Product Idea: API First Email Marketing Platform

Idea

Building an email marketing platform for developers.

Problem

Build for marketing people

In the past I’ve worked with MailChimp, Drip and ConvertKit. They are all good platforms for what they do. But I’ve never really felt like they catered to my needs. All of them have advanced segmentation features. All of them have email design tools. All of them have form design tools and embedded forms. Not any features I really need.

Drip has recently decided to focus on e-commerce and are pivoting to become a CRM.

Embedded forms

Personally I prefer to write my own markup. I would also like to handle responses and customise error messages based on what went wrong. I don’t want to include a Javascript snippet just for handling my forms. This is a big feature to make if I don’t use an embedded form.

API Usage

Drip has the best API of the services I’ve tried. But their recent pivoting and price increase make it clear that they are focusing on other kinds of users. ConvertKit is great for non-technical people but their API is very limited. MailChimp has a decent API, but pretty bad documentation.

Cluttered Interfaces

Drip and ConvertKit has great interfaces for managing my lists. But MailChimp, which has most of the features I’m looking for, is simply not enjoyable to use. I want a simple, clean list of my list and subscribers and nothing more.

Dynamic data from a database

Recently I’ve been working on a directory of conferences related to tech, design and business. I have created a newsletter for the site. But I want users to specify tags (e.g. PHP, Vue) that they are interested in. When sending the newsletter I want to fetch conferences from my database and filter them so users receive conferences they are interested in. I haven’t found a platform I can do that with.

Target Audience

The ideal customer I want to solve this problem for is a developer or a small team of developers. It can be an indie hacker, a small startup or a freelancer. I’ll narrow that down further along the road.

Solution

An API First email marketing platform. It will also have a small dashboard. I want to focus on creating a great UX for the developer. For me that means a solid API, good documentation, integration guides and more.

API

The API is the core part of the product. Everything can be managed through the API. Subscribing a user can be done on the frontend while other tasks are restricted to requests from the backend.

Frontend libraries

Packages for quickly creating forms in Vue and React. This is inspired by Algolia and InstantSearch. This will help users make requests, handle error and success states and prevent bots from signing up.

SDK’s

Packages for PHP, Ruby, Node and Python. These packages can be used to subscribe users or handle admin tasks like sending emails.

MVP

Simple REST API

For building an MVP I want to keep the API minimal. As I see it there are 3 models. Lists, subscribers and emails. Subscribers belong to lists. Emails are send to subscribers. CRUD actions should be available for these models.

Interface

A simple dashboard to view lists, subscribers and send emails using Markdown. The interface is also where the user can manage their account and get API keys.

Next Steps

The next step is to build an MVP. I have loads of ideas for features but I want to get a MVP out as soon as possible. This way I can see if it gets any traction. I can then also start gathering feedback.

I will start by creating user stories and creating some designs. After that I’ll create the API. Lastly I’ll create the interface.

Timeline

In the past I’ve never set deadlines for my projects. This has meant that I always run into scope creep and get tired of it before it’s released.

This time I want to set a hard deadline. I haven’t set one yet but I’m thinking around 30 days.

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