Serial entrepreneur Liviu Tanase, founder and CEO of ZeroBounce, knows a thing or two about running a business during difficult times. In the more than 17 years since he founded his first company, he’s seen and learned a lot.
His credo to growing a business: strive to be of great service to people.
No. 40 on the Inc. 5000 national list last year, ZeroBounce also took no. 9 on the 2021 Inc. 5000 Regionals list of the fastest-growing companies in Florida. How has this email validation and deliverability platform come so far in just three years?
In this exclusive interview, Liviu Tanase – recently honored with a spot on the Forbes Next 1000 list – talks about entrepreneurship, email marketing and what makes him happy with his work.
How would you describe the past year and a half at ZeroBounce?
There was certainly a time when I think all of us rubbed our foreheads with anxiety. Everyone felt varying levels of tension where you’re concerned about your businesses, our lives and everybody else. Every industry was affected in some fashion. Some companies sadly went out of business.
It’s always been my desire for ZeroBounce to be of great service to people. So, we started to come up with strategies to see how we could help. I knew that as all landscapes changed, there would be new needs in all industries. Our service became highly relevant and helpful because email was the number one communication channel and would continue to grow.
In March 2020, we transitioned to remote work and it was seamless. We were already working from home one day a week, and there were hardly any bumps in the road when we made the switch. Immediately, ZeroBounce was functioning as efficiently as ever.
The best thing was that we didn’t have to lay off a single person, not one. On the contrary, we hired people who had lost their jobs due to the lockdowns. It was great to give people an opportunity. In turn, they helped us to keep up with the demands. We’re always trying to move and look onward!
The past year and a half has had every emotion there is, but our belief in what we do kept us going. Our belief in our product and the mission of helping your emails land in the customers’ inbox keeps us going to this day.
What did you do to stay relevant in your industry and keep your business growing?
The main thing to keep in mind with email is that there’s no type of business that doesn’t use it. For many companies, it’s the most important method of communication and sales.
ZeroBounce stays especially significant because we never stop innovating. We’re not only an email validation service but rather a platform where you can find a variety of tools. Used together, they help email marketers get a leg up by improving deliverability and email hygiene.
Our business continues to grow because technology never halts and we’re always trying to stay one step ahead of what the environment calls for. There are so many applications and programs that most people use daily. One update or change in one of them can make a big impact – for example, when Apple’s Mail Privacy Protections were announced.
It’s crucial to be aware of these things and not be surprised when things change. Rather, we not only expect them, but we anticipate them. If you’re always trying to keep up, you never will. We want to be ahead, not catch up.
Furthermore, we stay relevant by being a leader in providing good information. Whether someone is our customer or not, we like to help. We create and make easily available a lot of helpful content on our blog and in our email newsletter.
If your goal is to be of service, you’ll never be irrelevant.
How can companies use email more effectively in 2021 and beyond?
Companies can be more effective in these times by trying to drop all pretense. There’s no shortage of boring and dry emails out there. Why be one of them?
When you keep in mind that there is a human being on the receiving end of your email, don’t forget that there is a human being on the sending side too. So, come across like one!
The other thing to make email more effective in this day and time is to keep in mind that you’re not for everyone. Usually, people who try to be liked by everyone end up being loved by no one. Email newsletters are kind of the same way. The more they dare to be authentic, the more deeply people connect with them.
Someone unsubscribes? Just as well, then. They were never a good fit anyway, and that only leaves room for someone who “gets it.” If you want to be effective, make it easy to unsubscribe and not the other way around.
The other thing is that with bots and bad data being so prevalent, make sure you’re emailing real people. You should use email validation to ensure that inactive, toxic or fake emails are not on your list. You can even use an email validation API to keep bad email addresses off of your list from square one.
For those who don’t have an email list yet, what are some of the easiest ways to build one?
Well, the most important thing to building a list is to commit to sending your emails on time. Even if the list is still small, you must keep the rhythm. Playing a disappearing act is a surefire way to destroy your sender reputation. So, if you can’t commit to timeliness, you may as well not start one.
You know what makes it easy to build a list? Having fun with it. If you can find aspects that you enjoy about creating your newsletters, it will put you in the right frame of mind. Emails that are fun to read give you the impression that the creator experienced some joy or enthusiasm when writing and putting it together. It’s a palpable feeling.
Also, tell people that your email newsletter exists! That means posting about it on social media. It also means having sign-up forms on your website in a few different places. You’d be surprised how many businesses have an email list that’s borderline impossible to get on. It should be a snap to get on the list, but as mentioned previously, it should also be easy to unsubscribe.
The last thing I would mention is that it doesn’t hurt to encourage people to sign up. Come up with an incentive. In some cases, you could send promotional offers, coupons or the latest news. If you have a gourmet wine and cheese shop, then an email with pairing tips and suggestions would be perfect.
Tell people who come into the shop about the emails you send. When you can, tell them in person. A sign or mention on a chalkboard could really catch someone’s interest. If they don’t know it exists, they won’t be able to sign up.
Finally, let’s not forget lead magnets. Offering an audio download, e-book or white paper can be a great way to give your list a jump start.
What CEO would you most like to have lunch with?
I’ve always wanted to meet John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods. He strikes me as very interesting and an independent thinker. You never know in this life of ours. Maybe he’ll get in touch.
What makes you happiest with the work that you do?
Sometimes we’re able to really help someone who is facing some dire circumstances. With how critical email is in these times, there have been some businesses that were sure they were going to lose their shirt.
When I notice their stress is dissipating, I’m happy. It’s great when I detect their confidence increasing. Maybe you even sense a smile. But when we simply get someone to sigh in relief, I go to bed a happy man. That makes me smile.