In a tech-age where the standard love letter has been replaced by texts and tweets, it would mean a lot for someone to hand you an entire book about why they love you wouldn’t it? That is exactly what LoveBookOnline has made possible. LoveBookOnline.com is a website that allows people to create one of the most heartfelt, custom gifts ever created. A LoveBook is a gift book that lists all the reasons why you love someone. The web application is an editable publishing system. You can select from our user-generated database of “love reasons” or create them yourself. The management team prints, binds and ships LoveBooks all over the world.
The team at LoveBookOnline.com don’t view themselves as publishers, instead they are connectors. They are proud to to create a product that brings people together, and are working on more ways to connect people in new and exciting ways.
Why a Love book? Can you tell us about the background behind this idea and how it eventually led to a team of six people and a revenue of passing the $1M mark?
The idea started as a Christmas gift idea. While working our day jobs, we went out to lunch and began talking about what Christmas gifts we were giving our wives/girlfriends. One of our founders, Rob Patterson, pulled out a little notebook and slid it across the table. He had written down all the reasons he loved his wife in a notebook and drew little stick figures to illustrate the reasons. It was one of those gifts that took time, effort and heart.
It started out as 4 of us. We all agreed to use our individual strengths to make it happen. We got together every day after work. We would meet at a local bar or restaurant (whichever had the best wifi) and started building the system. There was a lot of trial and error because we were trying to create something that had never been done before.
After about a year, we released our first public beta in 2009 we started to see some sales but nothing we could live off of. We heard a lot of feedback from our customers so we began working on v.2. We wanted it ready for the Christmas season.
In October we released v.2 with many upgrades to the system and the user experience. Our system was now running on a scalable cloud server and better than ever. We also improved our branding by making our coloring and visuals appeal to our demographic.
Once November came our sales were growing enough to get two of the founders out of the day job and working full time. After Christmas, we got two more. Then after Valentine’s day 2011, we had 6 employees.
Passing the $1M mark actually went by with little fanfare. We were so entrenched in fulfilling orders we didn’t even realize it until one day we looked at a running total. It was a double take moment because it just never crossed my mind that we had grown so fast.
Can you walk us through the user experience of LoveBookOnline.com?
Once you create an account, the user starts by selecting the type of cover they want. Prices start at $29.95 for a perfect bound soft cover or $44.95 for a case-bound hard cover. You can then select from over 100 different cover types and edit the text to say something personal.
Next, you can start adding pages to your book. There are two ways to do it. Since we have some amazing customers who create some excellent pages, we decided to create a user-generated database of pages that everyone can use. If you are more of the creative type, you can start from scratch as well.
Once you have some pages selected or a blank page ready to edit, you can go to our LoveBook Editor. In the editor you can customize the text to say anything you like. The best part is the illustration editor. While we have a pre-made page database, we also have a stamp/illustration database too. Our talented artists have created thousands of illustrations you can use to “build” your pages.
Once you have a minimum of 20 pages, you can preview your book and check out. In as fast as 4 days you can have a fully custom book printed and ready to give your loved one.
You have been featured on The Today Show, Good Morning America, and your personal favorite Diggnation, but online businesses always take a little time to gain traction. What marketing techniques did you implement early on that you saw a positive benefit from?
Teaching people about our idea was going to be the big challenge. We also knew that we had something that the press could wrap their hearts around. As most tech companies, we embrace social media. It helped get enough users to gather feedback but it wasn’t enough to sustain us.
We had to go where the gift shoppers were. We started approaching bloggers, gift gurus and shopping websites. We also amped up our SEO as much as possible. SEO is a slower growth rate but it’s absolutely necessary because it’s one of those marketing aspects the grows with time and content.
One of our favorite techniques is to show the emotional impact our products can have. So how do you do that? You make a book for them.
I’m a big fan of Diggnation. I had followed them for years. I knew the only way to get their attention was to use our gift idea to its fullest. I created a book that listed 50 reasons why I loved Diggnation. It took some time and I had to go back to some older episodes but it was well worth it.
Creating the Diggnation LoveBook helped us during a tech conference here in Detroit. We had the opportunity to demo our site during a TechCocktail party where Jay Adelson (Digg, Revision3, SimpleGeo) was keynoting. He was kind enough to watch our demo and he fell in love with it. This was a pivotal moment for us because it was a heavy hitting in the tech industry validating our work.
To this day, he has continued to mentor us and guide us when we have industry specific questions.
You stated that you have saved marriages, participated in marriage proposals, and provided comfort to thousands of soldiers overseas. This must make the job quite rewarding. Can you tell us what your favorite part about running LoveBookOnline.com is?
Each day is always a surprise. We get some of the most interesting feedback, requests and questions. One of our favorite stories is one we received a few months back. A customer emailed us was a soldier serving overseas. He had created a LoveBook for his anniversary to his wife back here in the states. Without know it, she had also created a book for him and shipped it overseas. So, they both received books and loved them.
It’s those kind of stories that make us all believe that there is a lot of love in this world and people do still care. It keeps us going.
Your website has a unique feature of signing up for a reminder where it will send you an email when a special occasion is approaching. This is a great service and marketing technique. Are there any other added website features in the works?
Yes! We are always looking for ways to teach people about what we’re trying to do here at LoveBook. Our next big thing is our LoveBook Facebook App. We know that once people start using the system, they will get hooked on how fun it is. We created a Facebook application that allows users to use the exact same system on our site to make a single page and post it on someone’s wall.
All of this is done within the Facebook environment so it’s easy to participate. We’re still in the beta release version currently and we’ll be looking at ways to fully integrate the Facebook app into our website application.
LoveBookOnline.com is an amazing idea and I imagine someone has or will attempt to copy it. How do you distinguish yourself from other companies doing similar things online?
It’s funny because we attempted this project with most people thinking it would never work. We believed in it and we know how much work goes into it to make it function properly. I’m a firm believer in learning from mistakes and the person who fixes the most mistakes quickly wins.
The best way to stay ahead is to constantly be evolving, and not in just one aspect. You have to evolve and be better than your last effort in every sense. The visuals, the user experience, customer service, technology, accounting, marketing and legal.
My favorite quote is from the great one, Wayne Gretzky: “I skate where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” We think about where our customers are going, not where they’ve been. That being said, we have many things in the works that will know our customers will L-O-V-E.”
Find the right Domain Name for your business at Fabulous.com!