This post is mostly a reflection of the great points from this post: It’s the CEO’s job to email the first 1000 signups.
I'm going to try to tell you the points that I got most from that post from memory, and try to avoid looking back on it. The reason being that I would assume the points that resonated the most with me, I would remember.
So the post highlights two major rules when sending your emails out to your 1000 signups:
- Actually do it manually.
- Don't be pushy.
The point of doing it manually is that you get the opportunity to personalize each email and you completely avoid the probability of messing up the first/last name in some mass mailing thing. The first 1000 or so sign ups are going to be some of the most important customers (reasons I'll get to later), and so it's crucial that you treat them as such and devote personal time to each one.
The point of not being pushy really has to do with, respect the person's time because they're doing you a favor for signing up. Don't make the email long and boring to read, and don't push any surveys on to the person. Say "Hi" and let them know you're available for help/suggestions. That's that.
And the biggest reason, which I gleaned from the post, for sticking to these rules in your email is that your biggest evangalists/fans will probably come from your first 1000 or so sign ups. So use the email as an opportunity to both identify those fan boy/girls and to not piss any of them off. The ones who respond with suggestions, questions, and excitement, are the ones you should keep track of, pay special attention to, and follow up with.
I imagine there are several startups which were able to really gain a lot of value and traction from the amount of passion the first couple evangalizing customers had. One that immediately comes to mind is Mint.com's success with a small marketing budget. They were able to really get their first customers involved, keep them happy/excited, and really use that to their advantage in growing so quickly. Many startups have probably been able to get some virality from this and it's something I look to do on my next startup.