's the word, but...
David: Yeah. We're getting there. On that way we actually have two different types of what we call jitter. We have a left margin jitter so that the left margin moves in and out every line. It doesn't look like you started the characters at the same spot. Then we also have, and maybe some of these aren't showing up in the samples on the website, but we do jittering.
Then the other type of jitter we do is interline jitter. One line to the next below it is going to have a different spacing than the line below that. We vary that on a line-by-line basis. We do not angle those lines because that would look overly done.
That jitter amount is incredibly subtle because we find people aren't super close then super far then super close.
It's within only a couple of points per line that we jitter both of those, but we do try to make it subtle enough where, it's not going to look too perfect with a hard edge on the left side of the screen.
Kathleen: This is totally fascinating to me. It sounds like you guys have studied human behavior as regards how people write notes with an incredible level of detail.
I will say that to me, $1,000 to have a custom font made for your handwriting seems incredibly reasonable if you're going to do any volume. That pays for itself very quickly.
Having said that, it's really funny because I'm on your site right now looking at the handwriting samples and I've determined that I am somewhere in between messy Michael and darlin Darlene.
David: Yeah. All the styles are actually, this is where we become a small company all of a sudden, all the styles are named after either me and my family. I am casual David, even though that's not my handwriting, or office workers.
It's down to the point where even my dog, who's the office dog compact to Lulu because she's six pounds and compact, has her own handwriting style there.
The real popular ones, or my favorites are, tenacious Nick, chill Charity, dapper Will. They all look really great and what's nice about if you choose one of these standard 18 handwriting styles, we're constantly refining those styles and just making sure they look better and better.
For example, with the very formal cursive styles, they look wonderful, but then if somebody were to write something in all caps in that cursive, it looks weird.
Now we're going back and refining all those ligature, they're not really ligature combinations, but combinations of all cap words written in a cursive style.
You just go down a rabbit hole of things you want to improve on each of these things. Luckily we have ASU, Arizona State University, not too far away. We have the design students from there come in and they help us with all that because it's a lot. There's a lot to be done.
Kathleen: That's so fascinating. I could talk for hours about these little details and I think it's really cool that you are paying attention to the details in that way because if you're going to do this, I think it would totally backfire if it wasn't done well.
If it's an obvious robotic attempt at writing a card.
David: Yeah. We actually have one client that their quality assurance person, who is in a quality assurance mindset, was rejecting our cards because each card looked different.
We said to him, well, that's the whole point. Not each card is supposed to be identical because people are, I know for a fact, for their brand, people do Instagram and do Pinterest and all that stuff, pictures of their cards, and if two people see the exact same card with the exact same spacing and everything else, it's going to look terrible to them. I was able to get them over that hump.
It was funny that that was...He came at it from sourcing or let's get this laser printed perspective, and we said, no, no, no, that's not how it's supposed to be. They are all supposed to have a little variation so it looks more realistic.
What types of cards can you choose from?
Kathleen: Yeah. Yeah. To that point, my understanding from looking at your site is you can do folded cards or flat cards, correct?
David: Yes. Yep. Really we can write on pretty much any piece of paper. On our website, we've got an inventory of about a hundred folded cards to choose from. Most of those now are designed in-house by us under the Red Wagon label.
Nothing ever says Handwrytten when it comes in the mail, because we don't want to be the ones to spoil that. Those will come with that on the back. Instead of saying Hallmark, it says Red Wagon.
In addition to that, we've got a variety of either blanks or blank on one side, 5X7 flat cards.
With those, if they're totally blank on both sides, you can put a big image on the back, or I think confusingly which is called the front in our system, and then on the other side you can put your logo at the top and maybe a footer at the bottom and then we'll write between that and it looks like a nice luxurious piece of stationary.
That is a very popular option. If you're a larger client and you've got your own stationary like some of our luxury brands do or whatever, they can always obviously just send that to us and we'll use that instead.
What's nice about the online card customizer is it's so simple. You can literally spend like, I'm doing demos for prospects and I'll go online and in three minutes with them on a Zoom call, I'll create a piece of stationary that looks totally legitimate for them to use and then we can write it on it and send them a sample on their own stationery. It looks really good.
The reason it's a flat card and not a folded card is basically we're resource constrained at Handwrytten currently and we can't afford a huge digital press that we'd then have to cut everything down and all that so it's easier if we just stick to a 5X7 flat card and it allows us to offer these at a price point in quantity one where it still makes sense.
David: It's $3.25.
Kathleen: You guys also do handwritten envelopes too, correct?
David: Everything is handwritten. The note is handwritten. The envelope is handwritten. There's a real forever stamp put on that piece if we're mailing domestically or an international first class stamp, if we're mailing outside of the United States.
In addition to sending cards, clients can send us their business cards and we can insert those. There is a small fee for that for the storage and handling all those business cards.
How companies are using Handwrytten
David: Then additionally we've got probably 15 different denominations of gift cards for you to choose from. Amazon, Starbucks, Target, Home Depot, Visa gift cards, that type of thing. You could choose any of those and include that with your order at checkout too.
We do a lot of $5 Starbucks cards typically for, "Thank you for meeting with me - here's a coffee on me" type things. We also do quite a few Home Depot for realtors and mortgage brokers.
Kathleen: Oh yeah, that's a good idea.
David: Yeah. Then also quite frankly for lazy people sending birthdays to their friends wherever, we do a lot of visa cards for that. I would say by and large, our biggest seller is the $5 Starbucks.
Kathleen: Yeah, I could see it being really useful for companies that are trying to get more online reviews for their products. Somebody reviews you, you send them a thank you with a little gift card as a token of your thanks. That seems like a complete no brainer.
David: Yeah, and we do a lot of that for Amazon sellers. Amazon's changed up the rules a little bit, so now it's not allowed to go out and contact them outside of the channel. You can't just send them a note in the mail.
Now we're just inserting those notes with the packages themselves prior to getting shipped to Amazon for fulfillment, but we do a lot of those types of notes for them.
Then a thank you for your referral and then a ton of insurance renewal type. When your insurance is up for renewal, it automatically triggers through Zapier a handwritten note to you thanking you for your renewal.
On the inbound side, quite frankly, I think a lot of it is automatic triggering on forms.
When people fill out a form online, that rep might take a few days to get in touch with them and in that time, we send all notes within typically the next business day. Then the post office takes their snail mail time to get to you.
It's a nice follow up to whenever the rep contacts you.
Kathleen: Yeah, that's what I was thinking of is I could see a lot of applications in sales.
I could also see, in one of my previous roles I had, my team did an annual conference and I could see sending it to people who've registered for the conference or sponsors or even follow ups after the conference. There's so many different ways to use it with events.
David: Absolutely. We were able to get our hands on the attendee list for our conference luckily a few weeks before the conference started, and we were able to track down all the mailing addresses.
I didn't even attend that conference quite frankly. I just sat in the lobby and it was by far the most successful conference we ever had because we had meetings booked. I had so many meetings booked. I had to cut meetings short to get to the next meeting.
It was great. It was a great example that our service worked for ourselves. It is absolutely great for pre-conference meeting scheduling and post-conference followup. It certainly does break through the din.
How to automate handwritten notes
Kathleen: Going back to something that you started with. I wanted to just revisit the...You talked about really this evolving into a platform because you have these integrations, so for people who are listening, it sounds like you have the option of doing this in a very transactional way.
Either sending you a CSV file with a bunch of names and addresses or you could literally connect this to your CRM and trigger actions from there, correct?
David: Yeah, absolutely. Our deepest integration right now is with Salesforce and in Salesforce you can send a handwritten note from the account screen, from the contact, from the lead, or from the opportunity.
Then we could also automate through Salesforce. There's automation play, which was called process builder.
Quite frankly, I'm a much bigger fan of Zapier, so even if they know how to do process builder, I know nothing about it. I say just spend the $29 a month and do Zapier and send it out. That way it's much easier.
Either through Salesforce or through Zapier, you can do it. What's nice about doing it in Zapier or through HubSpot's CRM is any time you send a Handwrytten note, it's recorded in the CRM systems - within Salesforce or within HubSpot's CRM timeline.
Therefore, when you go into that record and you see, "Oh, I called Kathleen on Monday, I sent her an email on Tuesday, I sent her a Handwrytten note with a $5 Starbucks on Wednesday", all that's recorded in your CRM platform.
Then depending on the CRM platform, I know Salesforce is really robust in this way, your manager can oversee you and see all the notes you sent. Track your spend. Maybe not allow you to send gift cards or not allow you to send too many notes a month or whatever it is.
We are looking to expand on that more into HubSpot and into Shopify. Trying to get these small stores to automatically follow up upon certain thresholds.
On Shopify, if I send somebody a third order or they've spent over $500 in their lifetime with me or whatever that is, that would automatically trigger a note. Currently, we do all that through Zapier, but we just want to make it more transparent by putting it directly in the Shopify store.
Quite frankly, for Handwrytten, I just want to be everywhere and every touch point is better SEO and it's more availability, more people will know about us and that type of stuff. Even if they in the end, commonly uses us through Zapier or uploading a CSV into our website.
Kathleen: The real power of this to me is just that it has the potential to eliminate the human error factor.
As somebody who works with companies as a head of marketing, I think there's so much potential to, I was mentioning before, integrate this in the sales process.
I'm a marketer who loves working closely with sales teams because obviously you can judge yourself based on the number of qualified leads you pass to a sales team, but really with marketing, at the end of the day, it all comes down to how many of those leads turn into customers.
I like to look at what happens after that lead gets passed over. I think being able to say, okay, we did a demo for this person.
When that's marked off in Salesforce or in HubSpot CRM, if I can go in and automatically trigger it so that handwritten note goes out, I don't then have to rely on the sales team.
It also makes their life easier, which improves my relationship with them. Anything marketing can do to make sales life easier, is always a good thing. I know for sure that it's going to happen.
To me that makes it incredibly appealing as a marketer.
David: Yeah, and that's where we're really trying to get with all of our clients. We want to be the plumbing of the organization on the handwritten notes side.
You have your email plumbing and your CRM plumbing, but we want to be the handwritten note plumbing that you don't even think about. You just know it's going to work.
For instance, we work with a solar panel installation company in Louisiana and they're sending about 400 notes a day.
All of these notes are simply triggered off of people setting up meetings. They don't do anything. These notes are automatically triggered. They don't even have to think about it.
We have a major car manufacturer if you call into their main customer support number in Detroit, and I'm not sure why you'd call them versus your dealership, but whenever people still do call the car manufacturer, depending on if you were resolved or unresolved in the call center, it automatically triggers one of three different handwritten notes to that car buyer.
That purchaser saying "I'm so happy we were able to help you" or "I'm so sorry we weren't able to resolve this" whatever. To your point, exactly, it's taking the compliance or the follow through aspect out of it.
The last thing you want to do is sit down and you're trying to answer the phone and you don't want to have to sit down and remember to send 40 handwritten notes and have your hand cramp up and everything else.
We work with a super premium luxury perfume company and we do all their online purchases.
We send handwritten notes following an order. I was just walking through a department store with my wife and they had that premium brand and I pointed it out, and the store clerk came up and she was asking me why I was pointing it out and I said, oh, it's because we do the handwritten notes for you guys.
She goes, "No, you don't." I have to write all my own handwritten notes and it takes all day to do it and that's a pain in the neck. I said, "Well, we do it for the online orders."
She said, "Well, geez, you should do it for me too", because she's very busy. I'm sure she can't get around to sending all her handwritten notes. If she does, maybe they start looking terrible by the end of the day because her hands cramped or whatever.
We're doing a lot of that trying to make the online experience just as good as the offline.
Kathleen: That's awesome. I think this is a no brainer.
I know I'm going to be using it in some capacity, but I've been fascinated by solutions like this for a while because the same pain point that you expressed when you started the company, I felt that a few years ago and I went and started Googling to try to find a solution and there wasn't really one that existed.
There were some very, very high priced ones that if you're a company that's going to do tremendous volume, it might be worth investing in it, but there weren't any good solutions that supported a lower volume and a smaller budget.
I love that you have a solution that spans all of that. I think that's great. It makes it so much more accessible.
David: Right now for better or worse, I actually wrote a medium post about this, our big competitor who you probably saw, they are no more because they spent all their money on marketing and very little money on technology.
I come from a technology background and I spent all our money on technology so that we could support the business and maximize throughput of messages so that you didn't have to have somebody sitting there placing each note individually on a handwriting robot like they did.
They are no more, and right now we are pretty much the only game in the United States. I know of one in Germany doing it and the big problem we're coming across right now are companies claiming to be handwritten, but we've received their product and it's laser printed.
There's a little bit of market confusion out there currently, but in the actual handwritten notes space in North America, we are in an interesting position to be the only game in town right now. You'd think we'd be bigger given that. We're getting there. We're definitely getting there.
Kathleen: Oh, I have a feeling that in a few years everyone is going to be talking about you. Well not even a few years. I don't think it's going to take long because it's a really great product and it sells itself to me at least.
David: Thank you.
Kathleen's two questions
Kathleen: Well, I want to make sure I save enough time to ask you my questions that I always ask all my guests.
The first one is, we talk a ton about inbound marketing on this podcast. When you think about companies or individuals out there who are practicing inbound marketing, who do you think is really doing it well right now?
David: This is actually not a client of ours, but I have some friends that do digital marketing and we've been talking about it. I actually ran this question by them because I knew you're going to ask it.
There's a company called GhostBed based in Florida. They do online mattresses.
They've been doing them quite a long time and they rely heavily on people writing video reviews or doing video reviews and putting them on Instagram or on Twitter and then they pull them off those social channels and actually put them on their website and then they tag you with that ad roll and everything else once you're there.
They really got ya. I know they use a marketing influencer network. I think they're using one called Intellifluence, but they do a very good job.
As far as our clients, I think VYNL does a very good job within their niche of building this huge branding presence on, for certain, very specific niche demographics. Those hipsters that want to receive old fashioned vinyl.
They've done a great job of getting out there and getting in front with a lot of Instagram and a lot of Facebook marketing and then driving that back to their website and then just having everybody, at least when we started, there was a lot of excitement about these handwritten notes with them and there was a lot of taking pictures of those and posting them online.
That worked really well.
Then I got to say we've done a pretty good job of it just because of the cobbled together HubSpot-like platform we've built, which is a nine or 10-step Zapier zap that when you come in and you request, I will warn all your listeners, that if they request samples, they're going to get emails from members of my team and then a phone call and they're going to be put in our CRM system and all that.
That whole process is totally automated.
I'm pretty happy about the inbound processing machine we've created here based on creating an item of value, which is a handwritten note sample that people want to receive.
I think GhostBed has done a really pretty incredible job.
Kathleen: Oh, I can't wait to check that out. It's amazing what you can do with Zapier. It's pretty limitless.
That was one of my favorite episodes because he was like, "I don't know if you want to talk to me because it's just me and my partner and we don't have a big budget and we don't have any fancy software."
I'm like, "No, that is why I want to talk to you because you've done all this incredible stuff on a shoe string with just you."
David: I remember the episode. He had Zapier pre-filling his contracts and all that stuff.
Kathleen: Yeah. It's amazing. That's really cool that you guys have an integration with Zapier because I've used it at many companies and it's really a game changer.
Second question is, the digital marketing changes really quickly and the biggest complaint I get from marketers is they can't keep up with it. How do you personally keep up with it? How do you stay educated?
David: Well, recently I have to admit I have become a Reddit addict and I don't know if you've gone on the Reddit bandwagon yet, but it's a never ending rabbit hole to go down for good and bad.
I can go on certain channels and just dive in to silly videos for hours on end or I can look at the growth marketers subreddit and get some really great ideas. I find Reddit to be really good.
The latest idea, and I almost hesitate to mention this on your show, is a little black hat idea for LinkedIn marketing called LemPod, L. E. M. P. O. D. I don't know if it's worth getting into because somebody...It was posted on Hacker Noon as well in other websites they talked about LemPod, but basically it's a way of preseeding your LinkedIn posts with engagements.
You join a group of other digital marketers or people in your same vertical or what have you, and it automatically fills your post with comments from them, and because of that, the more engagements your posts have, the more visibility they have.
My recent posts have all received 5,000 to 10,000 views because of LemPod. It's a little bit black hat, but I learned about that through Reddit as well.
Also, I'm a huge fan of Flipboard and I'm part of the hashtag inbound marketing content on Flipboard, so I read that.
Then finally I listen to you and I've heard all these episodes you've mentioned. Those are the three ways.
LemPod is certainly interesting if you're looking for an interesting approach to massively increasing your views, even if it's a little funny at the beginning.
Kathleen: Yeah, I'll definitely have to check that out. I am so humbled that you mentioned me in that mix and that you listened to the podcast and get some value out of it. That means a lot to hear that feedback. Thank you.
David: No, absolutely. Like I said, during the preinterview for this and then again I write for Inc. magazine and I tried to create items of value on the website because of that gentleman that worked at HubSpot, then G2 Crowd.
I really take what you're doing to heart and I think I cannot be the only one. There has to be other listeners out there doing the same. Thank you for doing this and I hope it's paying off for you because it's paying off for us.
How to connect with David
Kathleen: Oh, well, thank you. That is why I love doing it. It makes me happy to hear that it's working for you.
Well, I'm sure there are people who are listening to this and they're thinking this Handwrytten things sounds really cool. I want to check it out. How should they do that? What's the best way for them to learn more about Handwrytten and or connect with you online?
The company is Handwrytten.com. That's Handwrytten with a Y, H. A. N. D. W. R. Y. T. T. E. N.
I do recommend the samples requests. You can always say "stop emailing me" after you get your samples, because with the samples you get a whole bunch of material. You get custom cards, you'll get standard cards, you'll get a whole page of different writing styles and a nice little folder to hold it all in. People really do like our samples.
We are rolling out a new website in the next two months, which I'm super excited about. If you check us out now, please check this out in two months. That's it.
We have a small presence on Instagram. I think our tag is Handwryttennotes on there, and we are on Pinterest because we do a lot of consumery style notes, but for the most part, just feel free to connect with me on Twitter.
You know what to do next...
Kathleen: Awesome. Well, I will put links to all of that in the show notes, so head over there if you're interested in connecting with David or learning more about Handwrytten. There's so much good stuff on the website, so I definitely do recommend people check that out.
That's it for this week. Thank you so much, David. This was a ton of fun.
David: Thank you very much. It was an honor to be on your show.
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