Scarcity and urgency are powerful persuasion triggers, but are they ethical?
We’ve all seen companies misuse urgency with fake limited time offers. They sell “live” webinar replays with only 20 seats left or slap a countdown timer on their sales page that resets when it hits zero.
How can we use urgency in sales funnels without being sleazy? In episode 72, Jack Born joins the podcast to discuss the misconceptions of deadlines, marketing automation, and more.
Listen to this Episode:
- Why scarcity and urgency are powerful persuasion techniques
- Why makes people motivated to take action on promotions with a deadline
- The best way to determine if there’s a market for your product or service
- How to make a compelling first offer to your target audience
- When you should start preparing your customers for a product launch
- How to hold people’s attention with email marketing
- The day promotions are proven to have the highest number of sales
- How many emails you should really be sending to your list
- Why it doesn’t matter when people unsubscribe from your email list
- Deadline Funnel
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
- Thinking, Fast and Slow
- Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
- How to Send Emails with 83%+ Open Rates (Not a Clickbait)
- Perry Marshall
- Sphere of Influence
- The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords
- Advanced Google Adwords
Louis: Bonjour, bonjour and welcome to another episode of EveryoneHatesMarketers.com, the marketing podcast for marketers, founders and tech people who are just sick of shady, aggressive marketing. I’m your host, Louis Grenier.In today’s episode, we’re gonna talk about those shitty, fake countdowns that pollute the web and discuss whether there’s an actual ethical way to leverage urgency and scarcity. You might have heard what I just said.
I have this very weird feeling about these countdowns that I see on websites and things like this because I always assume they are fake and they are creating an artificial deadline. My guest today will help us to check whether that’s true or not, or whether I should take it easy and maybe consider that some countdowns are helpful.
The concept of scarcity has been popularized by the book, Persuasion, by Cialdini and it’s a book that many guests in the past have mentioned and I think a lot of listeners will be familiar with this book. My guest today is a software entrepreneur.
He has helped entrepreneurs maximize their sales through marketing automation. He’s a technical co-founder of DeadlineFunnel.com, which is a tool to build–you’ve guessed it–countdowns on your website or even email. Jack Born, welcome aboard.
Jack: It’s great to be here, Louis. Thank you for having me.
Louis: Thanks for playing the game as well because listeners might not know that, and actually they don’t because it’s an email thread, but a common friend, Andre Chaperon whom I interviewed in the podcast in the past, said I should talk to you and interview you.
As soon as I saw what you were about, I said sorry, I don’t think I can talk to this guy because he’s a bit on the shady side for me because I only saw countdowns and I was like sorry, that won’t work. Then you came back with a nice answer and I realized I was a bit of an asshole in the first place.
Louis: Let’s go through it in more details and let’s dive into this particular topic because it’s super interesting. First question is: Why do you think I hate countdowns so much? What’s going on in my head right now?
Jack: I would guess probably the reason why you automatically assume that because I founded a company that helps people–among other things–add countdowns to their website, and it really is more detailed than that. We’ll get into that in a little bit.
But you probably jump to the assumption that it was shady marketing tactics because just like me, you’ve seen it used incorrectly. One of the things that I believe is that you can take almost marketing tactic and some people will use it in a way that’s ethical and also do it in a way that’s extremely effective, and we’ve all seen the same marketing tactics and strategies employed in a way that are either shady or just completely ineffective and they completely fall flat.
The reason why … Going back to the origin story, and I’ll keep this brief, but really the whole genesis for why I created Deadline Funnel was because I wanted to be able to leverage something that we all know works, which is urgency and scarcity but do it in a way that was both automated and authentic.
What I saw out there at the time because I really wasn’t looking for a software to build, I already had other stuff I was doing at the time, so I just assumed someone surely has solved this problem, but no one had. Basically all there was available out there were the timers that you hate and I hate, which are someone puts a timer on their page and when the timer hits zero, if you come back tomorrow, it’ll be counting down again.
I didn’t want to use that but I wanted to be able to leverage urgency in a lot of my followup marketing, a lot of which has to do with lead generation and then automated email follow-ups.
That really set me on the path to creating something that I could use and then once I realized that this is a problem that I had, maybe there are others out there that want to solve the same problem. That was really the genesis but I think it comes back to … It is a tactic.
The use of a countdown is a tactic that in its earliest iterations in the early days was used to increase pressure and to drive more sales but at the core of it, it was fundamentally based on a lie. That’s why we created this software so that marketers like us could use urgency without lying.
Louis: Why is that working so much? We all know urgency sells if you’re in the marketing world and as I mentioned in the intro if you’ve read the book, Persuasion by Cialdini, you would know that scarcity sells. What’s happening in your brain that makes it so powerful?
Jack: There have been a lot of studies that have been done, some of them have nothing to do with the marketing realm but there’s something that physiologically is going on. They’ve even put participants in functional MRI machines and presented them with scenarios and situations where something that they own is being taken away from them, and they can see that something physiologically changes in their brain.
I believe it goes back long before recorded history where we had to fight for our survival on a day by day basis, and resources that were scarce were usually the ones that kept us alive. I think that hard wiring in our brains really has persisted even to this day. It’s a trigger that is really built into us.
Fundamentally, when we have something and it’s being taken away, whether it’s the opportunity to take advantage of a special offer or special deal, and we’re about to lose that, we feel pain. There have been studies that show that people experience the fear of loss more than they’re motivated to take action based on a potential gain.
That’s been shown over and over again. The book, Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow–I might be butchering the title a little bit–but that’s a world-renowned economist who’s done many studies that show this over and over again in various different scenarios.
The other thing that’s going on is just that in today’s busy world, people procrastinate and we have a whole lot of things demanding our attention, from running our business to other marketing messages hitting us on a minute by minute or second by second basis. We’ve got iPhones, iPads and all sorts of other slack notifications and things like that, so there’s a lot of things demanding our attention, so the natural set point, the natural default is for all of us to procrastinate as long as possible.
By having a deadline of some sort, whether you use a countdown or not, by having a deadline on your promotions, you’re gonna have more people take action just because of all the people who are interested in paying attention, there’s a large percentage of them who didn’t take action because they’re just going into that natural default mode of procrastinating as long as possible.
Fundamentally there’s a lot going on, but even if you just think in terms of, “Do human beings procrastinate?” The answer is we all know, yes. If we’re being honest, we procrastinate, so a deadline forces people to make a decision. You’re either in or you’re out.
Louis: From experience, having deadlines, works with customers, potential customers, visitors but it also works for you as a company, or as an individual because if you set yourself a deadline that in two weeks time or three weeks time, this will need to be done, you naturally focus your attention on making it happen and take off all the fluff so that you focus on what matters. What I’ve found sometimes is having a publicly available deadline that is for both people outside and people inside works super well.
Surely those people who didn’t take action, let’s say in a control group that didn’t see the countdown, and those people who saw the countdown and just basically took action just because of it, do you have any proof or studies with your clients that show that those people who converted because of it are as qualified and as good as a lead or as a customer than people who didn’t go through?
Jack: That’s an interesting question. I have proof that there’s definitely a surge of sales, near the deadline. I’ll cover that first. I’ll cut to the end and say I don’t have any proof that the quality of the client who’s buying right before the deadline is either better or worse. You’re the first one who’s asked me that, but I would disagree, before I give you the proof that the deadlines increase conversions, one of the things that I would say … Shoot. Lost my train of thought.
Let’s talk about the proof that deadlines increase conversion. Anytime someone does a product launch, whether you’re coming out with your product for the first time or you’re doing a black Friday sale, Cyber Monday, etc. if you look at the … There’s a time where people can jump in, and there’s a cart open. There’s the opportunity for you to jump on the sale, where previously it wasn’t available. That’s usually where there’s a spike in sales.
During a multi-day promotion, usually the sales are gonna taper off, but then it’s right before the deadline where sales really surge and usually that’s when there’s the majority of the activity, right before the close. Although I don’t have any studies whether a client is either good or bad or worse or better, depending on when they purchase, I definitely know for a fact that the biggest spike in sales is right before that deadline …
One thing, I do remember what I was gonna say. You mentioned in the lead up to that question, you said people who bought just because of the deadline. I don’t think that people buy just because of the deadline. One of the things that I tell people all the time is that you can’t steer a parked car.
In other words, if your product is not wanted by the market, if your marketing message is horrible, if people just don’t want what you’re offering or your presenting it in a really crappy way, it’s not like throwing a countdown timer on your page is going to all of the sudden fix that.
What urgency will do, what a deadline will do is it will take something that’s already working and make it all that much better. It’s a maximizer. It’s a conversion rate optimizer but if you’ve got no conversions to optimize, you can’t optimize a zero. You can’t polish a turd.
Louis: Exactly. You can’t polish a turd. I agree with you. Thanks for going through this exercise because I know it’s not easy. I’m trying to challenge you as much as I can so that I can convince myself that in the future, perhaps I could use countdown in a very ethical way, which is what we want to go through together. I’d like to go through a step by step with you that explains how we can use scarcity and urgency in an ethical manner, without being shady marketers, without trying to trick people to do something they don’t want to do.
By the way, before we go through this, I just have one more point. I came upon this article from Nir Eyal, who is the founder of Hooked, building products that stick and that people are hooked to, air quoting right now. He came up with an interesting concept which he calls the regret test.
I think this is the answer to the question as well, and to the debate we’re having right now is as long as people buy from you a good product, first of all, a product that makes their life easier and is good intrinsically, if they bought it because of the deadline as well, that really helped them to move from I’m not buying to buying and they don’t regret this decision after the fact. They’re actually happy with this decision. Then it’s all good.
Louis: I feel that the regret test is good when people regret their purchase or their actions as soon as they’ve done it. In this instance, it also probably means that the product wasn’t good enough, or that there was too many shady marketing tactics at once that really put them under pressure to buy it. I think it’s a great way to think about it. Will your people, will your customer regret doing what you wanted them to do, or will they be happy with it?
Jack: That’s a great one. Here’s another one. I was recently at a conference in Chicago, and the speaker at the front of the room brought this up and I jotted it down. The idea is if you truly love someone, if you think about someone that you truly care about in your life, it might be a family member or a dear friend, assuming that they would possibly be an ideal prospect for what you’re offering, would you sell your product to them? Would you use everything that you could in order to convince them?
That’s really an acid test to see do you really believe in your product–because I think you and I have both bought things where we had the buyer’s regret. Doesn’t matter whether they had a countdown or deadline or not, just what we got versus what we thought we were gonna get was two totally different things.
Obviously the person promoting it, at least from my point of view, I’ve thought many times before that it really reflected on the person who was the marketer, who was the person selling it because obviously, they needed the cash flow, because this is not something that they would in good conscience sell to someone that they cared about.
Louis: The mom test. Would you sell that to your mom? Would you write this email to your mom? Would you sell this software to your mom, is usually a good test whether or not you’re doing good marketing. Thanks for that. That’s also a good example.
Let’s go to the practicality of it. Let’s say we have a business. We are selling whatever online, could be software, could be something else. We do want to use urgency and scarcity to try to encourage people to take action but we want to do that in an ethical way. What will be a step by step process that you would go through with them, starting with step one?
Jack: Sure. Step one goes back to what I was saying where you can’t polish a turd. You’ve gotta make sure that there’s a market to match, that people in your market actually want what you’re offering and probably the best way to do that is to do a live promotion.
That might be if you have a subscriber list and this is the first time you’re bringing your product to the world, this is some form of a product launch or a product announcement. It could be a partner webinar that you do with someone but whatever it is, you should do the live promotion for several reasons.
One is because frankly, it’s just easier to implement. In terms of an MVP, it’s a lot easier just to get the promotion out the door when you don’t have to worry about evergreening something. Really taking something and making it evergreen, meaning available 24/7 and making it automated, is something you do after you know that it’s working. You don’t want to do that straight out of the gate because it takes more time and energy to do.
The other reason is because when you do a live promotion, you’re gonna get live feedback, especially for example if it’s in a webinar setting. If there’s some sort of feedback loop, where people can ask you questions, or a product launch, your feedback loop might be in the form of Facebook comments on the various pages or live chat or emails that people send in.
There’s gonna be some form of feedback loop and that feedback loop is gonna help you realize there are some objections, or questions or objections, really they fall into a similar category. There are some questions that are unanswered that we need to build into our marketing message.
Step one would be to do the promotion live.
Louis: Right. What type of offer do you recommend to start with? Let’s say this is the first time we are trying to sell something or we haven’t sold something in a while. What do you feel the best way to start that requires minimum involvement but the highest possible impact?
Jack: Sure. What I would recommend is whatever price you think you’re going to offer it at down the road, if this is the first time that you’re offering it, that you’re doing it live, what I would recommend is doing it at a price discount. We see this pretty commonly for founding members or charter members, that when you’re on someone’s subscriber list and you know that they’re building something. When they first release it, usually there’s an introductory price. That’s not required but that would be my suggestion.
Another one would be to sweeten the deal with some extra add-ons you can have. These can be some bonuses that you have. It might be free reports. It might be other products that you’ve created in the past, but another creative way to do it is to do what, just as an example, I’ve seen Teachable do for some of their summits, where they go to other software companies and they say we’re doing this summit, would you be willing to give us three months free to your software or whatever it is.
Basically, it’s free advertising, free client acquisition, or pseudo-free. I’m doing air quotes now. Free client acquisition for these companies that are in this bonus bundle.
This is a way that teachable doesn’t have to come up with their free content … Sorry, their extra bonuses. They don’t have to go into content generation mode, but they could offer a package of bonuses to sweeten the deal that might be several hundred dollars or possibly several thousands of dollars in value, as long as they’re relevant to the audience and they’re a close fit.
Louis: That’s a nice tip. Definitely a nice tip. When it comes to the deadline and picking the date for your live promotion, that could be step two, I suppose. Let’s you know what you’re selling. Let’s say we’re selling a live webinar that is packed with value, maybe it’s a summary of the best tips that marketers have shared with us in this podcast.
It’s only gonna be done once. It’s truly a live promotion. It’s not a replay of any kind. It’s gonna be live Q&A at the end and all of that. What is your advice, and that might be step two, as I said, how far in the future do you want to set the date that it’s gonna go live? How far away should you prepare for it?
Jack: It’s a balancing act. To give a ridiculously short example, just announcing it the morning of is not enough runway. Two weeks is probably more runway that people can really pay attention to, so what I would recommend is I would think in terms of when is my audience really paying attention to their email inbox because a lot of this is gonna center around their email inbox.
You might be using other methods. You might have an SMS list with permission. You might have a chat bot list. It really depends, but a lot of our clients use permission-based email marketing.
If you have an idea of when your subscribers are looking at their emails or opening their emails and clicking through, that’s probably … For most markets, that’s probably gonna be starting Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and they’re probably gonna be spending less time in their email inbox on Saturday and Sunday, but again, it really depends on your audience.
A B2B type of market is probably gonna be Monday through Friday. What I would is I would want to have a few days of runway to get people amped up and excited and anticipating the webinar.
As a default, out of the gate suggestion, what I would recommend is sometime on a Thursday. In terms of what time of day, again it just really depends on how well you know your audience. Something to keep in mind would be timezones. If you’ve got a lot of people on the west coast, holding it at 10:00 AM Eastern, even if that’s convenient for you, it’s gonna leave out a lot of people who are on the West Coast.
You’ve gotta take these things into consideration but just in terms of how much runway, I would recommend three to four days, so start on a Monday and then really try to build up the anticipation up until the day of the webinar, which I would do on a Thursday.
Louis: We do this webinar on Thursday and we start announcing it maybe a week before, the Thursday before start talking about it, or even starting on a Monday.
Jack: Yeah. Typically I start on the Monday before but there’s no rule that says you couldn’t start a week before. It really depends on how much you have to say about what’s gonna be happening. How much you can really stoke the fires of anticipation and desire leading up to the event.
Louis: Let’s go back to one thing that you mentioned before going to step three. You said that two weeks before may be too long, and you mentioned something around the fact that people want … It won’t hold people’s attention for that long of a time. What do you mean by this? What’s the usual thought process behind this?
Jack: Just based on what I’ve seen, going back many years, product launches, in the internet marketing world, which is where both Andre and I came from, product launches would span an entire month and there weren’t as many competing messages. People could be excited and hold that excitement and hold that attention for about a month.
Then what we’ve seen is that cycle has shortened down from a month to more like two weeks. I was just thinking in terms of … I didn’t know whether we’re describing a full-blown product launch but I thought we were talking about a webinar. It might be a killer webinar but a webinar would be an hour event and then you send out the replay. I’m just thinking what a webinar means to me.
Jack: Webinar in my mind is you get people excited. You want as many people to attend live as possible. Then you try to deliver an hour to an hour and a half of amazing content. Then you have the replay that you send out emails for, and then there’s a deadline several days later, which I’m sure we’ll talk about in a little bit. I was thinking of a one day, one hour or 90-minute event, not say a four-day product launch. Does that make sense?
Louis: It does, and we are on the same page. Step two is actually to set up … To think about the length at which you’re gonna try to hold people’s attention. Step three, I guess we’re gonna start talking about Andre’s email marketing genius. I can sense it. I can sense we’re gonna talk about it somehow. You probably have your own methods as well and your own way of thinking about it.
How do you hold people’s attention? How do you make sure that you send email to your list, you communicate with your people? How do you make sure that during those few days where you want to promote this live webinar that is good value, that they’re interested in it, that they’re actually gonna join it?
Jack: Sure. Andre is … One of the things I learned from Andre a long time ago is the concept of an open loop. This is a concept. The name open loop I believe comes from NLP, neurolinguistics programming, but basically, it means a cliffhanger.
Just as any popular show, to get you tuning into either next week’s show, or in the case of Netflix to binge-watch an entire afternoon of House of Cards, every single episode answers questions from maybe the previous episode or a few episodes back but always asks new questions. There’s a new dilemma, a new conflict that’s opened up and this is unresolved. The only way to resolve it is to tune in next week or to click Watch the Next Episode.
In that same way, leading up to this event, you want to present questions that hopefully are conflicts or issues that your audience had been dealing with themselves and to hint and suggest that there are unique ways that your special guest is going to be able to solve them, or if you have prior conversations, here’s another idea.
This takes a little bit more advanced planning, but if it’s a really big special guest and you want to have as much attendance as possible, maybe you do a quick interview, like you and I are doing right now, where you’ve got the audio and the video and this is a lead up.
Your goal for this is not to deliver the same content you’re gonna deliver on the webinar but talk about the same topic and you lead in with a juicy bit, so it’s almost like a trailer, a movie trailer, for the webinar that’s coming up. You have an enticing, very short segment, maybe 30 seconds or a minute of conversation and then this gives you a taste of what you’re gonna get on the actual live webinar.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this but with … This is how short our attention span is getting. The ads that you see when you go and watch YouTube, when there’s a video you want to watch. For example I love watching Stephen Colbert, so when I go and I tune into Stephen Colbert, I’ve gotta watch the YouTube ad at the beginning.
What I’ve noticed is that movie trailers, which are supposed to be the short version of the movie, the teaser to get you really excited about going and seeing the movie. In order for you to watch the trailer, rather than hitting Skip Ad, they have a trailer for the trailer in the first five seconds of the video.
You get this really exciting sneak peak, which I guess is the best of, of the trailer. Then you realize this is a trailer but my interest was piqued enough. Now I’m gonna watch this. You actually want to watch the trailer.
Think about it in those terms, like a movie opening, grand movie opening. What sort of clips, what sort of information, what sort of tidbits, behind the scenes info can you drip out? Just to continue this just one more second with the Infinity Wars movie that was just released–which I haven’t seen so don’t spoil it for me–there was lots of behind the scenes stuff, lots of trailers. There were pre-trailers, lots of little bits that were dripped out, to get buzz, to get people talking about it.
To the extent that you can do this, even if you obviously don’t have that type of production quality, you don’t have that type of budget, there are still strategies and tactics that you can borrow from that and use to get people excited because you’ve given them a tidbit. You’ve given them a taste of what’s to come.
You’ve opened up that loop. You’ve asked the question that’s been burning in their mind with the implied or explicit promise that when you attend, this is gonna be answered. Another key thing is if it’s a really special guest, let’s say you’re gonna have … Let’s say I was gonna have Seth Godin on. If we said there’s gonna be 30 minutes of Q&A at the end, where you can ask Seth any question that you want, that’s a huge driver to get people to attend live, is the ability to ask questions at the end.
Louis: First, I did see the movie and I’m not gonna spoil it. I promise. Second, if you’re listening to this episode right now, and you haven’t listened to Andre Chaperon episode about email marketing, please do because it’s packed with proper insight into creating email and more importantly stories that people care about. Going back to the point you made, you made a lot of excellent points, but one that I picked up is about the TV shows.
Now I’m a marketer and I do enjoy the storytelling aspect of marketing and I do know a bit about it now. I cannot help but notice things and I cannot watch TV shows before noticing it. I just have to notice those things. We are watching Billions at the minute with my wife. It was a very good TV show and I noticed that they always have three stories within the story.
You have the main story, the big loop, the one that starts from episode number one or season number one, and finishes until the fucking series finish. Then you have the second side of story that is a bit smaller. It’s maybe every two or three episodes. It opens, there’s an intrigue. There’s something happening in episode one. It’s almost going on episode two and it finishes episode three and then a new one starts.
Then you have the shitty stories inside each episode. It lasts an episode and it’s usually a love related loop, so it’s like one of the characters and it’s focused on his or her love story with somebody specific like she cheated on him or vice versa, and that’s it.
Those three things together create this amazing TV show, but if you deconstruct it, you’re like … It’s a bit shitty as individual stories, but the package is a beautifully done package. That’s a very long point I’m trying to make.
Going back to Andre’s methodology and storytelling in general, in HotJar, which is the company I work for, we set up this exact storytelling for emails, and we had a series of five emails being sent everyday after someone signed up to our upcoming podcast that we launched called the Humans Strike Back. It was a very simple story of me basically fucking up my first six months at HotJar, where I didn’t really know what I did. I had a very weak strategy and I didn’t do things the right way. I focused on the wrong things in particular number instead of people. That’s the story in those five emails.
The open rate for those emails, the first one was more than 75% and the lowest open rate was maybe 55%, 60%. That was higher than anything we ever had, ever. Just because it was based on a story. To go back to the point of what we’re trying to make here together about deadline urgency and scarcity, I think step number three is really about storytelling and it’s super important to make sure that if you want to hold people’s attention for more than 10 seconds, use storytelling as a way to distribute a message because it’s super, super powerful.
Louis: Right, step four then. What do we do?
Jack: We’ve talked about when to schedule it. We’ve talked about the lead up to it. I guess the next question would be when should I make the deadline. Again, as with a lot of things, I’ll give a starting point but really it just depends on your market.
If we do the webinar event on Thursday, the first thing that you’re gonna want to do is you’re gonna want to make sure, for this live event that you’re recording it. You’re gonna want to have some backup systems in place. I don’t want to go any deeper into some of those parts of it, but let’s assume that you have a good, viable recording.
You want to get that up as quickly as possible and send out the email to the rest of the people that didn’t show because no matter how good of a job you do, you’re not gonna get 100% of the people to attend a webinar. A decent show-up rate in most markets would be, say 33%. So two out of three people roughly haven’t seen your message.
They were interested enough to register, and they were interested enough to open your emails and even click on things, but they didn’t attend. Maybe it was the wrong time. Maybe something happened, whatever. You still want to get your message in the hands of those people, so you want to send out the replay.
In addition, you want to send out additional emails after that and we can talk about what those emails might include but then you want to pick what your deadline would be. Again, what I would do is I would make sure that the last day of your promotion that’s gonna end with a deadline, you have that on a day where you believe that your audience is going to be in their email inbox. If Sunday is a really bad day for open rates and for attention, you don’t want to end it on a Sunday and here’s why.
As I mentioned before, the last day of a promotion when you have that deadline is where you have the highest number of sales. It’s what I call the Perfect Persuasion Window. That term means that in terms of emails, revenue per email sent, in terms of revenue per visitors landing on your website, that’s gonna … No matter what metric you want to use along the lines of revenue per whatever, that’s gonna be your best period of time, the 12 hours before your deadline.
You want to make sure, number one that it’s on a day where people are gonna be paying attention, not hanging out with their family. Number two, you’re going to want to send more than one email on that day. It’s just a simple fact. We’ve seen it time and time and time again. I’ve never seen an exception to this. When you have your deadline, your last day, when you send more than one email, you will make more sales, period, full stop.
I recommend … I like to recommend people send three emails. If that’s more than you want to send, I at least recommend that you send two, because even just sending that one additional final reminder email is gonna get additional sales. Believe it or not.
Everyone listening to this needs to understand that people are not sitting around waiting for your emails, desperately waiting for the email that you’re going to send today. They could open it, read every word of what you’ve written and to click on it, and to read the webpage and watch the video.
People are busy. Believe it or not, even though you sent an email at 10:00 AM saying today is the last day, I want to make sure you know about it, and you feel like that’s enough. The job is done, I told people. Well, you told people but some people didn’t get the email. Some people didn’t see the email. You need to send another on if you want to make more sales.
Here’s the thing. If you’re doing your job properly as a marketer, as a founder, entrepreneur, et cetera, you and your team will set up your email so that when someone purchases, whether they purchase on the live webinar or whether they purchase right before the deadline, you should be taking them out of the sequence to get additional emails.
Somebody who buys is not gonna see that final call email or the extra two emails that you send that day. So you really should not worry about what are people gonna think? You really should be thinking about how can I … Again, going back to the mom test.
If you truly believe in your product and you believe that your product and service can change the lives of the people that you’re talking to, as long as they’re the right prospect, then you owe it to them, not just your pocketbook, but you owe it to them to send an extra one or two emails and the great thing about it is that those extra one or two emails on that last day are really simple emails. You don’t need to create a really fancy, well written, Andre style email. It’s basically …
Let’s just use the example of if you’re just gonna send one more email, say at 5:00 PM that day. It’s really that simple. Final call. Before I sign out for the day, I just want to send this last email to make sure that you know about it. Some people have been hitting the snooze button but this deal is closing tonight.
Here’s a summary of what we’re offering and why it’s great for you. This is only good until midnight tonight. Click here to join. Just by sending out a real brief recap, that’s really all it takes. You will see a dramatic increase in sales.
If you’re tracking, if you’re using ETM parameters in the links and you’re tracking where your sales are coming from, you’re gonna see that that final email drives a tremendous number of sales that you otherwise wouldn’t get if you just said I feel uncomfortable sending more than one email a day. This is one of those times where you should step outside your comfort zone and send more than one email.
Louis: I’m sure a lot of people listening right now might wonder, if I send that many emails, two people who haven’t made the move, I’m running the risk that they wouldn’t subscribe.
Jack: Yeah, they might. First of all, again it comes back to do you really believe in your product? Do you believe in your service? If you do, you owe it not just to your company’s revenue and your revenue but you owe it to the people who really are interested but they’re procrastinating to send that additional email.
The other thing is that someone who unsubscribes because oh my gosh, you sent me two emails, you sent me a final courtesy reminder, they’re not gonna buy from you anyhow. They’re not ideal … You guys are not a good match. This is their way of signaling what you’re offering isn’t for me. I don’t like your voice. I don’t like whatever. It’s not like you’re going to be losing potential future clients by the droves.
Your unsubscribe rate will be actually relatively low because again, the people who purchase aren’t even gonna see that second email and the people who just aren’t interested, it’s not gonna bother them very much to see that second email because it’s just a final courtesy reminder.
My final thing that I would say about that is for anyone who’s doing live webinars and you’re not sending more than one email in the last day, my advice would be: Treat it as an experiment. Test it out. See what would happen, because what you will find, I guarantee you, what you will find is that you’re gonna make a lot more revenue and you’re gonna get a very, very small uptick in unsubscribes if any.
Louis: I’ve seen a few Facebook ads recently about this guy selling software to do–I don’t know what–but the way he does it is that he sets up webinars and you go on the ad, and you go to the landing page and there is a countdown on top that is always less than 24 hours and you come back the next day and it’s 24 hours again.
He’s basically running webinars on replay three times a day to drive urgency and scarcity. What’s your view on these type of activities and would you classify that as being unethical and where is the line? Where do you think this guy or this gal is using the product, my product in the wrong way? I have another question but I’m gonna keep this …
Jack: Sure. In my mind, it’s real simple. A lot of people … Before I give you where I was going with this, let me start with a simple answer. It’s real simple. If what you’re saying, whether it’s on a live webinar, live event, speaking from the stage, or if you are sending it out in an email, if what you’re saying isn’t true, then it’s unethical. It’s as cut and dry as that.
Where I was about to go before I backtracked to the simple answer is that what a lot of people get confused is that they assume that if the deadline or the countdowns is automated … By the way, our software does more than just put a countdown, but if the countdown or the deadline is automated, then it must be untrue. That’s simply not the fact. There’s a difference between automation, whether we’re using technology to automate something and whether it’s real or not. I’ll give you a perfect example.
You and I are both in the SaaS world. You work for HotJar. I think that I’m not as familiar with HotJar, as I think they have a freemium plan, but there’s a lot of … We both know that there’s a vast number of SaaS companies that the main method of getting someone into their funnel is to have a 14 or 30-day free trial.
When you join, you put in your credit card and you get onboarding emails and you can either say I’m not interested, or you can continue on. You’re using the product and you love it. There is a deadline and the deadline is automated. The end of the free trial is determined solely by when you started the free trial.
You and I both know that these SaaS companies, the vast majority of them, it’s not a fake deadline. If you wait past the deadline, you will be billed. There might be some sort of special rate that you get because you joined through a Facebook ad or something like that. Those deadlines are real, so the SaaS world has been using automated deadlines very effectively for quite a long time.
Other ways that they use it would be even if it doesn’t roll into automated billing, would be a 14 or 30-day free trial that just ends unless you go and add your credit card, unless you upgrade to a paid plan. That’s another example where this is done in an automated fashion but just because it’s automated doesn’t mean that it’s not real.
To come back to what I said earlier, in my mind, it’s real simple. It has nothing to do with whether something is automated. All it has to do with is what you’re saying in your marketing, is it true or not. In terms of this specific example of there’s a webinar registration page and let’s say it says something like this is the only time that you can register for this and then you come back tomorrow and you see this same countdown. That’s bullshit and that’s not the way that … I’m against that.
Louis: It’s a very good way to put it and to be fair, I hadn’t thought about the free trial mechanism because HotJar has a 14-day free trial, and I realize now that it is a countdown, to build scarcity to make sure that people are using and testing the product before they are billed for it.
It’s a good example and I think it also shows that people need to be willing to be open-minded and think outside of what they are certain is wrong or right and it’s always good to talk to people like you who have knowledge in this specific industry.
Jack: Here’s another advantage, a hidden advantage of using a deadline in your promotions. First of all, if you have an evergreen, 24/7 promotion where you don’t have a deadline, you’re losing money, period. I truly believe that.
Here’s another reason why having a deadline of sorts is good. Let’s use the HotJar example. Let’s say it’s a 14-day, totally free trial where someone has to proactively choose to go to the website and enter in their credit card details, or else access to HotJar ends.
At the end of that deadline, for the people that didn’t take action, you can send out a feedback loop mechanism. It could be a survey. It could be could you hit reply to this email. It could be get on the phone with a customer service representative or start a live chat. We see that you started your free trial on X date and you decided not to continue. We’re really bummed out. Could you click this link and let us know?
Think about this. If you didn’t have the deadline, when would you send that out? Because if someone … If there was no deadline, when is the right time to know that someone didn’t use it? If there’s no deadline, I might just still be trying out the free version.
In the same way, if someone is on your email list and you’re trying to get them to buy your product, when is the right time to send out the survey or feedback mechanism that says obviously you’re not gonna buy this. How is it obviously? If you have no deadline, there’s no right time to send out that hey, why didn’t you take action.
Having the deadline not only increases your sales but gives you a great opportunity to perfectly time the feedback loop to find out you were interested in this. You attended the webinar. Just curious, why didn’t you buy? No hard feelings. I’m not gonna high pressure sales you but I just would love to hear your untarnished, unfiltered version about what we could do better.
Louis: Jack, thanks so much for going through this exercise with me. I know I’m not easy, but I think you came up with very good points and I tried my best to play devil’s advocate. I’m not that against countdowns but I wanted to make sure that even the people who really didn’t believe in it, listening to this episode would be convinced by what you have to say.
I have a few questions that I always ask my guest before … At the end of each episode. The first one is what do you think marketers should learn today that will help them in the next 10 years, 20 years, 50 years?
Jack: In my opinion … sorry, I hope I’m answering the question as it was intended but in my opinion, public speaking. No matter how advanced technology gets, I think it’s just going to continue to aid in our ability to get our message out there.
At its core, our message is our ability to either get on camera, whether it’s recorded or get on a webinar if it’s live, stand on a stage, give an elevator speech in an elevator when you happen to be standing next to an angel investor or your ideal prospect but your ability to deliver your message in a persuasive way to the right audience. I don’t even think that will be outdated, the ability to speak publicly.
Louis: What are the top three best resources you would recommend our listeners? It could be software. Don’t mention yours because we’ll talk about your product a bit more, so outside of DeadlineFunnel.com, any other software, books, podcasts, conferences, anything?
Jack: We’ve already thrown a lot of love Andre’s way, but I really respect Andre. He’s a great friend of mine. His ethical compass points true north. I’ve met a lot of people whose ethical compass either it doesn’t point true north or doesn’t exist. Andre is a great guy, so anything that he’s got, [inaudible 00:53:07] madness or his storytelling courses.
He’s got a new one he came out with called Sphere of Influence. He’s got some really great stuff and you’ll learn a lot just by being on his subscription list. That would be the first one. Let me think what else.
Another guy that I truly value what he says and I’ve known him for a long time and I’ve worked for him is a guy named Perry Marshall. He comes out with some brilliant stuff. The Chicago that I came back from, he put on. He was one of the first guys who cracked the code on direct response marketing for Google AdWords. He’s got, if not the number one book on Google AdWords advertising, it’s tied for number one with another guy named Brad Geddes.
Perry Marshall is a super savvy guy and the way his mind works, it’s really fascinating to see how he pulls in ideas from biology and sometimes religion and engineering pulls them together and makes some sort of point that otherwise, the idea just seems random but when he brings them together, it just is beautiful.
Jack: I’m trying to think what is another great resource.
Louis: Let’s make it your product. You said that the countdown isn’t the only feature that you have in Deadline Funnel. What else does it do?
Jack: At its core, what it’s designed to do is it’s designed to give marketers the ability to ethically automate a deadline in their promotion, so you can make more money and also get that feedback after the deadline passes.
What our system does is it will synchronize with your email software. It will also synchronize if you’re using chatbots, we synchronize with many chat and chat fuel, so that you can run these automated promotions where when your technology says today is the deadline, it is in fact the deadline. Again, going back to telling the truth.
That’s, at its core, what our system does, but in addition to having the countdown timers, you have the ability to do a lot of other cool things, such as the ability to have personalized on your page, the person’s exact deadline date and time. Even if you don’t want to show the countdown, you can say doors close 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time, August 5th. That is personalize to them. You have the ability to personalize it right in the email as well.
Also, one of the things we didn’t get a chance to talk about this, but for folks who are using urgency, I feel like there’s a right time to use it. When someone first signs up for your email list, if they’re going to check out your special offer page, if this is their first contact with you, personally I feel that showing a countdown and talking about deadline is the wrong message at the wrong time. It’s not the right time to do that.
Usually around the last 72 hours or last 48 hours, where in your followup marketing, where you should be talking about the deadline approaching, that’s when you would want that to show up.
What our software gives you the ability to do is to hide all of that urgency based stuff, hide the countdown until right before your deadline, so for the people who are procrastinating, they will see the countdown.
They will see what their deadline is on that page, and if they wait too long, they won’t be able to take action. For everyone who is the type of person that sees the benefit, sees the value and wants to take action right away, they’re not turned off by seeing a five-day countdown sitting in front of their face on the page.
Our software does all that and it works with lots of different pieces of the marketing stack. If you’re using say Lead Pages or Unbounce for your opt-in pages, you’re using WordPress for some of your sales pages and you’re using, I don’t know, SamCard or something like that for your checkout pages or whatever it is that you’re using, you can have it work across all of those different pages.
That’s really what it’s designed to do. It’s designed to keep you ethical and honest, while at the same time automating something that has been proven to work and proven to get people who are interested to go from procrastination mode to taking action, so that’s what it does.
Louis: Jack, thanks so much for spending the time to answer all my questions. I wish I could have asked you more about your entrepreneurial background. I usually have a very interesting question I ask every single entrepreneur but I think that I’m gonna have to pass because it’s been almost an hour that we are talking together. Jack, once again, thank you so much for your time.
Jack: Thank you. I appreciate it, Louis.
How to stand out: 9 bullshit-free lessons from world-class tech marketers
Insights from Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin, David Darmanin and 6 other world-class tech marketers.
I’m a no-fluff marketer living in Dublin, Ireland (but yeah, I’m French).
I believe you can treat people the way you’d like to be treated and still generate results without using sleazy, aggressive, hack-y marketing. This is why I’ve started Everyone Hates Marketers – a no-fluff, actionable marketing podcast – as a side project in April 2017.
I’m also the Content Lead at Hotjar – a powerful way to analyse people’s behaviour on your website or app and understand how you can improve their experience.