saas.unbound is a podcast for and about founders who are working on scaling inspiring products that people love brought to you by In this episode #39, we are talking with Jane Portman, co-founder @Userlist ( ), an automation tool for sending behavior-based messages to your SaaS users. Email marketing is something Userlist leverages for its growth as well and Jane is sharing the tips that help activate the free users and upsell your paying customers if you have a freemium version of your business. Jane also digs into the team setup and company culture that they’ve been building with her co-founder from the very beginning. We talk about Userlist product roadmap and how it’s affected not only by the customer communication but also by the team’s deep understanding of what they’re building and the strong core positioning. Subscribe to our channel to be the first to see the interviews that we publish twice a week –    / @saas-group  


(0:00:05) – UserList 

We chat with Jane Portman, co-founder of UserList and host of UI Breakfast and a Better-Done-Than-Perfect podcast. Jane discusses her background and how she and her co-founder Benedict worked together to develop UserList, a behavior-based messaging tool for sales applications. Jane also talks about the importance of delegation and how they have evolved the product over the years, transitioning from an email automation tool to an email marketing platform. We also discuss how customer research was key to understanding how to position the product and how to make it easier for customers to use. Finally, Jane talks about the importance of educating customers about the product.

(0:12:31) – SaaS Business and Personal Branding 

We explore Jane Portman’s journey from UX consulting to books to SaaS, why she decided to build an email automation sales company, and how her experience with the books and the podcast helped get her and UserList started. We also discuss how Jane’s personal brand and podcast have built authority for UserList and how she plans to use the podcast to build a community of SaaS founders.

(0:25:35) – Email Marketing Strategies and Challenges

We discuss with Jane Portman the challenges and complexities of email automation and how UserList approaches the marketing game. We explore how UserList focuses on in-depth, high-quality content to bring in good results for their company, as well as how they use lead nurturing and monthly newsletters to connect with their customers and draw them in. We also discuss how understanding the customer’s needs and providing a tailored solution to their challenges is key to a successful email automation strategy.

(0:35:55) – SaaS Marketing Data Metrics Planning

Jane explores the need to know what people are doing inside a product, which is done through properties and events. We explore how marketers may not understand the importance of behavior tracking and how it differs from plug-and-play JavaScript widgets. Jane shares how UserList approaches customer data collection and how it helps to eliminate irrelevant messages, trigger campaigns, and offer onboarding calls. We also consider the challenge of figuring out what will work best for customers and how to promote done-for-you services. Finally, we discuss the importance of having a dedicated specialist and the UX focus of UserList.

(0:44:30) – Building a SaaS Company and Team 

Jane Portman and her team have built a structure and culture as their SaaS company, UserList, has grown. We discuss how the team of two co-founders has grown to a team of six and the evolution of their delegation and communication strategies. We also explore the advantages of bootstrapping versus VC funding, the importance of monitoring user behaviors inside a product, and the benefits of controlling your own growth rate.

Head of Growth,