Inexpensive Ways to Grow An Email Marketing List Season 1, Episode 1

Jay Baron: Howdy everybody. I am Jay Baron, founder of Madtown Agency.

Rusty Hall: And this is Rusty Hall. Long time manager of lead engagement.

Jay Baron: And we are with Madtown. What we do is consulting and marketing for accounting firms. Today, we want to talk about inexpensive ways to help you grow your database. A lot of firms right now, they are struggling with how they can grow their email marketing database to actually help them meet their revenue goals. This is a major problem within firms because they’re lucky to have, maybe I would say 100, 200 prospects in their database Rusty. And we’re finding that really to see growth and help you hit your revenue targets, you need to have at least 2,000 active prospects in your marketing list to really start seeing a lift in revenue.

Rusty Hall: Yeah. You can really kind of figure that out. Kind of just based on some estimations on your conversion rate. How many you expect to close and kind of some historical data. You can really find out how big your database needs to be, based on historical rates. It’s pretty easy to figure out if you’re going to fall short or you’re going to hit those targets.

Jay Baron: Right. Right. No, that’s actually a great point. I mean, a lot of accounting firm websites, they’re lucky to generate a few hundred visitors a month right now. It would take literally them, 10 to 20 years to actually hit that mark of actually getting to 2,000 active prospects because they just don’t generate enough traffic right now. That’s where they’re really struggling is the organic growth. Just takes too long to really get them to those meaningful numbers.

Rusty Hall: Growing a database is always a grind. One of the things as marketers that we’re always trying to chase down is a lot of people do the live events thing. You’re trying to really get out there and grow stuff organically. All that stuff takes a lot of time though. To get out there and try to do it through organic search or try to get people to come to your page and just sign up in your database. Time consuming process, takes a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of resource. The problem we’re kind of left here with is we know that we’re too small to hit those revenue targets but how are we going to help grow that database out quickly and fairly inexpensively Jay.

Jay Baron: Right. I think that’s where we really start looking into digital marketing honestly. We look at things like how can we use social media marketing. How can we look at doing digital marketing tactics and developing out cornerstone assets that we kind of recommend? How can we look at even doing a list purchase, as well to kind of help them really grow that database?

One tactic we always kind of recommend for accounting firms to implement is to actually develop out, actually a really big cornerstone asset. This cornerstone asset is going to be a major lead driver. A lot of firms, they’re stuck with a lot of their calls to action are really just contact us, get a consultation. Well, that’s great for all your bottom of the funnel leads. But if you really want to grow that database, you need to find those top and those middle funnel leads.

Rusty Hall: Yeah. You do see that a lot. The CTAs kind of a direct contact point. You’re really kind of jumping over the assets and the things that help grow your database. Again like you stated, it’s great for kind of those bottom funnel guys to go ahead and have that kind of late stage call to action. But we’re focusing on here, obviously is the lead generation aspect. We’re wanting to fill the funnel. That’s where something like a cornerstone asset that people are going to get some non-sales pitchy industry relevant research and insight. Things like that, that are really going to more promote your need in the industry and get people some education before we’re going in for that pitch. All we’re really asking for that exchange is just their contact information to get them in to the database.

Jay Baron: Right. Not even all their contact information. We get a name and email, just so we can start nurturing that prospect that’s a huge win for us.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, I think that’s one of the things people miss and it’s kind of an equivalent exchange of the barrier of what am I giving up to get this asset and how valuable is that asset to me. You want to come up with something that’s a really great asset but you also want to make to your point, you want to make that kind of exchange really fair to them. I might give you my name and email to get this really slick third party report. I’m not going to give you my LinkedIn and my phone number and all that other contact information. But again for nurturing purposes, we don’t really need that as you enter into the top of the funnel.

Jay Baron: Yep. Yep. Yeah. This cornerstone asset too, why we promote it so much is it’s a great strategy because then we can actually promote it in other channels. We’re having a lot of firms actually have success now, so they credit this cornerstone asset and then they go actually create Facebook ads around it.

Facebook allows you to do really highly relevant targeting, so that you can pick the industry you want to go after, the company size, titles and everything else. The great thing is it’s dirt cheap. We’re seeing people get a few hundred downloads a month and they’re not spending very much with the Facebook marketing, even LinkedIn marketing. You can really grow that database really quickly if you have a really good asset and then you can start doing very affordable marketing around it to really help you drive that database and get it to that 2,000 mark.

Rusty Hall: Yeah. That’s a great point too when you talk about using these assets for social media marketing because we’re talking about a fairly intensive asset to create. You got to put the research into it, make it really quality. But then the good news is you’ve got some pretty cost effective channels to push it out on. Yeah, it may be a little inexpensive to develop the right asset, the right key piece of content but people are on those social media forums looking for content. I mean that’s really what we’re talking about when we talk about social media marketing. People are on Facebook and Twitter, reading content anyway. So, this is just kind of the next level. It’s kind of a step up on the content that people will consume on a social media site. That’s one of the things that makes social media advertising a really great channel for these digital assets that we’re talking about.

Jay Baron: Right. Right. Yeah and social media’s great too. A lot of people, especially in accounting firms still think it’s not a really business lead generator. But the level of targeting you can now do on social media makes it truly worth it.

Another area I think a lot of firms miss too especially is more on the PPC aspect or AdWords doing search marketing on those PPC channels. I don’t see a lot of firms actually investing in that. There’s a huge opportunity because of that where they can actually take this cornerstone asset. They can run ads around maybe specific pain points so when people are searching, those are definitely going to be more of those late stage prospects as well, which is great.

But as people are searching, you can actually hit them with your ads. You can then send them to that cornerstone asset and actually start developing leads and actually even driving quicker revenue that way when you can actually really get down to their pain points with search intent and understanding the search intent that a prospect’s actually searching within Google and stuff like that.

Rusty Hall: Yeah and that’s a good point too. Jay’s obviously a PPC guru over here. He’s got a lifetime and experience in it. He would know. But one of the things that you do see is people, oh I want to do some PPC advertising stuff and they go after these really broad topics.

Jay Baron: Yeah. That’s right.

Rusty Hall: A ton of stuff out there and you’re going to be paying a fortune just to get in the game, a 10th of the time or less, if you’re lucky. Whereas if you’ve got something that’s really targeted, that’s very specific something that’s maybe outside of where everybody else is targeting, you’re going to come up with not only a less expensive way to go after that PPC but the prospects that are going to be coming in are going to be specifically looking for that stuff. That automatically gives you a higher return because the people that you’re going to get are going to be more engaged in your specific niche.

Jay Baron: No, that’s right. A lot of people when they take up PPC, they target the broad phrases like accounting firm or account firm even like Dallas or accounting firm San Francisco or business accounting. Those phrases honestly don’t work too well especially with the cornerstone asset trades if you’re trying to build a database.

Let’s say you want to start targeting searches like you want to do a consulting for retail as an example and you want to more of those people who have a specific problem and you want to consult them on our consulting growth and things like that. Then you target those ads and then you send them to a landing page where you have this cornerstone asset that specifically talks about that problem they just searched. You’re going to get a lot more downloads. Your cost per leads is going to go way down and you’re going to just drive a lot more revenue that way. That’s where a lot of firms are still struggling. That’s why we’re talking about this. A lot of firms just don’t know how to drive revenue through digital channels right now.

Rusty Hall: Yeah and that’s true. Again with the specifics, once you kind of drill down into the more narrow topics that you’re willing to target, that plays across all of the stuff we’re talking about. Now, we’re talking about specific hashtags and social media. We’re talking about specific groups that you can go out and target that are not the big broad account firms of America kind of specific, specific vertical stuff. Specific to part of the industry. Not the industry as a whole. You kind of start to picking a path across PPC and social and your advertising and where you’re putting this stuff based on this kind of specific targeting for certain groups.

Jay Baron: Right. Yeah and I think that’s where the last point we can talk about that we recommend a lot of firms usually implement. Like I said even during these paid channels, it still takes time to build that database. If you’re kind of tight on budget and you don’t have tons where you can spend money into these other marketing channels, we actually highly recommend people actually do a purchase list.

This is really for firms that I would say have their niche developed out so they have a niche developed out. They know exactly who their target audience is. Now, they just need to build their database. They go out. They purchase a list and they can actually start targeting that list immediately. We’ve had success with firms being able to actually setup appointments immediately on that first email because they have a targeted niche. The list speaks that niche. The email they develop out actually speaks to that niche. Then when they go to their website, it speaks that niche as well. They can get a lot of traction really quickly.

Rusty Hall: Well and when this first came up and Jay and I were kind of planning this podcast and talking about this stuff, we wanted to include list purchase. I’ve been doing email engagement, database management for a lot of years now and spent a lot of time never buy a list. Don’t buy a list. Don’t buy a list.

Jay Baron: We hear that all the time.

Rusty Hall: To be fair, it’s about how you go buying that list. It’s what are you buying. Are you buying a really broad list of names and email contacts and you’re particular topic that you’re going to be emailing them about is not of interest to them? Yeah, in that case you didn’t do your due diligence when you went and purchased that list.

The deal is now research companies, obviously have a ton of data on the leads that you can purchase. They’ll be able to kind of drill down and give you guys, they won’t be as vigorous but they’ll be more targeted. Targeted is really what we’re talking about. When was the last time you got an email on something you were actually interested in that you didn’t click on? You get junk all the time sure.

But well, let’s say my side hobby is I’m a bass player. If somebody buys a list of bass players here in Dallas and sends me a cold email that talks about the latest, greatest amp or bass or whatever it is, I’m automatically interested even if I don’t know necessarily where that’s coming from or who this person is. I’m interested in the topic.

List purchasing when done right as Jay said, I think can be a great way to get started. Worst case scenario make sure that you’ve got your unsubscribes in there so that people if they’re not interested, they’ll unsubscribe. Odds are they won’t even do that. They’ll just delete the email. But the guys who are interested and if you buy the list right, those are going to be quick and valuable prospects to get into your database.

Jay Baron: Yeah and we’re seeing less than a 1% unsubscribe rate on those list purchases right now. I mean, they do work when done right. The best part is tomorrow you can have your list of 2,000 prospects that you need to get to, to really start driving revenue.

Rusty Hall: Yeah and I’ll say I’ve seen through targeted list buying through some of these targeted purchase, I’ve actually seen the engagement rate in some instances be higher than some of our organic stuff that comes in. Just kind of based on the company and the industry. But yeah worked with some companies before where they’ve done that and actually their purchase leads had a higher engagement rate based on email and digital asset clicks than their organic leads that they already had in the database, so pretty fascinating.

Jay Baron: Yeah no, it is. It is. I think maybe that’s actually probably good segway where we can talk about how you can actually … I did social media marketing. I maybe did PPC. I’ve been building my list organically. I went and purchased a list to fill in the gap. I’m at my 2,000 prospects. Now, how can I actually go out and start marketing them in a really effective way through email marketing?

I think that’s where a lot of firms are struggling right now too is they’re just sending out a weekly email. They don’t really understand, okay, I’m getting these prospects. Now, how do I get them to a sales ready state. I think one strategy we’ve been talking about and that we implement a lot and actually I wrote a blog post on this a year or two ago as well is really implementing a high velocity type campaign. Why don’t you kind of tell me a little bit more about what that high velocity campaign looks like Rusty?

Rusty Hall: Yeah, so this was actually something that Jay and I kind of batted around a little bit. When nurturing came out years ago, when we kind of got these nurture engines, these fancy email programs, the thought was well everybody that comes in is going to start getting that top level content. You’ve got your typical awareness stage and your interest stage and typical what you would see for a funnel.

Everybody gets this real light content up front and it’s got light CTAs like go visit our FAQ, our tech data sheets or something that’s kind of a basic level overview, which is great. That works for a long term run. But you’ve got these guys you’re bringing in whether you’ve got them in from social media. You know they’re already engaged or you’ve got them from a list where their interest on the topic is going to be aligned with what you’re talking to them about.

So, why not flip that? What we talked about is give them the option if they’re already engaged, go ahead and give them that late stage CTA and let’s see how quickly we can get them on the phone. Let’s see how quickly we can get them to register for more content, maybe register for a webinar. Heck sign up to receive our podcast.

Jay Baron: Yeah because we find what a lot firms did is they start with the early stage content first. By the time they get them to the late stage, it’s already been several weeks. You don’t want to do that. You want to find the people are interested now as soon as possible.

Rusty Hall: Yeah and if they’ve been active on let’s say the social media channel or something like that, they’ve already looked at that content that’s on your Twitter feed, your Facebook, your LinkedIn. They’re already pretty well mid to late stage by the time you start hitting them with nurture emails if those are the channels that they came in on.

Jay Baron: Right. Yeah, so the high velocity, what it is to us is we look it as three emails. We’ll implement and affirm it’s three emails long. Typically, each email’s spread out between seven to 10 days and that first email’s an extremely late stage email. So, typically it’s something around a case study with results.

The subject line might be something around a tax savings. Maybe you saved a client a $100,000 in tax savings last year. You’re going to call that out in the subject line. Then within the email copy, you’ll have one to two sentences, maybe three that kind of discuss it. You’ll have a link that hopefully goes to that case study. Then lastly you’re going to have something that allows them to schedule an appointment as well. You’ll see really high engagement on that and then you’ll find so that first email especially someone if they’re in that niche that you’ve developed out, they’re going to be interested in that email. We’re seeing high response rates to those email where people actually …

A lot of those firms are doing email marketing. They’re not getting responses. With a high velocity campaign, you’re actually going to get responses where people are respond, they’re going to say tell me more. I’d like to set up an appointment especially if they’re within that industry that that email came out from with that first email.

Rusty Hall: Yeah and this is another good chance too. Let me go back to that cornerstone asset we talked about a little bit. If we know the guys that have done that and we start running through high velocity cadence, something like that. One of those first emails is going to have something that references questions that they might have specific to that content and a chance to set up a time to talk with us about it. You’ve already downloaded the asset. We know that you read it. You’ve probably got questions about how this relates to you. Let’s make that first contact, first call to action to reach back out to us so that we can visit with you specifically about whatever the key takeaway for that content was how that relates to your business and what you’re doing.

Jay Baron: Right. Yeah, so why don’t we talk about too really quickly about how we’re determining high velocity. What happens if I interact with that email then or what if I don’t interact? How do I move through a high velocity campaign?

Rusty Hall: Yeah, so again, it’s kind of the flip funnel approach. We’ll hit with that kind of late stage call to action. Sign up for an appointment. Ir we don’t get any interaction on that, then we’ll kind of move you to something that’s still kind of a late stage. It might be download another case study, give us a little more information about yourself and then finally on that third one is where we’ll kind of take it and we’ll be like, hey maybe you weren’t interested in these things but here’s some of the other resources that we have available, kind of check these out. It’s almost like you kind of transition them into that nurture campaign because if they don’t interact with that, we’re going to kind of pass them into that long run educational nurture. We kind of start out fast with the heavy hitting call to actions and then if there’s no interaction with a specific prospect, we kind of take them back and slowly integrate them into nurture. So, then they’ll start getting our longer run nurture campaigns.

Jay Baron: Right. Right. Yeah. To really break it down what we do is, if they click the link in the late stage email we’re going to keep sending them case studies and assume they’re close to a buying cycle because that’s the content they’re interested in. If they don’t engage with that email, we’ll send them to a stage two email, so the high velocity works we’re sending them actually down the funnel to assume they’re not in a buying stage. Stage two could be a white paper or something that resource or if they haven’t received that cornerstone asset, you could send them that as part of the email as well, for that stage two email. Again if they don’t interact with that email, what we’re looking for guys is link clicks. If they don’t click that email, that link in that second email, we then assume they’re not in a buying cycle. All we just want to nurture that prospect. We send them a stage one email and that’s going to be your blog content.

Again what we’re looking for is just interactions. We want them to start interacting with our brand. So, that’s why we start with the stage three case study. Stage two’s a white paper. Stage one’s the high velocity. The last email is just very generic. We’re just saying, hey you’re clearly not in a buying cycle. I just want to interact with us. Here’s some generic content. It could be the blog content. It could be other white paper content. Again, we’re just looking for that link click, we want engagements with our brand

Rusty Hall: Yeah and this is another good chance too, we’ll probably cover this in a later podcast. But as you’re going through these, you can kind of look at those link clicks and interaction even if people aren’t reaching back out to you if you’re not getting ahold of them based on those interactions you can start tailoring how you’re going to nurture them too for a longer run nurture. You get a lot of good information out of running them through the high velocity first and you get some insight into where their particular interests lie.

Jay Baron: Right. Yeah. Last I think we should talk about maybe I think for a lot of firms this seems like a lot of work especially if they’re only managing a few hundred prospects right now. They probably have a MailChimp or a campaign monitor, something like that. Actually, all those tools have a lot of great features but what we really help firms do is actually automate this. They don’t have to actually do any of the work at all. It actually doesn’t cost very much. They can continue to use programs such as MailChimp to do it. But how can firms start to automate this to make it really easy?

Rusty Hall: Yeah. That’s a good point. A lot of these tools are pretty inexpensive now. With a little bit of set up, a little bit of time, you can go ahead and build these kind of cadences and campaigns out. The nice thing about that is having these tools that are pretty cost effective in as we talked about earlier with the list purchases and the lead channels that we’ll be sending this stuff out through, you can take some of that money that you’re going to be saving on these more cost effective tools and these more cost effective channels and you can dump that money into creating that really high quality cornerstone asset.

Jay Baron: Right. Yeah, so a lot of time we’re helping firms do too is we’ll do complete integration. We’ll use a tool like Zapier. Let’s say they’re running Facebook ads. We’ll link the Facebook ads up to their CRM and their email marketing solution. Let’s say someone downloads a cornerstone asset. Zapier will send that to your CRM. It will send it to your email solution such as MailChimp and then it’s auto going to trigger that high velocity campaign we just talked to.

As a prospect they’re going to get that high late stage piece of content automatically. It’ll wait those seven to 10 to 14 days. It’ll send that next pice if they don’t interact with it. It’ll auto set it up, so you know when a prospect comes in, they’re automatically already being nurtured if they’re showing interest in your late stage content will notify the firm of that. The firm leaders know, hey we have someone who’s interacting with our late stage content. It might be worth reaching out and actually set up an email. We can get full automation across everything. Like Rusty said, it’s cheap. Zapier is $15 a month. I mean you can get MailChimp for 2,000 prospects for … I mean, I don’t even think it’s more than $30 to $40 a month right now.

Rusty Hall: Yeah. It’s dirt cheap for what you get.

Jay Baron: Yeah and MailChimp will do that full integration. If you don’t have a CRM right now. I mean you can get HubSpot CRM for free and it does everything you need. We can get full integration between all those platforms.

Rusty Hall: The nice thing about it is too, not only does this kind of save a lot of time and the hassle a lot of setting these things up. But once they’re set up and they’re automated, you have this in cadence every time. You can really start to go back and see what link of cadence works, when does this email need to go because it’s automated we have a good idea that we can go back and we can improve that process. We can kind of optimize because we know it was the same cadence. Let’s try moving this email up in the cadence or let’s try adding in a stage for a phone call contact here or something like that. Once you have that process in place and see that it’s working, then we can actually start to even optimize that automation between those systems.

Jay Baron: Yep. No and that’s great. This is kind of our introduction to really kind of help firms get email marketing going. Again, the biggest problem that firms are really running into is they just don’t have enough prospects right now. Hopefully this guys will help you kind of look at how you can build the lists. I do have a blog post out there on our website, How to Get New Accounting Clients Quickly, which will really kind of talk about some of the strategies we discussed to really help you kind of build pipeline, get that database to 2,000 prospects. That needs to be your goal. If you don’t have a database of 2,000 prospects, you need to go back, listen to this podcast and figure, okay what tactics can I implement to get to that 2,000? Because organically it’s just going to take you too long and you’re never going to see growth otherwise.

Rusty Hall: Yeah. Again in this whole situation, time is not your friend. That’s why we really wanted to talk to you about how to get them engaged once you’ve got them in there because the minute that we go out there and we get a prospect, we’re losing time on that. We want to keep that engagement high. We want to be getting to them as soon as we can. Again, just kind of having a good strategy and a good plan and then knowing how to execute on it, is really key in a timely fashion.

Jay Baron: Yep. No. I think that really kind of sums it up. Last I just want to bring up, we do offer a free digital marketing assessment. If you’re really trying to figure okay, how can I grow that database? What am I doing wrong with my website? Go to our website. We have a 30 minute digital marketing assessment. We’ll actually benchmark your firm really quickly, walk you through some quick ideas that we can help you out with to really kind of help you get that going.

Rusty Hall: Awesome. Good stuff.

Jay Baron: All right. Thank you guys.

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