Ep 380: Advanced Email Marketing Strategies with Nathan Barry

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Marketing automation is one of the most powerful resources in the world.

That’s especially true as it pertains to email!

Today’s guest is an author and entrepreneur with a tremendous success story.

The founder of ConvertKit, one of the best-respected tools for email marketing creators, Nathan Barry built his business with a bootstrapping approach from the ground up.

Tune in to hear his insights on everything from the power of email marketing to choosing a cadence that’s right for you.

Nathan demystifies the role of a flywheel and shares his perspective on warming up a list that has gone cold.

He believes in the power of automation to nurture client relationships and offers his thoughts on how to capitalize on this.

Nathan also shares some real-life examples of ConvertKit’s use for clients and gives us a glimpse into the future of the brand.

Join us today to hear all this and more!

KEY POINTS FROM THIS EPISODE

  • Why marketing automation is such a powerful tool.
  • Introducing today’s guest, Nathan Barry, founder of ConvertKit.
  • His experience collaborating on an iPad app, which coincided with the launch of the iPad.
  • The story of Nathan’s two self-published books.
  • Email marketing strategies in 2023.
  • How an evergreen newsletter can benefit you.
  • What Nathan learned about flywheels based on his experience in Lesotho.
  • The three rules of a flywheel.
  • How to determine the appropriate volume for your email cadence.
  • Two bars you need to maintain in email marketing.
  • How to warm up a cold list.
  • The value of having multiple deadlines to support the launch process.
  • Ways to nurture clients in an automated fashion.
  • How Spark Group facilitates customer referrals.
  • Unpacking how musician clients can apply email marketing strategy.
  • The automation offered by ConvertKit.
  • Insight into the company’s mission: to help creators to earn a living.
  • A sneak peek at what’s next for ConvertKit.

TWEETABLE MOMENTS

“I can have an evergreen newsletter sequence that’s 104 emails long, and I’ve got two years of content.” — @nathanbarry [0:09:42]

“The right amount of volume firstly comes from the expectation you set with your audience.” — @nathanbarry [0:14:39]

“If you hit an email once a week, every single week like clockwork, and you can get ahead, perfect! That’s a great cadence for you.” — @nathanbarry [0:15:36]

“If you can’t write great content once a week, you know what’s a lot better than that? Great content once a month!” — @nathanbarry [0:15:50]

“Don’t scrap the list and start over! Unless it’s been like a decade.” — @nathanbarry [0:18:12]

“Another thing that helps in any kind of launch is being able to have multiple deadlines.” — @nathanbarry [0:24:38]

“Every rotation of the flywheel should produce more results than the previous rotation.” — @nathanbarry [0:29:47]

“The company mission is that we exist to help creators earn a living.” — @nathanbarry [0:41:05]

About Nathan Barry

In previous careers Nathan has been a designer, author, and blogger. After learning the power of email marketing he gave up a successful blogging career to build ConvertKit. Outside of work Nathan spends his time playing soccer, woodworking, and chasing after his three boys.

LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Nathan Barry

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Authority

ConvertKit

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Rory Vaden

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The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Stitcher

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RV (00:02): I have to say that one of the most powerful forces in the world, I think is marketing automation. And we hear about social media and we hear about podcasting and we hear about YouTube and all stuff. But man, the thing that has changed my life in terms of the digital landscape the most in the last 10 years is email marketing, marketing automation in general, and specifically email. And we’re gonna talk about that today with someone who is definitely an expert on the subject. We’re talking to Nathan Barry. He is actually the founder of Convert Kit, which is one of the largest and most well-known and respected tools among creators for email marketing. And so we’re gonna talk a little bit about that. Just so you know, he’s also an author himself and Convert Kit, you know, as an entrepreneur is a tremendously impressive success story. RV (00:54): So they’ve got over 25 million a year in annual recurring revenue, over 3 million in profits. They’ve got almost 60 team members. And they bootstrapped the company 100%. So this was not where you had millions of dollars of investor money, like from Silicon Valley flooding in. They built this for creators and Nathan was a successful blogger before and just kind of created this himself. So he’s also the dad of three boys, which I can appreciate. I’ve got two, so anyone who’s got more than me, I’m like, man, I don’t know how you do it. But brother, you’ve done a bunch of awesome stuff and thanks for making time for us. NB (01:31): Yeah, thanks for having me on the show. RV (01:33): So I’d love to just hear the story of Convert Kit, like your personal journey. Cuz cuz you started as a blogger, right? And then all of a sudden you kind of were like, saw the need for this and then how, I mean, how to, how to go down. NB (01:44): Yeah, so my like traditional skillset is software design. I got started web design and then started building software for the web. And then when the iPad came out in 2010 I was working on a team that was trying to have an iPad app out the day the iPad was released, which was a fun challenge of like designing and trying to test an app, like all in the simulator. Like, you don’t act, the device doesn’t exist yet. And it was fun like going to the Apple store and like buying a dozen iPads, you know, like on launch day and testing our software and all of that. So that was a, a fun world. And I got pretty deep into, you know, iPhone and iPad app design. And then from there I had this idea that if I wrote a book about designing iOS apps, then people would wanna hire me to be the one to design their app. NB (02:34): And I, I thought I’ll make money from this book too. Like, this isn’t a charity, but the main thing that I want is design clients. Sure. Right? You wanna hire the guy who wrote the book, obviously. Of course. And so what I did, I built up a small pre-launch email list on MailChimp, got to 800 subscribers you know, teased that, wrote the book, self-published it. And my goal was to make $10,000 over the lifetime of sales for the book and see how many clients I could get. I ended up launching it and I made $12,000 on the first day and never took on another design client. Like, just like, nope, that world is, I’m not a freelancer anymore, I’m a content creator and this is what we’re doing going forward, . I love it. I love it. And really quick in the process, I had made my own iPhone app that was a app called Commit. NB (03:25): It’s not around anymore, but there’s other apps that do similar stuff. It was just for building a streak. And I had this streak of writing a thousand words a day. And so after I published the book, my app popped up and said, Hey, you’re gonna write a thousand words today. And I was like no, I’ve, I’ve published the book, but it was like I saw 80 days in a row and I didn’t wanna break the streak. So I was like, you know what, I’ll write a, a blog post about the book launch. So I did that, shared the numbers. And then the next day the app did what it did and popped up was like, are you gonna write a thousand words today? And I was like, no, I don’t have anything to write. And it was 81 days in a row I was thinking like, ah, you know what? NB (04:03): I’m gonna write another book. And so I wrote another book on designing web applications. So similar topic, different medium, and wrote like edited and published that in like just over 90 days. So it was self-published, also self-published as well. Okay. Made 26 grand in sales on the first day from that. And I was off to the races, but in that process I really got obsessed with email marketing and I was seeing that all of the sales were coming from the email list, you know, and that was where like giving away a sample chapter, getting people the email list and then dripping out emails and then them coming back and buying the book. All these things were working super well and it was driving more sales than like Twitter and Instagram and everything else combined. And I told this to a friend of mine who’d been in online marketing for long time, what year is this? NB (04:53): 2013. Okay. Yeah. So talking to this friend who’s been in online marketing forever, I’m like, Hey, email is driving more sales than every other channel combined. And he just looks at me and is like, yeah man, we’ve all known that since 2005. Like, do you want a gold star? Like , you know, this is not a new thing. Great epiphany. I was gonna say 2013 is not that long ago. Yeah. And so but it was, it was brand new to me. And so really I became obsessed with email and email marketing, learning all the best practices. And then I just got really frustrated with MailChimp of trying to like implement these best practices in that tool. And looked at all the other tools. There were others that were like, had more automation were powerful, but super confusing. And I’m like, I’m a designer, I gotta use something that’s like elegant and beautiful. And so I decided to start my own. So it was January 1st, 2013 that I started to convert it. And yeah just over a decade later, it’s a giant company used by you know, most of the top graders, like James Clear, Tim Ferris, Ryan Holliday, Arnold Schwarzenegger has a convert kit newsletter that he sends out every week. And it’s super fun. RV (06:04): That’s really awesome, man. So congratulations. Like that’s no e that’s no easy feat. I mean to do, to do, you know, eight figures in 20 million plus in, in re recurring revenue is really, really powerful. So I wanna talk about email marketing strategies specifically. Especially, you know, in today’s era, email marketing has been out a long time. Yes. Email marketing automation has been out a long time. You have something that you talk about just sort of like a general strategy you were telling me about it fly, you call it flywheel for clients. NB (06:44): Flywheels. RV (06:45): Yeah. So I, I’d love to hear about this cuz cuz here’s, here’s one of the things that, you know, sort of like annoying and frustrating to me is even in just the world of email, one of the things that we teach our students is there’s, we think of emails like there’s, there’s four type four different types of emails. So there’s like, you send a broadcast email, everyone at the same time gets it. That’s what we think of. But then we have r s s emails, which are, every time a blog gets posted, that’s gonna automatically send an email. And then we have like these short-term nurture sequences where you’re someone’s in like an active selling situation and you’re like nurturing them to watch a video or, you know, buy something, there’s a closed card or something. And then you just have like your long-term automated nurture sequence. And suddenly what happens a lot is you end up going, you’re emailing people so much and, and you, you can even lose sight of track of like, oh my gosh, how are they, they’re in all these different sequences getting, so how do you kind of like pull all that together into a, like a, a more cohesive strategy? NB (07:51): Yeah. Well the first thing is that a lot of people end up in a position like I did where they realize how powerful email marketing is and then become obsessed and they go like way off the deep end and it’s so fun and it probably generates a lot of money for your, for your business. And then you get to that point where you’re like, oh, now all these cool automations that have set up are starting to step on each other. Like, it, it’s maybe the person that I hired on my team moved on and I now have a new person. And it’s way too hard for them to understand and like, it’s not documented well. And so I think keeping things relatively simple is a good way to go. Like one example that I really like is doing something called an Evergreen newsletter. NB (08:34): And this is where instead of sending, well let’s say half your content that you send out is really timely, you know, hey, I’m going on book tour podcast episode’s coming out. Or you wanna like respond and comment to recent news that just happened or, or ride some wave of some conversation in like mass media. Maybe we send that email as a broadcast every Tuesday. But then there’s also, like, you and I have been writing for a very long time. We’ve produced, you know, hundreds of thousands, you know, may maybe millions of words at this point of content. And like if someone signs up today and they’re getting, Hey, this is what I write every Tuesday, like, there’s this crazy back catalog that they’re never encountering. And so one thing that I like to do is set up an evergreen newsletter sequence, and I might send that out every Thursday. NB (09:24): And that is actually a sequence time to when you join and it’s like, Hey, here’s my best content over time. They don’t really know that one is the same email to everyone at the same time. And the other is like timed just to them. They’re just like, I don’t know, Nathan kept like, every Tuesday and Thursday he sends me great content. And so I could have an Evergreen newsletter sequence that’s 50 emails, a hundred, you know, 104 emails long, and I got two two years of content and that’s just working for me. And I go, oh, this is a great article that I’m really proud of. I’m gonna put that like in week five instead of week 100 where it would naturally sit. And so you end up making these systems that work for you. So that’s the first thing that I would do is really love it, really simplify that. NB (10:10): Another one, maybe if we talk about Flywheel for a second oh, when was this? Back in 2008, I got the opportunity to do like some public works projects in Lisutu, which is a little landlocked country inside of South Africa. And one of the things that we ended up doing was working on installing this well at an orphanage there. And so if you think about like, as a kid, I went camping and you know, there’d be like this hand pump to like pump the water at the campsite. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so that’s a, this like up and down motion and if you stop doing it, the water stops flowing immediately. And that’s the old, well at this orphanage had a pump like that and we actually replaced it with a flywheel, which was my first exposure to a flywheel. And so what that is, is this big metal wheel that sits on top of the well and it’s super heavy and it turns in place. NB (11:05): And like I remember when we got it all hooked up and we were like, okay, let’s get this going. And I tried to turn it and it was too heavy, I couldn’t turn it by myself. And so like another friend was on the other side and we’re pushing it as hard as we can and we got it turning and as it got momentum, it got, it turned easier and easier and faster and faster. And what it, it got to the point is that like my friend stopped helping and I could stand there and with like, you know, one finger keep this thing spinning and it’s just pumping out tons of water for this whole orphanage. And that’s the idea of a flywheel is having something that’s not a bunch of separate activities. Like it’s all the activities put together into one flow and like you get to continue that momentum and we can apply this concept to newsletters and to creators really well. NB (11:50): So there’s kind of three rules of a flywheel. Okay? The, the first one is that each, all these activities have to flow nicely one into the next. Okay? So if we apply that to marketing, you might think, okay, when I publish a an article, I’m like, okay, you know, how do I, we’re we’re, where am I gonna promote this new essay or, or this new article? And you might sporadically promote it a few places. But it’s really different if you say, okay, this is my playbook every time. This is what I do every time I publish an article and here’s maybe where I ask for ideas to give me concepts on what to write next. Right? It’s like, it’s a defined process that that happens smoothly. The second rule is that each rotation of the flywheel should be slightly easier than the previous one. NB (12:42): Okay? Right. So as you’re building that momentum, it gets easier. So here’s an example. Most people have an a newsletter where they’re sending out weekly content because what happens? You have to write that content. I know that’s not brutal, that’s not easy. And so a a little tweak is you go from the content that you’re writing, you know, your weekly newsletter like new subscribers are coming in and in that automated welcome sequence that you’re writing, let’s say email three, email four, you have a question, there’s a, Hey, what’s your let’s say we have a marketing, you know, we’re teaching people marketing. I ask, Hey, what’s your biggest frustration with marketing in your business right now? And by asking that question, everyone’s replying to you. Like, hit reply and let me know people are replying. We categorize those replies in a label in Gmail and now every Monday at 8:00 PM when I’m like, shoot, I don’t have a email ready to go for Tuesday yet, what am I gonna write about? NB (13:37): I go into that label in Gmail and I go, what are, what are people frustrated with? What are they not understanding? And I pick one out that seems interesting and I write a response to that and then I change it a little bit. So it’s for everyone. And then there we go. And so now in this flywheel, like I just made each rotation easier cuz now my new subscribers are feeding me content ideas. And that made that rotation easier. Mm-Hmm. . Yeah, lemme stop there for a second. We can get into the third rule. Love, but love that. I’m curious if you see any of those things in your business or RV (14:08): Totally. Yeah, no, I, I love that. I mean, and the, the whole thing of like, you know, having to write a newsletter once a month or once a week, I mean it really, the, the problem is, it’s like inconsistency is the kiss of death and Right. The one thing marketing automation can do is like, solve that problem permanently. How, like, I want to hear number three, but I’m, I’m, I’m curious how many emails a week is too many? Like the, is like, you’re talking about kind of a cadence here, which is you’ve got your one long-term nurture going and then you have like one broadcast a week. Is that the actual cadence that you sort of follow as like two a week and, and you know, both what have you seen for yourself, but then also when you look at your, you know, your top clients, are they sending more frequently? Are they doing more broadcast? Are they doing more evergreen? Do you know, do they have multiple things happening? Like I’m just sort of curious like in the modern day, what’s the, what’s too much volume or what’s the right, what really what’s the right amount of volume? NB (15:12): Yeah, I think the right amount of volume first it comes down to expectations that you set with your audience. Uhhuh. So when, if you sign up for Seth Godin’s newsletter or I think it’s actually just a blog, I don’t know, that’s a newsletter, right? Just RSS to email. He, he posts every day always has, always will like clockwork. You know what, some, some of his posts are like four sentences long. Some of them, you know, might be a couple hundred words. They’re not super long, but you expect that every single day you’re gonna get a note from Seth and you knew that when signing up. And so he’s matching expectations. So is seven days a week or five days a week, whatever, he does too much. No. Cuz he set that expectation and it’s bite-sized enough that you can consume it. I think you need, when you think about cadence, you need to make sure you can maintain two bars. One, can you always match this ca cadence that you set? You’re like, Hey, a daily email, but I miss half of them because I’m busy. Or like, the kids got sick or whatever else. Like, no, don’t do that. So if you, if you hit a, a email once a week every single week like clockwork and you can get ahead, perfect, that’s a great cadence for you. And then the other thing is what cadence can you maintain quality? RV (16:26): Ah, NB (16:26): Like if you can’t write great content once a week, you know it’s a lot better than that is great content once a month, right? Pick a cadence that you can always hit and say, I will always be able to meet the expectations I set for my audience and I will always be able to put out content that I’m proud of. And some people do it every day. I personally like twice a week of the ev the balance of the Evergreen and the live, cuz I want both formats. And so I do an evergreen email on Fridays and a live email on Tuesdays and that I know I can hit and hit every single week and hit my bar for quality. Yeah. Some, sometimes it’s hard. We are like, RV (17:08): I love that I’ve, I mean I’ve heard, you know, I’ve heard the like consistency one, but that’s a really good about the quality metric and and that’s, I I’ve, it’s funny cuz I feel that way about books. It’s actually been several years now since I’ve had a book come out. I’ve written three, but it’s been, you know, we sold our co the last book I wrote was 2015. We sold our company in 2018. And so then it’s like, we basically been rebuilding for five years and you know, people are like, when are you gonna write a book? And I’ve always, you know, I’ve, I’ve had mentors tell me, you only need to write one book and you spend the rest of your career talking about it. And I, I really believe you can do that if you, if you do it right. I’ve had other people say, you need to write a book every two years, otherwise you’ll become irrelevant. RV (17:50): And I also can see the case for that. And so I think where I’ve landed is just, I’ll write a book when I have something significant to say. Yeah. And you know, to what you’re saying, it’s like, do the same thing with your email cuz I guess it’s, you know, I guess the big problem is going whether it’s once a week or once a month, the big issue is not that they’re not hearing from you frequently enough, the big issue is that they stop listening to you. Right. Because either the, the, the rhythm is inconsistent or the quality is, is inconsistent. That’s NB (18:20): Good. Yeah. They either forgot about you or they decided that you’re not worth listening to. RV (18:24): Yeah. I want to ask you about that too, in terms of how do you warm up a cold list? Because that’s a lot. Like, we have a lot of clients who will come to us and they’re like, eh, you know, I have an email list, but I haven’t sent anything to them in like a year. And especially, you know, a as, as a, you know, an email service provider. There’s a lot of rules there too, I think that you guys have to manage on a global level of her deliverability and all that. So like, but like what do you do? You go, these people opted in, like they wanted to hear from me, I was writing to them for a time, but like, I haven’t written to them in a minute. I mean, what would, what’s the, what’s, what’s the right way to to, you know, follow the rules and warm it up and like make use of it? Do you just scrap it and start over or like, what do you say? NB (19:10): Yeah, so what you do, one, don’t scrap the list and start over unless it’s been like a decade. It’s RV (19:15): Been a decade. We’re not gonna do that. Even if you tell us to anyways, we’re still we’re still uploading, NB (19:20): We’re gonna try to resurrect it somehow. Yeah. So the first thing is to, to try to look at what do you know about these people is there’s some cohort, let’s say we’ve got a list of 10,000 people, right? Is there some group that you think for one reason or another is more engaged than others, right? Maybe they bought a course from you, maybe something else. So if you email all 10,000 people at once, a bunch of people are gonna be like, make the news Nathan, I don’t remember him at all. Right? And they’re going to Marcus spam or whatever or not engaged. And the inbox providers, so like Gmail, Yahoo, et cetera, are gonna see that and be like, Ooh, this did not go well. And then my reputation, my domain reputation that I have is gonna go down, right? My Nathan barry.com domain will not be as respected by the inbox providers because of that and I’ll have a harder time reaching the inbox. So what we wanna do instead is warm this up. And so I’m gonna look and say, okay, instead of sending all 10,000 at once, I’m gonna start to build this reputation so that I’m not showing up, you know, with to, with 10,000 people at the party all at once. And the host is like, ah, I don’t want this. You know, so instead what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna say, okay, 500 of of these people bought a course from me. RV (20:35): Yeah. You know, NB (20:36): I’m gonna email them first and am I, am I right one, hey, I’m back email. Now you can expect a once a week or email from me. Here’s what’s going on, here’s what’s next. It might be the same email, but I’m gonna send it to only 500 people first and the the 500 that I think are the most engaged based on how that goes. Then I’m going to take a slightly less engaged group that I might sylvan, maybe they showed up to a meetup once. Like all of these things that I think there’s a bit more of a connection with. And I’m gonna gradually expand that circle and then people who don’t engage or I’m gonna say, say something in there and say like, Hey, if you don’t want to be on this list, like click here to unsubscribe and I’m gonna put that right at the top of the email. NB (21:21): I’m gonna make it really easy for someone to hit unsubscribe rather than spam. I do not want someone marking this is spam. That would be very bad. And so then really what we’re doing is watching that engagement. If people don’t engage, I’m gonna delete them off of the list cuz I want, I wanna take that 10,000 who may not have heard from me for a couple of years and I want to trim it down to whatever number of people that’s really engaged and wants to be there. Let’s say five to 7,000. And I’m gonna do it gradually and warm up that reputation. There’s other things that like get more advanced that our like deliverability team at convert it can help with, which is like making sure that your domain is authenticated correctly. And and we can put together a whole warmup plan or this, but that’s the basic concept is reach out to the most engaged people first and then gradually layer in people who are a little less known. RV (22:13): Yeah. Yeah. I love it. So you kind of just like start with the warm circle, work your way out mm-hmm. and then when you get to the, when you get to the remaining cold part of the list, just make something right at the headline to say unsubscribe so that they click that instead of spam and let let them, let them self eject and and not mess it up. I think that’s a good thing. I mean, I think there’s a mentality there for a lot of marketers that are like, well, I’d rather you know, send it to 10,000 people on the hope that someone might do it. And that’s the switch you gotta flip of. Like, no, what you really want is you really just want whoever’s really engaged, even if it’s 500 people, right? You really just want the one, you don’t want to, you don’t, it’s not a good strategy to email people who don’t want to hear from you. RV (23:00): Like it doesn’t actually work it and it has a lot of negative, negative impacts. This is kind of like what I hear you, what I hear you saying. So I have another question. I do want to, I want to hear number, I want to hear your number three of your flywheel or your three rules of the flywheel. But here’s another thing is when it comes to creating conversions, okay, so we’ve been, you’ve been talking like what’s your long-term nurture strategy, but let’s say you’re in a launch of some type, like a book launch or a course or a product or you know, or if you’re just making a fourth quarter push, we have a lot of professional service providers that work with us too. You know, they’re doctors and lawyers and chiropractors, whatever. And they’re just trying to drive leads into whatever their small business is. RV (23:43): So what about when you’re, when you’re trying to do like a quote unquote close cart situation? Yeah. Does, does, what do you know about effective email strategies there? Does the volume increase? Does it change? Like is there anything that you know about this? If you, if you’re trying to use email to actually sell, like not just build trust and add value, but like in the moments where you’re going, I need people to buy, like this is my moment where I pay my expenses for the year. How do we treat email differently in those seasons versus just the normal? NB (24:22): Yeah, you, you send more emails that, that’s the quick version of it. So let’s say we’re doing a a cart close right? Course launch any, any activity and we’re saying, Hey Friday at 10:00 PM like, that’s it, you can’t buy this anymore. A lot of people, you know, Friday at noon would send the last email, right? Or they’d be like, I don’t know, I told them on Wednesday it’s gonna close on Friday. So I probably like, they knew that, so I probably shouldn’t send another email like, no, no, you should definitely send an email. Probably the three things that I would do is I would send an email Friday morning saying today’s the last day and I might even kick in some bonus that I’m gonna give to everybody who bought. But I’m like, Hey, if you bought today, I’m a, maybe I wasn’t talking about it all the way along, but I’ll do this extra little thing to, to kick it over. And just make sure to give it to everyone else that way someone who’s like, Hey, I bought like day one. Yeah. RV (25:17): Early words got screwed. NB (25:18): Yeah, you don’t want that. Oh, another thing that helps in, in any kind of launch is being able to have multiple deadlines. So let’s say it’s a five day launch, I don’t know, opens on Monday, closes on Friday, you want something that goes away Monday end of the day, right? So that you can do a cart close on Monday, the, it’s still open, but like this extra bonus went away and then, so you’ll get this spike. Or maybe you do, actually I’d probably do that on Tuesday. Now I think about it because Monday gets you all this hype. Everyone who’s excited Tuesday you get this, Hey, this bonus is going away, so let’s let’s you email twice that day cuz you’re like, hey, the bonus goes away. And then that in the morning and then that evening you’re like, this is about to you know, you’re about to lose this back in sales. NB (26:12): Find some good educational re reasons to email on Wednesday and Thursday and then Friday morning as like, hey, we’re we’re closing tonight. Here’s some testimonials, here’s things that people have gotten. And then I, I would send an email like the last hour, you know, this is the, you have one hour left to buy it. And then the final thing, cuz you’ll see a bunch of sales happen then, especially from the people who are like, oh yeah, I’ve been watching this, but like every time I’ve gotten an email I’ve been doing something with the kids or you know, whatever Austin, you’re like, okay shoot, I actually have 52 minutes left to do this, you know, and throw a countdown timer in the email. That’s the feature that’s built in to convert it makes it really easy. RV (26:52): Well that’s really cool to not have, you don’t have to like put a little third party widget or something in there. You drop a native. That’s cool. NB (26:58): And then the last thing that I would do is on Saturday in our fictional example, I would do a down sell where I would say basically send the people who are interested in the launch but didn’t buy. So make that custom segment and then send them an email and like offer something different. Maybe it’s if you’ve had all of this stuff for one package in your, in your course, maybe you’ve trimmed it down to a lighter version and you’re selling that and say, Hey, if that wasn’t a good fit, maybe check out this other thing and it’s to a smaller group and you’ll drive another maybe 10% of sales off of that. You could also do an email and just say like, Hey I noticed you really engaged but you didn’t end up buying. Could you let me know what the reason was? NB (27:47): And a bunch of people will come back and be like, oh, it’s too expensive. I didn’t see the value. Like there’s some really good customer research that happens in there and, and you could even have like your assistant go through and be like, oh, well if it’s too expensive, here’s this option. Or if you didn’t see the value, here’s some of their case studies and you know, someone would be like, oh, well that’s, that’s sales, that’s not scalable. And it’s like, okay, but if I, if it takes me another five minutes to send a custom email to make a $300 sale, like yeah, that’s pretty scalable to have a team member be doing RV (28:15): That. Especially if you can copy and paste that email 25 times and like pick up, you know, pick up more sales. So, so basically in that, in that theoretical example, you have something you’ve probably been adding value the week before. Yep. And then when you NB (28:30): Actually, and you have to build up to the launch, like yeah, it’s so important. RV (28:33): Okay. And then when, when, when you open the cart, you have like one email on Monday. NB (28:43): I I would, I’m, a lot of people will send more emails. But yeah, I’m gonna end up sending eight emails in five days basically. It’s kind of the cadence. RV (28:53): Yeah. So you got basically one on Monday, you got two on Tuesday with like that Oh, the early, basically the early bird bonus. Yeah. And then one on Thursday, one on, or one on Wednesday, one on Thursday. So that’s five and then three on Friday. That’s like eight. NB (29:07): Yeah, two or three on Friday and then definitely one on Saturday. One on RV (29:10): Saturday. Mm-Hmm. . Yeah. I love that. And NB (29:13): You’ll get unsubscribes. Another quick little tip is this is another thing that converts good at is putting a little link in there and j just saying like, Hey, we’re gonna, we’re, we are talking about this product all week long. If you don’t want to hear about it, but you don’t want to unsubscribe, click this and won’t, I won’t send you another email this week and like next week we’re back to our regular scheduled programming and it’ll just pause that for them. Cuz someone will be be like, look man, I’m not gonna buy it, you know, for whatever reason, but I love your content every week and you just don’t want that person to get annoyed. And so right at the beginning and actually the week before, you could say, Hey, we’re we’re rolling into launch week for this. I remember talking all about it. If you don’t wanna hear about it, click this link and we’ll skip next week and or, you know, and I’ll see you later or I’ll see you soon and that’ll save a bunch of unsubscribes and let people kind of control their preferences. RV (30:07): Mm-Hmm. . Yeah, I love that. I love that. And I mean, it goes back again to just this idea of there’s this like weird thought that marketers have that somehow if they spam people enough that someone who is not interested will like accidentally decide one day to buy, become interested and become interested, keep them up the head with it more, and then they’ll get excited about it and it, and it’s like, it’s the opposite. It’s like if they don’t want to hear from you, let them not hear from you. Or if they don’t want to hear from you so frequently, let them slow down the cadence, you know, until they’re ready. That’s the whole point of email is you’re just nurturing them in an automated fashion and then you will catch ’em on the next launch or the launch after. But if you, if you annoy ’em, you’re gonna, you lose them here and then you taken money out of your future pockets. So I’m a I lo I love that. So I wanna go back to number three. You said the, there’s three things that great flywheel should have. And then I want to hear, I want to hear a couple specific, I have a couple specific questions for you about convert kits. So yeah, what’s the, what’s the third part about the flywheel? NB (31:11): Yeah, the third rule is that every rotation of the flywheel should produce more results than the previous rotation. Mm-Hmm. So going back to the rules, right? It needs to be in sequence, these can’t be scattered tasks. The second rule is each rotation needs to be easier than the previous one. And the third one is that it has to produce more results than the previous rotation. So if you think about that, like, wait, our rules are that rules two and three together is like, it has to get easier over time and it has to produce more simultaneously. Like that’s kind of a high bar to hit. But there’s a lot of creators that have done this. So let me give you an example. There’s a creator his name’s Sawhill Bloom and he writes a lot about habits and mental models and business and, and you know, all of these kind of things. NB (31:55): And he’s popular on Twitter. And so he’s built up a good size following on Twitter and he drives a lot of subscribers from his email or from Twitter to his email list and then from there into automations. And he’s got a few things going on here. He he does a referral program where he says, Hey, if you refer three friends to my newsletter, then you get this extra guide that I wrote for free. And so that means every subscriber that comes in, you know, maybe 10% of ’em refer friends. And so that turns into, you know, every one subscriber turns into 1.1 or 1.5 subscribers, and that goes from there. The next thing that happens is he’s got paid products that he is selling that’s pretty normal. So, so he is making money off of every subscriber from there on, from there he is in something called the Convert Kit Sponsor Network, and that’s where we sell advertising sponsorships for his newsletter on his behalf. NB (32:50): And so he is making a good amount of money from that, and he’s actually taking all of the money that he makes and pouring that back into advertising to grow his newsletter faster. And so what happens is, if we put some actual numbers to it at the beginning or like February, 2023, he had 200,000 subscribers on his list. And that’s growing at a pretty decent pace from, from social, but he was able to sell sponsorships and make tw about $25,000 a month off of selling sponsorships on his newsletter. He attends twice a week and he is taking all of that money and putting it into something called the partner network that a company called Spark Lu has. And that’s where you can sponsor other creators and like pay them $2 per subscriber that comes to you. RV (33:42): What’s it NB (33:43): Called? The company is spark Loop and we have a partnership with them. So you get it for free if you’re a converter customer. But it’s their partner network. And so basically you can say, Hey, I’ll pay $2 for every engaged subscriber that someone sends to me, and then creators can go browse it and say, oh, I like Nathan’s stuff. I’d happily get paid to send subscribers to him. So now instead of me going out and like paying Mark Zuckerberg on Instagram for more subscribers, like I’m paying another creator. And so Sahi is taking all the money he makes from sponsorships, spending it there, picking up another like 10 to 15,000 subscribers a month. And so now like he has this flywheel that keeps going around in circles, he’s taking his money, he’s reinvesting it, growing his list. But if you think about it, the more subscribers there are on his list, the more he’s able to charge brands for sponsors, which means the more money he makes, which means the more money he’s spending on advertising. NB (34:43): So his list grows faster. And so every rotation, this is actually getting easier and producing more results. So I think he started the year in January at about 150,000 subscribers and today what is it, April 20th or so he’s at 300,000 subscribers. So he is, he’s doubled the list in Q1 by like running the flywheel very aggressively. And he’s a great marketer, but that’s how you can kind of put these things in sequence and then make it so that the flywheel, you know, it’s like a snowball going downhill. It’s like picking up more snow as it goes. It gets bigger and bigger faster. RV (35:16): I love it. Yeah, that is really cool. How do you do the referral thing where you say, Hey, if you, if you refer three people to my newsletter, I’ll send you this bonus, which, I mean, does that basically mean you have to set up like an affiliate link for every single subscriber and somehow it has to track if, if if that subscriber sends it out and three people convert on that land? I mean that’s a, is that how that’s being done? NB (35:42): Yeah, so basically what it is in, in the same way that we’re all used to affiliate programs, you know, it’s similar this tool, spark Loop has that built in. And that’s something that people get for free with convert Kits Greater Pro Plan, and that’s where it’ll set up that system. And in the footer of your email it’ll say, Hey, here’s your link. You’ve referred two people. Like refer one more to unlock Nathan’s free guide to whatever. Right? Or it could be an email course, it could be maybe if someone’s like, Hey, if you refer 10 people, you know, I’ll send you this shirt. If, if you refer 20 people, I’ll give you this invite. Like you get to come and do this like one day workshop or you know, something else, right? You could, you can offer any kind of custom bonus. And it’s a really effective way of getting your best like your biggest fans to refer more, more people. RV (36:36): Interesting. NB (36:37): But it’s all, it’s all automated. You set it up once yeah. RV (36:41): And this is NB (36:41): Basically, I’m obsessed with flywheel and automation, so there’s no way RV (36:43): Is that like an HTML code you drop into the email and then it’s basically reading like how many people Yeah, exactly. Subscribe to and pulling that through. Wow, that’s interesting. That’s fascinating. Well, okay, so I don’t wanna let you go before we talk a little bit about, about Convert Kit. And, and I, I’ll tell you like I love all the marketing automation tools and I also struggle with all of them cuz there’s like certain things that they do and like you guys have some really, really awesome features. First of all, a lot of our clients use you and they say it’s very easy to use. It’s like, it’s not super comp, like it doesn’t feel overwhelming and complicated. And so a lot of clients really like that, especially if they don’t have like developers or a lot of team or like a lot of time for the tech stuff. RV (37:27): One of the features that y’all have that I don’t think I’ve never seen anybody else have, and I told you this before and I was like, it’s really an amazing feature, is to send emails based on zip code radius to say send an segment my list by people who are all within some radius range of the zip code, which is huge for anyone that does any type of events event marketing and for book book tours and stuff like that. Or even if you’re a speaker and you’re like, go, I want to have a meetup in all these different places. It, I mean, it’s a really, really cool thing. So anyways, w what would you say are like, let’s say, let’s just take three, so I’ve given one what would you say are like three of your favorite features about Convert Kit? Maybe they’re things that you, you guys either do that other people don’t do or you think you do better or it’s easier. But I would just love to hear like, what are your, your top three kind of like favorite features of On Convert Kit? NB (38:29): Yeah. First the location based one. I absolutely love, we have a bunch of clients that are musicians. Yeah. So like Tim McGraw and Land Bridges and Mandy Moore and a bunch of others. And their teams are doing that whole thing, you know, they’re like, oh, we’re playing this show, either a huge stadium show or something smaller and it’s like, look, you know, we want to email people within 200 miles of Dallas Fort Worth. Right? Super easy to do. Or another example is you get these customers who are selling like food products, right? Maybe you’re you know, you have like the recipe blog or there’s one that there’s a, a blog called Hey Grill Hay. She runs this fantastic barbecue blog and she’s just getting into selling her own like sauces and rubs that are getting carried in grocery stores. NB (39:15): Okay. And what she does I think is just brilliant is if she gets carried in a new grocery store, like they’ll just run this little test like, okay, we’ll see if people, like, if consumers want to buy your product, she’ll be like, cool, what what store did carry that in? And then she goes to her email list, you know, and says like, okay everybody within 50 miles of Denver where like this, you know, store is carrying our product, you know, she emails him and says like, go here and buy this. And then also tell ’em like, Hey, are you like, are you gonna carry this other ver you know, like you only have three other flavors. Where’s the fourth one? You know, whatever. And so these stores are just like, wow, your product was a huge hit, we should carry it. And more. NB (39:56): She’s like, yes, you should. I agree , and that’s the, the location-based play. But, but two other ones. One feature that Convert it has that I think no one else has. Well let’s set a scenario. We’re in our product launch and we’re like, Hey, the cart’s open, it’s live. Like go buy it. It’s that Monday morning email that we sent out and you hit send and you’re like, okay, here we go. You’re like refreshing for sales and instead of sales, you get an email back that says like, Hey man, your link’s broken. And you’re like, ugh. Like just this crushing feeling. You’re like, now do I send another email and all of that? No. In Convert It, you go in and you click edit on the link and you change it and you remove the like extra slash that you put in or however you type with the link, you fix it and hit save and all the links come through and, and click through automatically correctly. So it like, you RV (40:47): Can edit embedded links after you’ve sent them out. NB (40:51): Yeah, and I, as far as I know no other email tool will let you do that. RV (40:56): That’s cool. I don’t know of another tool that does that. I mean, that’s, that’s pretty awesome. I mean it was like one you hope you’d never have to use, but man, if you NB (41:05): Didn’t need use. But if you do it’ss there RV (41:06): For you, it’s pretty, it’s pretty clutch. Yep. NB (41:08): Like we’ve got your back. There’s a bunch of other fun things and like you know, like we’ll automatically check to see if any of your links are sending you a 4 0 4. We’ll check your subject. Like we’ll do a bunch of stuff like that for you automatically before you hit send. But probably the picking three, I love automations like as a feature and it, and pretty much every tool, email tool is gonna have automations. Things that I like about ours is you can click into an email sequence and see all the emails listed down the side so you can move between them really quickly. And so it’s easy to see like, oh, what did I send them last week? Or what was yesterday? And you’re not like backing out and going back in or opening a ton of tabs, you’re just like clicking between them. It’s really fast. I’m RV (41:56): Not gonna, that’s handy cuz a lot of the time you lose is just in the extra clicks when you’re building these things is like, click in here and then click in here and then click in here to edit it and then click back out. Click back out. Yeah. NB (42:07): Yeah, so making things load really quick. And then really like these advanced things that you’d have to be normally be like a marketing automation expert to implement. We’ve got all these recipes like shared automations inside of Convert It. And so you can go through and be like, okay like gimme the book launch template and let me load that in and then just edit it from me. So it’s really like, how do we take something that before only the experts could do and make it so it’s approachable for RV (42:36): Yeah. You mentioned that like the, you you mentioned that like deadline sequence, sort of countdown timer inside of an email. That’s a cool thing cuz normally you’d have to use like a third party plugin or like NB (42:45): Yeah. How do you install it? Like, paste in this html nobody knows how to do it, no one wants to, so it’s like click little plus icon, select countdown timer, set the date you want it to countdown to hit send on the email. RV (42:56): Yeah. That’s really cool. That’s awesome, man. Well just so everybody knows, like if you go to brand builders group.com/convert, that is our affiliate link for Convert Kits. So we are, you know, been fans of Nathan. A lot of our clients use Convert Kit. I wanted to have ’em on the show so you could like, hear, you know, his story and what they’re about. We’ve heard great feedback on it. Some of these, some of these features are really, really hard to find. So Nathan, this has been awesome. Like what’s, what’s the vision for Convert Kit from here? Like where do you, where do you, where do you think you guys are going? Like are there any big things ahead in terms of like what you’re working on or, you know, what’s, what’s that? What’s in the future? NB (43:42): Yeah, so our company mission is that we exist to help creators earn a living. It’s deeply personal to me. I grew up in a family where money was really scarce and when I learned about making money on the internet, I was like, does everyone know this? Like, like, I wanna make this accessible to as many people as possible. And so everything that we’re coming out with whether it’s our sponsorship network that we’re building and still in the early days or work at Commerce where you can sell digital products or even this new partner network that we’re working on with Spark Loop, those are all about like, Hey, how can we make it easier? Like, how can we get creators paid? And so that’s really what we’re building is like turning all of this into a flywheel that someone can sign up and say, Hey, whether you have like 500 subscribers or 50,000 subscribers, there’s a lot of great ways to make money. And so that’s kind of, kind of next, that’s the North Star. How much money can I pay to creators every single month? And then whatever crazy ideas I can dream up that makes that easier. RV (44:44): I love it. Well, thanks for what you’re doing, man. Thank you for supporting creators. We’ve got a, we have a sh a shared united passion for, we call ’em mission-driven messengers, but like we you know, and the tools, the tools matter a bunch and, and they’re making a big difference, man. So we wish you all the best. We’ll stay connected again, go to brand builders group.com/convert if you wanna learn more specifically about Convert Kit and you know, Nathan, I’m sure I’ll talk to you again soon. NB (45:11): Sounds good. Thanks for having me.

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25 of the World's Most Recognizable Influencers Share Their Tips on How to Build and Monetize a Personal Brand

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