After selling his Customer Relationship Management (CRM) firm in 2010, serial entrepreneur Dan Stewart was looking for a new project. His next venture was prompted by a marketing focused teacher and former customer who emphasized the importance of “fun, relationship building, conversation starting” email messages.
Further influenced by the works of Tony Hsieh and Gary Vaynerchuck, Dan shifted his work to addressing the challenges of creative content in email marketing campaigns.
In October 2010, Dan launched the Florida-based Happy Grasshopper, an easy-to-use email marketing solution. As, according to Dan, salespeople:
“. . .don’t know what to say, when to say it or how often it should be said.”
The company provides a team of writers and an automated means to staying in touch. Writers create timely, interesting message content that guarantees a response. Customers simply choose a new message once every three weeks, make any desired changes, and appropriate it for delivery.
Happy Grasshopper offers five services to sales professionals:
- Canned content.
- Sponsored tools.
- CRM marketing tools with integrated drip services.
- DIY email marketing tools.
Their “one size fits all” solution is applicable to numerous industries. Dan’s two year focused acquisition effort has lead to over 3,000 customers in the real estate vertical.
The choice to focus on the real estate industry has been an important one for Dan and the team. It has brought them the opportunity to cater to the needs of the vertical, as well as gain reputation and visibility as a key player offering a compelling solution within the segment.
Unlike competitors Constant Contact and iContact, the service is not intended to teach users how to create and manage their own email marketing campaign. Happy Grasshopper avoids overwhelming customers with such choices. Instead, they provide friendly, engaging message content to take the place of industry related marketing content.
Their message open rates, at just over 30%, are 198% higher than Constant Contact. In addition to a clear advantage in content, the company outranks competitors in ease of use, network reach and pricing.
Customers currently pay between $19-39 per month for services, based on the size of their network. The plan also includes real time monthly reports on message deliverability and open rates. This scaled plan, covering up to 5,000 contacts, provides greater value to an individual customer.
Happy Grasshopper’s successful customer acquisition has resulted in numerous customer testimonials, and a “Cool Tool” accolade in REALTOR magazine. The release of an imitator service by a real estate media company was, Dan says, admittedly distracting. But the launch only provided further validation, as Happy Grasshopper continued to capture market preference. And despite external pressure from the real estate community’s status quo, the company’s user base continues to grow.
Happy Grasshopper was formally incorporated in March of 2011. Their focus has since turned to leveraging the success of their user base to form partnerships with tech providers, brokerages, associations and the like.
In 2012, Dan initiated a partnership with Virtual Results, a company delivering profit through Internet marketing. Happy Grasshopper ended the year with approximately $300,000 in revenue.
Dan, a multiple-time Inc. 500|5000 honoree, continues to stress the importance of conversation. The fully bootstrapped company is expected to reach the $1 million revenue milestone in 2013.
Logo Photo via Happy Grasshopper