Co-creating the future of email with the web-presence industry

Nikhil

Published on May 25, 2022

Post Baner

The fundamentals of email and what it means truly haven’t changed over the last 50 years—but it’s time.

Through the pandemic, millions of employees have left their full-time jobs to create something independently. And the first step for those who are starting new gigs in turning these ideas into reality is, very simply, a domain. 60-80 million new ideas, businesses, and brands every year, with non-technical users being the fastest-growing category, have given us some strong tailwinds in the last two years.

As an emerging player in the email, we’ve been reckoning with the questions – in a product that has existed for more than 50 years, what is the future? What does the new reality hold for us and our industry? And what will the future of email look like?

The status quo doesn’t work.

The vast majority of business email today is characterized as follows:

  • Users are consuming their email through 3rd party clients, leaving no differentiation in the email services offered.
  • Bad email is cheap to run but ultimately expensive to support, with 50% of hosting companies’ support tickets relate to problems with email.
  • Antiquated experiences served through ancient clients like RoundCube, and Squirrelmail give business.
  • The hosting company loses all branding opportunities when users turn to 3rd party apps to consume their email.
  • Business email is still not for the non-technically savvy. Users still have to understand the notion of IMAP settings and MX records to start using email with their domain.

Defining the vision

At Titan, as young players in this space, we’ve long believed that choosing the right problems to solve is as important as actually solving them. Over the past two years, and by working with some of the most innovative players in web presence, we’ve chosen three specific areas of focus that will become long-term investments for our business.

These areas of focus are:

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Product Innovation

Building a product experience that re-orients email to solve specific problems and use-cases for businesses

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Commercial Innovation

Delivering revenue growth to Titan’s partners proportionate to the growth of our customers.

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Co-creating with Partners

Building deep relationships with Titan’s partners allows us to make long-term product and commercial bets to move the industry forward.

Product Innovation: Your hosted email needs to be at least as good as free Gmail, or you aren’t doing it right

We have seen this repeatedly: great products solve specific problems for specific people. At Titan, we believe in solving for our core audience and bringing that innovation to the mainstream. 

 

Our customers are solopreneurs and small businesses. They are inventors, innovators, and creators. They are salespeople, marketing, operations, and customer support—people who are using email to grow their business and their brand. They are our most loyal customers, and so we’ve chosen to focus on the parts of their email experience that matters to them.

Great email is table stakes.

Today, if the hosted email service that you sell isn’t at least as good of an experience as Gmail, then you are not doing it right. Because then, you are worse than a free product. If your app requires any technical ability to set up, or if your customer is expected to implement their IMAP settings or MX records, you’re losing.

 

At Titan, we’ve found that investing in making email as easy to use as free Gmail with native apps, automatic MX configuration, and zero-setup has had the largest impact on user activation and retention, with a different boost to both new and renewal revenue.

Smart tools that solve for our core persona

As Titan began experimenting with identifying and solving some of the specific problems for small businesses, we realized that the features needed were some of the most simple things that would make the day-to-day tasks easier:

Follow-up Reminders

Solo business owners and small teams don’t typically have CRMs, so there is no easy way to track their communication. To tackle this roadblock, we built follow-up reminders, which allow users to ask to be reminded if they don’t receive a reply from their prospect or sales lead.

Email Templates

This feature lets customers simply save and reuse their commonly sent emails as templates so they don’t have to recreate the wheel each time, solving a very real need for sales teams who consistently send the same or similar emails to prospects. By templating their messages, they can save hours of mundane time.

Commercial Innovation: Meet customers where they are and equip them with what they need

“Email of the future” can only work if a sound business model is behind it. Email has to become a strong revenue center. At Titan, we make the maximum financial investment in our apps’ improvement and performance because we want to make the maximum investment in growing our business. And we feel that hosting companies have to be participants in that same investment and get the same returns.


So, we’ve implemented three models to meet customers where they are and equip them with what they need.

Free Trials

Making email at your domain as easy as a free Gmail account makes getting a business email frictionless. We’ve seen success at Titan with two major partners:

  • WordPress.com customers get 3 months of Titan for free, wherein they can set up their email account and access their email with one click. By making this experience entirely frictionless, we’ve seen a 60% conversion from free trials to paid plans.
  • Name.com customers get 3 months of free email, requiring zero setup. The customer simply inputs their email address and password, and the MX setup happens in the backend. Making it simple and hassle-free results in higher email attach rates, and drives retention, revenue, and LTV.
Integrating email within every surface of your platform

Once a user sets up their hosting account, that’s typically where they’ll live. So, we have to go where the customers are by integrating into cPanel. And we feel that everybody in the industry should be doing this! As a hosting company, you shouldn’t have to be spending months integrating an email solution—it should be as simple as installing the plug-in for your customers and integrating billing. By meeting the customers where they are, we see growing email attach rates, a surge in retention, and increased customer satisfaction.

Brand equity

Customers use email an average of 150 hours per year. That’s 150 hours of branding that you’re missing out on because they’re using Gmail and Outlook clients to consume the email service you’ve provided them. At Titan, we found that once we built a highly accessible and user-friendly experience, 70% of customers began to use Titan apps, both desktop, and mobile, instead of accessing it from a 3rd-party client. By having a customer interface where you can control the branding and offer a great experience, the customer will attribute it to your brand; you can take back those 150 hours of branding and make a major impact on commercial innovation.

Co-creating with partners: Establish a shared upside with co-owned goals and a revenue-share model

We can’t create the future of email without the involvement of the industry in understanding the hosting customers’ needs. A true partnership is needed between Titan and web presence companies, where the pricing, packaging, persona, and geography are all determined by our partners so we can ensure that we’re providing the best email experience possible.

At Titan, we’re not on a mission to be another vendor for the web-presence industry. To be successful, we truly believe that there has to be a shared upside with a revenue-share model, which will ultimately provide returns on our long-term investments. We set and co-own growth-oriented goals with our partners and keep a common and continuous line of communication open.

 

One recent example of this for Titan began in October of 2020 when we spent two months looking at data and the opportunity for an MVP launch with a partner and identifying the friction points. Upon the launch, we immediately doubled the partner’s email attach rate, and through experimentation, by March 2021, we had doubled the attach rate again. Currently, this partner is seeing 8x the initial volume following Titan’s philosophy of co-creation.

With these three ingredients for success—product innovation, commercial innovation, and co-creation—we are working with the industry to define how businesses can leverage email to make it a purpose-driven tool that ultimately helps people, brands, and companies grow.

We as an industry have to start by raising the bar and leaving behind the “normal” standards of hosted email services—email that has poor-to-no UX and requires a highly-technical person to implement and needs to be manually configured on mobile.

 

Together with the industry, we can make a real impact and co-create the future of email together!