This post is a part of a series where I breakdown the marketing journey from new brands that I encounter. Maude did not endorse or consent to this post.

Pre-Touchpoint: Found on AngelList

Device: Macbook Air, Desktop
Date: December 30th, 2018

Everyone has their own form of self care. Mine just so happens to be checking out new startups on AngelList with a bottle of sour beer in hand, under a pile of fuzzy blankets. So when I first found Maude I was in a pretty good mood.

I’m always fascinated by “sex startups” because of the many regulations that they face regarding advertising, namely Facebook Ads. One of my favorites in this vertical is the sex toy brand Unbound, which has managed to find growth despite not being allowed to buy ads on the platform.

I was also excited to see that Maude had two female co-founders.

The first few things I always look at when checking out new startups: the founders, how many employees, and the money.

I did see the little Fast Company article peaking out on the bottom right hand, but didn’t bite. I’m assuming the first seed round went largely to production and see that they have another 1.5 mil seed coming up in a few days. Nice! Explains why they are now hiring for a growth marketer.

What immediately sticks out to me is the stark contrast from Unbound. I already get the sense they are pretty different from the product offerings (Unbound = sex toys, Maude = sexual health), but the branding is also from two wildly different planets, both of which I’d like to visit for awhile. In Maude’s world we vibe with our loyal software developer boyfriend of 3.5 years on a West Elm couch with a Mongolian fur accent, our Aesop soaps displayed neatly in the nearby full bath. With Unbound we’re getting a quick solo vibe sesh between a Seamless delivery and reruns of our fav guilty pleasure show on Netflix while wearing two-day sweatpants and a messy top bun.

Okay, enough of the Unbound – Maude comparison. Let’s get to the marketing.

1st Touchpoint: Direct to Website

Device: MacBook Air

I slipped right into the user flow by going directly to the website in a new browser post AngelList. I do this while keeping in mind what “direct traffic” often means: that it’s not the true first touch point.

And immediately we get a pop-up. Well, at least they aren’t shy. However, as a customer I find it annoying when I get a pop-up immediately after landing. I’d split test this strategy with a timed pop-up after 15 seconds or more. Maybe even to a certain scroll point.

But I sign up anyways.

Note: I came back to the homepage today to quickly check something out and got another pop-up! Hooray for AB testing! I happened to scroll down super fast, but it was still immediate on the page.

Personally, I like the one with the image better. But with things like “image vs no image” I like to let the data do the talking.

In fact, my bigger question lies with the headline. “A better morning is here.” At this point, I have no idea what this means. In an abstract way I can see why a sexual product can give me a better morning… but then I also think of the not so good “mornings after”. I would concentrate on split testing this headline more instead of the images, with a focus on something a little more “feel good” and simple-sexy.

No major value proposition here as of yet. The obvious suggestion is to offer 10% off to increase sign-ups and sales. However, I understand the fear of becoming a “discount” brand. So why not free shipping?

Exit out of the pop-up to reveal a single product, the burn. What stands out to me here is the sleek branding and powerful product shot. I’m into the idea of a functional candle that doubles as massage oil. However, as a marketer, I am a bit weary of using single products as the splash image on new traffic. Here I would split test this image against a shot of the full product line on NEW traffic. (I can understand having new releases front and center for returning traffic.)

This is super easy and straight to the point. I actually read all of them, which almost never happens. Well done.

And now, the product features. Personally, I loathe the dynamic-scrolly thing, but I don’t outright hate the effect here. “The essentials” peaks out from between products when scrolling. A word about getting fancy with scrolling: I’ve seen some ugly bounce rates on pages with similar effects. Get heat-mapping software, check your bounce rates, and see if it’s worth it.

However, I get that it’s part of the brand so I’m on board as a potential customer.

The lubricants look like soap to me. However, I like that it’s discreet: could easily fit proudly on a bedside table, no hiding necessary if mom comes over.

So the product round up leaves us at 1 candle, 1 vibe, 2 lubes, and condoms. Prices seem fair at this point. Particularly interested in the condom set: price is very comparable to local drugstores. Vibe seems a little high to me consider how small it looks.

Two things I like about this little review section:

  • The headline already combats the whole “all reviews are probably fake” mindset. Or does it..? Split test this. 
  • Bravo on actually linking to the articles. You’d be surprised at how many brands don’t do this. BUT… and there is a “but” below…

I don’t read it, therefore I’m not considering it a bonafide touchpoint. However, these links should open up into a new tab, so that they still have an open tab on the Maude website. 

I guess they have a blog/newsletter. Neato. But don’t click through. I’d test a sexier CTA here.

At this point:

  • I signed up with my email on the first pop-up.
  • I did not click through to any product page.
  • I did not visit any social media pages.

2nd Touchpoint: Email

Device: Mail App, iPhone X
Date: 1-2 hours later, December 30th, 2018

Subject line: Normal and on-brand
Pretext: I would have liked to see something more here. The “view in browser” call comes a little soon for me.

Also this was not sent immediately after sign-up, which was a little frustrating. I’d suggest having the welcome email trigger immediately.

Ah, there’s that full product line shot I was thinking about earlier. Nice.

Typical MailChimp-style email design wise. I like the CTA button at the top and that the entire text is one clickable image. It’s short and easy to read under 11 seconds.

The CTA button leads to the front page. Hmmm. Seems a little weird to have an email send me to the place I already was without an additional value proposition… or without any new information/context. I would take a look at the next part of the user flow Maude would like to send its users. I’m thinking of the splash menu headers options that I didn’t click on before…

However, I think I’m starting to get a better understand of that “better morning” thing.

3rd Touchpoint: Organic Instagram

Device: Instagram: iPhone X
Date: Sometime December 31st, 2018

When a brand has good, erm, branding, I tend to head on over to their Instagram page and take note of the ratio between original content, reposts, memes, etc. A quick look at the follower count for vanity purposes and, naturally, to see if any of my friends found them before I did.

Nice little $12 value prop in there. However, I know it’s just for the condoms. Also, small note: the address here is different than in the email. Good call on the press brag too.

Overall, the content is diverse. The colors remain muted, but the images are compelling. I love the sexy skin photo in the top right corner: I would love to see more of that.

So yep, I followed. AND…

In my pre-party state on New Years Eve, I even reposted an image that I LOVED on my stories. I almost never do that with a new brand (like, I have to get to know you first!)

But tbh, it was a lot less about Maude as a brand, and a whole lot more with the fact I liked the image.

Happy New Year!

4th Touchpoint: New Years Email

Device: Mail App, iPhone X

Look who is inevitably breaking up our welcome flow: the holiday greeter!

Don’t forget mini massage?! I didn’t see anything about a mini massage before…

Def on brand. However, I sort of feel like this email and the last are saying the same thing… with 2019 mentioned in this one.

That review stopped me in my tracks. I read it like two times. Good content. Should have linked to the vibe or shown it with an image instead of the candle launch.

Don’t forget this candle massager WHAT?! I never knew about that. I assume this is just a little personalization gone awry for new sign-ups. Be sure to segment and personalize newsletter emails to new subscribes, subscribes already out of the welcome flow, and past purchasers.

Would have liked to have seen a similar bottom CTA in the first email to the products. This would get people through the user flow faster.

5th Touchpoint: The emails I didn’t touch, Instagram

I’m not an Inbox Zero Person by a long shot. So I saw a few of these pop up in my mailbox, but I didn’t open. Life, man.

With that said, I would have LOVED to dig into this one. There’s two of my favorite things: founders and an emoji. But sometimes, no matter how good your email subject line is… people get busy.

I wasn’t tempted to open this one at all. BUT… I might have been if the pre-text and subject line were switched around. How sexy! I really like it when Maude shows her leg a bit.

In addition to these two emails I recall seeing one Instagram Story…of the content of which I completely forget. And a few Instagram posts… that are completely wiped from me now.

Think about it: the amount of content that we forget everyday is bonkers.

With that said: I might try and make the subject lines dynamic for open and close rates. So if someone does not open a previous email, send them a sexier subject line next time to peak their interest. And with super important emails (like the Founder one!) send it again to un-opens a few days later.

6th Touchpoint: Instagram Ad

Device: Instagram, iPhone X

I’m not going to lie, I was really surprised to be hit with this today.

I wasn’t sure if Maude ran into any of the same problems with the platform that other sex start-ups have. I’ll have to do more research/stalking on this subject in the future.

This was a carousel post that first showed the condoms, then their tag line which still confuses me a bit, and the lube.

I’m a little confused about this because the condoms and lube are showing up and these aren’t images I looked at before. (Still never went to a products page before this.) So the hard sell on any of those two items is a bit too soon for me.

Before users reach the product page, I’d keep the content super broad. So, shots with all products. More lifestyle images with people/human elements.

I did not click on the ad.

Post-first 5/7 touchpoints…

Very quickly:

  1. I saw the PR shoutout on Instagram Stories shortly after I got served the above ad. I looked at article too, but only the part where they mention Maude because the format was weird on mobile.

Oooooo! We both made the “leaving on the nightstand” comment. They should used that in their marketing..

2. I did go through the user flow for the “build a kit” button on the top of the home page. This was very fun!

This would be a great place to put another email gatekeeper since you’re gathering so much data on the users.

I didn’t notice this at first, but for each section you fill out, the image changes a bit.

LOL…ugh.

There were 7 questions in total. At the end they give you a personalized kit suggestion:

I was a little confused by the two CTAs here. Which one do I click? I’d AB test just having one CTA here for sure.

Another thought too: Kit 7 is kind of boring. Give it a cooler name!

Ah, the abandon cart. Did not purchase. I’m waiting to see if they serve me a different ad with a stickier value prop…

My little touchpoint experiment with this brand stopped here. Big takeaways were to test the tag line (good place to start would be ads), introduce sexier subject lines for unopens on emails, and rethink the ad strategy. Would have also loved to seen some video or GIF content.