Unsure where to start?
Too many email marketing platforms to choose from?
Then this podcast is for you. This week I’m joined by Chris Davis who is the Educational Director of Content of Active Campaign. We’re going to take a deep dive into what active campaign is doing behind the scenes, how you can go about selecting an email service to provide, and how to get started with email marketing and automation.
Where You Were and Where You End Up Might not be so Different
It’s important to understand where you came from and why. Chris tell us, “A lot of times you’re doing something and just don’t know how important, or know how what you’re doing now can be impactful, perhaps in another area or industry.”
You see, Chris started out as an engineer, studied formally, and worked for 7 years programming microprocessors. The nitty gritty 1’s and 0’s coding in a laboratory with no windows.
Before long, he found himself asking, “What am I here for?” That’s when he left to start a web development firm. It was short-lived, but he came to understand that the magic wasn’t in the website but what was behind the website. That’s when Chris was introduced email marketing and soon after email automation.
He mentions learning a tool many small businesses were using but struggling with. The goal was to take this difficult and hard to manage tool and make it easier on clients by managing it for them. The tool? InfusionSoft
Chris quickly learned that InfusionSoft wasn’t catered for SaaS companies but learned how to use it. It was that knowledge that lead him to dominate the space.
It was then that it hit him, “I’ve been in the automation space the whole time, but never connected the two.” When the opportunity came to take on the role of education and building out content came up with Active Campaign, he shares that he jumped on it and hasn’t looked back
What Is Marketing Automation?
Chris defines marketing automation as the process of employing technology to continually execute your marketing strategy. It’s not new, but it’s new to the small business owner. Technology replacing human beings hadn’t been available to small business to this scale, but big businesses have been using automation a long time.
With the advancement of technology, it makes it more accessible to all levels of business ownership. A small business owner can operate as an enterprise and thus dawns a new day for the small business. Instead of hiring staff to do your marketing, employ technology to do it for you.
Chris explains that there comes a point where you pay the price for ignorance. How realistic is it that every business owner can respond to every customer inquiry manually within 5 minutes? As business increases, it becomes a near-impossible task. Therefore, Chris counsels that you want to use the platform, a marketing tool like Active campaign, to alleviate some of that.
If you want to have an email go out within 5 minutes of someone signing up, it’s as easy as a checkbox using Active Campaign. That’s how easy it becomes to ensure it happens.
Most business owners don’t have that box to check, and they simply don’t know how much money they are leaving on the table.
Choosing the Right Marketing Automation Platform
Did you know that there is an invisible ceiling with most platforms? Chris explains that there is a point to where you can’t go any further. To where you'll have to adopt a new technology or platform to move forward. If you are just starting out, it’s all synonymous to you.
Don’t read reviews, it’s specific to that situation. If you aren’t using it like they do, then it's worthless. Best thing is to try it yourself.
As found in Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Chris says you need to “Begin with the end in mind”. You know, at some point, you want to be profitable. You want your business to have growth.
Active Campaign is a platform that allows you to come in, as a beginner, and grow with the tool; no need to convert to a new platform with each growth spurt.
For example, if you are a Mailchimp user, there will be limitations. It’s designed for the beginner to intermediate user. Then you used to jump to Infusionsoft which is advanced level . Very few make that jump successfully. Active Campaign can stretch the entire spectrum. Now you don’t have to make the leap, you take gradual growth path.
Top 3 Automations Every Business Owner Should Start With
If you follow Chris’s training on Active Campaign, or if you pop into his office hours, you’ll hear he constantly tell people to reduce the audience and cater the message. Instead of building one giant, fancy automaton on one page, he likes to break them up.
Chris’ favorite? When a user submits a form, and the automation sends out an email 3 or 4 times, spread a few days apart, always leading them to the bottom goal. If they buy at email two, it automatically cuts off the rest of the emails and moves them into a paid subscriber list.
If you understand the buyer process, you know right after purchase the buyer's remorse kicks in. After a big purchase, we first become emotional. This is when we feel the most unsure. Later we become rational, and we’re walking through the rationalizations to ease our minds. You don’t want to send your message at the wrong point.
Engagement automation; Watches what you do, sees if you’re engaged, and if not, it checks in when unengaged at 30 days. Those 30, 60, 90 day engagement tags can be helpful because it can help isolate where the hot leads are.
Khierstyn mentions that she uses a system that automatically unsubscribes folks when they haven't interacted within a period of time. It keeps the list clean from inactive users.
Chris agrees that if you need to do something, adapt Khierstyn’s approach. Popular teachings go that you need a huge list, and how to get your next huge chunk of leads. What they don’t tell you is that maybe 1200 are engaging. Since you pay to do every seat, why would you pay for dead leads?
The bigger your list, the higher the chance people will not be engaging. 25-30% open rate is the target. An open rate below that says your messaging isn’t aligned with your audience.
Chris proclaims he is a champion of the idea that, “we don’t send broadcast emails, ever. We make it easy to send a targeted message to your audience.” When you send targeted messaging, your open rate jumps 10%.
Example, let’s say you sell apparel for both men and women. You have a new fall line and you want to show it to your customer base. Instead of sending one blast to all individuals in one list, he recommends you separate them into 2 emails and target to each gender specifically. It’s easier to create and email for women that they will like, and another for men which will appeal to them, rather than an email that has to appeal to both simultaneously.
Segmenting, How Do We Do It?
Chris explains that there are a few different ways to implement your segmenting. For starters,
when you import your pre-existing subscribers you can map each column to a custom field. This gives you control right at the point of importing. Now that all the contacts are in, you can use the custom fields to segment your messaging.
Many don’t know the power of speaking to smaller groups. We’re not saying discriminate or ostracize any section of your viewership, just tailor your message to smaller audiences to increase engagement.
If you have to spend 5 minutes to create a few more segments and send targeted messages to get a higher open rate, it’s worth it. It’s more mature automation.
Templates are Starting Points not Solutions
Clickfunnels, and other such software, have pre-built funnels, but you still need to customize them. There is a lot of customization that has to happen.
Chris advises, “A template is a starting point, a light frame-work for you to work within.” When you don’t have them, it becomes overwhelming, you have unanswered questions, and you're prone to analysis paralysis kicks in, and you don’t do anything.
Templates are necessary but some people have taken it too far. It’s not just plug and play and BOOM success. When you do best practices, you are always going to win. That’s the hardest thing for people to understand. Marketing automation isn’t the solution, you are the solution and automation is the strategy.
You are the business owner. It’s up to you to know your audience and to know what offer to place in front of them. Chris says, “We (Active Campaign) will support you, help you, and get that message out, but we don’t do it for you.”
Going in, you need to watch your numbers and edit your message until it hits the mark. Watch the results, tweak the words and images, so that it continues to be more and more appealing to your specific audience.
Up Your Split-Testing Game
Khierstyn asked a golden question - How can you use split testing to up your game? Chris breaks it down.
If you want to send a broadcast, or campaign, with a message to your list or group of people, you can split test the headline. After 2 hours, once one of the titles has a higher open rate, it resends the winner to the other 50% automatically. However, it’s not just headlines Active Campaign lets you split test.
Let’s say you want to implement this into an email series. You can use the automation builder to split paths. You can monitor and track send times. Set one run up for every day, the other for every 3 days, and the read-open rate winner automatically takes over the process. It’s next level awesome.
Split path is a recent launch and you can do so may things. You can split paths for promotions too. Such an automation that delivers a coupon until Friday and you don't’ have to worry about turning it off. It becomes set it and forget it.
Where do Most People get Stuck Starting Up?
Chris warns, “Not realizing how much they already know. Technology introduces a barrier.” Everyone knows how to write on paper. Take that and put it onto an iPad Pro with that new pen… writing with the Pro is totally different than writing on paper. Technology ads a layer of complexity to make it uncomfortable.
Many business owners understand marketing and know what to do, but add the technology and they lose their way. Once you know what you want to achieve, you can build a blueprint to achieve it. “That’s what I spend most of my time working with business owners on” Chris shares.
You need a blueprint. Most already have the blueprint though don't’ know how to convert that into a working process. Some don’t even know how to get it down. I recommend you get to the point where you have your blueprint and you’re positioned for success. Then it's all about execution.
Introduction: Expert Secrets to Leverage Email Automation and See Results
[04:23] Where You Were and Where You End Up Might not be so Different
[08:40] What IS Marketing Automation?
[14:20] Choosing the Right Marketing Automation Platform
[21:20] Top 3 Automations Every Business Owner Should Start With
[28:54] Segmenting, How Do We Do It?
[33:43] Templates are Starting Points not Solutions
[38:15] Up Your Split-Testing Game
[41:25] Where do Most People get Stuck Starting Up?
Resources and Sponsor
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They met at Tropical think tank in the Philippines and now they are ready to sit down to podcast 12 months in the making!
Janet Murray is the founder of soulful PR specializing in helping small business owners sculpt and pitch their ideas and stories to the media. She’s a freelance writer/editor who runs a successful Paid web group called Soulful PR Studio. Alongside a booming podcast and masterfully written blog, Janet is always on the go. I must also mention she has an amazing book called Your Press Release is Breaking my Heart. Let's not forget her Facebook group Soulful PR going almost 10,000 strong.
"I guess the most important thing about my story is that I teach PR but I have never worked in PR," Janet explains.
From The Guardian to The Independent and The National posts, Janet has spent the last 16 years freelance writing and editing for some of the biggest publications in the UK. Never mind the handfuls of magazines; Janet has been there and edited that!
One thing that Janet learned early on in her freelance years is that bad pitchers are everywhere. She began to grow sick of a number of bad pitch emails filling her daily inbox; Hard working people throwing their money into PR firms that just don't get it.
She was inspired to take a stand. It was time for a change, and Janet decides to set out to teach others how to get noticed.
Janet runs the event Your Year in PR, where she takes 8 national journalists and roughly 80 small business owners, stuffs them in a room, and teachers. They learn what it is that consumers look for in a pitch and what sets a good pitch apart from a bad one. Janet says, “You don't need a big budget or fancy PR firm to get top Notch media coverage.
Khierstyn cleverly asked which pitches Janet had heard over the years that she still remembers being the worst. Janet skillfully responds that she really can’t recall any terrible pitches. Instead, the ones that that stand out she said are the good ones. Here are the 3 criteria to use to get noticed!
First, you need to show evidence that you actually read or listen to a publication. If it's radio or the newspapers take the time to do your basic research. Journalists have such a small area they can fill and endless crap to sift through.
Second, you must have really strong header/subject. It is important to be direct and to the point, Journalists work fast and read even faster. Avoid trying to be witty or the use of puns in your header. You want to keep the body of the text short and to the point as well adding strong visuals or audio clips. Janet gives us the tip of trying to picture yourself in the shoes of the journalist you are trying to reach.
" In Journalism, we have a term called the 10-word top line." Janet explains that this means if you can't summarize your story in 10 words or less you are not ready for launch.
Third, knowing the different types of media content is very important as well.
Janet tells us that, rather than starting with your story, tailor each outreach to every different publication.
" First off! Anyone that owns a business can get media coverage."
One tool that reigns supreme is HARO, Help A Reporter Out, a place where journalists go to find stories to write about.
Janet takes the time to recant a story of a current client that is working on a app for people with food intolerance. Now, the App is not quite finished but that has not stopped her client from being all over media publications for the last year. Even if you can't get the coverage you want, get any coverage you can! By the time you are ready to launch you have made the bridges and started your following.
Be where the journalists are. There are always events going on; Find a way to be apart of them, set up booths, ask for coffee meetings. You need to find ways of getting into the public eye.
Above all else don't write a press release! You are basically saying you have already sent this story to every other publication you could find. Journalists want a scoop, tailor, tailor, tailor every email you send. Continue listing as Janet teaches you some simple steps to follow when tailoring your pitches.
Introduction: Pitch Perfect; How to Get Media Coverage at Any Stage
[02:25] Who is Janet Murray
[13:12] The importance of standing out
[24:00] What advice do you have for new business owners
Resources and Sponsor
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For episode 100, Khierstyn wanted to do something big. Bigger, better, and cooler than ever! What’s better than bringing back the podcast’s most downloaded guest? Nothing, that’s what. Especially when the guest is Max Temkin of Cards Against Humanity!
Max and his team, they aren’t like everyone else, nor do they want to be. They wear their honesty and integrity on their sleeve. It's about good products selling, no matter how you market them.
Sit back and enjoy as Max shares his unique views and opinions - ones that rocketed him to the top.
Marketing Strategies? We made a damn good product.
Max doesn't believe in hack or tricks or guarantees. In his mind, when someone markets a magic hack for something, it's like selling lies.
People are hungry for shortcuts. What they want is the easiest way to get the biggest payout. Life isn't like that. There IS no magic secret way to achieve your dreams.
Cards Against Humanity didn't use tactics like "artificial scarcity". It's about having a great product that people want, selling at a steady rate, and spending less than you make. Max says it's that simple.
Staying top of mind and marketing on a limited budget.
Traditionally, a marketing budget is the monetary sum you intend to you to advertise. Traditional marketing is something Max states they avoided. They don't spend money on Facebook advertising, or radio adverts.
They do spend money on doing cool and unique things. Things that people would enjoy and would want to watch and share. In this way, they do spend money to market, but it's not where others might first turn.
Cards Against Humanity, and Max, have developed a cult following. People identify with and embrace the alternative means of marketing they use.
Max quotes, "If you want people to talk about you, it's on you to do something worth talking about."
If Obama was our CEO...
Speaking of doing something people want to talk about, Max shared his experiences. Specifically, he told us about an ad they ran on Craigslist in January 2017.
Max said that while enjoying a brainstorming session, they came up with an idea. Wouldn't it be amazing if Barack Obama was our new CEO?
Many of the ideas they throw around don't make it to public consumption, but this one did! It's a perfect example of the power of alternative advertising. They made a post on Craigslist and it got loads of attention.
You know what that cost them to run? Nothing. Sure, they haven't picked up Obama yet, but there is still hope!
(Note to Barack Obama, if you're reading this, give Max a shout, he'd love to hear from you! firstname.lastname@example.org )
Blackbox - Our not-so-secret new business for crowd funders!
Blackbox, ever heard of it? It’s a new shipping company from the creators of Cards Against Humanity. Max tells us that they had to go through the motions when it came to shipping the game. They ended up having to build and infrastructure to do it.
It's now spinning off as it's own service. Blackbox takes their existing experience and connections to make it accessible. It's geared at crowd funders too.
Max tells of how he made a critical shipping mistake that ended up costing him. With certain campaigns, you need to know an exact shipping cost up front, or you're charged for it. That's why they want to make it safe, easy and fast. Enter the details online and get an accurate, guaranteed shipping price.
Oh, and they take care of everything so that you don't have to; Customer service, shipping, storage, returns, exchanges you name it.
The strategy behind marketing Secret Hitler
Let's talk about something else that Max Temkin knocked out of the park. Have you ever played Secret Hitler? It's a brilliantly marketed board game of hidden identities.
The website describes it as:
" Secret Hitler is a dramatic game of political intrigue and betrayal set in 1930's Germany. Players are secretly divided into two teams - liberals and fascists. Known only to each other, the fascists coordinate to sow distrust and install their cold-blooded leader. The liberals must find and stop the Secret Hitler before it’s too late."
It was also wildly successful on Kickstarter. We asked Max what drove the success of this game, and he imparted some real gems.
He's done design for more than 15 years professionally. He works with and designs branding for political campaigns. He insists there is a visual database in his head of styles and ideas that he can pull out on command, a benefit of experience.
Secret Hitler was a dream project, one that he had the money to fund. He had money to put into testing and it became a balance of art and science.
Max made sure to emphasize that, despite money, there is never a guarantee on return. Sometimes not having money can make for a better product because you have to work harder to achieve it.
Ever heard Max talk about Star Wars and the reason that they became a classic? You should tune in to the podcast to hear more.
If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
Khierstyn prepared a few questions in advance for Max. The first being from Zach Smith, founder of Funded.Today. He asked - "if you had to do it all again, what would you do differently?"
He tells of how he charged only for the cards and not shipping at first. While it was during a time when that was more common, he said it was a nightmare. This nightmare was part of what fed into Blackbox.
He did mention one regret - that he let inexperience push him away from the design he truly wanted. Everything worked in the end, but he wishes he had the courage to make the choice that felt right.
Max warns listeners, "Fail because you make it too good, not because you made it too bad."
Where’s the line? Let’s talk being offensive.
There is no line per say, but there are rules. The goal is to make people laugh and feel good when they play. It's not to make anyone feel bad. Sometimes the enveloped gets puts but Max tries his best to ensure it's within these rules.
There was a time, Max recants when he was young and in college. There was a cheap transsexual joke he still regrets. It came about after he saw a post on Tumblr. Someone expressed feelings of being bullied. They said when the card came up, the transsexual player was bullied, and it was no longer a fun time.
"It's all fun and games... until we become bullies." Max explains "We have a social responsibility."
Super Happy Fun Time Uncensored Bonus Content
Fun and games you say? It's about that time! Max chats with Khierstyn about crowdfunding platforms. At the same time, they chat about (and dissect) campaigns seen on Funded.Today.
**Warning - This is uncut for your listening pleasures! Max Temkin in full swing!**
Introduction: Max against Humanity; I did it my way.
[08:28] Marketing Strategies? We made a damn good product.
[14:28] Staying top of mind and marketing on a limited budget.
[21:50] If Obama was our CEO...
[30:42] Blackbox - Our not-so-secret new business for crowd funders!
[37:05] The strategy behind marketing Secret Hitler
[43:03] If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
[48:46] Where’s the line? Let’s talk being offensive.
[52:30] Super Happy Fun Time Uncensored Bonus Content
Resources and Sponsor
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How to Harness the Power of Your Story
Have you ever met a travel digital nomad?
Have you ever wanted to be one?
Have you ever wanted to use your life experience to shape your e-commerce future?
Chris Rawlings joins Khierstyn on a deep dive into his experiences. A tale which leads him to San Francisco in search of new VC (venture capital) investors for his next big idea.
The Spice of Life; Using Story to Elevate Products
Three years ago, Chris was working in the solar industry as an employee. He started as a scientist though he felt like he needed to know business to control his destiny. He found himself gravitating towards roles that were more and more business related.
Business tired Chris and left him wanting more. In a rush of adrenaline he looked up the most beautiful country in the world. At that time, with that search feature, New Zealand topped the charts. Like that, he booked a one way trip.
The journey began, and what a story! 2 and a half years ago he sold all his possessions, quit his job, shifted into a minimalist lifestyle. Chris moved to New Zealand, bought a motorcycle and started wandering.
Traveling Digital Nomads
Chris captivates with his stories of the network of traveling digital nomads. He met individuals who operated mobile businesses like him, going from coffee shop to coffee shop. People running digital marketing, e-commerce, SEO and Amazon business like his.
The Philippines, Bali, Indonesia and other areas see a high volume of these digital nomads. Individuals who enjoy traveling and working for themselves. A network of experiences waiting to happen.
"Is this your thing?" Chris asks of the audience, "Then book it and just go."
Luck + Hard Work = Success
From humble and alone to capitalizing on a network of knowledge Chris began to build his team. His first business went from nothing to a two million dollar evaluation, nothing to snort at.
It was captivating to see this new and unique market that he hadn't before. Small, niched, fast growing businesses that cater to small to medium sized businesses. The same niche he was in.
He tells us about the amazing diversity and ingenuity. Nearly anything you could think of had it's own niche and service.
It was the process of building his business and expanding abroad that lead to his most well-known venture - Judolaunch.com
Judolaunch.com - The launch platform for e-based brands.
Chris explained that there are generally 2 ways to expand your business.
Fundamentally, JudoLaunch gets your product into the hands of customers in the global Amazon market to jumpstart your products' rankings.
Would Judolaunch.com be a SaaS (software as a service) or an Agency?
Chris indicated that his intention with Judolaunch.com was to offer a full service agency. By starting out with this model they were able to get business and fill quotas.
They began investing in the systems and processes needed to automate and improve. Chris ventured into San Francisco and software development as Judolaunch.com developed into an SaaS tool.
"That's where all the real growth is!" Chris exclaimed.
What to give up to raise what you need.
In San Francisco,starting from scratch, Chris has been working to get as many meetings as possible. He explains that it comes down to only a few things.
Do whatever the #$%& you want - you make the rules.
Set a time-period to raise funds.
Chris shared that in his opinion, you can calculate evaluations 3 ways:
In fact, number 3, was the one he sees most often.
How Much Equity Do You Give?
Chris really breaks this down in a great way. As a general rule, each time you raise investments, you hand out 20-30%
(Give a listen to the podcast to hear him explain this!)
Round 1 Fundraising
Round 2 Fundraising
From there you can have as many series as you want though it dilutes each individual's holdings each time.
The Spinal Tap
While he doesn't divulge, it's mentioned that a spinal injury is actually what sparked one of his most recent successes.
Chris started working with his father on a new way to meditate comfortably for longer periods of time. It's an amazing posture pillow which re-invent the meditating position. He's ventured into an area he almost praises as a sweet spot in his story. A product that builds off of his spinal injury which also fills a need.
He validated his product.He liked that it was in a boring category and it wasn't sexy. There was much room to improve and impress.
Your products should resonate and tell a story.
Chris says he had a basic, flat white label product for a while. It didn't take long to learn that the best campaigns have the best stories behind them.
How does he know his new posture pillow will sell? A leg up; His dad is a meditation instructor and travels around with the product testing on his students. The reactions have been very positive.
(Pop in right about now in the podcast and Chris will start sharing how he easily validates a product. Tap into that experience!)
Introduction: How to Harness the Power of Your Story
[06:15] The Spice of Life; Using Story to Elevate Products
[08:50] Travelling Digital Nomads
[11:53] Luck + Hard Work = Success
[13:51] Judolaunch.com - The launch platform for e-based brands.
[18:34] What to give up to raise what you need.
[21:28] How Much Equity Do You Give?
[24:00] The Spinal Tap
[32:35] Your products should resonate and tell a story.
Resources and Sponsor
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