This episode is all about website personalization: what it is, how it works, and how to get it started in your business today. My guest to discuss this and and his new website personalization tool is Brennan Dunn of Double Your Freelancing and RightMessage. Brennan explains the benefit of a personalized approach and shares specific ideas you can implement in any size business to get results.
Listen to this Episode:
Topics Discussed in this Episode:
- The problems in broad messaging
- Personalizing your website to customer segments
- Mapping your funnel and tailoring opt-ins based on subscriber status
- Branded referrals and easy points to start website personalization
- Trigger links to identify customer pain points
- Tools to get started personalizing your website
- RightMessage technology
- Brennan’s recommended resources
- The Ask Method by Ryan Levesque
- Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer, ConvertFlow
- Don’t Call Yourself A Programmer, And Other Career Advice by Patrick McKenzie
- Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
Louis: Hey, Brennan. Thank you so much for being on the show. It’s really a pleasure. I’m going to tell you something I haven’t told you before even though we talked just before this episode. You have a website called doubleyourfreelancing.com, which is a resource to help freelancers and consultants to become better freelancers or become better consultants. A few months ago, I was a consultant. I used to struggle with pricing. I used to charge per hour. I used to really struggle making money. I read a few of your resources. I switched to value-based pricing.
It was tough at the start. I remember the clients telling me, “Are you crazy? Is this how much you’re going to price this?” I would always push back. I managed to really get big projects, thanks to the way you’re describing this value-based pricing. Thank you so much. You helped me quite a lot with my previous business.
Brennan: Absolutely. I love hearing that, absolutely. It’s funny, a lot of people when they hear charging more or value-based pricing word, not commodity pricing or whatever you want to call it. The natural thinking is, it’s just some sort of – I think it’s very apropos of your podcast but I think it’s some sort of tactic you can use to find a way to get somebody to pay you more for something. My whole thing is helping people deliver really a better product that demands a better price. That’s what the focus is. It’s all about how I can help people, hopefully this would happen with you, how can I help people learn how to better position what it is they’re selling. It becomes more of a premium product that is worth more.
Louis: Yeah. The pricing is a byproduct of the product itself.
Brennan: Exactly, yeah.
Louis: I switched a few things around based on that. Today is not about that though. It’s not about value-based pricing, it’s not about freelancing or consulting. It’s about something that is really interesting. It’s interesting that you made a move – not the move but you’ve also started to be involved in this project we’re going to talk about quite soon.
Here is the problem we’re going to try to solve in this episode. Most websites, I don’t want to do stats that don’t make any sense. But let’s say 95% of websites would show the exact same thing to everybody, right?
Brennan: I would say most marketing websites and blogs, it’s probably a bit higher than that. But yeah, for the most part.
Louis: 99%, let’s just come up with numbers out of the blue. 99%. Most websites will show you the exact same thing regardless of you are a new visitor or if you’re somebody who comes back to their website everyday and who subscribes to their email newsletter, right?
Louis: What are the problems with this approach?
Brennan: That approach really isn’t that bad of a thing. That obviously works for a lot of companies. The way I like to explain it to people is that your website’s purpose is probably to sell something. It’s to sell them on putting their email address to get on your email list or to putting your credit card to buy something from you. That’s the job of your website. It’s to sell.
The unfortunate thing is when you’re trying to speak to every possible person who could benefit from say joining your email list or buying from you, you’re needing to generalize your copy in such way that it has a very wide appeal. Some people go all in on a niche and really focus on a particular type of person who has a particular type of problem. They end up having very specific copy that works very well. The issue though is that you’re kind of locked into that one niche. A lot of us have products or services that could benefit many different types of problems or types of people for instance with a core set of problems.
The real issue is if somebody needs to think about they’re looking at your website and they need to think is this right for me, a lot of people are going to fall through that funnel and fall out of it. A lot of people are going to think in my case I have training products for freelancers. That freelancer could be a web designer, a programmer, a marketer, a writer. It could be an agency somehow reading that stuff.
The issue is I would get emails from designers saying, “Hey, I’m looking at this product of yours. It’s obvious you are a software developer. By training, can this actually help me?” It was funny because I knew – I’m just teaching people how to sell. What you’re selling is really immaterial as long as you’re selling to different business. I was getting emails like that. I realized for every email that I got like that, there’s probably like hundreds or thousands of people who had that same internal thought and closed the tab.
That started for me back in 2013 when I was running another company of mine called Plan Scope that I don’t run any longer. I was thinking like, “Why not make it so if you’re on my list, you don’t see opt ins?” Don’t show them a pop-up. Don’t show them an exit model. Don’t show them any of that stuff. They’re on my list and they haven’t bought something. Maybe just promote the thing they haven’t bought and they have bought that. Maybe promote the next thing, the next product that I have, or something like that.
Technically it’s not hard. It’s just changing the content that your web browser shows the person. You log into Amazon or Netflix or Facebook and that’s what’s happening there. Why not do that on our marketing sites or on our blog or other kind of like static websites? That’s what I’ve been focusing on. I have a lot of data and things to share about how that’s performed for me that we can get into.
Brennan: Again, my whole thing is if you’re talking to somebody – if I was talking to you Louis and I knew you’re in Ireland, you run a podcast, you’re working at HotJar and all these different things, I’m going to know information about you that would change the way that I would describe my product to you. That’s what we all do offline. We do that over the phone, if I’m emailing you. I have kind of a pitch but I’m going to tailor it to be focused to you. That’s what we’re talking about is why not do the same on our product pages or sale pages or whatever else.
Louis: Right. I’m thinking of actually doing this on my podcast. The minute you land on everyonehatesmarketers.com, the only thing you see is basically a blog with all the latest episodes. There’s a lead, email, books on the right side of it that doesn’t really offer a lot of value. That’s pretty much it.
I’m actually thinking of switching to having a very, very simple landing page with two or three paragraphs, an email subscription box and some value attached to it, then the episode if you want to link that to them. I’m a one-man show, therefore in my head it’s like, “It seems like only big brands can do that kind of stuff, can personalize websites.”
Brennan: Yeah. That’s the fear people have. There’s the technical fear, this is a lot of work to implement technically. The complaint I would get often would be, let’s say there are five different types of people who can buy my product or opt in to here or something like that, does that mean I need to have five different sales pages or five different sets of sales copy written or something like that?
Technically, yes. It used to be kind of a pain. For my own stuff, Double Your Freelancing, which has a ton of personalization is also back door. It used to be back door, I should say, with a lot of arbitrary custom code. But actually earlier this year in 2017, I programmed basically a front end for a lot of the underlying code of the engine that I’ve been writing over the last few years that makes it basically optimize the style. Be able to point and click and make changes. But time does changes to things like are they on my list or did they come from this website or are they in this segment. That’s the kind of stuff that I’ve been – not me but myself and my co-partner or partner in the business Shai – have been doing with RightMessage.
We’ve eliminated the technical gap which basically you include a lot of job description in their site and that’s it. But also on the other side when it comes to – well, this is a lot of work to actually do. What I’ve also been telling people is for my own stuff, I’m tweaking wording. I’m not rewriting whole blocks of copy. I’m changing a few words, I’m changing an image, I’m swapping out a testimonial. It makes sense. If you’re in a website, let’s say you were sent to that website from a design blog and you see testimonials from other designers, that makes sense because probably the traffic coming from that site is made up of designers. That’s what we’re talking about. It’s just being able to change a few things and sprinkle it throughout the whole website.
Louis: Okay. Let’s picture me as a potential client or somebody that will be interested in the website personalization service. I don’t want to term this interview into a hardcore sales page where you just plug your product. Let’s take this podcast and think about everyonehatesmarketers.com as an example, nothing settled there.
Louis: Let’s try to go into a step by step process that will enable me to have some sort of personalization, that doesn’t involve thousands of euros or dollars invested and a lot of technical stuff. What will be the very first step?
Brennan: The very first thing that I would do – I assume when people get on your list, when you come out with a new episode, you email everyone?
Louis: Yeah, correct.
Brennan: Article or the new episode. Cool. If they’re not on your list, what you have now which is the sidebar call to action – let me see if your episodes have call to actions.
Brennan: Okay, you do. At the end of each episode you’ve got another opt in widget. What I would do – this is what I tell everyone. If you’re going to do at a minimum anything, if I’m on your list and you’re sending me back to your site. I’m looking at the Philip Morgan episode you’ve released. If I came back to your site through clicking on a link that you sent me, why am I seeing your email opt in? Why am I seeing any of that stuff? I shouldn’t be seeing – I don’t know what would be next.
Probably what you should be doing would be – this is something I’ve been helping some people to do also – if they’re not on your list, get them on your list. But if they are on your list, get them to share. The call to action could be primarily a big share on Facebook, big share on Twitter type thing that just gets them to promote this to their own network. The benefit is let’s say they share it on Twitter or Facebook, people click over from there, they’re not on your list and now they’re seeing the opt in form. You’re basically wasting real estate right now by having an opt in form for people who are already on your list. That’s the very first thing I would do.
You don’t really have a product or whatnot to offer subscribers, right?
Brennan: If you did, that would make kind of a natural next step I would think. Being able to do something like that, being able to have… I don’t know what it would be for you but you know what I mean, right?
Brennan: Having some sort of next step type of thing. But I think for most people, anyone who’s bought into the whole content marketing, I’m going to write articles, I’m going to throw opt in widgets from Sumo or OptinMonster or in your case you’ve got the ConvertKit embedded form. Anyone who’s bought into the approach of I’m going to create free content and hopefully that free content will get people to opt in, that’s the very first thing I think you should do. Keep what you have now for anonymous people. But for known visitors, show something a little more appealing.
Louis: Let me just go back. I don’t think that what we’re talking about here is step one. I think it’s probably step two or step three. I would say the first step is actually to figure out what you want to upsell to people.
Brennan: Yeah, exactly. Right. Exactly. Basically, most companies have some sort of funnel. If it’s a software product, you have anonymous people on your site, maybe they opt in to your newsletter, maybe they opt in through a lead magnet. From there, they start a trial. Then, people on the trial, you could convert. Then, people that are customers, you want them to either upgrade or not churn.
That would be the typical linear funnel for a software business, like most software businesses. But yeah, you’re right. It could be if you have let’s say information products, you could have multiple paths they could go down. A lot of it, yes, does require you to think about what is my funnel? But I would also say even if you haven’t done that, I think it’s good user experience to not. I was just on a friend of mine’s list, she wrote a new article, linked to her site. She emails me with the links to the article. I go to the site, I go to read the article and I’m hit with this giant welcome mat thing that’s the slide down from the top. Then there’s exit pop-ups and the little slide in from the bottom right.
It’s just annoying me being on her list knowing she has my email. Why is she asking for my email everywhere? Tactically, do those things work? Yes. But I would argue that they lead to a very poor user experience when somebody is already on your list or a customer of yours.
Louis: Yeah. Step one, figure out your funnel if you haven’t done so. Before going into the technicality of how to set up such a system and perhaps giving many options that people can use, what will be – you mentioned a few wins but what would be the lowest hanging fruits that would bring the most value to people?
You mentioned once you are a subscriber to an email list, do not show me the email pop-up again or an email opt in box. What will be another kind of the lowest hanging fruit that you see normally?
Brennan: If you’re talking about overall being able to optimize for conversions, let’s say getting more subscribers. Another thing that works extremely well is let’s say that certain people aren’t sending traffic to your website. The example I like to give, you’re using ConvertKit and you know them and their company. Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income sends a lot of traffic to ConvertKit because he’s a big affiliate of theirs.
The thing that should be done which is done through the guru but I think they could do more of would be that if somebody like Pat is sending a lot of traffic to their site, the headline should be something like The Email Marketing App That Pat Flynn Trusts. There should be Pat Flynn testimonials everywhere. When you’re on the features page, considering the traffic came from a source that cares about passive income, the feature should focus on the automation capabilities of ConvertKit. When you’re on the pricing page, another testimonial or something from Pat Flynn just to really drive home this is the thing that he uses, on the signup page. That kind of stuff.
I’m calling these branded referrals where you’re able to look at the major sources of traffic you get and say people coming from here care about automation, people coming from here care about design, people coming from here care about starting a podcast. Knowing what kind of traffic these major channel send you, doing minor tweaks to headlines, and maybe the testimonials that are shown. You could start small. You could start with literally just changing the headline and then go more complex from there.
But that’s another big thing that I’ve seen work incredibly well for people. Because again it makes sense, if I’m on Pat Flynn’s site, presumably I trust and presumably I’m self-selecting into an audience that cares about passive income. Then I click on a link from a site to somewhere else. Still I trust Pat and I care about passive income. The receiving site, the site that I’m now on should take that into account and tailor the messaging based off that.
Louis: That’s the second thing. To be honest with you, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before. The ability to segment, to change the content of your website based on where people are coming from. That’s pretty clever. Especially if you talk about specific websites such as you said Pat Flynn website. If you know that people are coming from there then you can change the content based on that. That’s a very, very good second kind of lowest hanging fruit. What will be another one?
Brennan: The other one would be one thing that I’ve done a lot of which is probably in terms of ROI, the best thing I’ve ever done website personalization wise, is making it so when you’re reading the sales page one. My main business, Double Your Freelancing, has products that it sells that are sold with long-form copy. What I’ve done is I made it so for instance when you join my list, I ask you what kind of work you do. When you join an email course, I might ask you what is the thing that you’re looking to get help with immediately.
If you tell me you’re a designer or you’re an agency and you’re really struggling to close proposals, when you go to the Double Your Freelancing Rate sales page, every instance the word freelancer is now design agency. The headline is about designers struggling with proposals. The offer ultimately is about how the product I’m selling will help you close more deals by giving you a better process for sales. For somebody like, that they are going to look at this and say, “Wow. This was meant exactly for me.” It’s not over, there’s no giant pop-up saying like, “Hey, Louis. I know you’re a designer. You should buy this,” or something like that. It’s just a lot of subtle changes where the next page view might be a developer who’s a freelancer who’s looking to start value pricing.
They’re going to get the same product pitch but it’s going to be pitched differently. Things like the headlines and usage of the word freelancer will now be freelance developer. That kind of stuff has been ridiculously effective. It makes sense why. If I was at a development conference talking to a freelance developer and they were asking about my product, I would describe it to them the way that they’re seeing it now on the sales page.
Louis: Yeah. That’s the thing. In real life when you meet somebody, this is what you naturally do. You would ask his or her name, you would ask what he does, you will ask the type of problems they’re suffering from, what they are looking for. You would ask all of these questions naturally in a kind of a normal conversation. Therefore as you said you would tailor what you’re saying to them exactly basing this on information. But yet on websites, we don’t necessarily have the know-how or the technology to do so. It’s a little bit complex. Where do I start? I have so many different traffic sources coming to my website, so many different personas. I don’t know where to start. I think that’s where we can go next.
You started to touch on that. You would probably focus on your biggest traffic sources. You’re not going to try to tailor…
Brennan: I wouldn’t try to classify every referral that sends traffic to me. I would focus on a few things. What are the big sources of traffic I keep getting? Also what are the main landing pages that I’m getting? People landing from Google, because while Google’s not sending keyword data, if a lot of people are going to Google and finding me through an article on client emails for designers let’s say. I can assume you’re a designer from that. Then I could put them on that segment automatically.
Louis: Tell me about the return on investment that people will typically have if they set up such a personalization features on their website, like what did you see?
Brennan: Okay. On the sales page we just talked about, which was the way people get to you generally – I don’t know if you went through this, probably not since you’ve been on my list for a while. But nowadays it’s mostly you go to my main call to action on my site which is getting people into an email course that eventually promotes your Double Your Freelancing Rate.
The email course starts out by asking people through a trigger link which one of the three did you join this email course wanting help with? Proposals, value pricing or you have no idea how to price, you just want some guidance? Then when you opt in to that email course I also ask you what kind of work you do. Are you a designer, developer, writer, marketer and so on? Three points of data.
Louis: Let me cut you right here. Sorry to do that to you. But I think this is important, two things to say. First of all, trigger link is a link that enables to tag this person with something that you can then use in the future. I click on this link and it tags me in your CRM as this person clicked on it. You can use this as an event then to segment further, right?
Brennan: Exactly, yup.
Louis: That’s the first thing. The second thing that you said naturally it’s obvious to you because you’ve been doing that for years. I don’t know if you picked it up from a book called the Ask Method or if you just came up with that on your own.
Brennan: I know about that but I honestly haven’t read the book.
Louis: Yeah. It’s the obvious. I think when you’re a good marketer that really tries to understand people deeply, you try to segment them and understand their biggest problem. There’s a good resource to drill into that and how to segment the people you’re talking to not based on personas but really based on what they’re looking to do, what key problem are they suffering from, right?
Louis: There’s a good book called The Ask Method which is really actionable actually that I read. That was kind of similar to what you said. If people are looking for an action plan or something to do, I think that could be a good resource to start. Sorry to cut you.
Brennan: No problem. I have two points of data that I will end up using eventually. Again, I know what is the pain that got them to opt in. What is it like that the free email course is kind of a lead up to the paid course. If they opted in, they were expecting that you would help them in some way. I want to know what that way is. The other thing again is what kind of technical work they do. Using these two points of data, by the time they get through the email course and then get pitched on the paid product and are sent to the sales page, those data are used to personalize small bits of the sales page.
That alone, I’m changing the headline, the usage of the word freelancer, and the way I pitch the offer has increased overall sales from that funnel by 1.7X, that would be a 70% lift in overall sales which I’m very happy with, considering it didn’t take a lot of time to do. It makes sense why it would do that. People want more specific, they want to know how this is for them, how this can help them. By speaking to them by just saying, “As a designer, as a writer, as a marketer,” people are just going to think like, “Oh. This person gets me.” That’s what they want to know. It’s that you understand their needs. It’s a way of empathizing online.
Louis: Yeah. It’s a way to transcribe what you’re doing in real life into an online situation. Yeah. 70% increase by personalizing makes sense. Because as you said, you want to feel like you’re understood, you want to feel that the person who’s trying to send me something can teach me something, understands me deeply. That doesn’t surprise me. Right. Those are the examples we gave. We gave three.
Brennan: That’s one. I’ve got one more that I can tell you.
Louis: Go on.
Brennan: The other big thing has been for overall opt ins. I’m sure a lot of people listening are familiar with the idea of a content upgrade where you write an article and then you have a call to action made specifically for that article. Usually, oftentimes, a good content upgrade can get a 20% plus opt in rate, which is really, really good.
I was thinking about why is it that they do so well? They do well because they’re relevant. You’re reading an article about five things to do when starting a business. Then the content upgrade is get the five-step checklist or something about starting a business. That’s a much better call to action than a join my newsletter for future articles or something like that. That works really well. Why does it work well is because it’s very relevant to the reader.
One thing I have been doing on Double Your Freelancing is I track the kind of content someone’s reading. If you’re not on my list and you’re going reading articles on proposals or marketing or pricing, I’m looking at that. I’m seeing what is the kind of article you’re reading the most of. What will happen is if you will go to Double Your Freelancing right now in an incognito browser, you’re going to see something, depending on what you listen to it, but you’ll probably see something along the lines of there’s a hero call to action on the front page that says, “This has helped 20,000 freelancers learn how to better price themselves.” Put your email and choose what kind of work you do.
If you were to go and start reading articles and proposals and then go back to the home page, it’s going to say, “Some 20,000 plus freelancers learned how to close more proposals.” That’s there. Then that also affects the universal call to action that’s the footer of every article and really the call to action is site wide. I’m tracking what kind of interest do you have and I’m tailoring… I don’t have x many different lead magnets. I have a single lead magnet that I position differently depending on the kind of content you’re reading. I describe how this course will help you better sell if you’re reading about marketing. I describe how this course will help you close more proposals if you’re reading about proposals.
That kind of stuff has helped me from an organic anonymous meeting, somebody from Google who’s not on my list yet, used to get about a 2% opt in rate for them say hitting an article and then opting in. It’s now gone to 5% just by doing this; just by making it so the call to action’s focused on the kind of stuff they’re reading. It’s the same principles as why do your content upgrades work. It’s just on a more non-article specific level.
I also have built-in surveying, I’ve had people from design blogs link to me. I assume that traffic is made up of designers. If you come from a design blog and then you’re reading articles on proposals, the call to action will literally say Designers: Learn How to Close More Proposals. Do I know for a fact that they’re a designer? No. But if they’re coming from a design blog, I’m guessing they might be. It’s worth kind of the risk that they might not be a designer. That stuff has been ridiculously effective.
Louis: It’s funny because this is the type of thing that I love because it’s so simple. It makes so much sense, yet we don’t do it. I don’t do it. At the time you’re listening to this episode, I probably would have changed things around on the website and improved stuff. But still I’m nowhere to be where I want to be. Not everybody’s doing it and far from it.
I think you’ve teased us quite a lot with a lot of ideas and stuff we can do. Now let’s get into the actionable stuff. How can one actually set that up, let’s say tomorrow on their website, whether it’s a small consulting website or a big software company website?
Obviously, there’s a way to do this. If you think about it, the way I look at it is when you log into Netflix or Amazon or Facebook, it’s personalized to you. But it is tied to you in your account. You log into Netflix, you log into Facebook. We expect it. We expect that okay, this is a web app, of course it’s personalized to me. What I look at it is if I opt into your list or you send me an email that has any URL, some indicator of my contact ID, you should be able to use your email marketing app, so for your ConvertKit, as a database of stuff you know about me. Then I could read it. You can read and write from that.
In this case if they opt in, they’re now known, they’re identified. You’ve got a relationship between that person or that browser we should say and that record and ConvertKit. Then you could do stuff with that. You could look at they’re tagged with customer. Okay cool, they’re a customer. Let’s not show them this. You can do a lot of interesting things like that.
That’s kind of on the do-it-yourself half one. You could use conceivably a tool like Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer which is meant for AB testing. You could just make it so a variation is run 100% of the time. That variation you could look for that cookie, or looking to see does that cookie that we wrote when they opted in, is that written in the user’s browser? If so, this variation will run. That variation will always hide this div that contains your opt in form or something like that.
Louis: Yes. Let me just back up a little bit. If you’re not a technical person yourself and if you have a developer on your team setting up a cookie and reading that as you said, that’s fairly easy for a developer to do, right?
Louis: That’s not technically challenging.
Brennan: Beyond that is a little harder though.
Louis: Yeah. Another thing that you mentioned is using a Visual Website Optimizer or Optimizely. Optimizely is now out of price range for most businesses, most small businesses. However VWO, Visual Website Optimizer is not. It’s quite cheap. They use a website personalization feature that enables you to personalize text and images exactly as you mentioned based on the traffic source and other things. You could start doing a few things like this.
Brennan: It won’t pull from ConvertKit though. That’s the only thing. It doesn’t draw from outside sources.
Louis: Yeah. You would still have to set up a cookie and read this cookie from VWO.
Brennan: Right, exactly.
Louis: But if you ask a developer to do that once, then you can play with this VWO because it’s kind of a visual website way to do stuff. You don’t have to code anything anymore in VWO.
Brennan: Right. Yeah. That’s the way, I’ve even done that for I’m too lazy to redeploy the app, I’m going to go into VWO and change the headline I want to change without redeploying it. You could use VWO as a very basic content management system if you really wanted to, changing stuff. Even before they had the personalization stuff, I was using it as an AB testing tool where this variation will always run. That was my way of kind of hacking that kind of stuff.
You can do some of that. The only drawbacks really though to a tool like VWO and like you said Optimizely is really enterprisey now, is it’s really hard to draw from email marketing apps with the data that you keep, tag data, custom fields, all that sort of stuff, that’s a little harder to do. A lot of the things like looking at their behavior (what motivates human behavior), what kind of content are they reading on your site? Like in your case, what kind of podcast episode are they listening to? You could probably infer certain things from that. I don’t think you could use leads to that. I’m pretty positive that the extent of VWO to segmentation is looking at what browser are they in, where do they come from, that sort of stuff, browser specific data. That’s kind of a middle tier.
Louis: I appreciate the fact that you’re mentioning competitors alongside your tool. Let’s explain how what you came up with works. The tool you came up with is RightMessage.io, right?
Louis: Explain to us how does it work?
What you’re able to do is you’re able to do interesting things like if they’re on the features page and they’re a web designer, change the headline to talk to web designers, change the testimonials to be from other web designers. We also have, which is one thing VWO doesn’t do, a find and replace option. You could say, “For all these paragraph tags, find any instance of this word and change it to that word, or this phrase and change it to that phrase.”
It’s more than just setting the inner content of the element, instead you’re saying, “Find this and change it to that.” Which is actually really, really nice. Especially because one thing we allow you to do is stack personalization. One personalization could be targeting agencies that will swap out freelancer to agency. The next could be targeting designers which will swap out freelancer to freelance designer and agencies to design agencies. You’re able to get a really personalized copy.
But that’s the bare bonus of it. What we do going beyond that is we’re able to look at the kind of behavior that people have, like what are they reading? You’re able to define what your site structure is and be able to say, “If they’re reading these kinds of articles in this category, make them likely to be in this segment.” Segments for us are not binary. If you’re more than 50% positive that they’re designer, show designer testimonials. If you’re 80% positive or above, make the headline all about designers or something. You can have it so when you’re not too certain if somebody’s in the segment, you could do more subtle operations. Then once you’re definitely positive they are, you can do more.
That is one thing, if these conditions are true, if they’re on this page or this set of pages and they’re in this segment or they’ve done this or whatever, they viewed this page, they haven’t viewed that page, they come from here, they haven’t come from there, then do this. But we go beyond that by saying instead of just changing the content on the page or the site, you can also apply a tag in ConvertKit. Or push them into a specific Facebook custom audience. You could say, “If somebody comes from a designer-related site, we define that segment. They haven’t opted in, push them into a Facebook custom audience targeting designers. When you run an ad on Facebook, it’ll be about designers and stuff. You’re able to do really well-personalized marketing campaign.
Louis: It’s like push and pull a little bit. You can use the data and you can also push data out.
Brennan: Exactly, yep. Theoretically, if they’re on your list and they hit your pricing page, and they whatever else using say our Zapier integration, you could add a new Trello card or something for yourself to say, “Follow up with Brennan who went to my pricing page,” or something like that.
Louis: That’s pretty cool. Thanks so much for explaining how it works and for hopefully giving some food for thought for the listeners who need help on that. Moving on to bad marketing, because I know we both love to talk about marketing bullshit. Why do you think marketers have a bad reputation in general?
Brennan: Well, we stick to online marketers because we know them the best. I think the issue is, I see this a lot because I have on my site call to actions that slide in, they’re pretty minimal but they work. I get people almost weekly emailing me saying, “What plugin are you using to do that?” I’m like well, it’s just HTML and CSS and didn’t do anything myself. But I think the issue is you have these people who are like, “Oh. I hear exit pop-ups work. I hear welcome mats work. I hear slide ins work. I hear this works. I hear that works.” Then you get to these sites that are like Frankenstein’s in the sense that they’re just hitting you with everything. It makes it really hard.
The thing that I think works best is when you have a consistent single call to action. The things that actually work well for those, I forgot the marketing name but when you go to like Youtube and the background image and the sidebar ads are all like the same thing, like an upcoming film or something. I think that works well because you don’t have competing call to actions.
I was looking at somebody we’re setting up for RightMessage the other day. On their site, on their blog, they have like five different things you can do. It’s like webinar, opt in to our list, look at this product. People don’t want to make those kind of decisions. What is the job of the website? If I’m going to everyonehatesmarketers.com, my job is specific. My job is probably to see, at this point because I know you and everything else, would be who’s the latest episode? But somebody who is not familiar with your site yet might want to get an understanding of what is the premise of this podcast? What are you trying to do with it?
There are different kinds of intents that people have in engaging with the website. I think a lot of people miss that, it’s like a shotgun, try to do everything at once and hope something sticks. I just think that’s the issue. It’s just this overload of tactics that just don’t really yield many results like that.
Louis: Yeah. It’s like, “Oh my God, somebody is visiting our website. Let’s just do something. He or she really needs to be on our email list right now.”
Louis: It’s pretty bad. I think in the very near future, Google and those kind of big, big companies are going to start really punishing websites doing this kind of stuff more and more. You’ve seen that with the [00:40:58] A and B where they basically go back to the fundamental of HTML pages which is basically removing everything but the copy and images, which is going back to 1996, 1997. That’s because people want to just read stuff and watch stuff. They don’t want to be interrupted, right?
Brennan: Right, exactly. People want to consume the content. You can still achieve your marketing goals by saying, “Here’s a really good article.” Then having a very good call to action that relates directly to the article. They just read this great piece of content and they’re like, “Yeah, this is great. I want to take this further now.” You can have something there for them that does that. But if you’re just trying to just do everything – I don’t know, I think it leads to a very poor user experience which just doesn’t ultimately help in the way I think a lot of us want it to help.
Louis: It’s based on our first principle which is it’s the products of choice. The more choice you give to somebody, the more unlikely this person will make a decision. Which is why in supermarkets, they always try to categorize products into categories so it’s easier for you to make decisions. As soon as you give more than three or four choices, it becomes overwhelming for people and they don’t know where to start. The typical example would be in a restaurant where you have a menu with 20 items for starters, 20 items for mains, 20 items for dessert. You’re overwhelmed and you can’t pick. While if I give you the early bird menu with two starters, two mains or two desserts, you’re like, well it’s pretty easy. You take a decision fast. Be careful of that.
What do you think marketers should learn today to help them in the next 10 years or even 50 years?
Brennan: You mean technically learn today or more?
Louis: To help them become better marketers in general.
Brennan: I know a lot of marketers say they do this or attempt to. I think it doesn’t work as well as many of us think. Get better at human psychology and what gets people to make decisions. Actually, now I’ve got a good answer to your question. Two things.
I’ve been doing a lot of surveying for people joining the RightMessage list. Many of them are marketers. For one thing, most people absolutely suck at segmentation. The majority of people say they do segment based off of customer or non-customer. That’s it. There’s very few people who are tracking content consumption and interest or demographics or anything like that and using that in the way they send emails and especially in the way that they might tailor their website or something.
At least most email marketing apps do make an attempt to say we can help you more personalize your messaging. But the extent most people do is, “Hey, f name.” Or, “Hey, subscriber.first name.” Or something like that. That is limited. Especially concerning nowadays you can do things like show this paragraph if they’re this or show that if they’re that, or whatever else.
That’s one thing is the segmentation side of things. I think we could all learn a lot about that. But perceiving that I think is really defining the personas of the kind of people who engage with you. Who actually uses your products? Who uses your service? Who uses your site? Who reads your articles? The best thing I think of figuring that out is talking to people.
I think I heard this on Pat Flynn’s podcast. He will randomly just look at his new subscriber list and somebody who opted in five minutes ago, he’ll email them and say, “Hey, this isn’t automated. Would you be up to jumping on a quick Skype call, I’d love to hear about how you found us and what you are hoping for by opting in,” and that kind of stuff. You’re able to learn a lot about people that way. Which you can then extract segments from that. You can then extract discrete segments from a lot of those conversations.
Even now on RightMessage, I’ve got 60 demos lined up. There’s no way to sign up on your own yet. That’s intentional. I know that I’m talking to so many people and learning about so many different types of businesses and pains and use cases that they have, that all of that is going to trickle into the marketing and the onboarding of the product.
I think those are the two things. You can’t personalize without good segment data. I think a lot of people just don’t have good segmentation in place.
Louis: Yeah. Talking to people is extremely valuable. Not only because you get new information, but we are social animals. It’s easy to read surveys that you send out. It’s easy to look at Google Analytics report and look at the age of your visitors or that kind of stuff. What is more valuable is when you connect with another human being. You do have connections beyond just reading a spreadsheet. It seems like your understanding of people is getting better the more you talk to people because you are able to really picture who you’re going to write this next email to. That’s kind of valuable in today’s world.
Last question to you, Brennan. What are the top three resources you will recommend our listeners to check out?
Brennan: Big fan, he doesn’t write much anymore, but Patrick McKenzie’s blog. He’s really good just for articles on pricing to just kind of business in general. The Don’t Call Yourself A Programmer article he wrote was really good in the sense of really figuring out… This stuff tails into products and selling stuff online and everything else. But what do people actually want from you? Why does somebody hire a programmer? Why does somebody hire a product?
The other thing that I’ve been really digging into recently has been the whole jobs to be done concept of everything is a switch. Somebody is opting into your site. They’re switching in the sense that they think that it’s new. They’re not opting in because they like giving out their email address. They’re opting in because they are hoping it does something for them. Likewise, they’re buying not because they like paying for things, they’re buying because they’re hoping by buying they’re going to get something. Figure out what that is. Figure out what the job description of your email opt in or your product is or whatever else. Figure that out.
That’s two. I just started reading Chet Holmes’ Ultimate Sales Machine, which is a really good book. Especially for me, I think now, because it talks a lot about kind of like things I’ve always ignored like training and if you’re scaling out a team you got to make sure that it’s more than just hiring smart people. That’s been helpful for me. But there are a lot of really good content like education-based marketing which is a big thing in terms of that’s the name of the game. If your model is write content, like articles or doing podcasts or whatever, then link people to opt in form for something or an email course and then have that email course then prepare them to become a customer of the paid product. You’re talking about education-based marketing. I think he had a lot of good stuff to say about it in his book.
Louis: Great. Thank you so much. You’ve been amazing.
Louis: Thank you for your time once again. I hope that all the listeners would have picked up stuff to do to personalize their website better so that ultimately the internet becomes a better place. Brennan, once again, thank you so much.
Brennan: Yeah. Thanks, Louis.
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.