How to Build Your Email List from Scratch – Daniel Faggella

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Dan-Faggella-PinterestBusinesses have been told time and again that they need to build their lists. But once you get those names, what do you do with them to turn them into lifelong customers?

Using the right tools and tactics, such as segmenting your audience and maintaining constant contact with your leads and prospects, will ensure that your business sees a higher return on their email marketing as well as guarantee improvement in core business metrics.

Dan Fagella started as a jiu jitsu champion and turned that into an extremely profitable online martial arts business. He now runs an email marketing agency, CLV Boost, where he teaches other business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs the power of targeted email marketing automation to help drive business metrics and boost their businesses to the next level.

Rich Brooks: Welcome everybody to another episode of The Marketing Agents podcast. Today we’ve got an exciting guest, Dan Faggella is in the house. Now Dan went from a small town, Brazilian jiu jitsu champion, to an extremely profitable online martial arts business, and an international following of nearly 30,000 subscribers. Now he runs CLV Boost, and email marketing agency where he teaches other business owners and online entrepreneurs to use the power of email marketing automation to scale their businesses to the next level. And if you’ve been listening to the show, you know that even though we talk a lot about social media and search engine optimization, we’re always telling you – build your list. And for that reason, Dan, I’m very excited to have you on today’s show.

Dan Faggella: Rich, I am very glad to be here, my good man.

Rich: Ok, alright. Well listen, I know know you’ve got an interesting story. You were this jiu jitsu instructor, the roof caved in, suddenly you’re everywhere. Tell us that story in a little more detail than I just broke it down.

Dan: Sure, sure, I’ve gone over this one a couple times and it’s still as novel and weird as the first time it actually happened to me in person. Basically, I got out of undergrad at University of Rhode Island – I’m from a really small town of about 8,00 people called Wakefield, Rhode Island, you’ve never heard of it, you’ll also never visit it – and when I got into grad school at UPENN for Positive Psychology and Skill Development – which is where I did my graduate work – it was either get a job or start a business and then pay for grad school with that while you’re doing Ivy League grad school. And of course the most intelligent thing to do is start a physical martial arts academy hundreds and hundreds of miles away from where you’re going to grad school. And that’s what I did. So when I did that, we actually grew the academy, didn’t really sleep all that much – that habit hasn’t changed – and driving back and forth from Pennsylvania to Rhode Island building this gym, saved up some bucks even though I was paying out the nose for UPENN and really expanded our martial arts gym to just under 5,000 squares, over 4,500 at that point and not too far away from 100 students. And then BAM! We had well over a foot of snow and then it just rained for 3 days. And after it rained for 3 days – this building we were in was actually built in the 1800’s interestingly enough – so we had a good deal on rent, but the problem was a bunch of the boards in the roof started cracking and holes in the ceiling started erupting and we had fire hoses of water and slushy muck dumping into my brand new, expanded martial arts academy. And I thought to myself, “By golly, that’s kind of like my life’s savings there. This is a little bit annoying, and maybe this whole brick and mortar thing has a downside to it, with the overhead and all.” So I had a bunch of material filmed and while I was frantically sleeping in my gym and getting rid of the front desk staff so I could do everything myself so we could save up and get the carpets cleaned and the drywall redone and whatever else we had to do, I started really delving in seriously into selling my stuff online. And I had gotten really neurotic about email marketing and converting leads in an 8,000 person town – because Rich, you’re from Maine, not New York City either – so you know if you’re doing a local business you eventually can run out of humans, right?

Rich: That is true.

Dan: And in a town of 8,000 people, you actually run out of humans super duper fast. So because of that, I was really neurotic about making sure that all of my leads converted to appointments. And then I took that same level of neurosis and hyper targeting and email follow-up, and tailored that to e-commerce. And thank goodness there’s a lot more people in the world than in my small town, and the e-commerce business really was able to scale very quickly and luckily I was able to sell my gym 8 months after that event and go full time e-commerce. Now I’m up here in Boston getting involved with the Venture-backed start-ups and kinda doing my thing.

Rich: That’s very cool. So yet another story of how somebody‘s neurosis led to their ultimate success.

Dan: Yeah, yeah. I mean, you gotta read Napoleon documentaries, man.

Rich: There you go. Alright, now when you started you were talking a little bit about you didn’t have much in terms of an email list. Did you make email marketing a priority at that point, or was that something you kind of stumbled into?

Dan: You know, Rich, I really, really did. And I make email marketing a priority for everybody I come in contact with sort of inadvertently, simply because it’s when you’re a hammer you see nails all over the place. So in my small town, one of the best ways that we filled up our calendar with free trial sessions for new students was I would, A) we wanted fresh leads in the system so we could call them, we could follow-up right away, but B) I was doing a lot of database marketing and taking, let’s say, all the parents that came in in the last 3 months but didn’t join and send them a special promotion. Or all the past MMA students and sending them a special promo or giving away free gloves if they came in for a seminar or something like that. And doing a lot of more detailed, dialed in, segmented and targeted database marketing so that even with a smaller list in a tiny town, we can really milk a ton of appointments, really milk a ton of engagements and make the messages really relevant. So when I went online, I wanted to know these people weight class, I wanted to know their major goals in jiu jitsu, I wanted to know the things that they would care about so that my follow-up messaging and my database messaging would be strong, targeted and would convert to e-commerce sales as quickly as possible if they were interested in my stuff. So email marketing was literally priority numero uno when I got started, but like you said, I started from absolute scratch.

Rich:   Now Dan, approximately what year was this that you’re talking about that you’re starting to build your list?

Dan: Man, I don’t know why this is so hard to think about now. The roof collapsed, I believe, it was February 2013, so this is not terribly long ago.

Rich: Oh, ok. I was just trying to get a sense because I remember not long ago when I first started my list – and I’m embarrassed to say how long ago it was – but the rules were much different back then. So, when you started your list, how did you literally get those first few people into your email list? Was this a matter of that you were doing Facebook ads, were you trying to drive traffic to your website? Because it sounds like there’s a real high touch component here where you got people to visit you. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Was it the visit to your place or was it getting them on your list?

Dan: Are you talking about the e-commerce business or the gym?

Rich: I’m talking about, I guess, the physical business.

Dan: Yeah, the physical gym. So e-commerce, we ended up doing a lot of other stuff. For the physical business, our primary mode of lead generating – we’re just now starting to make Facebook ads work – actually, at the time of this recording, at a rather obscene level at least in the niches that we’re running. Historically I wasn’t all that good at that, and I didn’t have all the time to manage it because I was doing 50 other things other than digital marketing. If you want to be good at Facebook, you don’t do it for 20 minutes a day, you like, get a frickin degree. You go to school for Facebook, you pay people, and that’s what we’ve done. I’ve paid absolutely out the nose many, many, many humans to get those skills. Anyway, we didn’t have any of that back then, so it was ranking locally for martial arts and fitness – in Wakefield and Narragansett – in my local town. So it was really SEO that did it a lot for the local, and that was really a pivotal component of what we had there. The one thing that we were doing differently from the other gyms around us, was we were actually keeping up an active blog – it wasn’t the nicest looking website in the world – but we were keeping up an active blog and we were also regularly pumping out new videos. When push comes to shove, mixed martial arts, jiu jitsu, self defense-related stuff, we were putting more on the web even though our site wasn’t as pretty.

Rich: Again, like you, I hire people to do the hard work. The stuff I can’t do.

Dan: Yeah, I definitely hire people to make websites look pretty. Back then, paying for UPENN, I really didn’t have the bucks for it so it was all WordPress. And it was just staying really, really active on social – primarily YouTube – we found a lot of people were finding us through there. And then also really maintaining a solid blog and making sure we were ranking for local terms. So for the gym it was that way. When we started to go online in terms of building a list, like the 30-40 thousand folks that we have in martial arts now, that started to get a lot more scrappy. I’m happy to go into how we started that from scratch, too.

Rich: Let’s do that, but let me just recap to make sure I understand. So for your physical space – because we do have a lot of listeners who do have a physical space – basically you did a content marketing strategy, you may not have called it that back then. You had a platform, which was your website/blog, you were creating content, you understood enough about search and local search so that anybody who was interested in this kind of physical activity – jiu jitsu, martial arts, personal training, whatever it was – was going to find you, and then from there you used that to get them to opt into some sort of email newsletter, either through offers or whatever it is. And once they got into your offices, then you could even further segment that list because now you know their weight class, you know if they have kids, you know anything else.

Dan: All that stuff, exactly. They weren’t the nicest looking offers in the universe, but we had really, really well segmented offers. So if you’re reading a blog about MMA, UFC-type stuff and fitness, we would have a video course that you could download for free by entering your name, email and phone for mixed martial arts/fitness. So we had hyper-targeted per benefit and per program opt-ins, so that we had higher conversion rates than the guys down the street who were like, “Enter for information on classes.” That’s like a really bad offer. And we ended up sort of going with offers that weren’t horrible and were actually tailored and calibered per benefit and per program. So that ended up – between that and content marketing – we were able to build a list in a very small town rather well.

Rich: That’s excellent. And now let’s shift gears entirely with a different business, this is the e-commerce business. We’re not shifting gears entirely, this is still some of the same content that you’re creating in terms of video and all that sort of stuff, but the bottom line is what did you do differently to build that email list when you weren’t geographically challenged like you were with the retail shop?

Dan: Yeah, I have a HUGE preference now, Rich, for non-geographically challenged anything. I guess that’s what happens when you have decent experiences with things. Yeah, I like it a lot more. Basically, I really did not do any Facebook ads off the bat. So now we are doing them en masse in a couple different niches. Back then I didn’t necessarily know what I was doing with Facebook ads. Off the bat, again, I’d have to pay multiple experts in Boston and Florida thousands and thousands of dollars for months and months to get good enough at Facebook to really make it crack. So it wasn’t there yet. What we ended up doing to start with, Rich, is I identified a hitlist of the bigger, joint venture partners in this niche and space. These comprised the largest blogs, the largest YouTube followings, the biggest fan pages and the biggest email lists. So I primarily like those. Now my preference is email lists, to be frank with you. But, Facebook – back in those days a year, year and a half ago – wasn’t horrible at not paying for a post and it still getting opted. These days it’s not so pretty. So I identified a hitlist of those folks, and then instead of what most folks do in the internet marketing space is they’ll say, “Hey, I have a list, you have a list, I’ll promote your stuff and you can do the same. That will be a great trade off.” But here’s the thing, I had no list. So what I did instead, Rich, and I think that absolutely anybody in any niche – whether it’s B2B, whether it’s B2C – can pull off a similar strategy. Determine those folks that have access to the people you want to sell, and then what I did is I went out with the ability to at least write a little bit – they crack the whip on us pretty hard over there at UPENN – and I figured out how to write articles that weren’t horrible and started contributing to some martial arts magazines and a number of martial arts blogs. So instead of saying, “Hey random joint venture guy, I have a list, you have a list, let’s cross-promote, it will be really boring.” Instead of that, I didn’t have a list, so I said, “Hey, I wrote for blank, blank, blank and blank magazine, and I’d be happy to interview you and find out about this particular topic that I know you’re an expert on, and be more than happy to cover some of your stuff on a variety of sites. Let me know if you have a time in the coming 2 weeks.” And I would do that with these martial arts experts with followings. Then I would get them on the horn and we’d yak it up, and I’d say, “Hey, I’m happy to put together one article, but to be honest, I can get this thing all over the darn internet, and I have a brand new, little free video course. If you could let people know about that, I’d be way more than happy to do half a dozen articles for you.” And then we’d work out arrangements for content traded or email. I did that for about 3 months and we jacked our list up pretty significantly to the point where within maybe 5 or 6 months we had a five-figure business. Five figures a month. So $17,000 a month within kind of month 5.

Rich: Wow. So that’s a great technique. So you didn’t have the list that everybody often is looking for, so instead you had to get creative. Now you had built up relationships where you were able to publish to these martial arts magazines.

Dan: Yes.

Rich: So you always have to bring something to the table. That’s what you were able to bring to the table, you just got creative. Now it’s interesting that you mentioned this because we were talking about Michael Stelzner before we got on. He’s a friend and a mentor of mine, and obviously someone I look up to. When I was first getting started, I actually had the opportunity to blog for fastcompany.com. I interviewed him, I interviewed Mari Smith, I interviewed Lewis Howes, I interviewed a lot of people who I looked up to and respected in the field. I didn’t have any of their sort of reach or list, but I got to know those and others just by my access to Fast Company. So one of the things if you’re listening now and you’re like, “Wait a sec, I actually write for such and such, or I have access to this.” – whatever it may be – you may have something that an A-lister is looking for, so be creative when you’re looking to make those business ventures.

Dan: Yup. It’s really an important thing for me to that same point, for everybody listening, to what you had just mentioned. I would say have that tangible hit list of the players you want to be in touch with, and the people that in your dream world would promote the ever-loving bejeebers out of you. And then keep that list. I’ll tell you, in the jiu jitsu niche, it took me 14 months to hit all the major players. But by 14 months in the game, we had everybody, no matter how much they make no matter how big their list, no matter how cool and aloof they were, to promote for all our damn offers. And it’s only because I had them all on the list, I saw which ones were checked and which ones were not. We kept going through the list, now we have relationships with everybody. So anybody in their own niche, I recommend do the same thing.

Rich: And that’s great. I wish I had the foresight that you did. I was just looking to make connections because I liked these people and I liked what they were doing. I think that – and I hear it in your voice – that if you are planning on using this tactic to be able to reach these influencers out there – is obviously you have to have their best intentions at heart, too. You weren’t looking to just leverage them to crawl over them to get something out of it. You were looking to do something that was going to benefit both sides.

Dan: Exactly. I mean for me, I knew for a doggone fact, RIch, they don’t have a guy in their rolodex that writes for magazines. They don’t say, “featured in blank magazine” on any sales page or any homepage they have. And this is a great opportunity to get some of their expertise which is cool, valid, interesting fun and put that in a totally new place tha might even be more valuable than these guys that would just promote them via email. I could get them on brand new media, so I knew that would be a value to them, I knew it would be congenial with their goals and their aspirations and their idea of kind of promoting themselves, and so I used that as chip that I knew would be doggone valuable to them.

Rich: Alright, so let’s get back.. So you’ve done this, you’ve made those connections, and they’ve promoted your products online. How exactly were they promoting your video courses?

Dan: So what I would do – and we’re actually doing this now in the self-defense niche as well – we’re going to replicate all the same processes until we sell this particular e-commerce business and get in to the seed level investing and tech that I came to Cambridge to do in the first place. When they’d initially promote for us, here’s how it goes. I’d talk to them on the phone, ping emails back and forth, I would do my interview or find enough of their content to create articles, I’d post a number of those things, and then they would commit to x number of emails, x number of Facebook posts that I would write. And they could tweak them, but I would write them. So we’d come up with an arrangement, they would say “yes”, I would say, “yes”, and then I would do the articles and they would do what they said they would do. And to be honest, I think I only had one guy not do what he said he would do after I did what I had to do. So in general, if you build a decent relationship and you’re clearly coming from a place where you can help them out a bunch, I always found if you make an equitable trade – you lay out a plan that you know is going to help them, you know it’s going to help you – you work really hard to do your end of the bargain, I just bet on luck that people were going to know that I was a player in the game that can really be helpful to them and that they’d follow through. And they did. So the most important thing is I didn’t say, “Hey, great, I put up a bunch of articles, now you can promote me if you want.”   It didn’t really work like that. Instead I said, “Hey great, I’ll do half a dozen, here’s the website I’ll publish on. I’m going to come up with a couple templates you can send out over x amount of time, make sure they go to your whole list, as well as 3 Facebook posts we’ll do during this week. I’ll be paying you $30 for every $7 front end purchase that you generate from this particular page that they opt in. And I’ll make sure all those articles are up and published and linking back to your page so that people can kind of learn more from you.” So I would come up with the arrangement first, and I would also write the material that they would send. They could tweak it, but I would write it.

Rich: Ok. And so where were you sending them exactly?

Dan: Squeeze pages.

Rich: So that’s how you were building your list then.

Dan: Eight days a week, more than seven. It’s not a game, it’s lists, it’s straight up email. So Facebook, email pumps, all that stuff was going through explicit, front end mini courses, ebooks that were collections of multiple interviews of world champions, technique breakdowns, cool, different stuff that their lists would be interested in in the martial arts space. And one other thing that I did then, Rich, and that I still do now, is a lot of these opt-in pages, they have not just “what is your email” or “what is your name and email” – which I hardly care about these days, I use name occasionally to boost open rate, that’s about it – but more importantly, we would have them fill out a little drop down. And the drop down for our martial arts list oftentimes it’s going to be weight class, because then our automated sequence can be calibrated per weight class, we get higher open rates throughout the sequence, we get a higher customer lifetime value per opt-in. So a lot of these opt-in pages were not just email, they were email and drop down, so our front-end communication was hardcore tailored to convert very, very quickly.

Rich: Excellent. Alright, some great information there.

Dan: All to squeeze. All to squeeze.

Rich: When you were using these squeeze pages, were you just cranking them out in WordPress, did you use any plugins, were there any third party apps that you were using then or recommend now?

Dan: That’s a great question, Rich. I almost take it for granted these days, but a couple of the tools we still use now, I use Optimizepress 2 for some of our website, which is decently popular on the internet marketing space. And then there’s also a relatively cheap, little app called InstaBuilder. I’m pretty sure you can still buy the thing, but it’s a great, little really low-tech way to build interesting, little opt-in pages and good headlines and add your graphic in the right space without really having to have any hardcore technical skills. It looks pretty decent on mobile as well. So InstaBuilder was another tool that we used just for our reference and everybody else. I can’t write a lick of code, if you held a revolver to my head and you said, “Hey, make this text red in html, or make it bold.”, there would be gore everywhere. It would be horrible, because I’m incapable of doing that. So I always use tools that don’t require me to do any coding stuff. And Optimizepress 2 and InstaBuilder are definitely high in the list for me.

Rich: Alright, so I think we have a pretty good sense of how you built your list over time, how you actually reached out to people, how you leveraged those relationships – and I don’t mean that in a negative way how you created something of value, how you created these squeeze pages to get people to opt-in, and you did a really good job segmenting. In your case very specific, “what is your weight class?” What did you do then in terms of was there and auto drip program, were there regular emails, what was the content that you were using to further engage and move people further down that sales funnel?

Dan: Yup. So, a few things. I’m again a pretty neurotic, calibrated dude when it comes to sort of post opt-in and follow-up. So what we would do, I do this little practice where I like to model businesses that are very profitable. So if ever I’m going to do something that I haven’t done before, I ask myself, “What is an 8 or 9 figure business in maybe a similar industry that is doing this type of thing, and then how are they going about it?” So looking at really successful internet marketing stuff, whether it’s survival or whether it’s the self-defense space or whether it’s other spaces like that, look at kind of the bigger players. Look at the multi, multi million dollar businesses in that domain and then aiming to sort of tailor our email follow-up to what seem to be the best practices for businesses that made a lot of money. I prefer to take those kind of steps rather than reinventing the wheel, at least initially. I like to take a safe first step that seems good enough for an 8 figure business, at which point it’s ok for me to start with that as a template. So what we did, Rich, is we found some of the most successful folks in similar internet marketing spaces, and we built a 24-36 email follow-up campaign rotating different premiums, different bonuses, different educational content, as well as a core continuity membership martial arts program on the back of these opt-in pages. So we don’t do 6 email follow-ups, we do email follow-ups essentially forever. So there’s nobody on our list that doesn’t hear from us every week, and some folks are like, “Oh man, all I wanted was one video and honestly that was it.” At which point of course they’ll opt out, and that’s fine. But you end up losing a lot of people if you only follow-up with them for a week. So 24-36 modeled off the best folks in the internet marketing niche in the industry, and then we rigorously tested all of our sales pages and rotated a variety of different, interesting frontend, premium offers that basically led to the same core continuity program that really is what holds the roof up for our monthly revenues. So that’s what our initial follow-up is. Essentially, Rich, if you want me to boil this down to stuff that anybody tuned in can listen to, what is sort of the core product that if you could sell a bunch of would pay for your kid’s college and for whatever house you like to look at in the magazines that you can’t afford right now, and what is that product? And then make sure your front end sequences can lead to that product. Don’t just try once, like, “Hey, you can also get my DVD course!” Not really like that. What you should do is mix education, call to action and testimonials in a really nice blend over time for weeks and weeks and weeks at a time, and present the same offer if need be in a number of different lights to make sure you get a lot of sales.

Rich: And you’re doing this – like let’s say that I opted in through one of your lists – you would be sending me something at least once a week for 24-36 weeks.

Dan: Once a day. For at least the first month you’re going to hear from me everyday in certain niches. If you opt in on my B2B stuff, if you’re a venture backed company and you want a $25,000 marketing automation buildout for a browser extension for Fortune 500 companies – such as some of the folks that are working with us now – then you ain’t gonna hear from us everyday in some sort of internet markety deal. You’re going to get very slow drip, professional, white paper-type appointment conducive-type stuff. Because that’s that environment. However, in the pure I am, too many people to talk to like ‘fun, fun, rah, rah, shish, boom, bah’ niche – like self defense – you can really talk about it everyday and people actually like it. You’re going to hear from me everyday. Period.

Rich: And you’re planning out an everyday autoreply, so you know it’s going to be there. You’ve already written this, you’ve put it in the can for, like, 24-36 days in a row or longer.

Dan: Yeah. Yup, yup. Like right now it’s gonna be 3 months whether they buy or don’t buy, there’s a whole number of structured up and down cells and various rotated things to lift customer lifetime value. Our core metric is looking at customer lifetime value, and so all of our opt-in funnels and whatnot are calibrated for that. So it goes out really, really deep and really far in the martial arts business, but the core takeaway – for anybody who’s tuned in – yeah, at least a month. If it’s a niche that’s more hobby-esque, if it’s a niche that’s more sort of fun-fun, and it’s e-commerce, then you really can talk about it everyday. If you’re in the face cream business, Rich, you probably can’t bother people about… you know, you might be able to talk about beauty everyday, but you can’t talk about face cream everyday. That’s just not exciting. It can make money, but it’s just not exciting. Martial arts happens to be interesting and exciting enough, sort of like dog training, sort of like any of these other more fun kind of hobby niches where you can communicate very frequently and you can mix education with offers in a way that keeps people engaged for the long term.

Rich: So your calls to action could be anything from reading a fun, informational article to ‘buy the next DVD set’?

Dan: Yup, yeah. And one thing for folks who are tuned in right now, first and foremost I’m doing this in an internet marketing e-commerce business. If you are selling – like you, Rich, you’re in an agency – if you’re selling really high ticket video production for companies with at least a million dollar run rate, then you’re probably not going to hit them up everyday. You might have some kind of professional, weekly newsletter or you might have a call to action for an appointment, but that’s probably going to be it. Or maybe even monthly, but for the folks that are in the internet marketing spaces, again, I recommend modeling businesses that are successful. So if you sell software, good people to model in general are companies that have gone public. So HubSpot I believe recently went public. If you want to sell software as a service, it’s probably not a horrible idea to start off with what their drip campaigns look like, right? Because they went public, and you’re probably not public, so you should probably do something like what they’re doing. What I did was I found the folks in the self defense and the survival niches, and I found their ratio of offer to education, to testimonial-type emails, and we basically recalibrated that – those 8 figure best practices – into our e-commerce business. So I don’t recommend everybody do what I’ve done, Rich. I don’t want to mislead people. But I do recommend that they model best practices of the most profitable companies in their niche and domain, which is in fact what we were really doing.

Rich: And what I’m also hearing – correct me if I’m wrong – is that it pays to be , whether you’re in B2B or B2C, it pays to be consistent, it pays to stay in front of the customer, and remind them continually – whether it’s once a day or once a week – that you are still there and still able to help them.

Dan: Yup. All day long. And again, I don’t care what business it is, if you’re building the next Facebook, it doesn’t cost money to have a Facebook account. Guess what happens when you half register a Facebook account and then don’t do anything with it?

Rich: Yeah, I know. You get email.

Dan: You get emails, straight to the face, is where you get them. It’s because Facebook is not run by a bunch of idiots, they know what they’re doing and they’re going to email you. The same thing with LinkedIn, the same thing with Twitter and the same thing with HubSpot. If you opt-in for interest in their program, same thing with Amazon after you buy product one, that’s not the last touch. So model the big dogs, and no matter what kind of business, the big dogs are staying in front of folks on a regular, consistent, professional basis in an educational way that’s also including calls to action. Period.

Rich: Alright. Now, we’re running a little bit long, but I have a couple of questions that I just absolutely need your opinion on. One thing is, mobile – obviously we’re carrying computers around with us all the time – and with our mobile devices I know that I check my email whenever I’m in line waiting for something. Has mobile changed your approach to email marketing?

Dan: You know, there’s been a lot around this, Rich. To be frank, I spoke at the e-marketing national conference out in Los Angeles not horribly long ago, and there was a presentation of this kind of stuff . I’ve heard a lot of pretty inconclusive stuff on the internet about this, Rich. If you’d like, I can give you 2 takeaways that have appeared to be helpful in our niche and industry.

Rich: Absolutely!

Dan: Great. Ok, here’s two: so #1 is subject lines that are longer than let’s say 8-9 words, it starts to get a little sketchy. HubSpot has done some metrics that generally 6-10 words in the subject line is generally best. On mobile it’s supposed and probably correct that you’re not going to be reading as much of those, you’re not going to be seeing as much of those. So just bear in mind, some folks with a financial e-newsletter, it’s all 55 year old guys on desktops. For other people, everybody and their mom is on mobile and nobody reads your emails on desktop. If you are more mobile heavy, I would personally recommend loading your earlier words in your subject lines to convey what you need to convey, because ultimately you’re getting less space to work with. So that’s a really big deal for open rate, Rich. #2 here, you can narrow the span of your emails. If your email is 700 pixels wide and you can take it down to 400 – I forget the general best practice for iPhone and Android – but in general you can toggle with this and experiment with this and some software allows you to do previews on different mobile devices so you can actually see what the email looks like on different mobile devices. And you can find a pixel range that is generally going to work. I believe for us a lot of the time it’s going to be around 3 something or 400 to show up half way decent on mobile. And if you want a link to be clicked more often – one final tip here, Rich – if you want a link to be clicked more often, I generally like to make it 2 point sizes bigger than the text around it, and then I also like to bold it. So it’s not only a hyperlink, but sometimes you gotta really squint to see those if you’re in a bus.

Rich: Or if you’re old like me.

Dan: Yeah! Sure, sure. You’re not that old, c’mon. But yeah, if those links are sorta blendy and it’s kind of hard, generally speaking, like 2 point sizes bigger. I like them to exist on their own line, nice and bold, and again 2 point sizes bigger. If you have a CTA, if you have an article you want them to read, or you want to deliver a message, make it so that even somebody with a big, old, goofy thumb can just slap that thing on their screen and click that link. In general, those are our pointers that I’ve taken away from mobile. There’s all this technical stuff that a lot of people contradict, but those are real cut and dry marketing essentials that are helpful for anybody.

Rich: Excellent. And by the way, if you don’t know what a CTA is, it’s just short for “call to action”. So if you want to get somebody to click, Dan is suggesting that you make that link a little bit bigger and a little bit bolder, and you’re more likely to avoid people with fat fingers not being able to buy your product.

Dan: That’s true.

Rich: Now just tell us, what email software programs do you recommend, or do you think people should be checking out?

Dan: There’s a number of them, Rich, and the pros and cons galore here. There’s some that are really nice for database marketing, like Infusionsoft, which allows you to do a lot of tagging, and the majority of our e-commerce work is within Infusionsoft. Infusionsoft, for folks who don’t know, it’s decently expensive software, but it’s decently top shelf stuff particularly in the internet marketing and e-commerce kind of domain. There’s a lot of brick and mortar businesses using it. I used it for my gym, as well. But for in-depth database marketing, the majority of our work is done in Infusionsoft, however, we also back our lists up into GetResponse, which is a great, simple and also much less expensive email marketing program that does a lot and generally has a bit better deliverability than Infusionsoft. Not much,not astronomical, but a little bit better deliverability. Simpler user interface, but much less capacity segment. So in terms of the software that I personally am in the most – I’ve worked with people that had HubSpot, I worked with people that had Constant Contact, Salesforce – but in terms of what I use day to day, GetResponse and Infusionsoft are the softwares I’m using most often.

Rich: Alright, great. Dan, you have shared a ton of information with us today. Let me ask before we go, people love something to walk away with, a small win or something like that. If there is one strategy or tactic that people listening now can use immediately and benefit from their existing list, what would it be?

Dan: Got it! Ok, so here’s a really big one, Rich, and this is what I did at my martial arts gym and this is just invariably helpful for absolutely anybody existing, even if it’s a smaller brick and mortar space like me. If you have an existing database of both customers and prospects, and you’re not staying in touch with them on a regular basis, you’re losing out. So if it’s e-commerce, regularly select segments. Even if your segments are sloppy – and by sloppy I mean customers and prospects, no other data than that – sloppy, ugly segmentation, at least once a month if it’s e-com, whip something to customers to sell them at the next level, and whip something at the prospects to get them to get their credit card out for the first time. Everybody in e-commerce knows the more credit cards you have on file, the better off you are. If you’re running a local joint that is more consultative sale, you need the phone, you need in person meetings, all that. Do the same thing. Segment as regularly as you can, even if it’s sloppy customers versus prospects. Rotate out a various offer that you can set an appointment with, and then call everybody who clicks. Don’t necessarily count on everybody calling you, do your outbound calls to them. So if you’re in the business of calling your list already, don’t just call from A-Z, send out a specific offer to past customers, and then anybody who clicks that, they’re already primed and interested in some level. When you get them on the phone, they’re already interested and likely to close. We’ve done tons of dinero in physical businesses – brick and mortar business – by simply underlining that same strategy, my businesses and tons of other. Rotate through your database, communicate at least monthly with the people that have paid you and the people that have not paid you, in a relevant way that can move them forward in business. That’s it for me, Rich.

Rich: Alright. If one of the takeaways that I’m getting from you is the importance of segmenting that list, that you really need to be focused on this. If you haven’t yet, you know you really need to be thinking about it. And the other thing that I took away from the last thing that you said, is that if you’re using something – this is probably more on the Infusionsoft, Direct Response, Constant Contact and whichever else you mentioned – is that of you’ve got their phone numbers you can go into your report and see who clicked on a given link. If you see that they clicked on your candlestick link, or your jiu jitsu link or whatever it is, you get on the phone – and especially if they don’t buy – you get on the phone and say, “Hey, I know you were interested in this, what can I do to get you to come in today and get your free consult?”

Dan: Yeah, exactly. Or a guy like yourself, I imagine a lot of folks that do social media listen to you, if you’re doing bigger picture contracts, all the better. I mean, a phone call is validated more and more by how much money you make per phone call. So $57 products, really tough gig to have somebody market doing that. But if you’re closing 4,5,6-figure deals then yeah, send out something from your agency about a cool social media case study that’s really useful for everybody, and the fact that you’re doing a special Facebook billout for a limited discount, and anybody that clicks and watches that cool video, go ahead and reach out!   That’s a great way to make the bucks. Could be e-comm, could be consulting. Great strategy overall.

Rich: That is a great strategy. I’m just thinking right now Katrina, my new web marketer here at flyte – my day job – just wrote up an article about using Perfect Audience, and some of the amazing returns we were getting on retargeting. And so now what I can do is I can go in and take a look at my list of who clicked on the link to go to that blogpost about retargeting on Facebook, and maybe be able to get them on the phone or at least send a direct email saying something along the lines of, “We’ve got a special deal on managing your retargeting ads”, or something like that. Would that be a good example?

Dan: Yeah, yeah, we do this stuff all the time. So here’s a quick one to wrap up. We’ve done this in physical therapy clinics, we send out a couple educational broadcast messages about back pain. Anybody that clicked either one of those 2 messages in that week, we send out a Sunday or a Monday email that’s an explicit, “Hey, if you actually have back pain, click here and book an appointment.” And BOOM, those people book, as opposed to hitting the entire list with that, you’re pissing them off.

Rich: Yeah, no. That’s some great information. I have like 12 more questions, but maybe let’s save it for another time. Dan, I know other people are going to have other questions, they’re going to want to learn more, they’re going to want to check out your stuff online.   Where do we send them?

Dan: I imagine most of your folks are not interested in martial arts.

Rich: No, I wouldn’t say that they aren’t. It’s not going to be 100%

Dan: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Most of my headspace is out of there anyway. The goal of that business is to sell for as much as we can and to really get into the bigger venture stuff we’re into. But the folks that are interested in email strategy and profitable email can go to clvboost.com. I told you Customer Lifetime Value is the niche that we care about. How much money does an average prospect or customer give you by the time they’re done with you? Lifting that number with email is what we guarantee ourselves on. It’s clvboost – stands for Customer Lifetime Value – so clvboost.com, at the bottom of the page people can learn about me, we’ve got a blog there, all the speeches we’ve done. There’s a white paper that includes some cool case studies at the bottom of the page, so the folks that are like, “Oh man, this stuff is cool, I wonder if I can steal some of Dan’s strategies and put all this stuff in my business.” Clvboost.com, you can get in touch with me or you can just grab our white paper right then. So that’s a great place to reach out.

Rich: That’s fantastic. Dan, really appreciate it, thanks for all your time today.

Dan: Rich, thanks a ton for having me.

Links Mentioned in This Show:

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Jennifer Scholz Transcription Services (via LinkedIn)

http://www.optimizepress.com/
http://instabuilder.com/
http://www.infusionsoft.com/
http://www.getresponse.com/
http://www.takeflyte.com/retargeting-on-facebook
http://www.clvboost.com/

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  • David L Tong of Vambora Fight

    Long time subscriber of your YouTube channel Prof. Dan and your list as well. Glad to have read the business side of your online marketing efforts. You’re one of the very few BJJ-related email lists worth subscribing to.

    • Dan definitely delivered some great advice for anyone looking to build their business through email. Thanks for the listen!

    • Dan Faggella

      David, thanks so much for the kind comment, and I hope you gained something from this interview as well. All the best in 2015 – Daniel

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