In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and Mike revisit their 2019 goals. The guys check in to see if they are on pace with their 2019 goals as well as discuss some other topics including why remote companies grow slower.
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Rob: In this episode of Startups for the Rest of Us, Mike and I revisit our 2019 goals. We pontificate on why remote companies might grow slower than collocated ones and we answer a couple of listener questions. This is Startups for the Rest of Us Episode 441.
Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers and entrepreneurs be awesome at building, launching, and growing software products. Whether you’ve built your first product, or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Rob.
Mike: And I’m Mike.
Rob: We’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. Where this week, sir?
Mike: I know that we’re only a couple of weeks out from MicroConf in Vegas. We are just in the process of selling MicroConf Europe tickets. That will be in the 20th to 22nd of October and it will be in Dubrovnik, Croatia again. Looking forward to that. It’ll be awesome and it’ll be back in the same location and one that has a fantastic view of the ocean.
Rob: Yup. I loved that hotel last year. I’m very much looking forward to that, October 22nd, 23rd, and 24th, is that right?
Mike: I believe so, yes. I have to look at the calendar.
Mike: That’s hard.
Rob: Go to Eventbrite and they’ll be on sale soon. That’s good. I’ve got to start looking for speakers for that here, soon.
One thing I wanted to throw out that I’ve been thinking about, there’s this book called Mindset. I believe it’s by Carol Dweck. Is that right? I wish there was some device that I could type a name of a book into and figure out who wrote it. But anyway, it’s about having a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. It’s about expanding your thinking and not being caught up with the same beliefs you had your whole life, as well as just believing that you can get better, and that you can change and do more.
I loved this book when I read it. When trying to instill growth mindsets into our children so they don’t go through life thinking, “Well, this is what I have. I’m like this the whole time and I can’t learn new things. Whatever I believed when I was 10 or whatever was instilled in me can’t change.” I really think that this runs true and there’s a parallel here with successful founders. Successful founders I know have growth mindset. They’re always trying to learn, they’re always trying to get better, and they’re always questioning their beliefs.
There are certain moral beliefs implicit that you probably never shared. There are beliefs that you shouldn’t. There are these other ones like, I remember talking about Split Testing in 2008. People were telling me like, “Oh, that’s tricking people. You’re tricking people.” That’s what internet marketers do and we don’t do that in Startups.
Let’s try and talk about email marketing in 2009–2010. It’s like, “Oh, you’re a spammer.” I’m talking about SEO to market a business. It’s like, “Yeah, it’s just gaming and Google. You should just write great content and you’ll rank.” I feel like those are fixed mindsets. Things like, “Well, this is bad and what I believe is going to hold true forever.” But the folks who are able to embrace those new things, if you’re able to do it quickly, and if you’re able to implement these things and take advantage of them, these are the founders that I see succeeding.
The reason I bring this up is there’s a constant ongoing flux of new ideas coming in and trends that come in and out of the whole startup scene. Part of my talk at MicroConf was about trends that I have observed over the past 14 years of being involved in the scene. One of which, of course, is the changing nature of funding, that being bootstrapped and venture-funded used to be this binary thing and then self-funding is introduced where [00:03:33] bank. That’s a little different than being bootstrapped. There’s taking a $100,000 from friends and family. You don’t have an institutional investor. How different is that?
Then, there’s obviously TinySeed, there’s a [00:03:45], and there’s other players. Technically, yes you took a dollar, so you have now taken funding but it’s not the same as the VC funding of 10, 15, and 20 years ago. It doesn’t come with the same negative things.
Some thoughts I’ve been doing and really going back to first principles of what is bootstrapping about? Is it bootstrapping? The reason that I bootstrap—I would assume for most of us—is we want the freedom to run our own company and we want to have purpose working on something interesting. We want to have healthy relationships with our families, not get a divorce, not never be around our kids. If we could do that, whether we take a little bit of money, don’t take any money, which is totally a viable thing, or take a lot of money or whatever, I guess I’ve always had those three goals, that freedom, purpose, and relationship. I think that funding has traditionally been at odds with those—10–15 years ago it would have been—but in my head, there are more shades of gray than perhaps has been the case in the past.
Mike: Part of those things that you just talked about are the change in definitions or understanding of specific pieces. For example, bootstrapping. What does bootstrapping mean? I think that question has come up a lot more recently because of things like TinySeed and [00:04:57]. What does it mean to be a bootstrapper? If you have a very specific or fixed view of that in your head, then it’s going to impact how you view taking money for your company or somebody else taking money for their company. I don’t think that a lot of those definitions are necessarily static because bootstrapping itself is relatively new. It’s really only become a household word in our circles in the last 10 or 15 years. Our circles didn’t even really exist 10 or 15 years ago.
The landscape itself is changing and those definitions are changing at the same time. It makes it difficult to not adjust with it. You’re going to be left behind if you can’t adjust your definitions or mindset along the way.
Rob: Yeah and that’s the thing. This is something that I’ve struggled with. I’m an engineer. I wrote code for decades. I do think in very binary and I used to think in very black and white terms. I used to be more opinionated, more fixed in my thoughts. The older I get and the more experienced I get, the more I realized that that has been a detriment to me in my career and the things that held me back early on were holding on to these ideals that I truly believed and later found out were not as black and white and not as “true” as I thought they were.
Anyway, that’s it. I’ve been thinking a lot about that and how to continue. It’s all up for me to continue to grow. I ask myself the question, “What things do I believe today that I will look back on five years and think that wasn’t correct or that was holding me back then?”
On a lighter note, did you know you can get a refund for audible books that you don’t like?
Mike: I did not know that.
Rob: This is crazy. Remember how I talked about how I’ve backed 185 kickstarters? The only thing worse than Kickstarter for me is Audible. I believe—I would have to look at the library—we have close to 500 audio books.
Rob: I’ve been a member for nine years. It’s nuts. Granted my kids listen to audio books. Sherry listens to them. We all share the same account. Hundreds and hundreds. That’s how I read. I don’t buy physical books. I really don’t buy books on Kindle. I have a lot of them. But I also will go and just try a book and if I don’t like it—I get two, three, or four chapters in—if it’s not doing for me what I thought it was doing, or if it’s too way academic, or just a crappy book, I bail on it. I’ve always, at least for the past 10 years, valued my time more than the cost of an audio book which runs around, let’s say, $10 with a membership.
I have a bunch of audio books that I haven’t listen to. If they’re good, I listen all the way through, I take notes, and I do all that stuff, but if they’re not, I bail on them. I’ve always hate that cost and I realized the other day, you can go back and just say, “Hey, I didn’t like the book.” I’m sure if you abuse this, they have some repercussions or something if you listen on every book and then return it or whatever, but it’s interesting. It’s buried to find it but I definitely went back. I looked to about a year. I went back and refund maybe seven or eight books that I only got a little bit into. I remember specifically why they were crappy. I got some extra credits and you know what I do with those credits?
Mike: You got more books?
Rob: I even [00:08:10] bought more books. Of course I did, Mike. It’s got a voice, I love the information, and learning new things. I’m listening to books everywhere, on topics anywhere from growing your business to negotiation. I have a book on Leonardo Da Vinci, one on World War II, one about dungeons and dragons, two about dungeons and dragons, I listen to Profit First based on a recommendation from Patrick Folly, and I have something about dealing with challenges mentally and blah-blah-blah. All of those won’t stand up to the scrutiny but I do like having a very plethora of books to be able to listen to based on the mood and goals I have at that time.
Mike: The only thing that shocks me about any of that is that you waited until you got the credit before going and buying more books.
Rob: No. It’s true. I didn’t actually spend all the credit.
Mike: You lied. You lied to thousands of people.
Rob: I did spend several of credits but yeah, I’m kind of backed up. I don’t have a big wish list, but I don’t tend to buy a lot of books until I’m ready. Right when I’m ready to listen to it then I’ll buy one or two more and then go into it. Right now, I’m a little overbought because of this credit glut that I experienced after the refund.
All that said, let’s talk about some 2019 goals. You and I make goals each year. I know they’re varied opinions on goals. I’ve always been a goal-driven person. I find that goals help me focus for the year. Not get shiny object syndrome, not wander off and do other crap because there are always more opportunities that are super interesting than I can ever do. The goals help keep me focused.
I sometimes do re-evaluate goals and say, “You know what? I screwed up when I made that goal in the last year. I shouldn’t do that this year. I should pivot the goal.” These are things that I spend a lot of time thinking about. I’ll try to do it on a retreat to make sure that I spend a day or two thinking about it and I really want to accomplish that in the next year. That’s a high-level thing that I then try to focus on the next 12 months.
With that said, we set some goals back in December. It is now second week of April. We kind of just passed the first quarter of our goals. You had two goals with a bunch of subpoints under that. It might be five or six. I had four goals. Why don’t you talk through your first one and let us know how you’re doing? This is either going to be the walk of shame or a celebratory episode where we can high five each other.
Mike: I think it’s going to be a walk between them because I didn’t exactly have a lot of heads-up on the particular piece of this podcast episode. I did not go back and take a look to see what exactly all these numbers looked like. I can give you a ballpark idea but probably not exact.
In terms of exercise, I know that at least halfway through the first quarter I was ahead, and then it really dropped off the end of the quarter as MicroConf got closer. I think that I’m close to what it should’ve been but I’m not absolutely sure.
Rob: You’re saying that you’re not sure if you’re on track for two times a week?
Mike: I think that it’s close. I mean they’re still a little ahead or a little behind but I’m not too far off. Twice a week would’ve been 25 times by the end of the quarter. I know that I was at least 15 or 20 at one point. There is one point where I was six or eight weeks ahead or something like that. I was doing very well but then as MicroConf got closer, I got busy and I stopped going to the gym. Now that MicroConf is over, I can start going back. I haven’t gone back and actually looked at the numbers. I think I’m on track, but I could be a little ahead or a little behind it. I’m not sure.
Rob: Yeah, give or take. You’re on track, it sounds like. I’m way behind. The winter decimated me. I’ve talked about this in the past. It started getting warm here a couple weeks ago. I actually started exercising. My first goal is three days of exercise a week. We’ve got six or seven inches of snow yesterday. It’s like halfway through April. It’s a train wreck for me so far. This is a good reminder. If I didn’t have this goal, I would just not care. I care because I have this goal. It is something that I need to change and is something that I want to be doing. I don’t enjoy exercises. It’s not something I’ve ever really want to on purpose, but they did something that I need to get motivated for. This is a friendly reminder that I’m walk of shaming with the exercise one and I need to figure out a way to do better with this.
Mike: The second one for my getting my health back on track was having a normal sleep schedule. Part of that involved using my CPAP machine at least five times a week and average usage of at least 6½ hours at night. I can say with absolute certainty that I am actually beating that if not exceeding it in a number of different ways. The app that I use for this only goes back, I think, about 30 days or so. I can get more data then, that if I needed to. But even over the last 30 days, the lowest I have on here is 5½ hours and that’s actually a lower one. Most of the rest of them are six plus. Some of them were highest. One of them on here is 9½. We got 10 hours and 40 minutes on here for one of them. I’m doing well on that one.
Rob: Very nice. My second one is about TinySeed. It’s to build it into the de facto brand when bootstrappers look for early-stage funding. The subpoint for that was first batch of founders chosen and they have a good chance of success, good progress, growth, and all that stuff. That’s by the end of the year.
Yes, I would say I’m on track for these. I think the de facto brand thing comes over time. Maybe it’s not a year but it’s kind of a long-term goal. The first batch of founders are on track. We wanted to have everybody chosen by MicroConf. We didn’t get that done but we are most of the way there. To be honest, the biggest hang up as per usual is legal rather than any actual conversations or phone calls or any of that. It’s just getting everything in, bullet points and the legal docs. I’m feeling good about this. This is my main thing that I’m working on. I would say on track for that.
Mike: My next one was to lose 15 pounds. Do we cue the audience’s laughter here now?
Rob: Not there.
Mike: No. I think after MicroConf, I actually gained eight pounds but then the day after or two days after, I was back down to a normal weight or whatever. I hadn’t really lost. I think this is all water weight. I really haven’t lost any measurable amount of weight at this point. I’ve got to work on that. I think that’ll go back to the exercise thing.
Rob: My third goal is to not panic when the stock market crashes. I don’t really think that’s happened. I mean it’s been a little up and down but there hasn’t been a crash. I don’t know yet, we’ll see. This one’s a little bit out of my hands but it’s just something nice to be in the back of my mind.
Mike: You can go out and buy a bottle of whiskey so that when it does crash then you can drink the whiskey and hopefully forget about the stock market.
Rob: Yup, indeed.
Mike: My next one was to have more regular and in-person social contact. I would say that I’m actually succeeding there. Still meeting up with a bunch of people once a week. Obviously, there is a massive injection of social contact at MicroConf, but yeah, I’m still meeting up with people. I wouldn’t say that this is in-person social contact, but I’m also meeting up with a group of people online, usually on Saturday evenings. But we’re going to take a break for a couple of weeks, then startup back again in May. It should be good.
Rob: Very nice. My fourth and final goal is to write or rewrite a book. I have not started on this nor I thought about it. It’s been because of MicroConf and TinySeed all happening here at the first of the year. I’m not on track to do this because I haven’t started it and it hasn’t been on my radar. I want to see once we get the batch chosen, we get things rolling, I want to see how my time works out and if I’m able to do this. As I said when we set this for the first time, writing another book aligns with the main thing I’m doing because writing another book about startups didn’t align with growing Drip. It didn’t align with growing HitTail but it does align with TinySeed. I have more of a reason or an excuse because I really want to do it. There’s more of an excuse to do it. I just got to figure out if I can carve out the time.
One thing that’ll hopefully help with that is, we actually just announced that we hired a program manager with TinySeed who’s going to help in the accelerator because there’s so much work to do. We hired Tracy Osborne formerly of Wedding Lovely. She’s spoke at MicroConf in 2016, did really good talk there. I’ve been a longtime fan and we’ve kept in touch. It just worked out really well for her to come and join us. She’s a developer, a designer, she’s written several books on design, and I believe in some development as well. She’s a public speaker. She’s got a lot of chops. I’m stoked to be working with her on this. That should help achieve, hopefully, a few of the goals on this list in terms of freeing up time, hopefully, for me to do something with the book as well as helping us grow TinySeed into that brand I was talking about.
Mike: Congratulations. It’ll be great to have her around.
Mike: My last one on here was for Bluetick. It was to establish attraction and move on to something else. The comments I had on here was that it’s fuzzy, not exactly what it should been, whether it should be revenue-target or customer-based. For this, I would say it has meandered the past couple of months. It’s probably largely for the same reasons that you have not gotten around to writing a book was because of MicroConf.
It was about a week or two before MicroConf. I was sitting down and working on stuff. I realized that basically the first three months of this year were basically taken up by MicroConf. I did very little else. It got me thinking about how much of my time is actually spent working Bluetick. My current estimate is between 30% and 40% of my time throughout the course of the year is spent working on Bluetick, whereas I previously thought it was closer to 100%. That’s totally not the case. It changes things in my mind more than anything else, but it’s just a perception or a recognition, I’ll say that I’m not really working on it full time. I’m working on it about a third of the time. That would probably explain how it meanders a little bit and how I’m not getting as much done on it sometimes than I feel like I should be.
Rob: That makes it tough. It’s hard to not have that focus. It’s almost like you’re basically working almost nights and weekends on it. You’re kind of doing it as a side project.
Mike: Yeah. That’s really what it is which in part explains why it can meander along if I’m not paying attention to it. It grows when I am. But if I’m only paying attention to it 30% of the time, it’s really not enough to offset turn out of it, to be perfectly honest. I don’t know. I have to give some more thought to that at exactly how to address that particular problem, but I’ll figure something out.
Rob: Indeed. We’ll there were a couple of other things that I want to talk about. We do have a couple of listener questions but something I thought was interesting from Patrick Campbell from ProfitWell spoke at MicroConf a few weeks ago. A couple of the things or slides that he put up that, I believe challenged people’s thinking, were from some research they have done. They have a lot recurring [00:19:44] SaaS companies using ProfitWell and he posted up two different slides. He posted several that agreed with our mindset of, like this one agrees with your internal monologue of how you believe the world to be.
But how about this one? This is from data. This is from 1800 respondents. The slide said, “Remote companies have considerably worst growth and retention than collocated companies.” The room went silent. He’s like, “I know. None of us want to hear this because we’re building remote companies. We want to build remote companies.” How does that make you feel? You instantly question the data. Whereas, seven of these different slides that had statements like this, some were totally in the MicroConf wheelhouse and totally agreed with bootstrapping and all that stuff, others were like this and they’ve challenged our thinking. This one in particular, he had 1800 respondents. The growth was between 21% and 29% slower for remote companies than it was for companies located in the same location.
The other one was companies with founders with a hobby grow slower. This is when the hobby takes 10 hours a week and the study was done four years in a row. It was 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. Each year, the growth was 10% or 12% slower with founders with a hobby.
It’s interesting. I want to back these around really quick. I don’t want to dispute the number because he asked these questions. They’re pretty rigorous company, I believe, in terms of data and research. What do you make of them? What are your thoughts on this?
Mike: I thought that the way he positioned these was to let people think about them and understand their default position on what their beliefs were about the data, whether it conflicted with their worldview. I found that more interesting than the actual data itself because I don’t have access to this data directly. It’s not stuff that I look at or actively thinking about. The data itself makes sense to me, but I don’t have anything to dispute it either way.
Remote companies have a worst growth of retention or founders with a hobby grow slower. That intuitively makes sense. The first one, remote companies having a worst growth rate and worst retention rate, I don’t know what he meant by collocated. Does that mean they have an office?
Rob: Just local companies having an office that are not remote.
Mike: I could see that because I think a lot of people have issues working remotely. Some people are just not wired that way. They can’t do it.
Rob: Yeah. I can see that the retention part of it makes a little bit of sense to me. When you’re working remotely, you don’t have as much of a connection to the people whereas if you cut to lunch with folks every day, there is more of that team or family depending on how you couch it. There’s that feel that really is different. I could see that one being causation because obviously, correlation is not causation. That’s where I look at. The fact that remote companies have considerably worst growth, it doesn’t mean that being remote causes worst growth.
Again, I’m not trying to challenge these numbers but I always thinking, most venture-funded companies, the VCs, do not want them to be remote. They frown on remote. I would hypothesize that most remote companies, the majority, are actually bootstrap companies—bootstrap, self-funded, whatever—not venture-backed, anything but venture-backed.
As a guess, I would also say that venture-backed companies tend to grow faster overall than bootstrap or self-funded companies. One, because that’s the mandate. For better or worse, it’s growth at all cost a lot of times. That’s the number one KPI, it’s growth, and that’s not necessarily with folks in our community. Number two, venture-funded companies tend to have just more money at their disposal. They can goose the growth almost; they can force the growth.
That was something that has gone through my head. Perhaps growth is not caused by them being remote but it’s one factor in that.
Mike: It seems to me like you’re trying to justify what those numbers are and kind of fit them into your mental model. I think that was one of the things that I took away from the talk is if there’s data, there’s two ways to approach it. One is this is factual and how do I relate to it? Or you trying to either pick it apart or trying to make sure that it doesn’t conflict with your worldview. I can see both ways on both of them. I think you can as well. But you’re trying to map these things to your mental model of why these things could be true even though you don’t necessarily want to go out and get funding, for example.
Rob: Totally. That’s the thing. Companies with founders with a hobby grow slower. Remote companies grow slower. It’s like, “So what?” When I come back to my values of freedom, purpose, and relationship, the growth is not one of those three core values. I did like having companies that grew in revenue because it led to a certain amount of success. It lends a bunch of things. I can impact more people; I can make more money. It led to more purpose and I can have more impact. There was just a bunch of stuff with it.
But frankly, if I’m going to have a hobby and I’m going to play my guitar, or I’m going to play tabletop games, or my hobby is hanging out with my kids, but I grow slower by 10%, 12%, or 15% a year, I’m actually okay with that. That’s a personal thing of mine.
While these things might say, “Oh my gosh,” it might make you rethink everything. It’s like we’re not in the venture-funded space, so, can we just have profitable businesses? Isn’t it that what Startups for The Rest Of Us and MicroConf our movement, or community, or whatever you want to call it, it’s kind of about it? Is it growth at all cost? It’s nothing we’ve ever espouse.
Frankly, just growth in general is good, it feels good, and it’s a goal. It should be a goal somewhere in your radar but it’s not the number one, end-all-be-all for me or for a lot of people, I think.
Mike: Yeah. Just growing headcount is not the major goal for most people that I know. Whereas you said, if for a VC or a funded company, it kind of is, to be honest. It would make sense that those types of companies would do that. Again, I think that even in just saying that or kind of going that part of the conversation, we’re really drawing attention to the fact that now we’re starting to try to pick apart the data and question, “Is this data accurate?” or, “How good is the data?” That’s exactly what I took away from Patrick’s talk, which was when you see data that conflicts with what you think, consider why that is.
Rob: Yeah. I don’t think it’s what we’re doing here. I wasn’t saying that data’s not correct. I was saying, let’s say this is correct. Am I okay with that? Am I okay with growing a business? Am I okay having a hobby? Yeah. That’s the beauty of being in control of my business is that I can make these decisions.
Mike: Yup. Totally.
Rob: Cool. Listener questions. Let’s dive-in. We have a voicemail from Josh Doody. It’s about metrics rules of thumb for B2C products.
Josh: Hey, Rob and Mike. It’s Josh Doody here, MicroConf attendee frequently. Also, I run my business at fearlesssalarynegotiation.com. I have a question that might be a little bit outside your wheelhouse, but I’d really love to get your perspective on some metrics and things for my business, as people who think about SaaS a lot.
I run a B2C business that has two sides. One side is coaching. That side’s great, I’ve done marketing, it works really well, that’s where I make most of my living. But then, I have a product side of my business that, again, is B2C mostly driven by organic search traffic on Google.
Really, what I’m struggling with is trying to figure out what are good metrics for my business? How do I know if I’m doing well in terms of converting email subscribers to customers, primarily, but even top-of-funnel, converting visitors to email subscribers? I use a sort of typical nurture campaign sales sequence-type funnel in my business.
I’m just curious if you could point me to some resources or other examples of folks who do B2C organic search-driven businesses online? I’m in the career space, salary negotiation, getting rated, and that sort of thing. We’re just really curious if you have any ideas from a SaaS perspective of what a good funnel from search visitors to converted customer at an info product would be? My products range from about $47 for some email templates going up to about $240 for the complete bundle, is what I call it.
Thanks so much for all you do for the Startups for the Rest of Us. Love the podcast, been listening since the beginning, and looking forward to what you guys think. Thanks for your time. Bye.
Rob: Mike, for a question like this, I’d like to take us out to our remote correspondent. He’s a growth expert. He does some B2B, but he does even more B2C. MicroConf speaker, TinySeed mentor, Taylor Hendricksen. Taylor, what are your thoughts for Josh?
Taylor: Hey, Rob and Mike. Thanks for having me on. Josh, thanks for submitting your question.
Before we jump in to the rule of the metrics on B2C products, I’d like to note that it really does differ greatly from business to business and product to product, depending on the few things. The two of the biggest ones being the purchase price, that you’re obviously selling the products for, and what kind of hunger towards the offer there is. Some things that are solved here [00:29:05] would generate much better returns in these metrics than other ones that really don’t have that.
Jumping in, there’s three of the rules of thumbs I’d like to go for in general B2C offers. For onsite opt-in rate for a website visitor using organic to an email opt-in, we like to see conversion rate of about 2%-3%. We see this as low; you could have nothing. Or as high is anywhere from 6%-7% if you have a really great offer dialed-in into that content.
After they are on your email list, a list-to-sale rate, we’ll purchase any of your products, let’s assume you have a 60-90 day sale cycle that you could go to. But a list-to-sale rate we would generally see about 1%-2% rate in there.
Lastly, the value per email subscriber. How much each email subscriber’s worth is around $3-$5 in the first 60-90 day period. That’s the one that differs the most. Depending on this, the financial niches can go up even higher and some of the more hobby niches can go lower.
A way to improve some of those metrics for your current setup, first off, for the opt-in rate, looking through some of your content, some of the content upgrades can definitely be improved, brought to attention more, maybe some more standout design around it. Specifically, it feels like the sour negotiation guide. I thought it was one of the best phrases you ranked for. It could be a tremendous opportunity to send people into that opt-in funnel. The current opt-ins you have were kind of just gray and not really that eye-catching.
How to improve the list of sale? This is something where it sounds like you already got a lot of the core pieces in place with the nurture sequence, the sales sequences, and stuff like that. I haven’t gone through your funnel yet but I’m sure those are pretty good. A way to boost that is to flash sales. It’s something I like to do and hopefully you can generate custom coupons with your setup. I’m not sure SendOwl can, which is the platform you’re using. Other platforms like Ontraport, ActiveCampaign, WooCommerce can do hacks to basically allow you to generate custom coupons for that user that expire in, let’s say, 24 hours. We like to push those. We’ve seen people have engaged maybe the business sales page, but they haven’t purchase yet. That’s one way to cheaply get them over the hump to make a purchase.
Last way to improve your value per email subscriber is after you gone to your main sales sequences, really link that out as long as you can. A good long-term content and an affiliate marketing sequence. After you pitch your products, go through all the good, relevant ones that you’d actually recommend to your audience just to increase that visitor value over time.
Another easy thing to add on that I didn’t see you have, is a push notification list. That’s a really easy thing to plug in. We’re seeing great opt-in rates that are really low friction ways to get that audience out and then you can actually set those automated campaigns to go out over time. Drip out the same content you normally would. Mix it with sales stuff.
In terms of resources to look for, these metrics as well as learning more how to improve those, the biggest one that comes to mind is just DigitalMarketer. Their Customer Value Ascension Journey is a good way to map that. Some of their tactics are a little bit more aggressive in terms of the rule of thumbs. They’ll say $1 per email subscriber per month, especially if you plan financial world, they can achieve this. They’re mailing pretty often and have very aggressive sales tactics within those emails.
I hope this was helpful. Back to you, Rob and Mike.
Rob: Thanks, Taylor, for your onsite commentary. Mike, anything to add?
Mike: No. That was fantastic. That was a great addition.
Rob: I know. This comes back to the whole thing of you and I have certain wheelhouses and experiences, but it’s so cool when we’re able to call on other people in the community.
Mike: Because this isn’t one of them.
Rob: Exactly. I would have had to go and research this. I had some B2C stuff way back in the day, but it was over a decade ago. It’s just not something that we would have. That was awesome for someone who, day-to-day, is doing a lot of B2C stuff. He also does some B2B but he’s one of the folks I know who’s really knee-deep in these stuff. Thanks for the question, Josh. I hope that was helpful. Thanks, Taylor, for chiming in on that.
Other question for the day comes to us from Justin Wolfe from positionhealth.co. He says, “Hey, guys. First off, thanks for the show. Very informative. I have a question about some case studies that we’ve produced for my company, Position Health, which provide real-time notifications whenever people enter or exit medical facilities. Right now, I’ve got a webpage where interested people can fill out a form to request to download the case study by entering their contact info. When people make this request, we sent it to them and add that person as a sales prospect.”
“My question is around indexing for the content in the case study. Right now, the case study isn’t published on our website, but it has lots of good content, and would probably help with making our website more findable in search engines. How would we go about making the case study’s content count towards our website in the SEO sense while still making it available by request only via our email opt-in? Thanks, and keep up the good work.”
What do you think, Mike?
Mike: There’s two things I can think of off the top of my head. The first one would be more related to SEO. I’ll say the second one first which is you could do paid ads for the content. That way, you’re essentially driving people to a landing page and you’re getting their email address. That’s not quite what you’re looking for. I think what you’re looking for is something along the lines of publishing some of the contents or a partial excerpt of it and then providing it as a download if you enter in your email address. Maybe give the title or maybe a brief synopsis of it, and then first couple of paragraphs of it or something like that, or maybe some images from it. They’re a little bit blurred out, so to speak. You can entice people using something like that. You can use excerpts from that content or from that case study around on your website in various places even in other content, use it as a content upgrade, and help capture email addresses using that.
Otherwise, if you are looking to expanding the amount of information that’s on your website, you could post it there as well. I get what you’re trying to do in terms of forcing people to download it. I didn’t mention it on our last podcast except where we talked specifically about case studies. But it’s possible you could get away with posting it for free and publicly to your website, and then also make it available in different places as something that people can just download. You put the content on the site and if you want the downloadable version of it you could say, “Okay, enter in your email address over here.” I don’t know. I have mixed feelings on how that’ll actually even work.
Rob: The last one that you said was the last one I was thinking about was basically if you have a blog or an article section or an essay section, then you put this in there as a text case study. When people land on that, then you say, “Hey, opt-in and get this epically formatted, amazing downloadable PDF thing of this. Plus, an audio version.” Frankly, that’s recording an audio version or something like that is super-fast and easy to do.
If you have just a landing page, whether it’s your homepage, or it’s a squeeze page, or it’s something you’re sending your ads to, and you’re saying, “Hey, I have this great case study and it has great content. Enter your email and download it here,” the odds of someone wandering over and digging through archives of your essays to find this one post that is the same content, is not that likely. That was my initial thought about it. Just offer it in two places as long as it’s not linked to from your header by the same name or linked to in your footer by the same name. It’s more of a section someone has to go to and search from. That’s what Google’s going to want to crawl. If you have these collections of things, then you have this group of content.
If your website is literally a homepage with an opt-in to get the case study, then just this one article off of it, that’s a little weird then. I don’t really know an easy way around that. Frankly, two pages is a thin side anyway. Google is probably not going to rank you for anything. You have to have more built out of that.
Once you get more built out, when you’re at 20, 30, 40 different pages on the site, that becomes easier to put it in the section, then Google index it—assuming they’re indexing your site—and then you rank accordingly.
I wouldn’t be too hung-up since it’s behind an email gate through this route that I can never publish it on my site to this other route because people will find it and then they won’t opt-in their email. It’s such a 5% use case that it wouldn’t be something I’d be particularly concerned about.
Mike: Well, Rob. I think that about wraps this up for today. If you have a question for us, you can call into our voicemail number at 888-801-9690. Or you can email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our theme music is an excerpt from We’re Outta Control by MoOt, used under Creative Commons. Subscribe to us in iTunes by searching for ‘startups’ and visit startupsfortherestofus.com for full transcript to each episode. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.