Turning Around a Failing SaaS to $24k MRR • Going to $1M

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On this article, we’ll take a look at GrowSurf and create some marketing strategies which you can use to grow your own SaaS business.

  • GrowSurf is a bootstrapped SaaS;
  • They got 223 active customers (27/6/2021);
  • Their software it’s fire; 🔥

BONUS: Download this FREE PDF of “9 Marketing Tactics” that you can use today to exponentially grow your business

Bootstrapped – without outside investors or funding.

Quick backstory.

Derek Melvin and Kevin Yun, the founders, started their journey in 2015.

They were in a search for a referral program software that would help them create a pre-launch campaign.

The available options in the market did not have what they were looking for, and the wait began.

Years passed by, but the problem persisted.

This is when they pulled the trigger, and they started GrowSurf.

GrowSurf is a referral software that allows start-ups to experience exponential growth overnight and reduce their CAC.

I don’t know if you knew this, but…

Good referral programs have the lowest customer acquisition costs and generates high-quality customers on autopilot.

So, let’s dive in and see what can you do to reach $1M ARR.

We’ll start with 2 simple things.


1.) A free trial that gives away too much

To decide what features you lock for your customers, it’s nerve wracking for any SaaS founder. But it needs to be monitoring very closely.

Typically, a good strategy is to lock the features that are deciding factors.

For example.

If you have an email automation tool already integrated into the system…

…you might want to allow your free plan users to configure, setup, and even simulate campaigns, but not allow them to send a live campaign until they buy the premium option.

Or have a strong limit of 100 email sends per month on the free plan.

Which takes me to the second point…


2.) The jump to a premium plan

Going from $0/mo to $89/mo without a strong value prop for beginners.

Maybe introduce a $49 plan in between?

More referrals, campaigns + analytics it’s a great benefit for bigger companies…

But for a lot of founders, 500 referrals that come with the free plan is more than enough to stay forever there.

And you guys are so generous that the user can delete and restart a campaign when approaching to the limit.

(maybe block this ability on the free plan as well?)

On the surface, it might sound great for the user, to have a lot of features on the free plan…

…but from a business perspective, it’s not good.

In many cases, the free users submit the same or even more tickets than paying customers.

They have a lot of questions, and they keep paying $0.

What happens over-time to a company who has way too many free users?

…and doesn’t have unlimited external funding?

This is a vicious circle and your business can run out of bandwidth on the support team, very quickly.


To the changes that can make things happen.


This marketing channel is still the no. 1 for any SaaS business.

I personally think that all businesses should have a dedicated person for running their emails.

Go and ask 100 SaaS founders about their revenue numbers.

I did it for you.

Email marketing is always in top 3 channels that drives revenue.

So, what’s a good email marketing strategy for a SaaS?


Activation sequence

This is easier said than done.

It’s an ART on its own. But as a generic flow, you need to have:

1.) Welcome • email

Subject: Welcome to {{company}}

Hey {{client_name}}. 👋

Welcome to {{product_name}}. Your free trial starts today.

This is {{name}} the CEO of {{company}} and I’d like to personally thank you for signing up to our service.

Growing a SaaS is no easy task, but there is no better place to start than {{product}}.

To get started, check this video:


And here’s where you can log in to start creating your referral program (be sure to bookmark this page)


What happens next?

Keep an eye on your inbox, because we’ll be sending you the best tips and tutorials to help you acquire more clients and lower your CAC.

If you need any help, reply to this email.


2.) Customer success story • email

Subject: 30% more leads every month on autopilot

Hey {{client_name}}. 👋

Today is a good one.

{{reviewer_name}} the {{position}} of {{company}} used {{product}} to create a new acquisition channel for his SaaS platform.

Here’s what he said:

GrowSurf is residual lead gen that we don’t have to think about. We wanted something that we could put on autopilot. For every one person who signs up for Draftbit, we essentially get 1.33 new leads from that person.”
Nick Selman | Head of Growth

Read the case study ⇾


P.S. We rely on founders like you to grow our business. If you want to spread the word, access your personalized referral page here to share seamlessly with your friends, family, or colleagues. You’ll win some awesome rewards in the process.

3.) Trial expires in 24hrs • email

Subject: Your trial is almost over

Hey {{name}},

Your {{product}} trial is almost over. Now is a good time to upgrade.

You don’t want to lose access to such a powerful acquisition channel.

Every great SaaS company uses their referral program, every day, to maintain growth and dominate their market.

Most people think of Airbnb and Dropbox when they envision referral program success. These companies built their programs in-house with significant time and engineering resources, which very few businesses have.

Luckily, you can have access to this power for a fraction of the cost.

{{product}} over-time helps you to:

  • Keep your customer acquisition costs low;
  • Get consistent growth from an ever-expanding user base;
  • Build a referral program that you own—one that’s totally independent of rising ad costs or other external factors;

To seal the deal, we’re sweetening the pot with 10% off for the next 24 hours!

Click the button below, and we’ll take you to the upgrade page.

> Choose plan—Get 10% OFF <


4.) Trial expired • email

Subject: Extend your trial

We get it. You’re busy.

A trial doesn’t count for much if you don’t actually try anything.

So, if you’d like more free time with {{product}}, please let us know. We’d be happy to extend your trial.

Just reply to this email.


Authority sequence

Send to your clients valuable information.

Set up an autoresponder that sends to your clients tips and articles to help them grow their business, every week.

Now, if you can go deeper and personalize the campaigns based on their behaviors—you won the game.

Morning Brew takes email marketing to an exceptional level, to a place where they get consistent 42% open rates.

That’s unheard of.

Who wouldn’t want that open rates??

I sure do!

Personalization is very time-consuming and hard to do it correctly, but it yields amazing results.


If you look at your data, you should be able to see exactly and quickly what’s the best performing channel.

Once you identify it, double down or 10X it.

The one that doesn’t work, just STOP it. (for now)


Retargeting Ads

This is another great marketing channel where you can invest little effort (and money) and get huge results back.

Self-explanatory. Just run Ads to the people who visited your website, are on the trial period, opened your emails, etc.

They are WARM leads and already familiar with the brand. What they need is some push and urgency to take the next step and activate / upgrade.



These methods might not be for everyone, but they are great.

With the right strategy you can very quickly start attracting new customers and go to $1M MRR not ARR in a blink of an eye.


Affiliate marketing

On other industries, like e-commerce, affiliate marketing sucks.

Getting paid 3% or 5%, it’s really not motivating at all. Here, the affiliates are making most of their money from sponsorships fees.


On the SaaS world affiliate marketing it’s very sexy.

Affiliates have the ability to earn 40%+ RECURRING income from the client’s lifetime value.

Sign me up!

Clickfunnels used this marketing channel to build their 100M business in less than 3 years.

They use a PAID educational funnel as the front-end; this funnel generates users and introduce everyone to their ecosystem.

Goal: break-even with these front-end funnels.

Sell the Software as the solution, on the back-end.

The key to succeed with affiliate marketing is to treat your affiliates like they are your babies. Seriously.

Give them love!

Give them media kit, email swipes, graphics, etc.



Email, calling and social media outreach it’s ideal for creating partnerships, closing enterprise clients and expand your influence behind the curtains.

This must be done strategically.

Do not spend time on doing research, and deeply personalizing your outreach messages to get in touch with a client that doesn’t have a min. value of $10,000.

Mathematically, it doesn’t make sense.


SaaS Marketplaces

Every day a new marketplace pops up.

Your best bet is to stick to the tested and tried ones.

Appsumo.com and Producthunt.com

These 2 platforms are amazing growth channels for any SaaS founder.


Here you have it.

Implementing and tracking these tactics should set you up for success and accelerate your growth for reaching your goal to $1M ARR.

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